Monthly Archives: April 2014

Recipe: Dried Pollack and Korean Radish Soup (북어국)

A Korean meal contains rice (밥 – bap – pahp), soup, and side dishes (반찬 – banchan – pahn chahn). There are three kinds of soups in Korean cooking. Guk (국 – guk – kook) are thinner, more clear, and more refreshing. Guk are made with vegetables and a little meat or seafood. Jjigae (찌개 – jjigae – chee gay) are often translated as “stew”. I don’t like that translation because jjigae are not “stewed”; they are cooked for a short time. The difference between jjigae and guk is that less water and more seasonings are used in jjigae. The third kind is tang (탕 – tang – tong), which is derived from the Chinese word that refers to what the Koreans call guk. However, in Korea, tang refers to a few types of soups that are based on animal bone stocks: beef, pork, chicken. Guk and jjigae are the kinds eaten most of the time. Today, I will introduce a very simple, refreshing guk that is my dad’s favorite: dried pollack and Korean radish soup (북어국 – bukeoguk – pook uh gook – “north sea soup”, “bukeo” is a word meaning “dried pollack”, referring to its origin; Koreans invented words for every preparation of pollack. fresh pollack= myeontae, frozen pollack= dongtae, half dried pollack= kodari, fully dried pollack= bukeo, another type of dried pollack= hwangtae). Since the English name is too long, I’ll just call it bukeoguk from now on. Bukeoguk does not take too long to make, and is very common in Korea. There, it is usually used as a hangover cure, but it is great to have when you are sober too. I like the broth the best; you also eat the radish and dried pollack. The dried pollack has an interesting texture that my parents like but not so much for me. It can also have small bones in it, so be careful while eating it!
The ingredient you will need to find is called dried pollack, bukeo (북어 – bukeo – pook uh) in Korean, and you can only get it at a Korean grocery store. (I will put a picture of it here, later) You will also need Korean radish (무 – mu – moo), which every Korean grocery store has. I will allow you to substitute daikon, but if you can find bukeo, you should be able to find Korean radish (which often costs less than daikon at a Korean grocery store). I only allow daikon as a substitute in soups. For uncooked and pickled dishes like kkakdugi, Korean radish stays crispier longer than daikon, so it is necessary (more about that on a kkakdugi recipe later). You will also need sesame oil and fish sauce or Joseon soy sauce, which I dedicate dspecial posts to. So, once have these ingredients, time to cook!

This recipe is adapted from, which is my favorite website about Korean cuisine. Please check it out for great Korean recipes!

For equipment, I use a Dutch oven (will have a post on it later), but any pot will do.

2 oz bukeo (dried pollack)*, tear the larger strips in half to be about 2 inches long or a little longer.
*See how many oz your package has, and guess 2 oz. Unless you have a kitchen scale, then you can use that.

1/2 medium Korean radish or equilvalent amount of daikon, peel, put it on a cutting board and use a knife to “shave” off slices about 2 inch by 3 inch. makes about 3 cups, somewhat generous. My family likes a lot of Korean radish, but you can just use 2 cups if you want.

4-5 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
7 cups water (about 1680 mL)
2 tbsp fish sauce or Joseon soy sauce
2 green onions, minced
1 egg, beaten

1. Heat a pot or Dutch oven. When somewhat hot, add sesame oil and garlic. Stir a few seconds, then add dried pollack. Stir fry for about half a minute, evenly distributing sesame oil and garlic.
2. Add Korean radish, stir fry one minute until combined.
3. Pour in water. Cover the lid.
4. Leave on high heat for 20 minutes. It may come to a boil earlier than 20 minutes, but this is necessary for the best broth. I used trial and error for this!
5. Open the lid. Add fish sauce (or Joseon soy sauce), stir. If this is your first time using fish sauce, you will notice the terrible smell. Don’t worry, 2 tbsp will not make the soup smell bad; it will only add a great umami flavor.
6. Cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 5 minutes. This lets the flavors blend.
7. Add the egg into the soup, and stir 3 rounds with chopsticks. This creates what Chinese call “egg flowers”.(蛋花 – dan hua – dehn hwah)
8. Turn heat to high, bringing back to a small boil. Add green onions, stir, and turn off the heat.
9. Ladle into bowls. Serves about 3 as part of a Korean meal, or 2 larger bowls.

