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Aug 1, 2010 02:16 PM

*August 2010 COTM - COMPLETE ASIAN: Korea

Our cookbook for August is The Complete Asian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the chapter KOREA

There are a variety of editions and publishers of The Complete Asian Cookbook, although it appears that the recipes for the most part are unchanged between them. Please mention the edition you are using along with the page number when you report on recipes.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Bulgalbi (Barbecued Short Ribs of Beef, Second Revised Edition 2002, page 441)

    This was a more-or-less last-minute decision to use some beef ribs I’d bought on sale thinking to make stock. The recipe calls for short ribs cut into 2-inch riblets, but I just used the whole back ribs of beef. The marinade is soy sauce, water, chopped scallions, grated garlic and ginger, sugar and pepper, and toasted, crushed sesame seeds. (This, by the way, is the same marinade she uses for Bulgogi on the following page.) I marinated the ribs for about six hours and roasted them at 350 for an hour, turning once. She lists both oven roasting (in a moderately hot oven; is 350 moderately hot? Seemed about right.) and broiling as alternatives to grilling. I thought this was good, but not as complex as other marinades I’ve tried. That may have been at least partially user error: see below. Also, this marinade calls for water instead of stock, white sugar instead of brown or molasses, has no sesame oil--all ingredients I've used in other bulgalbi marinades. Finally, just as a personal preference, I do like at least a little heat in the marinade. Still, this was good. Would have been even better grilled over charcoal.

    Note: The ingredient list calls for just “soy sauce.” I automatically reached for my Pearl River Bridge Light. It wasn’t until later that I realized other recipes in the Korea chapter call specifically for “light soy sauce.” So I’m extrapolating that what was intended here was the dark soy sauce. I’ll need to remember to be careful about that. I’m sure using the dark instead of the light would have had a significant impact on the flavor.

    11 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Just a quick note -
      Most Korean recipes calling for a "light" soy sauce may be referring to Korean Soup soy sauce which is usually lighter in color, but saltier than standard soy sauce.
      I don't know about Pearl River, but Kikkoman is saltier than standard Korean Soy sauce so lightening it with some sugar and honey ( 1 cup Kikkoman, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon honey) is a good idea.

      국간장 = guk ganjang = soup soy sauce
      간장 = ganjang = soy sauce

      1. re: hannaone

        I'm guessing from what you say that if using Chinese soy sauce here that the light would be more or less equivalent to the soup soy sauce and the dark to the the regular soy sauce. The Chinese light soy is definitely saltier and less sweet, less thick as well, than the dark. Your use of the word "lightening," though, is confusing to me because with the Pearl River Bridge brands, at least, the sweeter, less salty sauce is much darker in color.

        1. re: JoanN

          Just re-read my post and aarrgghh -
          In my defense it was early morning. I started the part about Kikkoman with one thought and finished with another.

          Kikkoman is saltier than Korean Soy Sauce so it is a good idea to start with a little less than called for in a recipe, then taste test.

          Kikkoman can also be modified to use as a general base for soy sauce based dipping sauces by adding the sugar and honey as per above.

          Your description of the Pearl River sounds like it's close to the Korean sauces re the difference between the lighter color sauce and the darker color. sauce.

          1. re: hannaone

            Thanks. During these always marvelous COTM explorations into cuisines that are ordinarily beyond my comfort zone, it's so marvelous to have the input of someone who really knows what s/he's talking about. And your contributions to the Home Cooking board, hannaone, have expanded my appreciation of Korean food exponentially. I'm only a subway ride away from little Korea in Manhattan and have been exploring, trying to learn. I'm only barely beginning to think about being able to do it at home. Is this a too long encomium. Tough. I really appreciate what you've had to teach us. I've learned a lot.

        2. re: hannaone

          Thank you for that information, Hannaone. Can you recommend a brand or brands of Korean sauce sauce we should be using? Or, should we just use straight Kikkoman for regular and Kikkoman with your recommended lightening for light soy sauce?

          1. re: Gio

            Sempio is a good brand and they make both the soup soy sauce and the dark soy sauce.

            Dark or standard soy sauce:

            Soup or "Light" soy sauce:

            1. re: hannaone

              Thank you very much Hannaone. I see there are other items qt that site that I will need for the Asian recipes we'll be making this month. For me it's easier to shop for some things on-line. BTW: I echo JoanN's comments regarding your always helpful and knowledgable contributions to our cooking efforts. Thank you for that as well...!

        3. re: JoanN

          I was excited to start cooking from the Korean section and then noticed that quite a few of the recipes seem not quite right. I think that because the original publication of this book was back in the 70's, a few changes had to be made to ensure accessibility of ingredients and then were never really updated for the increased prevalence of ethnic food stores. For example, I would never, never, never, substiute cayenne for gochugaru.

          As far as soy sauce goes, my mother has always used one brand/type since as far back as I can remember - Kikkoman.

          This is the kind we've always used and currently get in 50lb buckets at the local cash and carry:

          The section discussing the korean shelf on p. 439 (1995 edition) indicates that you should keep 2 kinds - light or dark soy sauce. But we've never used dark soy sauce in our kitchen unless it was a mistake or we ran out and had to use the packets we get with chinese takeout. In those instances, we've added a little water and sugar to balance the flavor.

