Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb 20th - Curried Spinach and Chick Pea Fideu and Kalbi

Curried Spinach Fideu
I first had a dish similar to this in Sevilla as a tapa. It did not have the fideu noodles in it though. My old flatmate E and I were visiting a friend working there for the summer and I think we went back for it a few times. It was awesome and I'll never forget where it was in the shadow of the cathedral. The orders are taken by efficient and experienced servers who wrote your tally on the slate counter in front of you. I adapted this to a paella like dish by adding the fideu noodles which are 1" cut spaghetti noodles which are served in a variety of paellas. You can find italian and german equivalents of these noodles too. I use Korean curry cubes in a pinch but I'll use a high quality curry powder if I have more time.

D and I had been painting for most of the day so we were at a bit of a loss as to what to eat if we were going to hit any Olympic venues. So I offered to make this and he had some Kalbi as well since he had so much in the freezer from Mom he never gets the chance to eat when I'm home.

Curried Spinach and Chick Pea Fideu

300g frozen chopped spinach
1/2 tin of chick peas drained (you can use the whole tin if you want)
150 g fideu noodles (these look like the chopped up spaghetti noodles you might see in instant chicken soup)
50 g curry cubes or 2-3 T curry powder
1/4 onion thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger minced
1 jalapeno (optional)
3-4 c water, hot to boiling

Defrost the spinach in the microwave for 4 minutes or on the counter for the day.

Add 2 cups boiling water to the curry cubes and set aside to soften. Stir to emulsify.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan. Sautee the onion until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Sautee until you smell the garlic, 2 minutes. Add the spinach. Stir for 5 minutes.

Add the noodles and the curry broth. Add 1 c more water to loosen the rest of the cubes at the bottom. Stir thoroughly and flatten with back of spoon so as many of the noodles are submerged. Reduce heat to bare simmer. Leave for 15-20 minutes. When noodles are mostly done, turn heat off and leave covered for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

D had Kalbi. As I'd said my mom sent him home with loads of it. I've become well accustomed and stocked with gear for this tradition. It's usually at Christmas which is freezing in Toronto. The bags are in ice bags with freezer backs and frozen solid and travel in cold cargo. We normally don't wait long in Vancouver and we're home in 20 minutes.

Kalbi is KOREAN. Oddly and ironically though it may seem. Many Koreans could barely afford meat during most of my parents childhoods. Rice was a luxury for that matter. That said, we have this worldwide reputation now for being carnivores. Weird. Even weirder since me and my sister V are not. Anyhoo. I love Kalbi or at least I did. I still love the smell. There is nothing that get's me raising my nose searching, than BBQ'd kalbi. My mom's is easily and hands down the best. She's known for it in her circle. Well, she's known for her cooking in general. You'll never have as good in restaurants though you'll have good kalbi if you go to the right places. But homemade Kalbi just can't be faked or mass produced.

Mom has perfected it over the years. I've seen her experiment with pureeing her onions in a blender to save time in the massive batches she used to make as well as encourage the marinade more thoroughly. I've seen her test with honey, sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup. I've seen her finally concede that MSG was not needed and possibly a bad thing. What she's landed on is the WORLD'S best Kalbi and therefore, something I won't share right now. Firstly, because I forgot to write it down. Secondly, I feel I need to generate more buzz before I give it all away:-P. NO, it's really the first thing.

Kalbi in the Broiler

1 person: 8 ribs or slices, well that's generous but D doesn't have rice with it. When we do, at Mom and Dad's he'll have 5.

Defrost, ideally overnight in the fridge. Otherwise defrost in the microwave on DEFROST for 5-7 minutes.

Have the broiler on high and put the rack on the top most rung. Heat your broiler and drainer pan before you lay the kalbi on. (but don't leave it in there after your first batch or you'll have a smokey problem) 2 minutes on each side, as per D's doneness. Koreans would go for 5 to char and crisp up a bit more.

Serve with rice... or not, D didn't. He also had some marinated gotchu... marinated peppers my mom made as well, for banchan.

Nothing beats the BBQ though. If you have a BBQ filled and gassed up, go for it!


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