gochuparu pepper

The first time that I had this soup was with my glamorous friend, Euriele. At the time we both worked together in Palo Alto. One day we just took a long lunch break and feasted on an authentic Korean meal with multiple courses: kimchi soup, pickled cucumber, bean sprout, rice cooked with beans, Napa cabbage kimchi, Korean seafood pancake, seaweed salad and other items I don’t recall right now. There were so many! The centerpiece of the lunch was the spicy soup served piping hot in a stoneware pot. You cracked a fresh egg over the soup and watched it cook while at the same time you waited for the soup to cool down enough to eat. I love spicy food. That said, some Korean dishes are not for beginners when it comes to chili pepper intensity. This soup is an exciting and hot example.

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

To make my kimchi jiigae, I used the rest of the Napa cabbage kimichiI had prepared the previous week.

This recipe was adapted from this you tube video. The video uses meat, so I changed it here. If you’re vegetarian then no need to watch it 🙂

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

1lb silken tofu (extra soft type) chopped into 1x1x1 inch thick pieces
5 cups chopped kimchi and juices
1tsp sugar
1tbsp Korean Gochugaru hot pepper paste
1tbsp Gochugaru pepper flakes
½ cup red onion chopped
3 whole scallions chopped
Water to cover the chopped kimchi by two inches
Toasted sesame oil
½ head iceberg lettuce cut into large wedges

Place chopped kimchi and juices in a large sauce pan with onions, scallions, gochugaru peppers, sugar and water. Bring everything to a boil, cook on high for about 10 minutes, reduce temperature to medium and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Add tofu towards the last 10 minutes.

Place a wedge of iceberg in each bowl. Add a couple of ladles of the soup, and drizzle with some toasted sesame oil. Serve with a side of rice.

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The humongous bag of Meyer lemons our friend Kristen gave us in early April lasted for more than a month. I just love how aromatic Meyer lemon juice and zest are. Sometimes I just enjoy eating them whole, skin and all. When I saw this recipe for pickled Meyer lemons on Just Homemade, I knew what to do with the remaining 8 lemons in the fridge.

Indian inspired Meyer lemon pickle

Indian inspired Meyer lemon pickle

Preserved lemons are super simple to make and work beautifully as an added flavor to stews, couscous, pilafs, grilled fish and the list goes on. Rely on them to add another dimension of flavor. If you haven’t yet tasted preserved lemon, then what are you waiting for?

I’ve never had pickled Meyer lemons before so this was exciting!! The original recipe calls for chili pepper powder. However because I’m wild about chili powder and spices, I got creative. I used three kinds plus added some nigella seeds to the pickle. I sort of respected the overall proportion of chili dictated by the original recipe.

Indian inspired Meyer lemon pickle

8 Meyer lemons, lightly scrubbed with a sponge, rinsed, dried, quartered and seeded
4 tbsp sea salt (or less)
3 tbsp gochugaru pepper flakes
¾ tbsp pasilla pepper powder
¾ tbsp cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
2 tbsp fenugreek powder
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
Couple of pinches asafetida

Glass jar cleaned and thoroughly dried
Parchment paper, cut to fit the top of the jar

step one, preserving the lemons:

lemon quarters and salt ready to cure

lemon quarters and salt ready to cure

Begin by adding ¾ tbsp salt to the bottom of glass jar. Partially squeeze the juice of a few lemon quarters. Arrange these partially squeezed quarters at the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat process until done. Place parchment paper on top of the jar and cover with lid. Give it a good shake so salt dissolves and juices permeate lemons. Let stand at room temperature for about 5 days. Shake the jar every day to ensure juices percolate through the lemon pieces.

….on the 4th or 5th day, step 2:

Heat a skillet on high. Add fenugreek seeds and barely warm them through. This process will bring the aromas out. Don’t toast or burn it. It will be too bitter. I burned mine the first time around so had to re-do this part. Transfer to a grinder and whiz it to pulverize. Set aside.

Return pan to the heat; add oil followed by the mustard seeds and cook until seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat. Add asafetida and let cool completely to room temperature.

Add chili peppers, nigella seeds, and ground fenugreek to a stainless steel bowl. Mix to combine. Empty the jar of lemons with the liquid over the spices. Mix to combine. Add cooled combo of popped mustard, asafetida and oil to the lemons and toss to combine.

Return lemons to the jar with the entire thick sauce. Cover and refrigerate. Use as a condiment or serve it as a side dish. This is salty so use it parsimoniously. Once we finish this batch I am going to experiment with it to make a less salty version.

We enjoyed this delicious pickled Meyer lemon last Monday with a basmati pilaf Steven made like this one.

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