Taking inspiration from my last post about Korean food in movies and my love for our local Korean place, N to Tail, I decided to try my hand at making some Korean dishes. I was pretty pleased with the results (though I didn’t get a good photo).
I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately with Korean food, TV, and movies. Interestingly, food plays a major role in most of the Korean films I’ve seen.
The original Oldboy is the first Korean movie I remember seeing years ago. The lead actor famously eats a live octopus – something he did four times. Second, mandu (Korean dumplings) play heavily into the plot.
Even Joon-Ho’s The Host features food fairly heavily. The main family owns a small river-side food shack, selling beer and grilled squid. Instant ramen is seen a few times; from an empty container being used as a piggy bank to the means of showing family bonds. I wouldn’t exactly call the movie, uhm, appetizing.
You probably don’t think about food first with Snowpiercer, but thinking back – it’s a huge part of the Bong Joon-Ho flick. The poor people of the back of the train with protein bars and the “balance” that’s maintained in the other sections with sushi, steak, etc.
From the main family’s food struggles, to a housekeeper’s food allergies; food is seen throughout Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. The best known food from the movie is ram-don, a mixture of jajangmyeon and jjampong topped with expensive steak. The name, ram-don, was a creation for the film and is usually called jjapaguri. But similar to his earlier movie The Host, food, and the struggle to get it, is a symbol for family.
Lastly, Squid Game, features a few instances of food, the most well known of which is dalonga. But, like some of the other films above, steak is again used a symbol of wealth and success.
Thankfully, I have a great Korean restaurant here in Portland, Maine called N-to-Tail. I’ve been able to sample bulgogi, Korean fried chicken, kimchi pancakes, and more. At home I’ve been making Buldak spicy ramen by Samyang. My “recipe” of late has been to toss in some kewpie, chicken, and egg, and a vegetable. While not as as good as N-to-nail, Bibigo offers frozen Korean fried chicken, mandu, kimchi fried rice, and more.
Recently, I went to a great new restaurant here in Portland (Maine) called Crispy Gai. They started as a pop up and have moved to a full brick and mortar. Their focus is on Thai-inspired fried chicken and other foods.
One of the highlights of Crispy Gai are the sauces and, in particular, I found their Nam Jim seafood sauce to be amazing. It’s a spicy cilantro-based sauce and I left wanting to make it myself… so I did! I stumbled on a recipe from Claire Handleman, a chef who focuses on Thai food. For my version, I swapped out the 6 green Thai chilis for a single jalapeño. I loved the heat of Crispy Gai’s version, but the jalapeño version is milder and still great! I was also lucky enough to find cilantro with the roots still attached (something the recipe requires). I also ran out of fresh limes, but bottled lime worked great!
I paired this with an Asian salad (honestly, it was just a pre-made kit), a randomly-found recipe, Tiger Cry Steak, and rice. While this recipe normally calls for a different sauce (Nam Jim Jaew), the seafood sauce worked great and I’m excited to pair it with other meals!
This was not my first time making pad Thai, but was my first time working with tamarind, palm sugar, dried shrimp, and zha cai (I maybe didn’t even buy actual zha cai?). I also had to pick up a few different kinds of soy sauce (sweet and black). My first attempt was fine, so I want to give this a try again to see if I can improve. I’m fairly certain I know where I went wrong, too.
This is the first video I’ve watched by Joshua Weissman and his delivery is… interesting.
Over the weekend I decided I wanted to cook something a little different from the usual. The answer was obvious… a bunch of copycat Chipotle recipes! This looks like a lot of work, but it was totally worth it. There’s a bunch of downtime while making some parts… the carnitas takes a little time and the broiling step can wait. The corn salsa is better with some time to sit as is the guacamole. Lastly, I covered the rice to keep it warm while I finished other pieces.
I watched the video mentioned in the post (see below). Chef chad says keep the stems in the cilantro. I removed the thickest parts, but kept the rest. The video differs from the written recipe, so I followed what was written and just grabbed some tips from the video.
At some point during the quarantine, I came to the realization that I wanted a steak night once a week. With that, I’ve been trying different cuts and experimenting with what works. Marinating flank steak was one that just didn’t work (maybe it does for you, but it didn’t for me). I found this recipe randomly and, as I often do, I made a couple of quick substitutions, noted below. The original recipe suggests some side options, including a horseradish sauce or tomato and arugula.
