daikon

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

by Heguiberto on January 11, 2013

This Napa cabbage kimchi turned out as authentic as the ones I eat at Korean restaurants here in San Francisco. It was fun to make and it took just 3 days before it was ready. (Three days might sound like a long time to some, but I’ve seen recipes where the kimchi had to ferment for a week or more.) I have made kimchi at home before but never used the traditional Korean gochugaru pepper. Instead I substituted jalapeño and poblano peppers, which resulted in an ultra-spicy version. This is milder.

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

This recipe, with some minor adaptations, comes from Insanity Theory written by Ellie Won, a South Korean who grew up in Australia.

Aside from the excellent recipe, she wowed me with a kimchi refrigerator! Pretty cool! It makes sense to me. My jar of kimchi only fit in the refrigerator after some serious reshuffling.

Steven served it for the first time with rice and beans cooked in the Brazilian way. I simply love mixing foods from different ethnic backgrounds. The results can be surprisingly good. I think that this is what they call fusion cuisine? A bit of this and a bit of that combined together? It certainly breaks the monotony of a meal that could otherwise be boring and monochromatic. A toast to globalization!

The recipe calls for Chinese pear, which I didn’t have. I added red radish to it and changed the proportions of chili powder, sugar and fish sauce. I also added a fresh red jalapeño pepper because… well why not?

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

1 large head Napa Cabbage cut into wedges (~6Lbs)
~1½ cups non iodized sea salt
4 cups water (1 quart)
1 heaping tbsp sweet rice flour (sticky rice)
1 &1/3 cup Gochugaru chili powder
3 tbsp fish sauce (leave it out in case you want to make it vegan) use ~ 1 tbsp salt instead
1 tbsp sugar
6 whole scallions cut into 2’’ long segments
6 cloves garlic
1 2’’ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ white or sweet onion
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and ribs removed
5 small red radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 lb daikon, sliced

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

Dissolve ½ cup of salt in the water. Add cabbage bottom parts in first. Make sure all leaves and base receive a coat of this brine. Drain water.

Use part or all the remainder salt to sprinkle over each leaf, including the thick white parts at the base. Put the cabbage in a bowl and let the salt dehydrate it for about 3 hours (Ellie recommends 5-6 hours or until it is floppy). Mine became floppy within 3 hours.

Rinse cabbage thoroughly in running water to remove excess salt. Squeeze it to remove as much water as possible. Place it in a colander and allow it to drain for another 15 to 20 minutes.

During the cabbage dehydration process, make a ‘pudding’ or ‘glue’ by mixing rice powder with ½ cup of water and cooking it on low heat, whisking nonstop until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Towards the last 10 minutes before draining is complete, add jalapeño chili, onion, ginger, garlic, and daikon to your food processor. Whiz into a pulp. Mix this pulp with the rice ‘glue’ along with gochugaru pepper, sugar and fish sauce.

Using a spatula spread the kimichi paste uniformly on both sides of each of the leaves. Put the cabbage in and jar, cover and let it rest in a dark, cool place for about 3 days. Be careful when opening it as gases that build up during fermentation will be under pressure. When ready the flavors will have married and you will sense a slight fizzyness, At this point refrigerate and enjoy.

As your kimchi continues to age in the fridge the flavors become more pungent. If it gets too intense to eat by itself, you can turn the kimchi into soups or make a yummy kimchi fried rice.

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Korean ‘slaw

by Heguiberto on October 28, 2011

This is another delicious recipe I’ve adapted from Marja Vongerichten’s The Kimchi Chronicles. I never learned to appreciate coleslaw American-style. I think it tends to be too sweet, creamy bordering on slimy. And then, on top of that, sometimes it comes with another surprise flavor: pineapple. Ugh! More sweetness. I like the ingredients individually, but when mixed this way I just can’t take it.

Korean ‘slaw

Korean ‘slaw

So here is an alternative to the traditional kind: Korean style. Try this recipe. You won’t go back to the sweet type. Plus this one’s healthier.

Instead of dressing it with buttermilk, mayo or another store bought cream sauce, the bright flavors here get enlightened by the sourness of rice vinegar as well as lime and lemon juices. Okay, I’ll admit that there is a touch of sweetness, too, but only a touch. This sort of reminded me of fattoush or Thai som tam salad.

Note: Because this salad does not use any oil, it needs to sit room temperature for about 15 minutes for flavors to meld: a must.

