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Friday, December 30, 2011

Korea Roundup 2011: Home-cooked Meals at Their Best

After having nutritious, home-made meals almost three times a day for a while, it's hard to go back to consuming store-bought kimchi. I wasn't liking any of the brands out here anyway.

I think I'll have to embark on making my own napa cabbage kimchi at home. Of course, my Mom makes it look so easy. This kimchi was so fresh, crisp and just no comparison to the mass produced store-bought kind. It's obvious, I know, but I really think I can't go back anymore.

I'm on a mission now to try making more than just kkakdugi, radish cube kimchi that is arguably the easiest kind of kimchi to make.

After making napa cabbage kimchi, I'd like to try this delicious cold kimchi soup that is the most refreshing side dish when having a meal of rice and soup. It cleanses the palate and also gives it a very mild kick from the red pepper flakes.

I know it's not photogenic but I go back to the humble bean sprouts that are stir-fried in some sesame oil with some water and makes for the best side dish. All I need is rice, soup, kimchi and these nutty-tasting bean sprouts.
Another amazing side dish that doesn't get as much love: duduk. It's a root with a very distinctive flavor that is tenderized and flattened and marinated in some spicy and sweet sauce with some sesame oil thrown in. Then pan-fried with some oil and voila.

Unlike many duduk roots, it was so tender and soft. Most importantly, it was super moist but not overly so (most duduk tastes dry).
Last but not least, there's myulchi bokkeum, or candied (with soy sauce, red pepper paste, sugar/honey, etc) dried anchovies with pine nuts, almonds and walnuts. True, there were a tad on the sweet side but I find it very hard to get the anchovies to be so incredibly crispy.

The nuts added another crunchy and, well, nutty dimension to this classic side dish.

The bottom line is consuming all these non-over-seasoned, non-overcooked and non-over-preserved foods inspired me further to cook Korean food more here even though it's so easy to drive to Koreatown Galleria and buy all my side dishes and kimchi.

I'm also on a quest for excellent quality rice. I yearn for the piping hot pots of rice that came to our table where the first bite into the grain was so unforgettable.

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