Our trio of stews - kimchi jigae, soon-dubu jigae, and daeng-jang jigae will always get you warmed up, nourished, comforted and ready to go! Especially with the winter cold returning for an untimely visit this weekend, come and enjoy one of our hot and savory stews.
Gamjatang (Korean pork and potato stew) is a beloved Korean dish. It features slow-simmered pork back and ribs (cooked bone-in), in a soup base of daeng-jang, perilla leaves and ground seeds, potatoes, and bean sprouts. The earthy saltiness of the daeng-jang and the distinct aroma of the perilla set off the pork perfectly. The potatoes soak up the meaty bone broth flavors and are a perfect chaser to the meat. After you finish the melt-in-your-mouth pork and potatoes, feel free to stir in your rice into the remaining broth and eat with kimchi - for Koreans, it's a taste of heaven. The pork is cooked bone-in, resulting in a rich broth and tender meat (Koreans believe the meat around the bone is the tastiest) so feel free to pick it up with your hands!
We cook a big batch of this soup each day and go until we sell out so come early!
We were tickled to read that the St Louis Cardinals are on the Bibimbap train! In the state of 'gooey butter cake' (which albeit is a yummy combination of sugar and fat), the head chef for the St Louis Cardinals Simon Lusky wanted to help his team eat more healthily without sacrificing taste. Enter the bibimbap - a parade of different textures and flavors in one bowl. Though Lusky's version features pureed cauliflower in place of rice for his athletes who adhere to a paleo diet, the dish takes the same fresh preparation of various vegetables, a touch of meaty taste, and a spicy kick to deliver a satisfying and nutritious dish
Our Kimchi Fried Rice is kind of like that popular kid - it's hot but sweet, special but still casual, and has the perfect addictive balance of tangy, spicy, and umami (ok maybe not the last part). Like a popular kid, each interaction with it leaves you wanting more.
It's definitely popular at our restaurant. We set aside a special batch of kimchi for our Kimchi Fried Rice and our Kimchi Jigae, which both require a more fermented kimchi to deliver on that tangy umami taste. These batches of kimchi are allowed to ferment longer and are carefully monitored to be used just at the right time. Then, the kimchi and succulent pieces of pork are pan-fried with rice and topped off with a sunny-side up egg to perfect this truly lovely dish. Each bite has the crunch of kimchi, the softness of the rice and chewiness of the pork with all three flavors melding perfectly. Available for lunch and dinner everyday (except for Tuesday) at Kimchi Kitchen!
Our customers love our daeng-jang jigae but they may not also know that it's also super good for you! It all goes back to the fact that the rich flavor is developed through a centuries-old natural fermentation process. First, soybeans are boiled and ground. The paste is then formed into blocks called meju, which are then sun-dried and fermented (fun fact: to be called a 'meju face' in Korean is an insult since, as you can imagine, a block of fermenting ground soybean paste is not the most attractive sight - though ultimately delicious). A few months later, the blocks are put into urns with brine and left to further ferment. The resulting paste, Daeng-jang, is rich in flavanoids, vitamins, minerals and plant hormones. It is particularly rich in the amino acid lysine as well as linoleic acids and linolenic acid which is critical to blood vessel health. Studies have even shown daeng-jang to have a positive impact in helping reduce body fat in mice.
So next time when you savor the deep, delicious flavor of daeng-jang jigae at Kimchi Kitchen, know that it doesn't just taste good - it's also good for you :)
This week we'll possibly make some Korean ah-jum-mahs (middle-aged ladies) mad by sharing some secrets of making L.A. Galbi so flavorful and tender. We won't reveal everything, just give some hints. Basically, it comes to what some Korean-American moms have come to call the 'P-ingredients', that is foods that start with the letter 'P'. These ingredients go into the marinade where they contribute to flavoring and tenderizing the meat. Such P-foods include Pears (Asian pears), Papaya, Pineapple, and for some cooks, even Pepsi. The idea is that these ingredients contain enzymes that help tenderize the meat. There's also a few more ingredient that some Korean moms swear by (though they don't start with a P and they tend to be fruits) but we'll stop here to avoid angry hordes of Korean moms at our door.
