Korean fried chicken – Let’s make it at home!

If you live in the DMV area, you cannot help running into the name of the chicken joint, Bonchon!

Bonchon Chicken is found in different locations, mostly on the east side of the country. This Korean style soy garlic fried chicken is so delicious that it haunts me day and night so I decided to make it at home.

Here’s what we need (2 servings):

– 8 drumsticks (washed and scored)
– flour (lightly seasoned with salt and pepper)
– sauce : 4 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp minced garlic, 2 Tbsp molasses or honey, 2 Tbsp sugar, 4 Tbsp mirin or cooking wine, 1 Tbsp flour (My secret ingredient is a Tbsp of sriracha sauce!)

Once you figure out the ingredients, the hardest part is done!

1. Put the chicken in a zipper bag with seasoned flour. Shake it.
2. Pour some oil in a pot and keep your stove at medium heat.
3. When the oil gets hot, put the chicken into the pan. When it becomes light brown, take it out and let it rest on a paper towel.
4. KEY STEP: When it cools down a little, put it back to the pan to finish cooking! This way, the chicken gets super crispy even when smothered in the sauce
5. While chicken is frying, put all the ingredients for the sauce in a separate pan and cook it at low heat so the garlic doesn’t burn.
5. Poke the chick with a chopstick or a knife to make sure it’s done. No one likes undercooked, bloody chicken. 😉
6. Let the chicken rest on a paper towel for a couple of minutes. Then, put it in the sauce.
7. Mix it well till the chicken gets all nice and saucy!

Now, we have this awesome chicken HOMEMADE!

I gotta say, it wasn’t exactly the same but was PDD, pretty damn delicious! 🙂 Much more affordable, much healthier but still mouthwatering!

Korean fried chicken – aka ChiMac – is “a thing” in Korea. Especially when Korean people watch baseball or soccer games, chicken delivery places get unbelievably busy. Recently, a Korean soap opera made ChiMac super popular even in China. So I’m gonna enjoy my garlic soy chicken with some cold beer. Sounds darn good, right? 😉

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Shilla Bakery – Annandale, VA

Are we tired of the same bagels from Harris Teeter? Have we had enough cupcakes from M Street? Then, here’s something new to meet our bakery cravings!

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Shilla Bakery
7039 Little River Tpke
Annandale, VA 22003
(703) 333-2001

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Some bakeries are meant to be just for pick-up baked goods for your busy morning. However, this place gives you that option PLUS it’s a cool place to hang out with your friends.20130622-195202.jpg

Not only do they have different – meaning that this might not be for “everyone”- but also they serve various coffee drinks and my favorite Korean dessert, patbingsu! It’s shaved ice with sweetened red beans and condensed milk. This might sound very foreign but once you go patbingsu, there’s no turning back! Highly recommended if you are somewhat food-adventurous 😉 20130622-200009.jpg If you go there early enough, you get to taste their breads for free! We went there around 9 am today and they put out so many kinds to try. They cut up the bread into small pieces. Some last all day but they are the best in the morning when they just come out of the oven. If you like what you taste, you can buy it. If you don’t, you can just get their Illy coffee and walk out! Do some people totally take advantage of it and just eat quite a bit without paying a dime? Oh yes. 🙂 20130622-195228.jpg

Their cake choices are quite delightful too. One thing I’ve noticed here in the states is that cakes are not that “pretty”. They don’t need to look beautiful but I am sometimes so amazed how some cakes look just boring. Shilla bakery has cakes that are really “Korean”: lots of fruits, lots of decorations. 20130622-195218.jpg

Next time you are in Annandale, drop by and treat yourself!

Bulgogi (beef) – Scrumptious but simple enough to make!

The picture is from the website of a famous Korean franchise restaurant called “Bulgogi Brothers.” They haven’t opened one in the States yet unfortunately. 😦 What you see up there is Bulgogi Bibimbap. “Bul” literally means fire, “gogi” meat, “bibim” mix and “bap “rice. It’s self explanatory except for the ‘fire’ part. That came from how it’s cooked and for more information, click the link above. 🙂 Because I am too excited to reveal the recipe that’s so easy! There are more than a few different kinds of Bulgogi’s but this one is the most common and easiest one that you can make. The key is to get all the right ingredients. After that, it’s a piece of cake!