Korean ‘slaw

6 cups Napa cabbage, julienned
1 cup white daikon, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
½ medium red onion cut into thin half-moon slices
2 scallions, green and white parts, cut into thin rounds
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 small Asian pear, julienned
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
2 tbsp rice vinegar
Juice of a juicy lime
Juice of a juicy lemon

Place cut vegetables in a non reactive bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Toss to coat. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Toss occasionally. Serve as a side dish.

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savory daikon rice cakes

by Heguiberto on January 25, 2011

Steven and I are big fans of the always-trendy and iconic restaurant, The Slanted Door, located in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Their food is consistently good, and what’s even more challenging to maintain, consistently exciting. We’ve been going there for years now and we’re never disappointed. Steven especially likes their daikon rice cakes. The restaurant serves them as a sort of appetizer/side dish. They’re always warm and soft inside with a crisp outer layer, covered in a delicate ethereal sauce. Yum!

savory daikon rice cakes

savory daikon rice cakes

I’ve been vaguely promising to try them at home for ages, but you know how that can go. Recently I bumped into this great recipe on flavor explosions. It seemed close to the Slanted Door version. It calls for Chinese sausage, which I replaced with tofurkey. Next time, I’m leaving out the sausage entirely as I found it distracting. I got super excited about making this, especially the way the dish gets steamed then pan-fried. Last time we cracked out the steamer was for the Dungeness crab fest, and before that, who can even remember that far back?

savory daikon rice cakes

2 lbs fresh daikon, peeled
1 tofurkey sausage, cut into small dice (optional)
1 tbsp dried shrimp (optional)
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
2 cups rice flour
2 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp Chinese 5-spice powder (I made my own with less star anise)
4 scallions, chopped plus one for sauce
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
vegetable oil
½ tsp garlic chili sauce
1 clove garlic smashed
½ cup ponzu sauce
3 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)

In a small saucepan, simmer grated daikon 10-15 minutes in 1 cup of water. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Soak dried shrimp with sherry vinegar in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Drain and chop into small bits.

Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for a half-hour. Drain. Discard stems. Cut into small pieces.

Heat steamer on stovetop at high temperature.

cooling savory daikon rice cakes after steaming

cooling savory daikon rice cakes after steaming

Meanwhile place 2 tbsp oil in a skillet. Sauté tofurkey for a couple of minutes. Push it to the side of the pan then add prepared shiitake and shrimp. Continue sautéing for about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and four scallions then set aside.

Drain radish while reserving cooking liquid. Increase reserved liquid to two and a half cups by adding some water.

Place rice flour, salt and Chinese 5-spice powder in a bowl and give it a good mix. Add radish and reserved liquid. Mix to incorporate. It should have a thick porridge consistency. Adjust texture with either more water or more rice flour. Whisk in two tablespoons of oil. Carefully fold in sautéed shrimp-mushroom mix.

The original recipe calls for a 6×9 inch tray, which I didn’t have. Instead I used a regular loaf pan and a regular glass pie dish. I lined both with parchment paper and liberally oiled them.

Fill pans with the daikon rice mixture. Steam for one hour and 10 minutes. Remove from steamer, let cool down, then refrigerate over night.

Remove from the fridge long enough to return to room temperature. Cut into half-inch thick slices. Add some oil to a non-stick skillet on high heat. Gently lay cake slices in pan and fry them for about four minutes per side.

pan-frying savory daikon rice cakes

pan-frying savory daikon rice cakes

To make the sauce add mashed garlic, remaining scallion, ponzu, garlic-chili sauce, and shoyu to a bowl. Give it a good stir and serve for dipping. If you don’t have ponzu sauce, just use lemon juice and increase the amount of shoyu.

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ramen noodle soup with shiitake in shiro miso broth

ramen noodle soup with shiitake in shiro miso broth

A couple of weeks ago my friend Eric invited me to have lunch with him at a new ramen noodle soup food stall at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. He said that the chef used to work at the restaurant, Nopa, which I had tried and enjoyed a while ago. I don’t remember seeing soup on the menu at Nopa. I wonder why not, as the ramen noodle soup is particularly delicious. I’ve seen it open on Tuesdays for sure and I think the soup shop is there on Thursdays as well. He only serves ramen soups with miso broth for vegetarians, or miso and meat stock for the rest. Perfect!

Obviously, I ordered the one with miso broth.

