[Journal] Cornbread and Kimbap

Journal

I made kimbap and cornbread today. The cornbread is my 15th try… So many ones went to waste… My coworkers were so kind as to eat most of them as they were great scones according to them. But today was a breakthrough. As I was about to give up, I tried a few things. It turns out that it paid off!! I finally got the color right. I have an idea of how to proceed but I’m worried how many ingredients I’ll waste. If my guess is correct, I will need to up the amount of dry ingredients and butter. 

I also made a lot of kimbap and fruits. Most are for my mom who was recently diagnosed This past week with tendonitis, arthritis, and something I can’t even mention… I feel so bad that I’m not able to do much and there is no surgery available for her. But if I can make her day better by making some good Korean food with quality ingredients and my time, I will do so. 

Here are pictures of my cooking experience. 

   
       

  

  

  

  

  

  

   
 

[Bread] Korean Style Cornbread

Bread

After a tiring 5 batches and over 100 breads, I have come up with the recipe I am satisfied with. This recipe is close to the Korean style cornbread I really like based on flavor, but the texture is too close to American style cornbread. Korean style cornbread tends to have a spongy center with a crispy outside. Also, the bread has to be almost golden in color. It should look like http://postfiles10.naver.net/20111231_137/baby0817_1325303268416nNLbh_JPEG/12.jpg?type=w2. Cornbread is not easy for me… It’s the one thing I truly struggled to make… Even more than Korean style cheesecake which took me one year to get it perfect!

I think I will settle on this recipe until I figure out how to get the edges right. A nearby bakery makes this bread as exactly as how I like it, but they charge nearly three bucks a piece. And this is partly because the owner imports the cornmeal from Korea directly. Korean cornmeal tends to have a stronger corn taste with a deeper yellow color.

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter (50g)

1/4 cup sugar or honey powder (60g)

1/5 tsp salt (5g)

1 egg

1 cup cake flour (110g)

5/6 cup cornmeal or corn powder (100g)
* DO NOT use corn flour because regular flour is added

1 tsp baking powder (5g)

1/3 cup milk (50ml)

1/2 cup corn (OPTIONAL)
* Adding the corn makes the bread more spongy and soft

Directions

Melt the butter add mix in the sugar and salt and whisk

When the batter is slightly cool, beat in one egg

Whisk well until it looks like pudding

Add in the cake flour, cornmeal, and baking powder

Use a spatula or baking spatula to stir ingredients thoroughly
* The cornmeal will start to absorb the liquid ingredients

Slowly add in the milk and stir frequently
* The batter should start to look like a really wet, sticky dough

At this point, you can add the corn (OPTIONAL) if you want

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Grab a baking tray and put parchment paper on top.
* If you don’t have that, use aluminum foil and grease it up

Put some oil on your hands and shape the dough into little balls

After you put the balls on the baking tray, I usually like to cut a line down the middle of the bread (see pictures for what it looks like)

Then brush on an egg wash (1 egg mixed with 2 tbsp water or milk)
* When you brush the egg wash on the bread, it turns the bread golden

Bake for 25-26 minutes

After it’s done, go ahead and pull it out and let it cool off somewhere

This bread is very good by itself. But like many people, if you eat it warm with butter or jam, it tastes even more amazing! In my house, I live with one kid who is a very picky eater. He even dislikes macaroni and cheese!!! After making him this cornbread, he thoroughly enjoyed it. And he even asked for me to save some for him.

While this recipe was very difficult for me, it is part of the process of becoming a better cook and baker. After many tries, I got better in making this recipe. And the day that I can make it exactly how I want, I know that my efforts will be worthwhile. And the most important thing to remember is… Cook from the heart, and your food will always be delicious. 

[Seafood] Korean Hwaedeop Bap aka Japanese Chirashi Bowl

Seafood

South Korea and Japan are two countries that are surrounded by water and have a history of abundant seafood in their local cuisines. It’s only natural that both countries would have their own version of rice and seafood. From what I understand, there are only sight differences based on regional preference, but the end result is very similar. Also, the Japanese use sweet vinegar in their rice preparation which is not standard in the Korean version.

Ingredients

1.5 cups of cooked medium grain rice

7-9 tbsp of sushi vinegar

0.5 cups of diced raw fish (salmon, tuna, hamachi)

2-3 pieces of raw squid

1 avocado

1 cucumber

2 tbsp massago or salmon roe

Directions

– Wash and cook the rice as one would normally

– Take out rice and add the sushi vinegar

– Fold the rice and fan simultaneously to get glossy rice

– Let the rice cool down completely

– Peel and dice the cucumber into small pieces

– Peel and slice the avocado

– Cut the sushi grade fish into cubes or slices

– Dunk the avocado and fish into some sushi vinegar on the side to keep them fresh

– Drain the avocado and fish and set aside

– Place the rice into a bowl or container

– Take the cucumber and sprinkle over the rice

– Add all the fish and avocado and massago

– Enjoy!!