*** Recipe (2 servings) ***

<Meat>

You need thin slices of (usually) sirloin. I do have hard time finding this cut of beef at regular supermarkets. If that’s the case, go to H-Mart or an Asian grocery store nearby. They should have it and it doesn’t matter if it’s frozen. Get 1lb of the meat.

<Marinade – unit:tablespoon> FYI, everyone has a different recipe and this is my mom’s.

soy sauce (4-5), water (2), Coke or Pepsi (3), minced garlic (0.5-1), sugar or honey (1), sesame oil (0.5-1)

<Secret Ingredient>

Meat can be really chewy and here’s the ultimate meat tenderizer! Pureed KIWI! Use only half of the whole kiwi, though. Your bulgogi won’t even have big chunks if you put the whole thing – half joking. 😉 If you don’t have a kiwi, you can use half of a pear. This will add a nice tone to your marinade as well.

Now, you can mix everything together. You can put a little ground pepper as well. When you marinate the meat, you can also add onions as in the picture above. Let it sit for a couple of hours. You can even wait a day to cook it. Once you are ready to stuff your face with this deliciousness, cook it on a pan. No oil is needed. Add mushrooms (button mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms are usually good), which go perfectly well with bulgogi. Cook it until it’s ready, which doesn’t take too long.

One thing about my mom’s recipe is that “Coke” part. You can add a little more water instead of that but her bulgogi does taste gooooooooooood. 🙂 Like I said, everyone seems to have his/her own bulgogi recipe so do some experiment and find your own recipe! It’s another fun part of cooking, right? 😉 Serve it over white sticky rice maybe with some kimchi. That’s one complete meal! Enjoy!

Kimchi Stuffed Chicken Thighs

How does this dish look? Whatever you think, it’s beyond that! 🙂

Here’s a little behind-story of how this dish was born! Main ingredients are kimchi and chicken. Kimchi is a traditional Korean food but this dish is not traditionally “Korean”. Actually, I gotta thank my husband – ex hotel chef- who created this awesome dish for the Korean Food Cooking Contest held in Seoul, Korea in 2011. There were a lot of “foreigners” who cooked great dishes but his kimchi stuffed chicken thighs were the most loved dish by the audience, who were mostly culinary students. Since then, it’s been HIS dish and I am totally stealing it this time because I did it on my own with a little personal touch!  :p

*** Recipe ***

1. Get a couple of chicken thighs and debone them.

2. Pound them flat, if necessary.

3. Sautee some chopped kimchi. Depending on your preference, add veggies and/or cooked rice. I put some zucchini (to add more color) and rice.

4. Spread the cooked kimchi onto the flat chicken thighs and roll them.

5. Season the outer part of the chicken thighs – the hubby used sweet Thai chili sauce but this time I used bacon, which turned out to be really good.

6. Put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes (380°F) COVERED.

7. Get rid of the cover and broil them for about 5-10 minutes (both sides) so they get that sexy color!

Tada~ You see what I am saying about that sexiness here??!! Let them sit for a couple of minutes before you slice and plate them.

You can do so much with this dish in terms of presentation. I cooked some cauliflower to go with it. The hubby made some tangy salad last time (first picture above). Get creative and amuse your senses! Enjoy!

 

 

Radish Kimchi – Novice Recipe!

It’s about time. It’s Kimchi time! Kimchi is a staple dish in Korean people’s everyday lives. I should say every meal, actually. Not only do Korean people eat this spicy, fermented vegetable side dish with every single meal, but they also cook other dishes with it and it’s a whole new level. The most common kimchi is made with napa cabbage. However, when we went to Hollins Farm in Delaplace, VA this weekend to look at their pumpkin patch, we ended up getting more things than we needed (of course), among which were radishes!

