spicy kimchi stew

It’s surprising, given my love of all Asian food, that I’ve never really cooked Korean food. Luckily, thanks to an awesome birthday gift from my friend Sherri this weekend, that has changed! Sherri gave me a book called “The Korean Kitchen” by Young Jin Song, a book her mom gave her to get her started on Korean cooking. The book is full of beautiful photos, and it even gives you some Korean history and tells you where to buy specific ingredients. After trying to recover from two colds and the flu back to back, and with the temperatures dropping below 20 degrees in NYC, nothing sounded better to me last night than the recipe for spicy kimchi stew.

So I’ll tell you both the original recipe, and the changes I made. First of all, the original recipe calls for boneless pork chop, but there is a suggestion in the notes that you can substitute fresh tuna steak. Since I haven’t eaten pork in over a year, I went with the tuna! I actually think it could work well with just the tofu in the recipe, but I leave that up to you… Also, I cheated and didn’t make my own kimchi. There is a recipe for kimchi in the book, but there are two Korean markets in my neighborhood that make their own and sell it, so I went for the easy route (I’ll blame it on the fact that it was a school night). Anyway, here it is: Soak 4 dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. When they are soft, drain and slice them, discarding the stems. Dice 5oz of firm/extra firm tofu into cubes. Dice the 7oz of pork (or fish) into bite sized cubes. Slice 11oz of kimchi into small pieces, squeezing out the liquid first. Add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil to a heavy pot, adding your meat/fish and 1 crushed garlic clove, and saute until cooked. Then add the kimchi and 1 tbsp of Korean chili powder (I actually couldn’t find this either, and used Sambal Oelek chili paste, which came out fine!) and cook for 1 more minute. Then add 3 cups vegetable stock and bring it to a boil. Add the tofu, mushrooms, and 2 chopped scallions, cover, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Add salt if you want (I found it didn’t need any) and serve hot! We had ours over a little rice, but it’s delicious just on its own too.

The perfect spicy concoction for a cold winter night…

spicy kimchi stew

spicy kimchi stew

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wintery spring rolls & miso salmon

Sometimes the main course is an afterthought. It’s true. It’s probably not how one is ideally “supposed” to plan a menu, but given that I’m not running a restaurant, I think it’s ok.

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Wintery spring rolls

I’d been drooling over the idea of these wintery spring rolls for weeks, from the moment they were posted on my favorite food blog. I followed the recipe pretty closely but have a few notes: 1. I don’t (yet) own a mortal and pestle. I actually looked into getting one yesterday, and was deterred by the fact that Williams-Sonoma only had a $99 one! I ended up using an attachment on my hand blender to sort of pulse the ingredients into a paste. It was either that or saran wrap and a hammer, and I opted for least messy. 2. It is nearly impossible to assemble spring rolls in a mini-kitchen. The only other time I’ve made them (Vegan week 2011), I was actually in my boyfriend’s enormous (by NY standards) kitchen, and last night I didn’t quite realize the extent of what I was getting myself into until I found myself soaking spring roll wrappers in a bowl in the sink, grabbing lettuce off the stovetop, and reaching for my tofu stash on top of the fridge. 3. The recipe says you don’t need a dipping sauce, which is true if you are good at slathering the brown sugar-garlic mixture on the tofu. I chose to make a peanut-soy-rice vinegar-mirin mix anyway, with a touch of red pepper flakes, and it was a great compliment. A little added extra challenge if you’re going to take them for lunch the next day and try to eat them in a classroom however…

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Wintery spring rolls & salmon with miso glaze

Oh yes, and the broiled salmon with miso glaze, the afterthought… I can take exactly zero credit for this expertly cooked picture-perfect fish, as Chris made the whole thing AND battled my tiny broiler and fended off the dog with a garbage can barricade at the same time. Recipe can be found here. This will definitely be a favorite recipe in the future, and might even be what I design the appetizer or side dish around next time, instead of the opposite…


snap crackle cod

I originally invented this extremely simple but satisfying recipe in October for my gluten-intolerant friend Erin, who suggested that I make breadcrumbs for baked fish out of rice-based products rather than bread-based products. In October we made it with snapper and the “breadcrumbs” were a mix of crumbled rice crackers, rice krispies, and spices.

Due to an unexpected plethora of rice krispies in my kitchen (I made white chocolate rice krispy peanut “snowflakes” for New Year’s Eve dessert), I decided to make the fish dish again, and decided that “Rice Krispies Fish” wasn’t a very appealing name. “Snap Crackle Cod” was soon born.