Servings 4-5 people
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8-10 minutes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (calls for sweet paprika)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2teaspoon dried oregano
1/2teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves fresh garlic, ground into a paste (calls for garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 flank steak: 1-3/4 to 2 pounds and about 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
In a small bowl mix together all the spice-paste ingredients.
Brush the paste evenly over both sides of the flank steak. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the sauce.
Pan fry the flank steak over medium-high heat, until cooked to your desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.
Cut the steak across the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices. Taste the meat and season with more salt and pepper if needed.
We tried to order Chinese food the other night and failed. A friend mentioned that deliveries to area Chinese restaurants from their suppliers have stopped. That made me want Chinese food even more than usual. I made a version of this tonight, though I didn’t quite get the color/crisp in the picture on the recipe and it’s not the battered and fried version. I made my own dark soy sauce and cooked fresh green beans instead of doing the cabbage listed. While it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, it was still delicious! For sure more akin to chicken and green beans than any version of General Tso’s I’ve had in a restaurant. I blame Saoirse Ronan!
I used chili paste to get a little of the chili flavor where I didn’t have the correct chilis.
I cooked green beans in water in a separate pan and tossed them in after everything else was cooked.
I used corn starch instead of potato starch.
I didn’t have green onions, so I used white and caramelized them after the chicken was cooked, then tossed in grated garlic and ginger.
Now I know golden caster sugar is the same / similar to brown sugar!
To make the dark soy sauce, I found a recipe that was 1 cup soy sauce, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and corn starch dissolved in water. Stir over low heat in a pan until thickened. It probably would have been better a little thicker, so keep an eye out for a better recipe or, you know, buy dark soy sauce!
I served this with basmati rice cooked in a Ninja Foodi following the recipe in the Ninja cookbook.
Had I followed the directions in the recipe I could have maybe achieved the correct doneness, but I agree I couldn’t get the wok hot enough to do it with one pan.
This video helps fill in why it’s called Soirse Ronan’s General Tso’s chicken and also includes the video on how to make the dish. Having eaten Chinese food in the UK and Ireland, I agree it’s not the same!
Did you know there’s a documentary about General Tso’s?
I adapted this recipe from The Salted Pepper using some items I had around the kitchen. For example, rather than sirloin, as the original called for, I used leftover brisket I had in the freezer from Noble Barbeque in Portland (Maine). I omitted peppers and jalapeño, since I didn’t have any on hand and was serving to people who aren’t fans of either spice or peppers. The important part is that you use some sort of meat that will work like ground beef, ground turkey, sirloin, pulled pork, or brisket. I’ve included directions for thawing brisket quickly in the pressure cooker.
This is also probably a good time to mention that I love my Ninja Foodi and use it about 75% of the time I cook at this point. My one regret was not getting a larger model with a dehydrator.
Place leftover frozen meat in the pressure cooker along with one cup of beef broth.
Put on the pressure cooker lid and make sure the valve is to seal.
Set on high for 3 minutes* and press Start.
Once time has elapsed, quick release pressure valve.
Retain the liquid.
*I believe this was the time I used. Please be sure the meat reaches correct temperature (without overcooking). If you think you rushed it, you can always sauté longer in the steps below.
Making the chili
Dice onion and mince garlic.
Combine seasonings in a medium bowl.
Trim and cube the brisket into 1/2″ pieces. Add to the inner pot with onions and seasonings. Sauté for 3 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes
Add in the Cholula, and cooking liquid from the brisket. Use a plastic scraper to scrape along the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing has stuck to it.
Add in the tomatoes and do not stir.
Place the tomato paste on top and do not stir.
Put on the pressure cooker lid and make sure the valve is to seal. Set the pressure to high for 10 minutes.
Allow to natural release for 3 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure. Remove the lid and add in the kidney beans and corn. Stir to incorporate. Now is a good time to give it a little taste to see if you want to add any more spice or seasoning. Close the TenderCrisp lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken. If you are not serving it right away, you can turn on the keep warm button with the pressure lid on vent.
Serve with cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, or other favorite toppings.