I realized this weekend that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything savory. Which is funny, because I consider myself a pretty novice baker — I guess we just rotate much more frequently between tried and true meals, whereas Bowl #2 never has any input on sweets, so I just try any new thing I feel like. Anyway, I thought I’d change it up by posting about one of our very most favorite “tried and true”s — kimchi fried rice.
I grew up in a relatively small city in the South. It’s big enough to have an airport, but small enough that that airport only has five gates (and one direct flight to NY that I never take because it costs approximately a billion million dollars) — big enough that some people have heard of it, but small enough that a nod and an “Oh, right, right,” is as much as they can muster. 🙂 (Occasionally, I’ll meet someone who actually drove through it.) It was also small enough that, growing up, I can remember the first restaurant of almost every kind of unusual cuisine opening up in town — the first Korean restaurant, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. — and I can also remember the first time I ever had any of those kinds of foods. The first time I had pork bulgogi, then known to me only as “Korean spicy BBQ pork,” I thought it was the most ridiculously delicious dish I’d ever tasted, and I thought that that one god-like restaurant must have been the only place in existence that could create such a magnificent mouth-party. Logical. (And thus began a lifelong love affair with Korean food.)
Coming from a Chinese family means that I ate a lot of weird things indiscriminately when I was growing up. But we never really had a lot of anchovies. Actually, up until recently, I really only knew of anchovies as that one American pizza topping that all the fictional characters hated in the books I read as a kid. (Babysitters’ Club, anyone?)
All right, so I might be breaking some of my blog rules (gentle guidelines?) with this recipe. It’s not technically difficult — if I made it, it’s definitely not — but it’s a bit of a hassle. And it’s not super great for little households, since it’s at its best when first made. But it’s homemade japchae! Homemade japchae. I just couldn’t not. This is one of my favorite noodle dishes, Korean or otherwise. I love anything both savory and sweet, I love chewy and textured noodles (soft noodles are the worst) and I love bulgogi. And this is all of the above. It is heaven. On a green plate. Plus, the recipe for bulgogi that I’ve included is simple and great for little households, so there is that.
Did you just gasp with horror? I realize that this is a highly polarizing statement, but I love kimchi and cheese. I can’t imagine budae jjigae without cheese. I made kimchi chicken quesadillas once and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. And this kimchi grilled cheese might be my very favorite grilled cheese sandwich, ever.
Spicy ahi poke is perhaps my greatest love in the food world. First introduced to me when I visited Bowl #2’s family in Hawaii, poke is pretty much just fresh chunks of tuna marinated in soy sauce and other ingredients. Some describe it as a Hawaiian ceviche, which I find apt but not all-encompassing of its utter perfection (I just describe it as bliss). The standard version is one marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and a few other ingredients, whereas our personal favorite is a slightly unhealthier, spicy mayo-based kind that we usually get from Foodland, a Hawaii supermarket chain. This particular kind was part 2 of the Hawaiian birthday feast (part 1 is here), and here is the stunningly simple recipe for how to make it!
Hello! It’s been awhile! Pretty much a week after I started this up, I went into a whirlwind month and a half where we took our very last finals ever as students, left Boston, moved to New York (where we had 10 days to furnish our new but totally empty apartment before hosting family), went back to Boston, graduated from law school, visited family, and ended up back here mostly intact, when we are now supposed to be studying for the bar. Supposed to. Most relevant to this blog, however, is that I also acquired a hand-me-down digital SLR! So I can hopefully start posting pictures that are a little more palatable.
So — to start, last week was Bowl #2’s birthday! He’s from Hawaii and misses it constantly, and since we aren’t going back until after the bar this summer, I thought I’d do the typical thing, “bring Hawaii to him,” and make him his favorite Hawaiian foods. We had a little feast of spam musubi, spicy ahi poke, and butter mochi for dessert. Here’s the first recipe of the three — spam musubi.
I have never seen anyone anywhere eat with the capacity and fervor of Bowl #2 when he orders spicy basil fried rice for delivery from a Thai place. No matter how monstrous the portion is, he will finish it (even if it means total immobilization and agony for hours afterwards). So, given the tumultuous events in Boston yesterday, I thought I would try to recreate it as a comfort food amidst all the lockdown insanity. (I won’t talk too much about everything that happened, since it’s been done much more eloquently than I could attempt to, I’m sure. I will say that I’m not ashamed to admit that we probably did exactly what we would have done on any other day with no obligations — stayed home in our pajamas, watched TV, cooked food, noshed on food. But, other than the fact that what we were watching that day was breaking news, wasn’t half of the lockdown’s eeriness simply knowing that you couldn’t leave if you wanted to?)