Myulchi Bokkeum Recipe - How to Cook Korean Stir-fried Anchovy Side Dish

Some non-Koreans may be puzzled to see Koreans eating anchovies with their eyes and head all attached to them. After watching a few cooking shows on the food channel, I found out Americans usually use anchovies in sauce, mostly melted (so the perplexity understood). Koreans use anchovies mainly in two different ways: using bigger anchovies to make broth and using smaller anchovies to make a tasty side dish - myulchi bokkeum.

Myulchi bokkeum is an excellent source for calcium. Myulchi also has taurin that may be beneficial for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

What would be the best match with myulchi? Myulchi increases absorption of beta-carotene, so it’s best to have it or cook it with vegetables containing lots of beta-carotene such as green peppers (kkwari gochu).

- Kkwari gochu

Now, let’s make myulchi bokkeum. It’s surprisingly simple!

3/4 or 1 cup dried myulchi (anchovies) (small, 1 or 1 1/2 inch long)
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) - optional
1/2 tablespoon ginger (grated or minced) - optional
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (garnishing) - optional
1/2 cup of green peppers (kkwari gochu)
1/2 or 1 tablespoon of corn syrup or honey - optional

* The amount of each ingredient is subject to personal taste.

1. Make the sauce first: mix soy sauce, olive oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger. If you want to make it spicy, add gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste).

2. stir myulchi over medium or medium-high heat in a heated pan for about a couple of minutes. Stirring anchovies over the heat without oil will get rid of any fish smell and make them crispier.

3. Turn down the heat a little bit, add the sauce and stir-fry it. Add green peppers (kkwari gochu) if you have them.

4. When it’s well mixed and cooked, turn off the heat. Add sesame oil and garnish it with sesame seeds. If you want to make it sweeter, add corn syrup or honey at the end.

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Posted under Korean Food on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 | No Comments »

Doenjang Jjigae (Doenjang Soup) Recipe - Korean Bean Paste Soup

Doenjang jjigae is a popular Korean dish made with fermented Korean soybean paste, doenjang. It’s a great dish to take all the nutrients of doenjang. Because it’s one of the most common and popular dishes in Korea, you will probably find it in almost all Korean restaurants.

But if you’d like to try this at home, don’t hesitate. It’s very simple to make it, and it doesn’t take a lot of time.*

* Obviously, you need doenjang - Korean soybean bean paste to cook this at home. Home made doenjang has the best savor and nutrients, but it’s complicated to make it at home. You can buy doenjang in most korean grocery stores.

Some of popular ones are:

Here is a recipe to make doenjang jjigae.

1 and 1/2 tablespoons of doenjang
1/4 tofu from a package or 4~5oz (about 100 ~ 150g)
1 small or medium size onion
1/2 medium size zucchini or squash
5~7 dried anchovies
1 green onion
2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 green chili pepper (optional)
1 red chili pepper (optional)
1/4 tablespoon Korean hot red pepper powder (gochugaru) or red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup of mushrooms (optional)
1/2 small or medium size potato (optional)
3 ~ 4 pieces of dasima(kelp) (optional)
1/2 tablespoon gochujang (optional, when you want to make it spicier)
Shrimps or clams (optional, when you want to make seafood doenjang jjigae)

* The amount of each ingredient is subject to personal taste.

1. Mix doenjang (and gochujang, if you want) with water.

2. Pour 1 to the stew pot and add 3 cups of water. (Depending on how salty and thick you want it to be, you can add less or more water.)

3. Remove the heads and intestines from the dry anchovies and put them in the pot.

4. If you have dasima, add it to the pot.
(*The anchovies and dasima are for broth. Most Koreans remove them a few minutes after the water boils.)

5. Slice the vegetables (onion, zucchini, potato or mushrooms).

6. When the water boils, add the chopped vegetables. Add the shrimps or clams if they are not cooked. If they are already cooked, you can add them with the tofu later.

7. Cut the tofu into chunks and chop the green onion.

8. When the vegetables are cooked, add the tofu and green onion.

9. When the jjigae boils, add the minced garlic, chopped green and red chili pepper. Add gochugaru (Korean hot red pepper powder) if you want to make it spicier. Boil it a couple of minutes more.

10. Serve the doenjang jjigae when it’s hot.

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Posted under Korean Food on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | No Comments »

Benefits of Doenjang - Korean Soy Bean Paste

Benefits of Doenjang - Korean Fermented Bean Paste

Doenjang, a traditional Korean fermented soy bean paste, has been one of the main ingredients in Korean dishes for centuries. The taste and smell of doenjang may be too strong for non-Koreans who try it first time because it’s fermented for weeks or months, but for that reason, its nutritional value is very high. Here are some benefits of doenjang that are being acknowledged by many nutritional experts recently.

Doenjang is good for preventing and treating cancer (anticancer, anti-carcinogenic).
The main ingredient of doenjang, soybean is rich in isoflavones, and many scientists and nutritionists agree that the isoflavones of soybeans are very effective in preventing cancer. Studies have shown that the anticancer properties are even stronger in fermented soybean food such as doenjang.

The Korean Cancer Prevention Association recommends to have doenjang jjigae (a soup made from doenjang) every day because of its benefits in treating and preventing cancer. The nutrients of doenjang remain the same after boiling, so doenjang jjigae would be a perfect way to have doenjang - it is actually one of the most popular dishes in Korea.

There is one thing to be careful about, though. Doenjang contains much salt, so doenjang jjigae or seasoned doenjang sauce for bulgogi can be pretty salty. To balance the saltiness, add lots of vegetables, such as Korean leek (buchu) or zucchini, when you make doenjang jjigae.

