My concentrated effort to become more asian has spilled over into the kitchen. Unfortunately, I was just as (un)successful in the kitchen as elsewhere.
Because of Inbae (my ex-roommate), Shen, Vicky, and many others in college, Korean has become one of my favorite types of food. I’m still a little picky about what I eat, but in general, I like a lot of their dishes.
When I was in Korea, Inbae’s mom made Dak Jorim, a Korean chicken dish. Ebay’s mom was happy to give me the recipe. Also, a typical Korean side-dish is Jap Chae, which is essentially stir fried vegetables with noodles. I don’t like most Jap Chae I get (Brother’s restaurant in SF is an exception), but I thought if I was making it, I could make it to my tastes.
Anyway, here’s the outcome:
First, I’ll show you how I made the jap chae, and then the dak jorim. Then, I’ll tell you how it turned out (if you can’t guess already). As a disclaimer, remember this is my first time cooking it, and I’m not exactly an expert cook, especially at asian cuisine.
So Jap Chae calls for some fancier mushrooms, so you usually just get them dehydrated and add some water. I got some shitake mushrooms.
After a half hour, I took them out and put them on a paper towel. I don’t know if it’s shitakes in general or just dehydrated ones, but they really didn’t smell too hot. The texture, after rehydrated, was also a little funny, but the taste wasn’t too bad.
One thing I learned from my sweet cookbook, Best Recipes, which is to use scissors to cut green onions. Actually using scissors when cooking is a pretty Korean thing and can come in quite handy. Note that I didn’t use that cookbook for any of these recipes — I just happened to pick up some helpful hints from it which I’m applying here.
I wanted to make everything look really good, so I decided to julienne cut most of the vegetables. If you don’t know what that is, it looks kinda like a shoestring. There are some great videos online on how to julienne a carrot, and I know I won’t be doing it justice with these photos, but here’s my attempt.
First, I peeled the carrots. Since I am julienning it and squaring it off anyways, I don’t know if there was a point to this. Next time I probably won’t peel them, but I played it safe this time. I then cut them into a few smaller pieces.
We also need some diced garlic. Someone complained last time that I didn’t explain all the steps in dicing garlic. Since this isn’t a cooking show (b/c I’m no expert), I just arbitrarily decide what to show you guys. This time, I’ll go into some more detail (though my photos leave a lot to be desired).
I also didn’t know how to chop up garlic when I started and still find it a hassle. Anyways, here’s the garlic:
The key is to take your knife and smash it down against the garlic. This lets you peel the skin right off. Since we’re gonna dice it up anyway, don’t go easy on the garlic and take out some aggression (it makes the skin easier to get rid of).
I decided to also add some egg to the jap chae. Since we want to slice it, we want it to be pretty. When I normally make scrambled eggs I shake and stir it around a lot. For this, though, I let them sit for a while to make sure it was flat.
Start with our eggs.
Then oil the pan a little. I put some vegetable oil in and then used a paper towel to wipe up a lot of the excess. I’m not sure if this is necessary, but I saw someone do it when making tamago (egg used in sushi).
After about 7 minutes or so, they were ready. I took them out and drained them. However, unlike normal pasta, the directions also say to run cold water on top of them a few times and keep draining them after that (not sure why). At any rate, I put some cold water back in and drained it two times.
Too lazy to see if this was correct or not, I put them in a pan over low heat and kept shuffling them around. Perhaps you’re supposed to toast them in an oven, but this is what I decided to do. In the end, I wasn’t really sure if it was actually toasted, but it seemed about right
One step I added that was definitely necessary (and I didn’t take a picture of), is I grabbed some scissors and cut the noddles up a bit. This made it a lot easier to stir and mix the veggies in with.
Now for the chicken. I always use costco chicken because it’s the easiest thing. I just go buy some packs from them. Then I just put the individual packs (which still have quite a lot in each one) and freeze them. Each of these packs contains 5 drumsticks that I had taken out a day or two before to let thaw in the refrigerator.
Since we’re trying to boil this water out, I think next time using less water (much less) is advised. I ended up spooning some of this delicious (or what should be delicious) sauce out of there so the chicken wouldn’t end up overcooked.
Here it is boiling some.
So cooking Korean food was definitely an adventure. Personally, I didn’t really like either of the dishes. The chicken was a little bland, and the jap chae just didn’t taste good to me. But I normally don’t like jap chae, so go figure. Other people who ate the food didn’t seem as picky as me, though. Regardless, I still think the jap chae *looks* amazing, and that’s gotta count for something…
Hopefully my next korean attempt will go better. If you’ve got suggestions/ways I can improve, lemme know.