Appetizers/Small Plates · Beef · Sponsored

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

We have been non-stop grilling this summer and it has been fantastic!!!

Burgers (all types!), skewers, seafood, ribs, veggies……

And with this crazy heat and humidity we’ve been having these past few weeks it’s been the perfect way to escape the hot kitchen.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

Most of our BBQs have been in the backyard so I’ve been sorely missing out on all of the summertime beach and park picnics. Delish sammies, salads, and fried chicken. SOOOO GOOD!

But if you’re anything like me, I often can’t decide what I want to make to bring for picnics. I strive to fix up dishes that are a bit out of the norm but still delish at room temperature. And since they’re outdoor events, I try to think of items that don’t have ingredients that will spoil easily.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

Thank goodness that onigiris and seaweed rice rolls are ALWAYS a hit when I bring them out. Onigiris (also often referred to as musubis) are a Japanese treat consisting of sticky rice shaped into balls or triangles and wrapped in toasted seaweed. They often are filled with seafood, pickled veggies or meat.

What’s my favorite onigiri? SPAM MUSUBIS!!!!!

Yes, the all-caps were a must.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

As for seaweed rice rolls — think of sushi maki rolls. But, if you opt to make them for outdoor events or if you don’t plan on serving them right away, I’d recommend staying clear of filling them with raw seafood. Korean style seaweed rice rolls, Kimbap, are perfect because of it.

Kim = Seaweed

Bap =  Rice

Ever since I was first introduced to kimbap in elementary by my Korean friends, I have been inhaling these little buggers like crazy. There are so many variations but the standard filling usually consists of bulgogi (or seasoned protein of your choice), shredded carrots, cooked spinach, strips of cooked eggs and danmuji (pickled daikon). However, you can really use just about anything you have in your fridge. I often swap out the daikon for cucumbers and use leftover meat I may have such as grilled chicken, shrimp or imitation crab.

The other distinct difference between kimbap and Japanese maki is the rice. Normally, kimbap will only have sesame oil seasoned rice whereas Japanese sushi rice will have sake, rice wine vinegar and some sugar. But since I like the flavor, I use a combo of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar for my kimbap.

Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls

So for my latest contribution to the  Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen I thought I would share with you a basic version of Kimbap. Once you get all the pieces together, assembly takes barely any time at all. And since you don’t have to serve it right away, you can make it the morning of a picnic or outing and have it on hand whenever you’re ready for it.

I’ve also included my recipe for the bulgogi marinade below but feel free to use a store bought marinade as there are TONS of great ones out there as well. However, keep in mind one note about the preparation of the eggs or “omelet”. Cook the eggs low and slow so that it doesn’t brown and retains its bright yellow color.

Much thanks to our friends at Safest Choice™ and to learn more about them and their pasteurization process to eliminate salmonella, please click here.

HAPPY PICNICKING!

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Kimbap – Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls
Makes 4 rolls

Ingredients:

½ cup bulgogi marinade, homemade* or store bought
¼ pound thinly sliced ribeye beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
3 large Safest Choice™ pasteurized eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked short grain-sticky rice, heated
½ tablespoon sesame oil
½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 toasted seaweed sheets
½ cup finely julienned carrots
½ cup danmuji – Korean pickled daikon (or cucumbers), cut into long strips
½ cup blanched spinach

In a small bowl, mix the bulgogi marinade and beef together. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat a small nonstick skillet with ½ tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-low. Pour in the beaten eggs and turn down the heat to low. Cook the eggs until they have just set on top and you see tiny bubbles forming over the surface. Carefully flip over the “omelet”. Allow the eggs to cook for an additional minute and slide the omelet onto a cutting board. Cut the omelet into long strips approximately ½ inch wide. Set aside.

Use a damp paper towel and wipe the interior of the nonstick skillet. Heat the remaining vegetable oil over medium high. Add the marinated beef to the skillet and stir-fry until the meat has browned and cooked through. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the rice with the sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.

Place one piece of toasted seaweed (shiny side down) on a bamboo sushi mat or piece of parchment paper. Dip your hands into a bowl of water (to help keep the rice from sticking). Spread and press ¼ of the rice mixture into an even, thin layer on top of the seaweed. You’ll want to leave about 2 inches from the top and bottom of the seaweed sheet uncovered.