Tip: Joseon soy sauce is traditionally used, but fish sauce adds more umami and makes the soup taste better. Both are OK to use.

If this is the first Korean soup you tried, you may notice how light the flavor of a guk is. The side dishes, banchan, are usually quite salty, so it creates a balanced meal.



Recipe: Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy(炒小白菜/青江菜)

A stir fried green leafy vegetable is served at every traditional Chinese meal. Baby bok choy is easy to find and very popular. It is delicious when stir fried in the Chinese manner. Lightly flavored, crunchy, and healthy, it is paired with rice and a protein dish such as mapo tofu. Buy bok choy at an Asian supermarket because it is much cheaper and much better quality. Garlic gives a great flavor to leafy vegetables. The vegetables are always lightly flavored because they are paired with strongly flavored protein dishes like mapo tofu.

The type of bok choy used in this recipe is baby Shanghai bok choy. It has light green stems and dark green leaves. It is called by many names. In Mandarin, the name of Shanghai bok choy is usually just 青菜 which means green vegetable. In Cantonese, they usually call it 白菜 which means white vegetable. 白菜 means napa cabbage in Mandarin though. You can call it 小白菜 or small white vegetable if you like. Comment below if you want to know more about the names of this vegetable.

Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy(炒小白菜 – chao xiao bai cai – chall syall bai [rhymes with “eye”] tsai [rhymes with “eye”, NO SILENT T], “stir fried small white vegetable”, or 青江菜 qing jiang cai – tseeng dzyahng tsai, “blue/green river vegetable”, often shortened to 青菜 qing cai – “green vegetable”)

8-12 cups of baby bok choy, cut each one in half (it will fit in a 2-3 quart container)
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
3 slices ginger, cut into thin slivers (optional)
2 tbsp peanut oil, corn oil, canola oil, or “vegetable oil”
1/8 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese stock
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp white pepper powder

1. Wash the bok choy very well, removing all sand. When no more sand, drain well, preferably using a salad spinner.
2. Combine sauce in a bowl.
3. Heat a wok until hot (a carbon steel or traditional cast iron wok- you should see one small wisp of smoke).
4. Add oil, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry 10 seconds.
5. Push aromatics up the side of the wok as you add the bok choy.
6. Sprinkle the salt, and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes until the leaves wilt and turn more dark green. They shouldn’t overcook or lose crispiness but they should not be raw either. You can set a timer to avoid overcooking.
7. Stir sauce very well, then pour into the wok. Stir fry 1 more minute to combine well.
8. Serve on a plate. Enjoy with rice and other Chinese dishes!

Recipe: Japanese Beef Curry with Rice (ビーフカレーライス)

What is Japanese curry? See my previous post.

This recipe’s ingredients are mostly all used in an American or European kitchen. The ones that are not often used are Japanese curry powder, garam masala, Japanese worchester and tonkatsu sauces, short grain rice (Japanese or calrose), and the fukujinzuke used as a garnish. I have explained a few of them in earlier posts, and the rest explained below.

Garam masala:
This is an Indian spice blend. I use it for Indian cooking. If you are interested in Indian cooking, you can buy it at an Indian grocery store. If you are already experienced in Indian cooking, just use the garam masala you use for Indian food. Here is a recipe for homemade garam masala I found, if you are interested in making it yourself. If you are not interested in Indian cooking, the garam masala is optional.

Japanese worchestershire (ウスターソース – usutā sōsu – ooss tah sohss) and tonkatsu sauce (中濃ソース – chūnō sōsu – choo noh sohss) are made by the company Bulldog. The sauces are made of fruits and vegetables. For Japanese curry, you have the choice of using only one, or using both.