It is very important to purchase sushi grade fish as you don’t want to get sick from eating this. The fresher the fish, the less smell there is to it. I normally add gyeran mari aka tamago yaki to the bowl, but I was in a rush today.

I usually use the left over fish to make sushi or make a sashimi type plate.

The idea of this entree is to add fresh fish to a bowl of vinegar rice. The flavors should be fresh, tangy, and a bit sweet.

The word chirashi means to scatter. As we scatter the different ingredients on rice, we are making the chirashi bowl. In Korean, deobbap refers to any pairing of rice and something else on top that needs to be eaten together. In this case, it’s fish, so we call it hwae deobbap which is fish rice.

Enjoy making your chirashi with various ingredients. The fresher the better and the more local the better too. Cook from the heart, and your food will always be delicious.

[Snack] Kimbap (Korean Futomaki) Sushi Roll

Snack

Lunar New Year is fast approaching. In my house, we celebrate Korean New Year which is one of the top three most important holidays in the Korean calendar. Normally, we are to clean the house before the new year, because Koreans believe that it will reflect the rest of your year.

On Korean New Year, Koreans normally eat a bowl of Rice Cake Soup aka Tteokguk which is rice cake soup with eggs, beef, and some green veggies. It’s a super savory dish, and is very special and nostalgic to Koreans.

In the day leading up to the New Year, I was inspired to make some Korean food. And I decided to make Kimbap which is a Korean style futomaki. Normally, there are thousands of variations in which to make kimbap. In the kimbap stores in Korea, there are many kinds you can buy on the menu. When I visit Kimbap Heaven (김밥천국), my favorite thing to order is the bulgogi roll with some naengmyeon (cold noodles).

In my kimbap recipe, I like to use ingredients depending on what I’m in the mood for. I will show you the recipe here that I made last night.

Ingredients

7-10 cups of cooked rice

~15 sheets of roasted seaweed (aka yaki nori)

1 bamboo mat (optional, but strongly preferred)

6 eggs

2 cucumbers

2 gobo sticks (if fresh, it needs to be boiled in water until soft)
* Then it needs to be put in same marinade as instant bulgogi (see below)

2 rolls pickled radish (takuon or dakweon)

1 pkg imitation crab meat

1-2 lbs of bulgogi *** See instant bulgogi recipe below ***

Preparation

– In order to marinate the beef, I normally take thin sliced beef and put it into a bowl of water to take out the blood. Any residual blood will end up foaming (or coagulating) in the wok when you cook it. Then you heat a wok (or pot) and add 2 cups water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of honey (sugar and agave can also be used). Then you add the meat and boil until the meat is full cooked through. This is the instant recipe I use when I need bulgogi for kimbap, bibimbap, or any other dishes.

– The same marinade above can be used to boil the gobo which is one of the ingredients I used.

– The eggs are a bit tricky. I normally break three eggs and whisk together very well. Then heat them under low-med heat on a well oiled pan until the bottom side is firm. Then flip gently to make sure not to rip the egg. The goal is not to cook the egg fast, but to gently heat through so we can flip both sides.  You will want to create a thin circle basically that has no rips.

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Directions

1. Prepare the “mise en place” which is a fancy way of saying prep work. In order to prepare the “mise en place”, you need freshly made rice. Then go ahead and cut up the gobo, pickled radish, cucumber, eggs, and crab into strips/sticks that can fit in the kimbap. The beef will need to be minced or cut into strips as well.

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2. Place a sheet of seaweed on the bamboo roller mat as mentioned earlier. Then add on the rice to cover half the sheet and place each of the mise en place components on the rice.

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3. Use the bamboo mat to roll up the ingredients into a kimbap roll! You are done and you can cut up the roll into bite size pieces. However, i will tell you one secret that Koreans do. Koreans like to brush some sesame oil on the rolls and sprinkle a little bit of salt before cutting the rolls. We do this to accentuate the savory side of kimbap as well as pump up the flavor.

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Kimbap has always been a special snack for Koreans. In Korea, it’s very accessible, and can fill you up quick in an emergency. Also, they say you can determine a mother’s love if she has ever attempted to make kimbap for her child before school. The reason behind this is that kimbap is very times-taking to make. And to make attractive looking kimbap is even more difficult.

I still remember when my mom used to make me kimbap before school and on weekends. I used to enjoy eating the end pieces as those were the best parts of the roll. And when we had a batch of kimchi to go with the rolls, it was even more special. Because the rolls are full of rice, veggies, and some meat, it makes the perfect snack or meal. The flavors are amazing and it’s hard to go wrong with this roll. Almost any ingredient can be used as long as it’s not watery or powdery. Previously, I almost always used carrots, fishcake, and spinach in my rolls. Those ingredients happen to be very common to a traditional kimbap as well.

In a batch I made a few months ago, I made Tuna Kimbap which had tuna, mayonnaise, sesame leaves, carrots, and some other vegetables. It’s good to explore with flavors and ingredients. That’s how we become better cooks. This is a special recipe to me, so I hope you all enjoy making kimbap.

As I usually tell people, cook from the heart, and the food will always be delicious.