Doenjang helps lower blood pressure (doenjang helps prevent high blood pressure).
The linoleic and linolenic acid in doenjang is effective in preventing many blood-vessel-related diseases: it helps lower blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and makes blood vessels more elastic and healthy.

Doenjang helps digestion and constipation.
Prebiotics in doenjang helps grow beneficial digestive bacteria in the large intestine and stimulates bowel movements. Having thin doenjang soups is one of common traditional Korean remedies for indigestion.

Doenjang helps strengthen the liver.
Studies have shown that doenjang is effective in reducing the activation of aminotransferase that is resulted from liver or heart damage.

Doenjang is an anti-oxidant and anti-aging food.
Polyphenol contained in doenjang, such as isojlavin or melanoidin, is a good anti-oxidant. The anti-oxidant properties of doenjang get even stronger through fermentation process.

Doenjang helps prevent senile dementia.
The lecithin and saponin in soybeans help reduce the development of senile dementia by stimulating brain activities and slowing down aging.

Doenjang helps prevent osteoporosis.
There have been studies showing a compound called isoflavone, rich in soybeans, helps prevent or slow bone loss.

Doenjang is a great source of protein.
Soybeans are abundant in good quality protein and fat. Doenjang has about 20 different kinds of amino acids developed through fermentation.

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Posted under Korean Food on Friday, March 26th, 2010 | No Comments »

What is Gochugaru? - Korean Red Chili Pepper Powder

Gochugaru Definition

Gochugaru is Korean red chili pepper powder. Gochu means chili pepper and garu means powder. It’s a very common ingredient used in many Korean dishes such as kimchi, bulgogi, or tteokbokki. With a proper amount, it will make dishes savory and arouse more appetite.

The quality of gochugaru depends on how well gochu (chili peppers) are ripe and how well they get dry in the sunlight. There are two ways to dry gochu; in the sunlight or with heat. Drying gochu in the sunlight is better - this gochu is called taeyangcho - because it generates spicy taste and red color better while naturally drying than while drying with heat.

Drying Red Chili Pepper Gochu
- Gochu

While drying gochu in the sunlight, it’s important to keep chili pepper clean and dirt-free. Any dirt or germs ground into gochugaru eventually affect the taste of dishes - yes, it can change the color and taste of kimchi.

I remember helping my mom wiping each pepper with a clean cloth after drying was done. It’s not a pleasant task because it took a long time, there were so many of them, and sometimes I ended up crying because of the spicy flavor from chili peppers.

Most Koreans, including me and my mom(!) these days, buy packaged gochugaru instead of making their own. It’s important to find a good brand when you buy gochugaru from your grocery stores. Well, this is true for shopping grocery in general, but it’s much more important with shopping for basic ingredients such as gochugaru, gochujang, ganjang, or doenjang.

Buying Gochugaru Packcage
- Packaged Gochugaru

It’s recommended to store gochugaru in the fridge after opening it.

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Posted under Korean Ingredients on Thursday, February 25th, 2010 | No Comments »

Dubu Kimchi Recipe - How To Make Tofu With Kimchi

Dubu Kimchi (Tofu with Kimchi Bokkeum) is one of the most popular anju (snacks for alcoholic beverages) for soju lovers. But it can be a great side dish for regular meals, or it can replace a regular meal for those who want to shed extra pounds.

It is indeed an excellent “healthy” diet food for those who like kimchi. Dubu (Tofu, soy bean curd), high in protein, low in saturated fat, has low calories and can reduce the risk of heart diseases by lowering the bad cholesterol level. It’s a good source of vitamin E, B-vitamins and calcium. Kimchi is also full of vitamins and minerals. Depending on how you cook and what to add, you can minimize the fat from this dish.

I often make this dish for dinner especially when I am not that hungry - usually after a huge lunch or lots of snacks before dinner - and I don’t feel like spending much time for preparing. This is so simple to make, as well as tasty and nutritious.

Here is a recipe for dubu kimchi.

Ingredients for 2 servings
1 package of tofu
1 cup of kimchi (preferably more aged (sour) kimchi)
1/2 cup of samgyupsal (pork belly) or bacon
1/2 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 green onion
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
soy sauce (optional)
sugar (optional)

* The amount of each ingredient is subject to personal taste. If your kimchi is already salty or you use bacon, you can probably skip soy sauce.
** You can easily skip pork belly, onions, spring onions or sesame seeds if you don’t have.

1. Tofu: there are three options to prepare the tofu.
(a) Steam or boil the tofu for about three minutes. (b) You can slice the tofu into pieces, and pan-fry them with olive oil for more flavor. It usually takes about four to five minutes to cook each side over medium-high heat. (c) Use raw tofu.
I usually boil it because I like it cooked and boiling is the simplest!
When it’s cooled down from boiling or pan-frying, cut the tofu in half lengthwise. Then, cut each into 1/2 inch pieces.

2. Kimchi Bokkeum
Slice the samgyupsal 1 1/2 inches long.
Chop the kimchi into smaller pieces.
Mince the garlic.
Chop the onion and spring onion.
Over a pan, add the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is ready, add the minced garlic, onions and samgyupsal. Stir-fry until they’re almost cooked.
Add the kimchi. Add soy sauce and /or sugar if you’d like. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
Add sesame oil and spring onions and cook for one more minute.
Turn off the heat and place the kimchi bokkeum in the center of a big dish.
Place the tofu slices around the kimchi.
Garnish the kimchi bokkeum with the sesame seeds.

How to eat
Place some kimchi bokkeum on top of a slice of tofu, and eat them together.

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Posted under Korean Food on Friday, February 19th, 2010 | No Comments »