The pickle you need is called fukujinzuke (福神漬け – fkoo jeen zkeh). It’s made from seven kinds of chopped up vegetables, pickled in a brine with soy sauce and rice vinegar. You can find it at Japanese grocery stores. You can also make it yourself; here is a good recipe I found.

On to the recipe!

Japanese Beef Curry with Rice (ビーフカレーライス – bīfu karē raisu – beef kah-day daiss [rhymes with “nice”]; “beef curry rice”)

The ingredients and directions are split so it is not too confusing.

This recipe was created by me using these two recipes as a guide:
This one and this other one. Through trial and error, testing the recipe several times, I have created this recipe below.

This recipe takes around 5 hours to make. It is not a regular weeknight meal!

450 to 500 grams (1 lb to 1.1 lb) beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cooking oil

1. Sprinkle both sides of beef with salt and pepper, then coat with flour.
2. Heat a pan, and add oil. Brown beef on all sides over high heat. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan – you can do two batches. When all sides brown, transfer to a plate and set aside.

4 to 6 very large onions, thinly sliced (this seems like WAY TOO MUCH and barely fits in my Dutch oven. After an hour of caramelization, they shrink to a very small amount!!)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt

3. Heat a Dutch oven with butter until melted.
4. Add onions and sprinkle salt. Stir if possible. Cook over medium heat for an hour or more. Stir every once a while, especially once they start to brown. When the onions are brown and caramelized (if you’ve ever made French soupe à l’oignon, you know how to tell), proceed to the next step.

1 tbsp garlic paste (put garlic in a garlic crusher)
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Japanese curry powder

5. Add garlic and ginger, cook 5 minutes, stir once a while.
6. Add ketchup and curry powder, combine well.

1 cup red wine (Don’t worry, children can eat this dish too. The alchohol will all evaporate.)
1 can (16 oz size) crushed tomatoes
1 quart (4 cups) beef stock

7. Add the beef, turn heat to high and add red wine. Bring to a boil, stir.
8. Add tomatoes and beef stock- you may not need all of the beef stock if your Dutch oven cannot fit all of it- in that case, add the remainder when simmering and it reduces.
9. Bring to a boil. Use a foam skimming tool to remove all of the foam.

1 or 2 bay leaves, torn a little but keep whole
1 star anise
1 apple, pureed
1 tbsp honey

10. When no more foam, add the above and bring to a boil again. Simmer 1 1/2 hours, uncovered.

3-4 large carrots

11. Peel carrots if you want, then cut rangiri (look up on Google for some pictures).
12. Add to the stew and simmer 30 minutes, uncovered.

TIP: Wash your rice and put in rice cooker while simmering carrots. If rice cooker takes 30 minutes to cook rice (like the Aroma brand), press cook right before step 14. If rice cooker takes 1 hour to cook rice, wash it when simmering beef in step 10, and press cook right before step 11.

3-4 potatoes

14. Peel potatoes if you wish. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
TIP: Do NOT cut the potatoes ahead of time. They will brown. Do NOT try to soak in water. They become crunchy and raw tasting after simmering for a whole hour! I learned the hard way!!!
15. Add to the stew and simmer 20 more minutes, uncovered; they should be very soft.

3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp Japanese curry powder

16. While simmering potatoes, prepare the roux (pronounced “roo”). A roux is a cooked mixture of butter and flour. In a small pan, add butter. Melt over medium heat.
17. Add flour, stir well. Stir constantly over medium heat to medium-low heat until light brown color.
18. Turn off heat, stir in curry powder quickly. It will become very fragrant.
19. Ladle one ladleful of the liquid from the stew into the roux, stir well; the roux will come off the sides of the pan and form one lump.
20. Add to the stew through a mesh strainer. This way, no lumps. Combine very well, stir the stew very well.

