We ate the last Christmas cookies yesterday, finished up the lone remaining mince pie today, and cannot possibly face any more goose/dumplings/gravy; the remaining portions went into the freezer. We needed an antidote to the holiday saturated fat overload, and this evening we found it: massive amounts of Korean food!
Here’s what we made, from least awesome to most awesome. (Note – the jasmine rice, though better than non-jasmine rice, does not rate on the awesome scale. It’s rice.)
• Cucumber pickle – just cukes and seasoned rice vinegar, this was pretty but boring
• Bean Sprouts – blanched bean sprouts with toasted sesame oil, good but not great
• Daikon Radish – slivered and mixed with garlic, rice vinegar, and hot pepper, this was crunchy and complex
• Sweet Potato – with sweet soy sauce and ginger, this was a crowd favorite. The recipe on this website is for squash, but sweet potato is a good substitute.
• Warm Tofu – cakes of soft tofu covered with a sauce made of garlic, soy, mirin, hot pepper flakes, sugar and sesame, this was terrifically flavorful but not overpowering. The news that the local Asian market has fresh soft tofu every day was not too exciting until we ate out first bites of this. I think that the quality of tofu makes a big difference, but I also think that I sound like a complete ponce when I say that so I take it back. Here’s the recipe. Try it!
• Lamb Bulgogi with Asian Pear Dipping Sauce – the sauce is so good it’s like a joke. It being the dead of winter, I forwent the grill in favor of the broiler, and the pear I used was not even close to ripe. Even so, thin slices of marinated sweet/salty/spicy lamb wrapped in lettuce and dipped into a fruity/nutty/garlicky sauce was just what the doctor ordered. Fresh-tasting, interesting, and not at all heavy. The recipe makes the preparation sound like a complete pain in the ass, but it’s not – the marinade and the sauce have almost the same ingredients, and you don’t need to clean the food processor in between them.
I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I had two moments of brilliance in the menu planning. While at the Asian market, I picked up a carton of their homemade kimchi and one of their sea vegetable salad. First moment of brilliance: purchasing kimchi saved me about four months of prep work. Second moment of brilliance: serving something so deliberately nasty that the side dishes that I made would shine in comparison. The sea vegetable salad tastes like the shores of South Padre Island at the end of spring break. Unfortunately, I forgot that Hamburg is a port city, that one of the signature local dishes is a hash that uses pickled herring to cover up the taste of rotting beef, and that tonight’s other diners would have not just a tolerance but a fondness for the mild whiff of old fish that came along with the sea vegetable salad.
Long story short, if you need an Xmas food antidote I highly recommend the Warm Tofu. Yes, the recipe calls for nothing more than heating up some tofu in plain water and mixing together a sauce that took Herr R a whopping seven minutes to make, but it’s damn tasty and a great reminder that there is life beyond butter.
In case it’s not obvious, the Smidgen has yet to be born. If we go to the hospital tomorrow, please please please do not let me forget to take the trash out on the way – the combination of radish parings, trimmed-off lamb fat, and leftover sea vegetables melding in the trash can will not improve over time. Glack.