Place ¼ of the beef, eggs, carrots, daikon, and spinach horizontally along the center of the rice. Hold the bottom of the bamboo mat (or parchment), and use an upwards motion to roll the kimbap. As you’re rolling, you’ll want to gently squeeze the kimbap to ensure that it’s firmly sealed and enclosed into the shape of a log. Unroll the bamboo mat (or parchment) and set the rolled kimbap aside. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.

Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into ½ inch pieces. You may need to wipe down the knife periodically as the rice can cause the blade to become sticky. Serve the kimbap at room temperature.

*To make your own bulgogi marinade, add the following ingredients into a food processor/blender and puree. Makes approximately 1 cup.

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon mirin
juice of one small orange
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper powder)
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ tablespoon brown sugar
½ small Asian pear, quartered
2 large garlic cloves
1 inch piece fresh ginger
2 scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces

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*DISCLOSURE: As a brand ambassador for the Safest Choice™ Darling Dozen, I was compensated for the creation of this recipe and post. However, as always, all opinions are my own.*

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Beef

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak – Happy Birthday Mom!

May 10th

It’s May 10th which means it’s not only Mother’s Day but also, our Mom’s Birthday!

She would have been 74 this year (eek! She’s probably yelling at me for disclosing that!) but I’m quite certain she would have looked no older than maybe 55….ok, may 60 🙂

May 10th

The woman had some crazy good skin! She would often tell me when I was growing up to always use upward strokes when applying facial lotion to go against gravity.

But come to think of it….how does one say “gravity” in Vietnamese again? Eh, I must have just known what she was talking about.

May 10th

Today started off very much like it has for the past few years on Mom’s birthday. As I’ve written in her birthday posts before, it kicked off with a delish breakfast that I picked up at Panera Bread. When Mom and Dad moved to Florida, they went crazy for Panera Bread and would go weekly for French onion soup and their fantastic egg soufflés.

Luckily, I was able to snag the last Spinach and Bacon Egg Soufflé which was decadently wonderful.

May 10th

After brekkie I started going through old pics of Mom for this post and couldn’t help but smile.

I mean, the woman was a serious F-A-S-H-I-O-N-I-S-T-A….and I’m talking all the way back to when she was a kid.

May 10th

Neither her family or my dad’s were wealthy but she someone how managed to rock it out in the countrysides of  Việt Nam with Sophia Loren style sunglasses, patent leather pumps, itty-bitty mini-dresses and beautifully tailored & formfitting áo dàis.

May 10th

And this sense of style never waned through the years.

To this day, I wonder if Dad ever knew how often Mom would hide her shopping loot in the car or in the back of the closets only to tell him days later when she was wearing the new item that it was actually years and years old.

Sneaky woman.

May 10th

And as you know, Mom was an incredible cook.

I think most people say that about their moms but for reals, ours was awesome.

May 10th

When I shared my Vegetarian Chap Chae recipe a couple of years ago, I talked a little bit about how Mom and Dad went through a major Korean phase. They would watch Korean soap operas/dramas, buy Korean cookbooks, make and jar their own types of kimchees, and of course–go to town on Korean BBQ.

May 10th

Since I make a steak every year on Mama’s birthday (she was a carnivorous steak-loving 4’9″ woman), I decided to take a Korean spin. When grilling up (or pan-cooking) steaks, I rarely will use a marinade. I think the straight up taste of beef with some salt and pepper can’t be beat.

But this is for Mom and a little variation from time to time is good for you.

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak

I opted for a ribeye cut (my fav) and doctored some of my go-to Korean BBQ beef marinade. It’s filled with all kinds of goodness like soy, ginger, garlic, fresh OJ, and of course–grated Asian pear. The latter is for some added sweetness and the acidity helps tenderize the meat.

If you want to add a kick of spice, add a few dollops of gojuchang — Korean fermented chili paste.

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak

I chose to use a cast iron skillet to cook the steak instead of using a grill because I prefer how the meat caramelizes on the skillet.

But hey– if you prefer, fire up the grill!

Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak

I like my steak on the medium to medium-rare side and served it up with a bed of rice and bok choy. I threw the marinade used for the steak in a small sauce pan, cooked and reduced it down, and then drizzled it over the beef.

I’ve got to tell ya. It was dang good and quite the lunch to celebrate Mama. There’s no doubt that she would have loved it.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MOTHER’S DAY MAMA!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years since you’ve been with us but not a day goes by where we don’t think of you! We miss your feistiness, strength, stubbornness, laughter, and COOKING!!

