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Banchan

April 12, 2011

I was too exhausted and busy this weekend to do any of the cooking for which I had purchased ingredients on Friday, but I finally had time today to try a few recipes. Actually, that is a lie. I did make roasted corn and barley tea, which was easy and delicious and soothing. You simply boil roasted corn and/or barley in water for 5-10 minutes, then strain out the corn and barley. I was in need of some serious comfort food on Friday night, and this fit the bill (along with some chocolate chip Eggo waffles and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream). It chills and reheats well, and is also satisfactory cold.

As planned, I am working my way through the book from the beginning, but I also wanted to start with a soup since soup might just be my favorite kind of food. So, along with two banchan, which are side dishes, I also tried a Soybean Sprout Soup. I imagine I will also make some of the rice dishes in the middle out of order because one needs rice to accompany everything else.

Soybean Sprout Soup

Ingredients: soybean sprouts, water, crushed garlic, coarse salt, soy sauce, beef stock, onion, scallion

One of the first things I discovered is that I have no idea how much an ounce is. I really need to get a kitchen scale, apparently. All my recipes call for a certain number of ounces of things, and I usually use whole amounts of whatever vegetable, or I measure with measuring cups. So I had to guess I bit on the onion and scallion. This one was super easy. I doubled the recipe based on the amount of sprouts I had, which came in a pre-measured 160z. bag. I was afraid it would be way too pungent because of the onion, garlic, and scallions, but it was all boiled for long enough to take the edge off of each, which leaving plenty of flavor. I had seconds (I really cannot turn down a good soup), but it was not very filling, as I had to nibble something else by the time I had finished cooking my other two dishes.

Seasoned Spinach

Ingredients: fresh spinach, coarse salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame salt, crushed garlic, minced scallion, red pepper sauce, vinegar, brown sugar

For this recipe, I had to do a bit of legwork to first make the sesame salt and the red pepper sauce. To make sesame salt, you simply toast some sesame seeds, then grind then up with a mortar and pestle. The red pepper sauce is almost as easy, but it takes longer because you have to saute it for 20 minutes. You combine red pepper paste, water, oil, and garlic, saute, then add sesame seeds.

The most labor-intensive part of this dish was preparing the spinach. since it cooks down to such a small amount, you need to start with a huge pile of the stuff. You have to take off the stems, and wash. Fortunately, blanching is easy, and there is nothing fancy about mixing up the seasonings. I gently squeezed out a lot of the water from the spinach after I rinsed and drained it following the blanching. I think it did about the right amount, although I could have probably gotten even slightly drier, based on the taste, which was slightly sweet, and ever so often more watery than expected.

 

Seasoned Eggplant

Ingredients: Chinese eggplants, soy sauce, crushed garlic, minced scallion, red pepper flakes, vinegar, sesame oil, sesame salt

Having previously prepared the sesame salt for the spinach, this one was a breeze. I just had to wait for the eggplants to steam and cool slightly before I could “shred the eggplant coarsely.” This one looks disgusting, but it tastes delicious. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to leave the skins in, so I didn’t since they peeled away so easily from the flesh.

Verdict

As I mentioned before, rice is typically eaten with everything as a base. However, many of the rice recipes in this book require much forethought because they include ingredients like beans that need to be pre-soaked at least overnight, and often a whole day or more. So I went without rice today, and I missed it. Both banchan were delicious, but a bit salty, so I could only eat a small amount of each dish. I cheated and bought some kimchi on Friday, so I had a little banchan bonanza for lunch. Now I feel a strong need to brush my teeth, or more accurately, my tongue, which is harboring some intense flavors.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    April 12, 2011 7:18 pm

    Everything looks delicious, except perhaps the eggplant. But it is delicious, you say? Interesting. I wonder which of our common foods looks ugly to Korean people.

  2. Julia Bates permalink
    April 17, 2011 9:04 am

    I can see a rice cooker looming sometime in the not too distant future!! I also have a kitchen scale I bought from WW that you are welcome to. We’ll arrange transfer soon!! Julia

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