          Some interesting info I found on wikipedia:

          "Korean soy sauce
          Korean soy sauce, (called Joseon ganjang, 조선간장, in Korean) is a byproduct of the production of doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste). They are mainly used in making soups, seasoning, and dip sauce. Joseon ganjang, thin and dark brown in color, is made entirely of soy and brine, and has a saltiness that varies according to the producer. Wide scale use of Joseon ganjang has been somewhat superseded by cheaper factory-made Japanese style soy sauce, called waeganjang (hangul: 왜간장/倭간장). According to the 2001 national food consumption survey in Korea, traditional fermented ganjang comprised only 1.4% of soy sauce purchases.[13]"

          So it's possible that I'm just used to the cheaper factory-made Japanese style soy sauce instead of the 'good stuff'.

          1. re: soypower

            Soypower, according to the web site, My Korean gochugaru is a hot pepper powder, in other words, cayenne.

            1. re: Gio

              You'll find that most cayenne pepper is generally finely ground. Korean hot red pepper powder (gochugaru) is almost flakey and a lot less spicy. Gochugaru can generally be made from any hot red pepper, but when using cayenne, it is often combined w/ other varieties of hot pepper. In general, gochugaru will not have anywhere near the heat level of cayenne. Which is why I would never use it as a substitute.

              Just my two cents.

        4. Well.. you know what?? There's an HMart an easy drive from where I live. I don't drive anymore (wheelchair bound) but DH will take me there. Many thanks again!!

          ETA: This is in reponse to Hannaone's recommendation....

          1. Oyi Namul (cucumber salad) p. 449
            Peel cucumbers (I had Japanese cucumbers from my garden and the second time I made it, I did not peel them. As long as your cukes are not thick skinned, you can go without peeling), cut in thin slices, sprinkle with salt, add water and soak 15 minutes. I was munching on these just after salting, but managed to proceed with the rest of the recipe. Add vinegar (I used rice vinegar), sugar, cayenne (I used gochugaru and the second time I made this I doubled the amount of gochugaru), garlic, spring onion and toasted, crushed sesame seeds. This was very refreshing, quick, and nice balance of flavors (soft vinegar, nutty seeds, garlic and touch of spice).

            3 Replies
            1. re: BigSal

              Oyi Namul (Cucumber Salad) p. 449

              Not much to add - we liked this too. I also used rice vinegar, but didn't crush the sesame seeds and used Aleppo pepper instead of cayenne. Perfect side dish for a cross-cultural meal from the book, with Indonesian spicy chicken (p. 185) and Burmese coconut rice (p. 266).

              1. re: Rubee

                I also like to add a tiny dash of fish sauce to this. It give it that extra oomph that takes it from ordinary to intriguing.

                1. re: joonjoon

                  Great idea, thank you! I know fish sauce has really helped the flavor of my cucumber kimchi too.

            2. Braised spinach with pork p448 1992 edition

              A quick stir-fry was called for last night and this one worked with the ingredients I had. It was definitely quick to prep and cook (quicker and better than ordering pizza which was my 17 yo son's suggestion). I whizzed the pork fillet in the processor as the instructions were to dice very small and that worked fine. Stir-fried in wok with garlic, added spinach and soy sauce. Finally spring onions and beaten egg for the last 2 mins. Toasted crushed sesame seeds finish it off. Results were OK, perfectly edible but won't be adding it to my list of favorites.

              5 Replies
              1. re: JaneEYB

                Doesn't really sound like what I think of as "braised"

                1. re: mebby

                  No, you're right though she does instruct to put a lid on the wok after adding the spinach and simmer until spinach is tender. My spinach was young and tender so didn't need that but if you were using older, tougher leaves then you would do the braising stage. Though it would still be quite short, not my idea of braising. Molly Stevens 'All About Braising', my go-to book on the subject, quotes Larousse "A method of cooking food in a closed vessel with very little liquid at a low temperature and for a long time". If we apply that definition then no, this is not a braise.

                2. re: JaneEYB

                  Just in time . . .♫ I found this just in time . . . ♫

                  Thought I’d make this tonight for the same reason, but with ground pork because that’s what I’ve got. But I’ve also got some haricot verts. Sorry Charmaine; here I come, Fuschia. Dry-Fried Green Beans it is!

                  Thanks, Jane.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    So jealous! How did you get the musical notes. Love Dunlops dried fried green beans!


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      The Alt code is 14. (Hold down the Alt key and type 14 over on your numbers keypad.) ♫ ♫ ♫

                      And yes, I had a craving for Dunlop's dry-fried beans which was why I bought the haricots verts in the first place. But then I felt guilty, thinking I should do something from Solomon. JaneEYB's report gave me just the excuse I needed to do what I wanted to do in the first place.

                3. We had a 'Korean night' and with the grilled meats I served Cho Kanjang or Sesame Seed Sauce from pg 451. It is a simple mix of toasted sesame, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. I loved the recipe but felt I should have used a little less vinegar, maybe 3 tbs, not 4. I served one dipping bowl of the sauce exactly as Solomon prescribes, and a second with a tbs of kochujang mixed in for a spicy option. Everyone loved the sauces. I have never had a sesame paste sauce like that before with Korean meats, but now we won' t be having another Korean night without this Cho Kanjang.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: luckyfatima

                    Next time try the bulgogi sauce on p. 442 (1992 US edition). It's a few more ingredients - soy sauce, sesame oil, soybean paste (she calls for Chinese bean paste in this edition, but you should be able to find Korean soybean paste),a little water and dry sherry, ground toasted sesame seeds, minced scallions, crushed garlic, sugar, salt and optional kochujiang.
                    I usually make a mixed bean paste to serve with bulgogi but this dipping sauce is very yummy too. I often use this sauce as seasoning on lo mein made from leftover bulgogi and some mushrooms and veggies...yum.