To be honest, I’d never made kimchi myself before. Looking at the fresh radishes, however, I just couldn’t let them go. I had to make kimchi with them! Plus, radish kimchi is one of the easiest to make. 🙂 With a little help of the Internet and from my mom, I managed to do it and it’s gonna taste YUMMY!! You can eat kimchi as soon as you make it but it’s supposed to be “fermented”, meaning you gotta wait!

So here’s what I did!

※ What you need: 1 big daikon radish (or the same amount of a bunch of smaller ones), 3 Tbsp of red pepper flakes, 4 Tbsp of fish sauce (Korean anchovy sauce), 1 Tbsp of minced garlic, 1/2 Tbsp of minced ginger, rice flour paste, 1 tbsp of sugar, scallions, onions, and 4-5 Tbsp of sea salt

1. Cut the stems off the roots. Clean the roots thoroughly and peel the skin if necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Dice the radishes. Sprinkle sea salt over the diced radishes and let them sit for 3 hours. Give them a little toss here and there in the meantime. The point of salting the radish is to get the moisture out of the radish so the taste doesn’t get affected by the moisture. You will be AMAZED to see how much “water” the radishes let out for three hours. Even after this step, you will see a lot of “liquid” you didn’t expect later on when your kimchi is sitting in the refrigerator. In 3 hours, rinse them and put them in a colander.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Rice flour paste! Sweet rice, aka chapssal, is usually used when making rice cakes. This flour is easily found in any Asian grocery stores. However, according to my mom, just regular flour should work as well. Mix 3 Tbsp of rice flour with the same amount of water. Turn the stove on. Mild heat. You have to keep stirring. Otherwise, it’s going to burn really fast. When the paste get to the consistency in the picture. Turn it off. Let it cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Don’t forget about the stems! Some people don’t even bother to use them. Others cook them and dry them to make another dish. But I just put them in my kimchi. Wash them thoroughly and cut them so they are about 2-3 inches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 5. Let’s mix them! As you can see, the radishes, stems, thin strips of onions, minced garlic, minced ginger, red pepper flakes, a little bit of sugar, and the rice flour paste are all getting mixed in a bowl. Of course, this is when the fish sauce goes in! I wouldn’t really try to smell the fish sauce itself. It’s pretty strong! 😉 And use your hand to mix them! Kimchi tastes so much better that way. As you can imagine, it’s got a strong flavor so I always use the plastic gloves.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Kimchi is almost ready! Get a glass jar or any glass container and put your kimchi in it. I say a glass jar because (I’m gonna be honest) once plastic containers  have kimchi in them, they are done. lol Korean people have a Gimjang day and that’s when they make all their kimchi for the year. And they use cool looking jars and bury them under ground so the kimchi get properly fermented. We don’t need to get all that fancy though. 😉 All we need is a couple of days. Afterwards, keep it refrigerated and you should be able to enjoy it within a week! Kimchi is one of those things that taste different every time. Enjoy!

Samgyeopsal, Ultimate Meatlovers’ Dish

Samgyeopsal!

The picture up there said it all. Pure delight in your mouth. Every single person in Korea has had this and vegan population in Korea is pretty insignificant probably because samgyeopsal is so irresistible!! You can’t go vegan with this meat cooking right in front of you!

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What’s cooking on the pan:

– Meat: Go to any Asian grocery store (in my case, I go to H-Mart) and look for “sliced pork belly”. It is basically thicker bacon meat that’s not cured or smoked. Frozen samgyeopsal works just fine too.

– Garlic: Slice garlic cloves and just throw them in the pan with the meat. No rules.

Kimchi: Yup. Kimchi it is. Even if you might like the strong taste of kimchi normally, you will be pleasantly surprised with the amazing taste of cooked kimchi. Trust me and try this.

– Pan? Your regular non-stick frying pan works fine but if you want to get a little fancy, try your breakfast griddle! It seems that someone made it just for samgyeopsal without telling anyone this secret! *Warning: lots of grease!