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Korean Inspired Ribeye Steak
Serves 2

Ingredients:

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon mirin
juice of one small orange
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper powder)
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (more for garnish)
kosher salt
black pepper
½ tablespoon brown sugar
½ small Asian pear, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
½ inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
2 scallions, chopped (more for garnish)
1 16-18 ounce ribeye beef steak or two 8-9 ounce ribeye beef steaks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
shilgochu (Korean red pepper chili threads)

Prepare the marinade. In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, mirin, orange juice, sesame oil, gochugaru, sesame seeds, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, brown sugar, grated pear, garlic, ginger and scallions.

Rinse the steak with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Pour the marinade into a large resealable bag. Add the steak and rub the marinade all over. Squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal the bag. Place the bag in a shallow dish and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours.

Remove the steak from the bag and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Use paper towels to dry off the steak and allow the beef to sit out for about 10 minutes until it becomes room temperature.

Place a cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

After the cast iron skillet has heated in the oven for 15-20 minutes, carefully remove the skillet and place on a burner over medium-high heat. Add the butter, oil and allow it to melt together before carefully placing the ribeye steak in the skillet. Sear the steak on the first side for 1-2 minutes. Flip the steak and allow to sear for 30 seconds before placing the whole skillet into the oven. Allow the steak to roast in the oven for about another 2-3 minutes for medium rare (depending on the thickness of your steak). Remove the steak from the skillet and place on a plate or cutting board. Cover loosely with foil for about 5-7 minutes to allow the steak time to rest.

While the steak rests, simmer the marinade in the saucepan until it thickens and reduces by half.

To serve, slice the steak. Plate with steamed rice, sautéed bok choy and drizzle the reduced marinade over the top of the beef. Garnish with additional chopped scallions, sesame seeds and shilgochu. Enjoy!

Drinks · Sunday Family Dinner

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Did you check out our last Sunday Family Dinner?

If you did, you may have said to yourself…. “Huh…something’s missing. Where are the cocktails????”

And rightfully so! Because what’s a Sunday Fam-Din without a specialty cocktail? Not one of ours for sure!

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Since Korean fare was the theme for August, I knew I wanted to use soju for our signature cocktail. Soju is a distilled alcohol and is traditionally made from rice. To me, I liken it to the flavors of sake–but I’m no expert. So for all of you soju aficionados–don’t bust my chops!

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At a family party last year, my younger cousin NhuMy picked up some fresh watermelon agua fresca and turned it into delish watermelon martinis. My seester T and I loved it so much that I wanted to take the same flavors to make Watermelon Soju-tinis.

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Using fresh watermelon that eldest seester, N, had in her fridge (my niece, Nina, is a watermelon-monster), I made a refreshing and light agua fresca. Thrown into a shaker with some lime juice, soju, zest and ice—and we had fantabulous cocktail.

Looking for a mocktail? No worries! The agua fresca chilled with ice is just as delish!

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Watermelon Soju-tinis
Serves 2

Ingredients:

5 cups fresh watermelon, cut into large chunks
1/2 cup chilled water
juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional), depending on sweetness of the watermelon
ice
4 ounces soju
lime zest
watermelon wedges for garnish

In a blender, add the watermelon chunks, water, lime juice and sugar (optional). Blend until smooth. Pour liquid through a sieve to strain.

Fill a large shaker with ice. Add the soju, 5 ounces watermelon agua fresca, and 1-2 pinches lime zest. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses. Garnish with watermelon wedges. Cheers!

Seafood · Soups/Stews · Sunday Family Dinner

Korean Feast for Sunday Family Dinner + Happy Birthday Nina!

August 2013 Korean Family Dinner

My eldest niece, Nina, turns 15 today *gulp*

Don’t ask me how it happened but within a blink of the eye, our super chubby little baby turned into a beautiful and intelligent young woman. The bday gal requested Korean for last week’s Sunday Family Dinner and we willingly obliged.

We LOVE Korean food! And as I’ve shared before, our mom went through an extensive phase where she cooked all types of Korean dishes to dazzle her guests.

August 2013 Family Dinner

As always, we cooked way too much food. But what can we say, we wanted a “little” bit of everything and leftovers are a good thing in our book. A HUGE thanks to Emily Kim, author and founder of Maanchi, whose recipes were heavily used in our menu that night.

As for the menu…..

What’s a Korean meal without some type of Kimchi? Eldest seester started a week before our dinner and prepared a ridiculous amount of Kimchi—and I mean a TON OF KIMCHI! Though I’m not complaining as we each got to take a jar home.

