Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jan 20th - Seafood Mandu and Mixed Green Salad with Kochujang dressing

Mom always sends me home with some frozen goodies. My sisters get Kalbi and now so does D. I get Mandu and home made Kochujang, amongs other things. Kochujang is Korean chili paste. You can easily buy kochujang. It certainly won't taste the same and some are down right bad. There is one that looks slightly like a dressing, looser. It comes in a green plastic container. Don't buy it! The after taste is brutal. I'll take a photo this week. There are others that try to get the Kochudengjang where it is a mix between young rough grain miso and Kochujang. These are often not done very well either. If you're going to buy Kochujang, 1st make sure it has Korean writing on it, 2nd make sure it's made in Korea or japan if you have to, to avoid odd tasting fillers. 3rd. Get plain red kochujang.

The Kochudengjang is often on the table for dipping of veg like mild green banana chilis or garlic cloves or in lettuce leaves with Bulgogi. The Kochjang it self is very versatile and can form the base of soups, stirfrys (like Dukbohki) or eaten straight.

If you make it from scratch, like mom does, it takes days and days. It involves large pots that children could use as backyard splash pools and mixing tubs that I'm pretty sure do double as pools. I've bought my mom a couple of these implements for her birthdays and such. They're pretty costly. The look on her face was like a child's with a new puppy. There is stewing of Kochukadru (korean ground chilis) with malt flour. I've known family friends who stir it with a baseball bat. Often I've heard my mom complain that dad doesn't help like Mr. S who stirs it daily after work with his bat. Really you don't have to make it. And if you choose to venture that way, then don't feel you need to store up for a family of 10 for a year. I think it's just a mentality mom can't shake from her upbringing. I hope to learn.

Kochjang Salad Dressing

2 T kochujang
3 T rice wine vinegar
2 T sesame oil
1-2 black and white sesame seeds

Whisk. Toss on leaves or cucumbers. I topped with roasted chopped chestnuts we had made earlier for a risotto and then forgot to use. :-)

As well mom, makes her own Mandu or Korean dumplings. These are often filled with beef or chicken. Mom has made many culinary adjustments over the years since me and one of my sisters gave up meat. Meat is huge for Koreans so this was super trying for mom. I never gave the deserved credit for it when I was a surly teenager upset to find sausages in my salad and mom claiming ignorance. How'd that get there?

Mom's Seafood Mandu

She's perfected her seafood mandu over the years from little bits of feedback. One of the great things about making your own is of course control on filling and amount of filling.

Start with an enormous bowl. O, right, well I only really know how mom makes this. So I'll try to adjust. Start with a big bowl. You'll often see chopped bean thread noodle as a filler, a good one. Mom used to use more. There is very little now. Blanch a handfull of beanthread vermicelli and chop fine.

Let's do this right and not like mom off the cuff:

1 handful beanthread vermicelli
1 lb fresh soft dubu/tofu
1 lb cooked chopped shrim and squid, total
2 scallions chopped
1 inch fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic
2 T hot chilis (options but preferred)
1-2 c finely chopped kimchi, depends how spicy you like it.
salt and pepper

The binder is largely fresh tofu. Her friend owns a Soon Dubu restaurant and shop where she makes fresh tofu daily. This of course means it's only good for a few days. It's super soft like a firm yogurt. Use 500 ml or family yogurt sized container.

As well, eggs are also part of the bind. This is more important if you've got dry or crumbly tofu. You can even leave out the egg if you want if you've got nice soft tofu. 1-2 eggs.

The protein or the goodies are chopped shrimp and chopped cooked squid. Your ratio of tofu to seafood is up to you. I think equal amount of all protein to tofu will work. Gently steam or blanche the seafood and mince to 1/2 cm pieces.

Then add the following aromatics: 2 scallions/green onions, chopped. 1 inch ginger minced. 2-3 cloves garlic minced. 2T fresh chopped hot chilis

Chop fresh kimchee 1-2 cups. I like alot of kimchee in this. Up to you but if you leave it out, you may as well go to TnT and buy the frozen stuff with the strange veg mince that mostly tastes like carrots. Mom, of course, makes her own kimchee. She waxes poetic how well known she is in her circle and church groups for her kimchee. Yeah it's pretty good. Well, it's better than good but really mom, you make enough to feed a village.

Kimchee is asian cabbage picked in chilis and other ingredients that store bought won't always have. The stuff in the store is good but it's not made to last. It likely hasn't used enough salt or the shrimp paste that helps it get to the lactic fermentation stage before you start eating it. It's fine and is about as close to kimchee you'll get in a shop but it will go off in less than a week and your fridge will STINK! The stuff in the plastic tub jars might last longer than in the fresh takeaway section of the korean market. I'll do a post on kimchee later. I just learned this year from dad that if not for European introduction of the chili to asia, Kimchee would have kept it's original guise of something more akin to sauerkraut. Isn't that nuts!

Combine well. Buy a big pack of wonton or dumpling wrappers. Round is best but doesn't matter. Well, not to me but mom would say it has to be round and get the nice thick ones. Beat an egg with one shell full of water. Place 1 - 2 T filling in the centre of the wrapper. Brush or use one finger, and always that finger, to rub egg along 1/2 the circumference of the wrapper. Start on one end and pinch non egg side to egg side and start to fold like you're making a paper fan. Pinch nice and tight.

lay out separated on trays or sheet pans. When your done you will need to steam if you're planning to freeze. Or steam and eat straight away. I would also recommend steaming before frying unless you have a deep fryer. Lay them separated in a steamer for 12-15 minutes. Lay out again on the trays to cool. Freeze or eat. I've kept some of these for six months to a year and they've been fine. A little freezer burn on the edges but after recooking they were fine. Defrost and pan fry or steam. Serve with soy sauce or I like peanut sauce.

Mom will do about 5 times this amount when she gets into it. We try to help for a bit but after an hour, she's still going and I'm all egged up and slightly bored. As well, she's rather unamused by the ravioli, tondi and tortellini shapes I make. I also tried a few dimsum shapes too, all of which she steams, cheerfully. And cheerfully she make sure to serve them to me and no one else. I thought they were funny. They're definitely YUMMO.

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