I’ve been on a risotto kick lately and for a good reason… I find I often have seemingly random ingredients on hand these days. Dried mushrooms? Toss ’em in! Some cooked chicken thighs? Great, add it! Leftover bacon from breakfast? Perfect! Shrimp in freezer? Why not!
I’ve actually pulled elements from each of these recipes and made my own combinations. It (almost) always works!
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.
Up until recently, I’d never had congee – I’m an instant fan. I’ve mentioned Crispy Gai here in Portland, Maine before and theirs was so amazing that I had to try and make a version (or three). These all use the same congee as 1 cup of rice yielded a lot of leftovers. If you haven’t had it before, congee is basically Chinese rice porridge and can be dressed with any number of items.
What I made…
Congee with roast pork belly and egg
Congee with shrimp and nam jim sauce
Congee with bacon and egg
I watched a number of videos and looked over a few of recipes before trying this one, but overall it’s very easy.
8 parts chicken broth to 1 part rice (I used jasmati)
This can range from 6:1 up to 10:1, depending on the recipe used – 8:1 worked for me
Rinse rice until the water runs clear
Cook in Ninja Foodi on pressure cooker setting on high for 30 minutes and natural release
Next time I want to try something more like this recipe and use bone-in chicken during the cooking process. I attempted fried garlic, but it was a little bitter.
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!
If you watched the recent Gordon Ramsay Uncharted episode, you would have seen chef Melissa Kelly of Primo in Rockland. Back in 2008 I photographed a few Maine restaurants for a personal photo project, including Chef Kelly. She was super welcoming and accommodating (and the food was phenomenal!). Check out a few of the photos on my website.
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.
I don’t really do reality TV. I watched The Real World when it started in the ‘90s because it was a new thing, something different from the norm. That said, I have a bit of an obsession with the original Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares that was broadcast in the UK starting in 2004.
If you’re unfamiliar, the show is hosted by chef Gordon Ramsay as he visits struggling restaurants in Britain and Europe. I find the UK version far superior to the US version (in the sense that the US version is unwatchable). Each episode of the original series is shot like a documentary and, while things get heated between presenter and restauranteur(s), the final product is much more reasonable than its American counterpart. The music is better, the filming is better, the editing is better. It feels like a thing that really happened, as opposed to an exploitative TV show.
Haven’t seen it? Almost every episode is on YouTube for free!
I’ve only cooked one recipe from chef Ramsay from another show of his, F Word, and it was years ago… sea bass with pepper sauce (see video below). I paired it with baked rice with star anise (I can’t find the recipe now). It stands as not on one of the best thing I’ve ever cooked, but maybe eaten, too!