Kimchi

We had crispy, Grilled Pork Belly served with an acidic, vinegar based dipping sauce…….

Grilled Pork Belly

A huge pot of bubbling Soondubu Jjigae – Soft Tofu Stew with lots of seafood……

Soondubu Jjigae - Soft Tofu Stew

Plates of Haemul Pajeon – Seafood Pancake……….

Haemul Pajeon - Seafood Pancake

You can see that the there’s definitely more “filling” than batter in these pancakes.

Haemul Pajeon - Seafood Pancake

And there was a huge pan of Ddeokbokki – Spicy Rice Cakes which is one of my personal faves. Mimi (my oldest friend/ex-roomie) used to make this all of the time for me in grad school and it’s carboliciously, delicious.

Ddeokbokki - Spicy Rice Cakes

We also had Galbijjim – Braised Beef Short Ribs that just fell off the bone. Slightly sweet and incredibly tender. Man, my mouth is watering just remember this goodness…..

Galbijjim - Braised Beef Short Ribs

And there was some Kimchi Bokkeumbap – Kimchi Fried Rice.

Kimchi Bokkeumbap

And last, for dessert, Patbingsu – shaved ice. We adorned ours with sweet red beans, fresh fruits, mochi, tapioca and a drizzle of condensed milk.

Patbingsu - Shaved Ice

And that’s how we roll–Korean style!

Happy 15th Birthday Nina-love!!!! May this year bring you success in school (and tennis), laughter, happiness and adventures (in moderation, of course 🙂 )

xoxo!

August 2013 Family Dinner

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Watermelon Soju-tinis
Appetizers: Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Pancake), Homemade Kimchi, Grilled Pork Belly, Soondubu Jjigae 
Entrees: Ddeokbokki, Galbijjim, Kimchi Bokkeumbap
Dessert: Patbingsu, Red Velvet Cake

Pastas/Noodles · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Vegetarian Chap Chae for Mom

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A short time ago, we held the 5 year anniversary of our mom’s passing. And for a long time, the siblings and our dad tossed around a lot of different ideas on how we would commemorate Mom. But at the end of the day, it all came down to focusing on what was important to her—-Family and of course, Good Food.

So, on a beautiful and sunny Southern California day, the clan gathered. Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Children, Grandkids (including Canine Grandkids) all converged upon my sister’s home to honor Mom. We spent time with each other, retold stories of her, cooked, and ate. And boy, did we eat!

It was all quite fitting actually. Mom was the head Foodie of our family and irrefutably the best cook. If we didn’t have a delicious spread for the party held in her honor, she would not have been a happy camper!

Vegetarian Chap Chae

One of the things that made Mom such a Foodie was her wide range of taste and her fearlessness to experiment in the kitchen. In the latter years she went through a big Korean phase—and I’m not only talking about Korean cuisine. I would often come for a visit and find my parents watching Korean soap operas—without subtitles! They claimed they could still figure out the storyline despite the fact that they didn’t understand the dialogue. Go figure.

It seemed fitting that one of my contributions for Mom’s international menu would be Chap Chae–a dish she would often make for Dad and their friends.  I went the vegetarian route but it’s just as easy to add beef, pork, chicken or seafood.

All in all, I think we did Mom proud. I’m sure she would have preferred for us to bicker less during the preparation but hey—we’re her kids! We love, we laugh, we bicker, we eat. 🙂

We love and miss you Mama!!

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Vegetarian Chap Chae (Jap Chae)

Ingredients:

1 Pound Sweet Potato Noodles
½ Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Medium sized Carrot, julienned
2 Small Shallots, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
1 Small Red Bell Pepper, julienned
2 Scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Cup Shitake Mushrooms, sliced
1 Cup Inoke Mushrooms, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 Cups Fried Tofu, cut into long strips
2 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, washed well and drained
¼ Cup Mirin
Black Pepper
½ Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds

In a large pot, boil the noodles until firm–about 5-6 minutes. Strain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodles about 4-6 inches in length.

In a small bowl, stir the sugar into the soy sauce until dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a large wok, with the vegetable oil. Add in shallots, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms and stir fry until tender. Add in tofu, garlic, scallions, spinach and cook for an additional minute. Use the mirin to deglaze the pan and then season with black pepper. Quickly toss in the noodles and half of the soy sauce mixture. Stir fry for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and drizzle in the sesame oil. Taste and add in more of the soy sauce mixture as needed.  Plate the Chap Chae and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.