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“Triple-S” Salad – Spicy, Sweet and Sour!

It’s got all the flavors that you can imagine. Just grab a bag of any lettuce at the supermarket. I usually get red leaf and a mix of other greens. All you have to do is to toss it with this mind-blowing dressing!

Pepper flakes (2) + Soy sauce (2) + Fish sauce (1, optional) + Honey(1) + Vinegar (2) + Sugar (2) + Minced Garlic (1) + A hint of sesame oil

After tossing it nicely in a big bowl, if you are into a nice presentation, sprinkle some sesame seeds! ALL DONE!

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SoMac! = Soju + Maekju (Beer, in Korean)

A complete Samgyeopsal meal is finally served with some SoMac! Soju can be purchased pretty much at any ABC store in Virginia for $4-$6 a bottle (it’s kinda sad because it’s less than a dollar in Korea). 😦 Anyway, watch these people make SoMac. ->; So Cool! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL6oWNgAZNs

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No exaggeration. Not a month goes by without Samgyeopsal in Korea. If you have a regular job, not a week goes by without it. This is meat lovers’ ultimate pilgrimage so you should try it some time. If it’s too much headache for you to do it at home, go find any Korean style BBQ restaurant. It is one of those things that you can’t really mess up! Enjoy!

Make your own pickles! Don’t forget Soju!

There’s nothing easier than making home-made pickles! The pickled cucumbers are traditional ones that you see in the supermarket. However, the sexy, dark one on the right side is what I call “Grandma Pickles“! You know why they are great? Even my grandma, who is a notorious cook, can make these pickles and they are so yummy! So anyone can make them and they taste heavenly especially with BBQ’d meat! I usually put these pickles on the table when we have samgyeopsal! That’s a cut of pork belly and it’s gonna have to be another seperate post, if not, a book!

Here’s the simplest secret recipe >>>>>> vinegar : sugar : soy sauce : soju = 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 

You can put them all in a pot and boil. When it gets to a boil, turn it off and wait a couple minutes for it to cool down. You wanna pour the yumminess onto cut-up veggies when it’s still hot. Obviously, use a glass jar. 😉

You can pretty much pickle ANYTHING. In the picture are banana peppers (which I love!) and onions. I put a couple of garlic cloves and a few pieces of jalapenos for the flavor as well. My mom sometimes uses carrots, cucumbers and radish too, which are all great. If you don’t like anything too salty, add a half portion of water. 😉

What’s different here is the thing called SOJU! Soju is a what I call “Korean vodka”. It doesn’t really have any strong taste but Korean people for some reason seem to love this. It usually has 20% alcohol and people drink it out of shotglasses, usually in a “bottoms-up” pace. They say “Gun-Bay” or “One Shot” before they empty their glasses. How old you are really matters in Korea so if you are younger, you have to pour soju with two hands. It’s all about showing respect. It’s a dollar in Korea but you gotta pay at least $5 a bottle here in the states, depending on where you are. Most ABC stores in VA carry them so maybe get two bottles and use one for your pickels and the other for some dinner entertainment!

If you do make my GRANDMA PICKLES, keep me posted! Let me know how they come out 🙂

[Restaurant Review] Sushi Naru – Alexandria, VA

▣ Location: 540 John Carlyle St., Alexandria, VA 22314

▣ Tel: 703-535-5540

▣ Sushi / Roll / Asian Cuisine

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of July 25, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

 

I work in Alexandria, VA. Even though I work right off King Street, which is full of great restaurant options, I try not to go too far because I have so much S*** to do every day!!!

Me and my girls today decided to go back to this sushi restaurant nearby AGAIN because we all loved it so much last week. Sushi Naru!

I’ve never been there for dinner but according to one of the attorneys in my office, this place has some amazing tofu salad. Anyway, we get their lunch buffet.

