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Friday, November 18, 2011

Team Happy Bear Cooks: Mike's Garlic Shoots

As the point of the whole 1KFTFFF was to help Hansik popularize Korean food, we Happy Bears figured that we ought to supplement our packed eating schedule with a bit of cooking, too. After all, though everyone deserves to be introduced to all the wonders of Korean cuisine, not everybody is fortunate to live close to a Korean restaurant. While we can't deliver to everyone in the world, the least we can do is spread the word.

Andy and Anina have both already posted about their contributions: Gosari (Fern Bracken) and Yeongeun (Lotus Root).

I myself contributed two dishes, both of them quite easy.

First off, a very simple salad I learned from my friend Mina, the chef of the weekly "Vegetarian Dinner for the Earth" at my local branch of the Green Consumers Network. Just take a sweet cabbage (단배추, pretty similar to a Napa) and chop it up into chopstick-friendly chunks. Then, make a sauce of perilla oil, perilla seed powder, and salt. Once you've matched the proportions to your preferences, pour the dressing onto the leaves, then mix with your hands, squeezing everything with just enough pressure that the sauce evenly coats and permeates the cabbage, but not so hard that you crush them into a mush. The result: a rich, oily, and yet light salad that fits right in with the sweet, salty, and pungent side dishes around it. Unfortunately, my coworkers were busy cooking and my hands were busy squishing, so I didn't get any pictures of this one.

Second, another one of my favorites: sautéed garlic stems (마늘쫑 볶음). These were complete news to me the first time I tried them, but I immediately fell for their savory simplicity. To get started, chop the stems up into pieces about 1.5 inches long; again, just right to be picked up with chopsticks. Fill a frying pan with just enough water to cover them, then boil for about two or three minutes, just to soften them up. Move them over to a colander, drain out the water, and heat up a bit of sesame oil. One it's warm, drop in the garlic stems, and, if you are a big garlic fan, slice up a few bulbs and drop those in as well. Lightly brown the outsides of the stems, and before they get too droopy, pour in a bit of soy sauce. If you've got a sweet tooth, now's the time to add the sugar. Either way, once the liquid has mostly cooked off, remove the stems from the pan and sprinkle them with sesame seeds - for extra punch, crush them as you sprinkle, as this will release more flavors, in addition to making it easier for your stomach to absorb all the goodness.

That's all! Serve with rice, soup, and other side dishes for a splendid meal.

Garlic stems pre-sauté

The finished product

Also present:

Seasoned bellflower/balloonflower root (도라지 무침)

Don't recall exactly, but this looks to me like 시금치나물 (blanched spinach with garlic and sesame oil)

A bit of fresh fruit. We were lucky to find local figs in the market the previous afternoon.

All the side dishes in one shot! Those are Tanya's tiny little sweet-n-spicyy anchovies in the top-left, a mayo/sunchoke/carrot/cuke salad at top-center, and my cabbage and perilla salad at top-right.

The spread, including Greg's spicy oyster and mushroom soup!

We were truly happy to be able to share our food with one another and with the translator, driver, and TV crew who worked so hard to make our food tour possible. Thanks, Hansik and KBS^^

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