Homemade Kimchi


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and have settled nicely into the new year! I’m happy to report that I recently checked off one item from the 2016 “To Do” list – make kimchi at home!

The homemade kimchi was so delicious. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. (I’ve wanted to make my own kimchi since 2008!)

I shared the kimchi with my family and friends and they all seemed to enjoy it.  I have a feeling that I’ll be making more batches in the next week or so … and it might even become a regular thing around here!

You can check out Maangchi’s kimchi tutorial that I used to make kimchi here.  Her channel is nothing short of amazing.  If you’re interested in learning about the Korean cuisine or want to hone your skills, I also highly recommend her cookbook, Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking:  Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook.

I also documented my kimchi-making adventure here!


Food Truck Experience at Home: Korean BBQ Taco

I was thinking about baby names the other day. No, I’m not pregnant or anything (wedding first), but I was just imagining what kind of name I would give my future bundle of joy, should I be so blessed to have him / her one day … and I remembered how much I love the name “Koji” for a boy. It’s a very typical Japanese boy’s name but I love its simplicity. It’s pronounced “Koh-Jee.” It even sounds a little like food, like “congee.”

Then I realized that it is a food name, as in Kogi taco truck. I still don’t know if “Kogi” is pronounced “Koh-jee” or “Ko-ghee” but it’s way too close. Talk about my childhood dream being crushed. I don’t think I have the guts to subject my future baby to be picked on in school because he sounds like a galbi wrapped in tortilla sold in a back of the roach coach.

Name or no name, the concept of mixing delicious Korean BBQ and giving it the Mexican street-food feel is just genius. I’ve only had its famous taco once when it first lit the fire on America’s food truck fascination but it’s definitely something that I can get used to. Good thing these tacos are really easy to make at home and you don’t have to chase the truck around town for some good eats.

Korean Beef Marinade
For about 8 – 10 ounces of beef, enough for about 4 tacos

(This was inspired by the recipe from allrecipe.com with slight alteration. I only marinaded a small amount of meat so I reduced the amount slightly.)

3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon Agave nectar (I used agave instead of white sugar)
2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 ginger block, grated
1 tablespoon water

Let the beef marinade for at least an hour. I let it marinade overnight and popped it in the freezer.  Just make sure that you don’t marinade it for too long, as it gets too salty.

Korean Green Onion and Cabbage Salad

I got inspired to make this salad when I found this wonderful blog, Korean Cuisine. I learned that the Korean Onion Salad is called Pa Moochim. I added some shredded cabbage to add a bit more crunch. This makes enough for 4 tacos, but this salad is so delicious, you might want to make more!

(A quick note: I purchased the box of Gochujan, a Korean fermented bean paste, but since I can’t read Korean, this may be a different type of fermented bean paste … I don’t know. When you go to a Korean supermarket, there is an aisle full of the condiments. Nonetheless, the paste is versatile and an absolute essential for many Korean cuisines.  Update:  I found out that this paste is called Ssamjang, a combination of Gochujan, Doenjan, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and green onion.)

1 bunch green onion, finely sliced
¼ whole cabbage, finely sliced
3 tablespoon sesame oil
5 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon  Gochujang Ssamjang
Cayenne Pepper (to taste)

Mix everything in a bowl and let it sit in a refrigerator for about 15 minutes before serving.

Assembling the Taco

Warm the tortillas on a grill (I like corn tortilla for this). In the meantime, cook the marinaded beef in a pan with olive oil. When cooked, pile the beef on the tortilla. Top the taco with the green onion and cabbage salad. I put some kimchee and Sriracha hot sauce for extra heat.  This recipe makes about 4 tacos.

Not Much Love for I Love Tofu and BBQ

When my boyfriend and I first discovered that there is a Korean restaurant that served some of our favorite dishes like soft tofu stew bubbling away in a hot pot in Soondubuchigae and a hearty bowl of cold buckwheat noodle in Naengmyeon nearby, we were super excited. It was such a welcoming news because there aren’t too many Korean or Asian restaurants in Burbank. I should actually say that there aren’t too many restaurants in the area in general, other than a few vanilla chain restaurants in the Downtown area. I love this town, don’t get me wrong, but it’s definitely lagging in a culinary race, falling behind its neighboring Glendale and Pasadena, and light years behind Studio City and other parts of the Valley.

My excitement over the Korean restaurant was short lived, however, with I Love Tofu and BBQ in Glendale, where the food was ordinary and the service was much to be desired.

The restaurant is located in the place where Takeshi Ramen used to reside on Brand Boulevard in Glendale. The restaurant looked cleaner and roomier than its former life as a Japanese noodle shop. It doesn’t have the grill at each table that allows patrons to cooks their own meat but it still serves many of the favorite BBQs.  When we went to the restaurant for the second time (we went there several months prior and came out not overly satisfied with the food and the service, but we decided to give it another shot), it was a Saturday afternoon. The waitress gave us a menu with lunch specials on it so we ordered a combination from there. When we began to order our lunch, we were told that the lunch specials were only available on weekdays and that we had to order from the regular, dinner menu. I know that Korean food aren’t cheap but spending about $15 for lunch for each of us was much more than we anticipated. Eeek.

My boyfriend ordered the combination of spicy pork BBQ and tofu hot pot. The hot pot was very good, especially with the raw egg on top that eventually cooks in the spicy bubbling soup, but the pork was under-marinated and a bit on the bland side.

The cold buckwheat noodle that I ordered was delicious with noodles cooked to prefect consistency (I like mine a little chewy), but marinated beef short ribs, or Galbi, was way too fatty for my taste.   Perhaps the best part of the dining experience is the rice that is served in a small, pot hot.  You can pour some hot water on an almost empty but still warm pot and eat the rice that got stuck at the bottom which is crunchy and flavorful!

It was also unfortunate that despite the fact that we were one of the only customers in the place, we got no service and we had to hunt down someone who glanced our way just to get some more kimchi!

In the neighborhood where decent Korean restaurants are scarce, I’m sure we’ll visit I Love Tofu and BBQ again but that’s only if I’m attacked by a serious Korean food withdrawal and I don’t have it in me to drive to Korea Town for real, tasty delicacy. I’m sure I will visit HK Market down the street more often so that I can make my own at home.

I Love Tofu and BBQ
126 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA 91203

New Year, New Challenge: Bibimbap

bibimbapLook! I spent all day in the kitchen preparing this beautiful Bibimbap for dinner! Okay, I’m lying. These vegetables and marinated pork belly came in plastic containers, courtesy of a neighborhood Korean mega store. God bless them.

Although Korean cuisine tops as one of my all-time favorites (I would say my favorites are ① Japanese, ② Korean, and ③ Italian, in that order), I know nothing about how to prepare any of the dishes. The pungent spices used in Korean dishes are so mysterious to my taste buds that I can never decipher what is what. The fermented soybean pastes aisle at a store alone has rows and rows of selections (which makes my head spin) so I can imagine the complexity, depth and uniqueness of each of ingredient.

esseLearning a thing or two about how to cook Korean food definitely sits on top of my culinary “to do” list for 2008. I grew up eating Kimchi and Gulgogi but our family never made them at home so I’ve decided that I’m going to be the first one in the family to make my own kimchi! I found a kimchi recipe in a Japanese lifestyle magazine called Esse (I would say it’s a Japanse equivalent of Real Simple), and although it’s not Korean, I trust this recipe will deliver an authentic result. I’ll keep you posted 🙂