The Air Refinery was about 15 minutes away from our childhood home, and where mom spent 60 hours a week earning minimum wage. I still don’t know what she made at the Air Refinery. What I do know is after a 12-hour shift, mom came home with black glue all over her fingers and smelling of burnt rubber. From 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., mom was on her feet assembling Air Refinery products. From 6:00-6:30, mom assembled tasty meals for her four kids and husband. I don’t complain about my work or having too much to do when mom is around.
One of mom’s go-to side dishes (bon chon) were steamed eggs. The eggs are traditionally made in a dolsot pot. If you don’t have one, a casserole dish or large ramekins work just as well. This is a super quick, super easy to make side dish, and one that always reminds me how hard my parents worked to put a simple dish like this on the table.
4 Large eggs
1/2 – 1 Cup water
1 Stalk scallion, chopped
1/4 Cup buchu, chopped (Korean chives)
1/4 Cup carrots, grated
1 Red pepper, thinly sliced
1 Teaspoon sehwoojuht (Salted shrimp. You can find this in the pickled section at an Asian market.)
Black pepper to taste
Whisk together the eggs and water. Using a sieve, strain the mixture into a ceramic or dol sot pot. Repeat. This will help make the eggs smooth.
Add scallions, buchu, carrots, red pepper, sehwoojuht, and pepper. Mix lightly until combined.
Cover the pot with plastic wrap. In a steamer, bring water to a boil and set the pot on top of the basket.
Close the lid, reduce the heat and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.
Here is a super simple meal with a super crazy kick. Breaking it down: rice, pork belly, red leaf lettuce and slivers of garlic. The condiment is the key. It’s a combo of #kochu jang and dang jang. It’s like Superman of #Korean condiments.
Rice (1/2 to 1 cup per person)
1 1/2 to 2 Pounds pork belly
2-3 Bunches of red lettuce
1 Bunch of perilla leaves
1-2 Bulbs of garlic, peeled, thinly sliced
3-6 Korean finger peppers, sliced
1/3 Cup sesame oil plus 1 tablespoon
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Cup kochu jang (Korean red pepper paste)
1/4 Cup dang jang (Korean fermented soy bean paste)
1 Teaspoon soy sauce
3 Stalks of scallions
Make the rice
Slice the pork belly into 1-inch pieces. Grill the pork belly until the edges turn golden brown.
Wash the peppers and slice
Wash the red leaf lettuce and perilla leaves. Spin dry or blot dry with paper towel.
Combine the sesame oil and salt
Prepare the condiment
Combine the kochu jang, dang jang, 6-8 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce and scallions. Combine into a nice paste, until ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Putting It All Together
Grab a lettuce leaf. Lay it flat on the palm of your hand. Place a perilla on top. Add rice, pork belly, the condiment, a slice or two of the peppers, and a sliver or two of garlic. OR, dip the pork belly in the sesame oil and salt mixture. Wrap in lettuce and perilla leaves. Wrap it up and chow down.
Growing up, somen and ramen noodles to us were like mac and cheese was to our American friends. Guk su is super easy to make and always satisfies my nostalgic cravings. Guk su, or somen noodles, is versatile and can be prepared in hot and cold broths and spicy pepper mix. When it is freezing, and sleeting and snowing, I opt for the hot, spicy chicken broth.
It’s super easy to make. From prep to ladling in the noodley goodness is about 20 minutes. I made beef topping for this one, but you can go veggie and leave out the topping.
4 Bundles somen noodles
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 Medium yellow onion sliced
7 Cloves garlic, minced
(1) 32-ounce beef broth
2 Cups water
1 Teaspoon dashida (I use anchovies flavored.)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon kochu garu (Korean red pepper powder.)
1-2 Tablespoon(s) salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
4-5 Scallions, 1-inch strips
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Cook noodles according to directions. Set aside. Time the noodles so that it’s ready at the same time as the broth.
Crack the eggs open and add to a small bowl. Break the yolks and give it a quick whisk. Set aside.
In a pot big enough to boil 32-ounces of chicken broth plus the water, add the oils. Heat on low and add the onions and garlic. Stirring frequently, cook until the onions and garlic until soft and the onions are slightly browned on the edges, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and season with dashida, soy sauce, kochu garu, and black pepper. Add the salt a teaspoon at a time. Adjust according to your taste. Let the broth simmer for about another 5 minutes.
Quickly add the eggs and give it a quick mix until the eggs are folded in.
Serving It Up
Place about at least a cup of the noodles in 4 large bowls (If the people you’re feeding have healthy appetites, this could just serve two instead of four.) Ladle in enough broth to submerge the noodles. Top with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately. You don’t want gluey noodles.
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