Sunday, January 31, 2016

In the land of kimchi

I am a huge fan of kimchi. Back in the days, I bought it in large quantities, inexpensively in Koreatown in LA. These days it is vastly overpriced up here in Maine, where there are only a few Koreans who know how to make it and napa cabbage seems also to quite pricy in the winter. Nevertheless, home-made kimchi to the rescue.

A few years ago, I made a first batch based on a video vom Maangchi. She’s my kimchi queen, she is just super cute.  She has another video on youtube, ‘easy kimchi’.  So, it was a kimchi making Saturday afternoon, and a basmati rice and fresh kimchi kind of dinner. Yum!


It’s best to watch the video for more instructions. I am just writing up the ingredients.

Easy Kimchi (according to Maangchi):


  • 10 pounds of napa cabbage (adjust the recipe if you use less. I used 7 pounds).
  • 1 cup of kosher salt

Cut napa cabbage into bite-size pieces. Wash and soak the cabbage for a few minutes. Then salt the cabbage in a large bowl and let sit for 1.5 hours. Every 30 min gently mix and turn over the cabbage. After 1.5h, rinse the cabbage and drain.


Meanwhile make…


  • 3 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of white sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup of white or coconut sugar

In a pot, hit the water with the rice flour and constantly stir. With in 3-5 min, the porridge will thicken up. Add the sugar, and stir some more for 1min. Take off heat. Let cool to room temperature.


Ginger-garlic paste:

  • 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 TB of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup of fish sauce
  • 1 medium sized white onion, peeled

Place in food processor and process for 1 min.


Porrigde-Chili paste:

  • Mix the cooled porridge with the ginger-garlic paste.
  • add 1-2 cups of chili flakes (just 1/2-1 cup if you don’t like it too hot)
  • mix it all up.
  • Add
    • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup of daikon, thinly sliced
    • 1 bunch of scallions, sliced on an angle
  • Mix the vegetables in the paste.




Make kimchi:

  • Prepare a large storage container with a tight fitting lid. You will store the kimchi in the fridge to ferment for a few weeks.
  • Put on some rubber gloves.
  • In a bowl, mix a portion of salted, drained cabbage with a laddle full of chili paste. Mix up, and place in storage container.
  • Mix until all is mixed up and placed in storage container.
  • Place in fridge and wait for fermentation. It will start after 2 days, and smell slightly sour.

I made a separate smaller portion in a glass jar, which will ferment in room temperature so it ferments faster.

Serve with rice, sesame seeds and beef, or just as a side.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Requiem for a Fitness tracker

It happened this morning. It had been long expected, with trepidation. It happened one day earlier than expected.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Coconut waffles (vegan)

It is Friday. A lot went through my mind this week. Is the zika virus really such an explosively spreading threat as it is made out to be? Is it really responsible for the birth defects reported in Brazil? The whole hysteria eerily reminds me of Dan Brown novel “Inferno”.  I read somewhere that scientists try to bio-engineer a male mosquito that, if pairing with a female of the zika carrying mosquito species, the female would lay eggs that don’t develop into mosquitos. Inferno 2, revenge of the humans.

It would be funny if it would not be concerning.

Yesteryday, I read a blog post on the Bloggess, about Dave.  It made me think that I watch too much hulu and surf the internet to keep up with people I don’t even know.

It is mild outside. Much of our snow has melted. It feels more like March than end of January, and mentally I am steering towards spring and summer, making mental notes about spring fashion and running outdoors again.

This week I experimented with a new recipe, coconut waffles. This is an easy recipe and gives waffles a bit of an exotic edge. Have  a good weekend!


Friday, January 22, 2016

Arctic Winter Comforts

It is arctic around here. I wake up every morning to a glissening white-golden sun and a bright blue sky, the light reflected by the bright icy snow that covers the landscape pervasively. With January, the tempertures dip to the low 20sF, and it does not matter if it is 22F or -1F, it is simply too cold for comfort. Add some wind that icely blusters up the loose snow, and makes the tiny silvery snowflakes dance in house high walls, like ghosts, in the sun. I pull my fur-rimmed hood tighter around my head and try to get to the next building as fast as possible.
January is closing out, but February will not be much milder. This is the time of the year when you do not see your neighbors. They disappear in the fall in their houses and sometimes, in the spring they emerge with newborns. In the spring and summer, the kids play in the yard, the dogs are walked twice daily and the cats meander the fence-less properties. But winter? Only cars and snowblowers humming in the night.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Spicy Mung Bean Curry with Potatoes

The recipe called for mung beans. Hmmmm. I had to google them. “Aren’t they just lentils?”  “But they are yellow. Yellow lentils?! Orange ones, yes, but yellow….?” Mung beans are indeed lentils, and specific to the Indian subcontinent where they are quite popular. They are also grown in other regions. Unshelled they are tiny green perls, and bright yellow mini lentils when shelled. The good thing is that they cook very fast, no soaking necessary. Basically, the fast food version among legumes. Just 20-30 min and they puff up, absorb the liquid and are tender, mushy, just as a dal should be.

My first version of this recipe I made with yellow split peas. They look and taste quite similar, but they definitely take longer to cook and they are not as mushy in the end. But, alas, a hearty texture can be good, too. Then, I went on a quest for moong dal, and made the dish a second time. I also reduced the number of chilies I used this time around, because after the first round, I felt like a dragoon.

Authentically, the dish is cooked differently: the potatoes are cooked with the lentils, and there are black lentils and very few of them. So, this is defnitely an Americanized version, but still, extraordinarily tasty. The usual Indian cooking suspects: fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds, some fresh grated ginger, dried hot peppers, a pinch of the mysterious asafoetida, tomato paste, lentil, water and then it cooks for 30 min. It is served over some soft cooked, small, crushed potatoes (it would be great to additionally fry them before serving them with the lentil curry).

So good!
This is the version with yellow split peas.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pasta making, continued–fresh noodle soup heaven

I have a house full of any kitchen gadget imaginable so I am a bit wary if a new one attracts my attention and I try to talk myself out of it. The last one that ‘got me’ was the Philips pasta maker before Christmas. I guess it was the 20% off coupon and Christmas together. At a delicatessen store I picked up two bags of Italian “OO” flour, an extra fine all purpose durum flour, specifically for pasta, and I am already into the second bag. There were days when I had pasta for lunch and for dinner.  I must have some Italian blood flowing through my veins.

So far I tried most of the pasta shapes (beside the ‘lasagna’), and ordered 2 more: angel hair and parpadella, the extra wide noodles.
My favorite dishes are still fresh noodles with a simple tomato sauce and the second favorite: fresh noodle soup. It is so easy and so much better with fresh noodles: a pot full of water (or broth, home-made would be great), some bouillon,  some thin cut daikon radish, carrot stripes, edamame, maybe Tuscan kale, a few strands of saffron, and in 10 minutes noodle soup heaven is done.  I pour some miso on the bottom of the bowl, dilute it with some hot broth and pour in the rest of the soup.

Noodle soup heaven.