Not only do they have fantabulous sushi/roll options, but they also have a “hot food” section – bulgogi, lomein, fried tofu, mussels, dumplings, and heavenly miso soup! Miss F (not gonna mention her full name) had never had miso soup in her life until this afternoon. She fell in love with it, had two full bowls of it and she still couldn’t stop talking about it. That’s how darn good it was! Another good thing about this place is that you can accommodate lots of different needs – meat lovers, seafood lovers, and even vegetarians!

They are very hospitable and quick to serve you. It gets quite hectic during their lunch buffet hours, but that’s a good sign. And one thing about this place is that it doesn’t feel cheap. I am sad to say this but some Asian all-you-can-eat places could be kinda (or sometimes REALLY) crappy. However, it actually feels nice to sit there and enjoy your meal at Sushi Naru. My girls were all about their lamps, whether they could be from IKEA or Crate and Barrel.

I might go there for dinner to see what it’s like some time soon!

Next time you are near King Street, come check this place out. You might catch me with my coworkers talking about very important stuff like “where did you get those cute earrings?” 😉

 

Asian Festival DC 2012

 

ASIANFestival 2012

☆ Where: GMU in Fairfax

☆ When: July 21, 2012~July 22, 2012

☆ Best Part: Are you kidding me? FOOD!

I am not gonna lie. I knew nothing about this even until this morning and I just randomly saw what one of my tweeps posted “… at the Asian Festival…” when I was trying to figure out what to get for lunch. And to be completely honest, I still have no clue what this festival is all about. However, I do know that it comes back every year and they have great, fun food selections there!

The food picture up there is Liang Mian (涼麵), a kind of chinese noodle dish, which literally means ‘cold noodles’. These gingery, vinegary noodles were only ONE DOLLAR! Nothing in this world is a dollar these days even at the dollar store after taxes! The portion was really small but when you are there, you want to go for variety rather than “quantity”!

Lunch consisted of: Dosa (Indian crepe with dips), Liang Mian (Chinese cold noodles), Dinuguan (Filipino meat dish… I didn’t know exactly what it was but I just found out when I got home.. Click the link.. Might be a little disturbing ;)) and Gway Teow (My all-time favorite noodle soup from Thailand – It’s gonna be another post when I get the recipe down).

If you missed it today, check it out tomorrow! If you can’t make it this year, you know where to go back next year! Happy weekend!!

Korean (Asian) Supermarket – Great Seafood Selections!

It’s not easy to get fresh fish in the neighborhood. That means it’s time to go to H-Mart in Falls Church. It’s the closest one but there are actually two other ones around that I can go to. H-Mart has been around since 1982. It is run by Korean people and there’s a small food court in the supermarket as well. I’ve tried their food once. It wasn’t anything crazy but to some people it might be an interesting experience, especially if you don’t cook Korean food at home. Just so you know, right in front of the H-Mart in Falls Church is this Chinese supermarket called “Great Wall” – go figure.

Today’s Shopping List: Kimchi, soy sauce, oyster sauce, soba noodles (my favorite summer food, which I eat in winter too…?!), pork belly (the legendary “samgyeopsal” to be posted some time soon), a huge bag of sticky rice, clams and two mackerel.

I cannot help talking about their seafood selections there. They have quite a variety from  dried anchovies (in multiple sizes) to whole monkfish. They are fresh. They are very affordable. Two mackerel, which could feed three people, were 7 dollars. They clean the fish for you too without any extra charge. You might not be familiar with dealing with the whole fish but I love it! The best flavor is where the bones are – meat, poultry or fish! I also bought some clams so I can use them in my doenjang soup later. Remember doenjang? 😉

I am not gonnna lie. If you like a slow-paced, peaceful shopping experience, H-Mart is not for you. You gotta hustle and bustle walking through tiny aisles trying to figure out what all the things say in multiple foreign languages when other people are pushing you around. But it’s definitely FUN! Try the free tasting samples. Maybe buy their best-selling ramen noodles for your late night snack. Be adventurous and get some kimchi to cook with! You will see so many things that Giant or Harris Teeter doesn’t have.

Next time you go to H-Mart, if you don’t know what the heck you are holding in your hand, take a picture of that and tweet it to me! I will be pleased to help you!