2 tbsp milk, cream, or yogurt
1/2 tbsp Japanese worchestershire sauce AND/OR 1 tbsp tonkatsu sauce
1/2 to 1 tbsp garam masala, to taste (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup frozen green peas
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste

21. Add the above. Mix well and simmer 5 minutes, uncovered.

TIP: Your rice should be done during this time. If it is still cooking, continue simmering until rice is done cooking.

6-8 servings cooked short grain rice (Japanese or calrose)
minced parsley or dried parsley flakes

22. Put one portion of rice on each plate. Ladle curry around it. Sprinkle parsley, put the fukujinzuke somewhere on the plate.
23. Enjoy!


The next day, the curry becomes very thick, so you can serve it as a donburi; put rice in a bowl and top rice with curry, fukujinzuke, and parsley.


Ingredient: Japanese Curry Powder (カレー粉)

This ingredient is used in my recipe for Japanese Curry. You can buy it in a can of “S&B Oriental Curry Powder”.

You can also make it at home. Here is the formula, given by S&B in this Japanese article on Rakuten, a Japanese online shopping website. You can make it if you have all the spices (I made it last time I made curry); I will translate it below:
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/3 tsp ground green cardamom (this is two pods of green cardamom, ground)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground bay leaf (this is 1 to 2 whole bay leaves, ground)
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp (3 tsp) ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Put all the spices in a dry frying pan, dry roast over a small flame until fragrant. Set aside to cool; makes 2 1/2 tbsp (enough for one batch of curry, serving 6-8 people.

Use this curry powder to make Japanese curry. Here is the recipe!


Japanese Curry (カレーライス) Information

You’ve heard of Indian curry, Thai curry.. but JAPANESE CURRY!? When you taste it, it’s like a thick beef stew with curry powder flavor and sweet taste.. nothing like other curry!! Japanese curry (カレーライス – karē raisu – kah day daiss*; “curry rice”) was invented in the 18th century when British ships came to Japan, and the sailors ate beef stew with curry powder. Japanese adapted this dish to their own flavors and created the new dish. Currently, curry is the most popular food of Japan, with families eating it at least once every other week. It is one of the “national dishes”, along with rāmen and sushi! Curry is eaten during all seasons. Although great in winter, it is also a summer food.

*The Japanese “r” sound is inbetween a “r” and a “l” sound, I find it similar to a “d” sound. If you speak Spanish, the “r” is similar.

My Japanese curry is made from a base of lots of caramelized onions in butter, garlic, ginger, ketchup, red wine, curry powder, tomato, beef stock, bay leaves, star anise, pureed apple, honey, milk, worchestershire sauce, tonkatsu sauce, garam masala, and more! This may sound strange, but all the flavors blend together in harmony. Beef is simmered until very, very tender. The curry also has carrot and potato chunks, and green peas added at the end. It is thickned with a brown roux with curry powder. Ladled onto a plate with cooked short grain rice, garnished with parsley, and eaten with a type of Japanese pickle, fukujinzuke. The dish takes a few hours to make, but is worth it if you have the whole afternoon.


Ingredient: Jasmine Rice (ข้าวหอมมะลิ)

(2015 update: I am using 99 Ranch Market’s giant 50 lb bag of imported from Thailand new crop jasmine rice and it is much more affordable!)

Jasmine rice (ข้าวหอมมะลิ – khao hom mali) is a Thai variety of long grain rice with a wonderful aroma, popular all over the world.(Chinese – 泰国香米 – tai guo xiang mi – tai [rhymes with “eye”] gwuh syawng mee – “great country fragrant rice”; “tai” means “great” but it is used only to sound like “Thai”)

Make sure you buy one imported from Thailand, not Texas. It has more fragrance. Jasmine rice costs more than calrose rice.
I use the Super Lucky Elephant brand from Costco:

It says “New Crop” on it; so as explained in my post about cooking rice, less water must be used (For 3 rice cooker cups of rice, I fill water to about 2 1/2).

How to Cook Rice

Cooked White Rice(饭)In a Rice Cooker

I use three kinds of rice: short grain (calrose or Japanese), jasmine, and basmati. This blog will only teach how to make the first two; the latter is made differently.

