Wednesday, June 09, 2010

June 3rd - Korean Fish Cake Gochu and Asparagus Sautee

D is out of town.  I was very torn between my need to deal up the ripe produce in the fridge and needing to sate D-unfriendly food.  Well, I cannot say that D would not like Korean fish cake but when we ask each other what we feel like eating tonight, it does not pop up on the list of options :^)

Korean fish cake can be found in either the fresh fish section or frozen food section of all Korean or Asian markets.  They come in different shapes but are mostly the same tan colour.  They are a processed/pureed fish formed into balls, fingers, pucks or cakes which are then fried.  The outside as the texture and appearance of Yuba.  You will have seen Yuba in most sushi restaurants.  They are the soy based 'skin' that looks like a mini pita pocket. 

You can use Korean fish cakes in any number of ways but the classic is a simple Korean Marinade stir-fry with Hot Peppers.  I am adding Asparagus for additional veg and vitamin hit.  It does not interfere with the intended texture like a Green Pepper or Broccoli would. A classic Korean Marinade is Soya Sauce based with brown sugar, sesame oil and the Korean trinity of Garlic, Ginger and Scallion.  If you can get that mix, you can do most Korean dishes by varying the % mix and using or not using Gochujang (chili paste) or Deng-jang (miso).  The peppers used in Korean cooking in this way are about the size of a man's finger, dark green or red.  The heat will vary so beware.    I do not know the variety name.  You will also see these all the time in the produce section of a Korean market.  They are also served raw on the table as a Banchan to be dipped into Gochujang. 

Banchan are those 'Condiments' or ' Side Dishes' that are on the table with whatever else you eat or order. In any self-respecting Korean restaurant, you should not pay for them.  They come in smaller saucer sized plates and are added to your bites as you eat.  You do not necessarily eat them as 'regular' part of the meal.  That said, men left on their own or students are known to subsist on plain rice and Kimchee, in which case it is the meal. :^).  It is probably most comparable to in the Indian cuisine, Pickles, Raita, Jams and Hotsauces.

Do not use Olive Oil in Asian cooking. It really clashes. Mom went through a phase of using Olive Oil after seeing a news segment on Olive Oil and Heart Disease. I made the mistake of oiling a veg for the BBQ with Olive Oil which was later destined for a stirfry and it was not great.

Serve with rice.

Korean Fish Cake with Gochu and Asparagus Sautee
(Serves 1 plus 1 lunch)

6-7 Korean Peppers, sliced into 1 inch segments
1/2 Onion, sliced
200g Fish Cake, bit sized pieces
6-8 Spears Asparagus, cut in 2 inch pieces (optional)
1-2 T Peanut Oil or Canola Oil

1/2 c Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 T Brown Sugar
1/2  inch Ginger, julienned (Mom would mash/grate it, I like to taste it)
2 cloved Garlic
2 t Sesame Oil
1 t Chili Soy (optional)
1 t Black Bean sauce (J variation for tang)
1 - 3 T Water (optional)

Whisk all the ingredients, except the water, thoroughly and set aside.

1 t toasted Sesame Seeds (garnish)
1 Green Onion, sliced (garnish)

Turn the fan on high.  In a large wok, heat 1 T of Peanut Oil on Medium High.  You need a drop of water to dance and take at least 1-2 seconds to evaporate. If it is vaporized instantly, it is too hot for this purpose.  Well, this is mainly because I do not have great woking technique because I multitask and wander off to open Wine.   Sautee the Onions and the Chilis for 2 minutes until softened. 

Add a teaspoon more oil if the bottom of the wok looks dry.  Add the Fish Cake.  You want it to brown and carmelise slightly.  2-3 minutes.  Keep it moving. 

Turn the heat down slightly to medium.  Add the Asparagus.  You just need it to turn bright Green.  You can add 1 T of water here to help steam the Asparagus.

Add the Sauce mixture.  Important to keep it moving here.  You want to coat all the veg and fish and do not want the sauce to carmelise and boil too fast at the bottom of the pan.  Add the water as needed if it thickens too fast.  Turn down the heat if it does.  You want the Garlic and Ginger cooked but not burned.  2 minutes. 

Serve over rice. Garnish with Sesame Seeds and Chopped Green Onion.

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