The soup comes hot, with beautiful fresh and freshly cooked ramen noodles. Swimming among the noodles were shiitake mushrooms, sprouts, wilted collard greens, a boiled egg that was partially cooked and a nori sheet folded into a 3×3 inch square that was half submerged in the soup. Very beautiful presentation! They use disposable biodegradable plastic containers, which I also liked. On the side the chef offers chili oil, chile flakes, shoyu and toasted sesame oil. I used all of them to spice it up some.

I’ve been thinking about this soup since. Fantasizing, really. That soup was divine! I couldn’t let it go, so I decided to make my own version at home. It, too, was amazing. There’s something incredible about the combination of miso, mushroom and nori: sort of earthy and oceanic all at once.

Steven thinks that this would be a great meal for the day after Thanksgiving. It is light for starters. Also, it has a different flavor profile from traditional T-day foods, though it is still “comfort food.” This is especially good for cold weather.

fresh and rehydrated shiitake and rehydrated tremella mushrooms

fresh and rehydrated shiitake and rehydrated tremella mushrooms

ramen noodle soup with shiitake in shiro miso broth

2 stalks celery
1 carrot
1 onion
1 pot of water (about 1 gallon)
2 dry shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 dry tremella mushroom
1lb daikon, cut into 1½ inch rounds
Leaves and stalks from daikon, roughly chopped
4 mustard green leaves, roughly chopped
4 toasted nori sheets
1 lb soft tofu
8-10 tbsp shiro miso (white miso paste)
shoyu/soy sauce
1 scallion, chopped
wedges of roasted acorn squash baked in the oven 20 min with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and a bit of brown sugar as garnish (optional)
300 gr fresh ramen noodles (~11 oz)
2-4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
shichimi togarashi (Japanese chili pepper mix)

Bring a large pot filled with the water, celery, carrot and onion to a boil then simmer for about 15 minutes to create stock. Discard celery, carrot and onion.

Place dry shiitake and tremella (tremella look like dried coral) mushrooms in two separate bowls. Remove tofu from package, rinse then sprinkle with a bit of salt and put it in a third bowl. Add a cup of the hot stock to each of them and soak for about 20 minutes. Drain mushrooms. Cut shiitake into quarters. Do the same with tremella mushroom using a pair of scissors.

Add chopped daikon root to stock pot and bring to a boil. Cook until al dente, for about 12 minutes. Add mushrooms, mustard greens and daikon leaves/stalks in the last couple of minutes. Turn temperature down to simmer.

Transfer about 2 cups of hot broth to a bowl. Add miso and whisk until dissolved. Return to the pot. Add fresh ramen noodles, sesame oil, and shoyu. Taste and adjust flavors with more shoyu and miso. (If you need more miso make sure you dissolve it in a bowl before adding to the soup.) Break apart tofu and add to soup, simmer for a couple more minutes just to warm it through.

To serve, fill each bowl with an assortment of the vegetables and tofu then add broth. Add nori (mine is buried in there for extra marine flavor). Top with a wedge of acorn squash. Sprinkle with chopped scallion. To adjust flavors at the table, have shichimi togarashi, toasted sesame oil, shoyu on hand.

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When I was a kid I remember going to wedding parties with my mom and they always served small potatoes as an appetizer you could spear with small toothpicks. I never cared for the candies and cakes (weird kid!), but I stuffed myself with those potatoes: they were my favorite! I need to find out why tiny potatoes were always being served at weddings. Perhaps it was just a fashion in the Seventies in rural Brazil?

baby fingerling potato lima sprout salad

That appetizer was prepared by boiling the potatoes, letting them cool down and then marinating them overnight in red wine vinegar and olive oil with some onions, salt and pepper: simple, tasty and inexpensive. Perfect for a big party.

We bought a one pound bag of baby fingerling potatoes the other day at our local TJ’s. They were super cute. I made a potato salad that tasted a bit like the potato appetizer from my childhood. I mixed it up a bit with some canned lima beans (habas grandes) for protein and for that delicious buttery bean flavor they impart to salads. For a hint of spice and some extra green color, I added a container of daikon sprouts. I liked the end result. The salad was tasty and pleasing to the eyes.

Baby Fingerling Potato Lima Sprout Salad

1lb baby fingerling potatoes
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can habas grandes (giant lima beans or Greek gigantes) drained and rinsed
2 scallions, chopped
1 container daikon sprouts
2 tomatoes cut in quarters

Boil potatoes for about 8 minutes or till tender. Remove from heat and drain. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. Add salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic and extra virgin olive oil to potatoes, toss and let rest at room temperature for a couple of hours. Just before serving add beans, scallions, tomato and daikon sprouts. Toss again and serve.

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