You will need a rice cooker for this recipe.

Cooked rice:(Chinese: 饭 – fan – fuhn; Japanese: ご飯 – gohan – goh hahn; Korean: 밥 – bap – pahp)

For 4 people, you should use 2 rice cooker cups of rice. This depends on how much rice you eat. My dad eats more rice than my mom, so depending on how much rice you eat, adjust the amount. For the first time, try 2 rice cooker cups.
TIP: Rice cookers come with measuring cups. 1 rice cooker cup = 3/4 US cup; this is slightly confusing so I say “rice cooker cup”.

Put the rice in the bowl of the rice cooker. Add some water to cover the rice by a few inches, and use your hand to mix and gently scrub the rice. Once the water is opaque (you cannot see through AT ALL), pour out the water slowly. Be careful not to lose the rice. Repeat this step about 5 times. Then add water up to the line of the number of cups you used. For example, if you cooked 2 rice cooker cups, fill water up to line 2.
TIP: If your rice says “new crop” anywhere on the package, fill water a little under the number. This is because new crop rice has higher wayer content.
TIP 2: This amount of water works only for jasmine and short grain (calrose or Japanese) rice. Long grain rice that is not jasmine rice needs more water.

Make sure all the rice is submerged under the water. Wipe the outside of the rice cooker bowl with a towel. Put in the rice cooker, press “white rice” or something similar. Wait for it to finish. The Aroma rice cooker takes about 30 minutes. After cooking, open the lid so the water on the top drains away. Then leave until you are ready to serve the rice. The rice cooker will go to “warm” function if it has. Before serving, use the plastic rice paddle that comes with the rice cooker to mix up the rice. Enjoy!

Equipment: Rice Cooker

A rice cooker(Chinese: 电饭煲 – dian fan bao – dyehn fuhn ball; “electricity rice* pot”)(Japanese: 炊飯器 – suihanki – swee hahn kee; “cook rice* instrument”) (Korean: 밥솥 – bapsot – pahp soht; bap= “rice*”, I think sot has no meaning. If you are Korean, please clarify in a comment.) is a necessary component of a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean kitchen. Actually, you can make rice on the stove, but a rice cooker is much easier. Making rice on the stove involves checking a lot, and if you are not good at multitasking, this is quite challenging. If I would have one electric component in the kitchen, it would be a rice cooker. There are many rice cookers in the market. If you do not want to spend a lot of money, just buy a cheaper one. Aroma makes good rice cookers for cheap prices; you can find it at Costco. And their current rice cooker doubles as a slow cooker (although this means you can’t slow cook something and make rice on the same day)! If you can afford it, buy a Zojirushi Micom rice cooker. The Korean rice cookers, Cuckoo, are great too if you can afford. I’m just using an Aroma one right now, to save money. About the size, a 5 1/2 cup one is best.

* Fan, han, and bap all refer to only “cooked rice”. “Uncooked rice” is a different word.

How to Cook Rice

Equipment: Chinese Cleaver

The Chinese cleaver(菜刀 – cai dao – tsai [rhymes with English “eye”.. and no silent T!] doll; “vegetable knife”)has a terrible English translation. It looks like a cleaver, but the English name suggests that it is also used like a cleaver. The Chinese name, cai dao, literally “vegetable knife”, tells its true meaning. This knife is used to cut vegetables, as well as meat. It can also cut through chicken bones, but I think pork and beef bones are too large for a cai dao to cut through. You can find one at a Chinese supermarket for about $7, and it is made of stainless steel. Mine is very old, and it is from Yangjiang, China. I’m not completely sure if it is the same Yangjiang as the Yangjiang that produces fermented black beans. You will also need a cutting board and this rectangular stone block that sharpens the knife; I don’t know the English name (I’m not very good with English terms in the kitchen). This knife is unnecessary if you have a western chef’s knife or other knife that can cut both vegetables and meat. You can just use that instead.