I took wild cod filets and coated each side with olive oil. Next, I filled a ziploc bag with rice krispies and crunched them up a little for some texture variety. I added a little of whatever spices I could find lying around – basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt, fresh pepper, and cayenne, and then poured the mixture over the filets and sprayed a light coating of olive oil over the top. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish, and voila! Snap crackle cod. (Served here with my mom’s recipe for whiskey-braised leeks and a squeeze of lemon).

Snap Crackle Cod


a trader joe’s dinner

Yes, it’s been forever since my last post. And I knew it would be.

It’s been almost a month since I started the MS Nutrition program at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. After a year and a half of prereqs, 41 masters credits, two years of full time classes, 90 practicum hours, 1200 fieldwork hours, and a 4 hour long national exam, I will (hopefully) be legally qualified to tell people to put down that doughnut. (Kidding… but if you really want to know what a Registered Dietitian does, check it out). The irony of going to school for a health profession, if you’re working full time, is that you don’t have time to cook, exercise, or get a full night’s sleep. While I’d love to spend my days wandering through farmers markets and cooking four course meals, summer’s over and the stack of Biochem and Biostats reading wins.

For one of my classes, we’re doing a project on a food corporation and my group picked Trader Joe’s. So last Saturday I headed down to the Court Street Trader Joe’s to find a manager to interview/harass and perhaps beg for free samples. After chatting with Manager Jason (thank you Jason) in his Hawaiian shirt, I figured I should pick up a few groceries since I never really shop there – a 15 minute bike ride is just “too far” these days. I grabbed a salad for lunch which turned out to be pretty awesome – baby spinach with curried chicken, red quinoa, mango, and coconut chili dressing. For the next night’s dinner, I was tempted by the crab cakes, but ended up going with Chimichurri Wild Pacific Salmon and a packet of Seasoned Brussels Sprouts.

The preparation time for this dinner was about 30 seconds. Drop brussels onto a baking sheet, add olive oil, roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. When you pull them out, throw the pre-marinated salmon into the oven in place of the sprouts, and you have dinner 10 minutes later! I also added some of my favorite brown rice to the mix – Lundberg short grain.

Chimichurri wild pacific salmon, roasted brussels sprouts, & brown rice

Everything was delicious and nothing really even needed extra seasoning. Roasted Brussels sprouts by the way, are simply amazing. If you’ve never tried them oven-roasted, do yourself a favor and taste them immediately. Thanks Trader Joe’s for allowing me to “cook” at least once this month. Thanks must also be given to a certain boyfriend who took pity on me (or was grossed out?) and did all the dishes from this meal after I still hadn’t done them three days later. (Dishes: there’s another thing I don’t have time for…)


grilled tilapia with mango salsa & andean quinoa & corn salad

My second attempt at a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant farm fresh meals card deck was an Andean Quinoa & Corn Salad. Having started the dinner planning with a side dish, I thought fish with some kind of fruit salsa might go well as a main. I found this recipe (slightly embarrassed to say) from Oprah’s O magazine online: Grilled tilapia with mango salsa. Although I have made a great veggie lasagna recipe from there, so I shouldn’t dis Oprah so much.

Grilled tilapia with mango salsa & Andean quinoa & corn salad

For the quinoa salad, rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa under running water several times and set aside to drain. I used red quinoa instead of white since I thought it would look more colorful with the corn. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a saucepan, add 1 tsp paprika, and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Add the quinoa, 1 1/4 cups water, and 1 tsp salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, I steamed two ears of fresh corn (you can use frozen corn kernels if you like), cut the kernels off the cobs, and and set them aside in the refrigerator. Heat 2 tbs olive oil and sauté 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp coriander until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1-2 chopped bell peppers (I used red), a fresh hot chili (seeded, stemmed, and minced), and 2 tbs chopped cilantro, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes. In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and the sautéed vegetables and chill. Finally, stir in the corn, 1 large chopped tomato (I used the equivalent amount of chopped cherry tomatoes), parsley (if desired), 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.

This turned out to be a great mix of flavors – perfect for dinner on a hot summer night! If you’re only cooking for two people there will be plenty of leftovers. I tossed the leftover mango salsa in the food processor today, pulsed a few times to make it less chunky, and am bringing it to a barbeque today to eat with some blue corn chips.