Though many of these ingredients aren't native to Korea (apart from Asian Pears), there are a great example of home-grown 'fusion cooking' - e.g., generations of Korean-American moms experimenting with what they've got to come up with something delicious. Remember that this special is running at Kimchi Kitchen until the end of February - come and get some before then!
For many people who grew up eating Korean food, certain dishes evoke strong memories. It's not uncommon to hear Koreans say "Oh it would be killer to eat kimchi jigae right now" on a cold rainy day or "We only need kimbap to make this perfect" when on a hike. Nearly every occasion, weather conditions, etc can evoke the longing for some particular dish. Layered on top of this is that many foods are formally tied to holidays and life events. Of course, Koreans eat many of these foods year-round but we thought it would be fun to share some of the occasions and food pairings that are closely associated for many Koreans:
- Hiking and kimbap - Delicious and portable, kimbap is a typical food for Koreans to bring on a day hike through the many mountains in Korea. Many Koreans have fond recollections of our moms packing kimbap into our lunch boxes when we went on outdoor field trips.
- Celebrations and bulgogi/ galbi - Historically, Koreans did not eat much red meat because of the lack of flat grazing land for cattle. Hence, meat-centric dishes like bulgogi and galbi were saved for special occasions and celebrations. Now, South Koreans eat much more meat because of greater wealth and the availability of imported meat but meat-heavy dishes still are a treat.
- Cold weather and jigae - Korea experiences all four seasons (the latitude of Seoul is not too different from that of Boston actually) and all types of cold weather trigger longings for simmering kimchi jigae, daeng-jang jigae, and soon-dubu jigae. Instant ramen (Shin ramen is the national favorite)
- After school and dduk-bokki - Throughout Korea, you'll find small snack restaurants located close to schools. When school gets out, these places are mobbed by hungry children looking to spend their allowance on a snack. Their favorite? Dduk-bokki.
- Birthdays and mi-yuk-gook - Mi-yuk-gook is a seaweed soup made with meat broth. It's a great reflection of Korean cooking in many ways because it combines land and sea and uses meat sparingly. Seaweed is a great source of iodine and iron, and it's a traditional food for Koreans to eat on their birthdays as well as for women who just gave birth. We don't have mi-yuk-gook on the menu currently but perhaps we will feature them as a special in the future
- New Year's Day and rice cakes - New Year's Day (usually celebrated on the lunar calendar in Korea) brings a wide array of rice cakes from sweet pastry-like concoctions to savory soups. In Korea, grandmothers like to tell their grandchildren that they will not really become one year older if they do not finish their rice cake soup! (In Korea as in some other East Asian countries, people count themselves one year older with each passing New Year's Day).
Along with a rich heritage of delicious foods, the Korean table also has developed some approaches of how to enjoy the various dishes. Some of these are based in traditional rituals and beliefs while others are based on practical responses to Korean food itself. We want our customers to enjoy our food in whatever way suits them best but thought you might find these tidbits interesting as well!
- In many East Asian cultures, it is considered a taboo to leave chopsticks sticking out of your bowl of rice, because this is how food is offered at ancestral graves.
- Soups and stews are typically eaten with a spoon. Korean elders consider it rude when people dig around a soup/stew with chopsticks (maybe because stews are often served in a communal bowl and it suggests that an individual is digging around for their favorite morsel!)
- Meat with bones are commonly eaten with hands (so don't hesitate to pick up our LA Galbi!) Meat without bones (like our bulgogi) are eaten with chopsticks.
- Rice is almost always eaten with every hot soup. Rice can be spooned right into the soup and mixed in to be eaten together, or vice versa or separately.
- Koreans typically eat bibimbap with a spoon after mixing all the ingredients together, rather than picking out and eating the different vegetables individually with chopsticks. This way, you get all the flavors in each bite!
- Koreans also often (but not always) spoon up some rice and use their chopstick to put a piece of kimchi or other food on top and then put the whole thing in their mouth to get the mix of flavors.