Mini-Dinner Party.

So, in a continued pursuit to rekindle my relationship with Korean cuisine, I invited a couple of my good girlfriends over for a mini-dinner party. We hadn’t had a get together in what seemed like ages and I figured, this would be a great time to have a girls’ night in. I mean, we all love going out and eating out, but it’s always nice to have the option and privilege of staying in to a hearty home-cooked meal. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats that. Especially when it’s in good company. Alcohol, that is. I mean, friends. Well, when the meal includes Korean-braised short-ribs and spicy rice cake stir fry, any company is good company!

I just realized how the English equivalents of the names for these dishes do not sound quite as appetizing as the actual Korean names, Kalbi Jjim and Dduk Bok Ki. The descriptive yet self-explanatory English names just don’t seem to do the dishes justice. Hopefully, on the other hand, the pictures suffice and are tasty enough for you to eat and live vicariously.
When I used to live in Korea, kalbi jjim was one of my favorite dishes. To my dismay, I didn’t get to eat it as often as I would have liked. It was more of a ‘special occasion’ kind of a dish. I didn’t realize why this was the case until I decided I wanted to make it myself. Let me start off with this disclaimer: making kalbi jjim is a somewhat long and tedious process. It definitely isn’t something I’d want to make every night, but I’d eat it every night if it was prepared for me.

This was only the second time I prepared this dish. The first was when my parents came down to Hawaii to visit me during the week of graduation. I found this recipe online and I tweaked it slightly to mirror the faint memories I had of my mom making this.

Kalbi Jjim (Korean Braised Short Ribs)
Adapted from Maangchi
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 lbs short ribs
6 shitake mushrooms, cut into smaller pieces
2-3 cups water
5-6 tbs soy sauce
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 asian pear, grated
2-3 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs corn syrup (mool yeot)
3-4 tbs sesame oil
1 tspn black pepper
3 russet potatoes, chopped into smaller bits
3 carrots, chopped into smaller bits

Preparation:

Rinse ribs in cold water and let soak in cold water for 30 minutes to clean impurities. Change water as necessary.
Trim/Cut as much fat off the ribs as possible.
Boil water and cook beef in large pot for 10-15 minutes. Dump water and place cleaned ribs back into pot.
In a separate bowl, mix 2-3 cups of water, garlic, onion, soy sauce, sugar and pear. Add this and the shitake mushrooms to the pot with the ribs.
Let boil for 20 minutes and simmer for an hour or two hours over med-low heat for softer meat.
Prepare the potatoes and carrots and add to the pot.
Let simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender.
Add sesame oil, black pepper, and corn syrup.
Heat over med-high heat until liquid evaporates more.
Transfer kalbi jjim to smaller pot or plate and serve.

(You can also add chestnuts and daikon, but it’s optional. You can also add more or less of the sesame oil and sugar to taste. You know it’s good and ready when the meat is falling off the bone and feels tender to the touch of a fork.)

And now that you have feasted your eyes upon kalbi jjim, onto a lighter and easier dish.

This is actually considered a simple snack in Korea and it’s very easy to make at home.  However, this ubiquitous dish is primarily found in street vendors and is a notorious food for those suffering from the “drunchies” (drunken munchies) or a, perhaps consequently, much lighter wallet.

Dduk Bok Ki
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 2 lbs pack of Dduk (can be found at Palama)
1 pack of Odeng (frozen fried fish cake, also found at Palama)
10 tbspn of gochu jang (red hot pepper paste)
4-6 tbspn sugar, or to taste
2-3 tbspn of gochu ggaroo (red hot pepper flakes), or until desired spiciness
1 tbspn soy sauce
2 tbspn ketchup (mom’s trick)
1 onion
1/2 cabbage head, chopped (optional)
1 carrot, thinly sliced (optional)
1 green onion, cut into 1-2 inch long tubes
3 hard boiled eggs

Preparation:

Boil 4-5 cups water in large deep skillet and bring to boil. Add dduk and cook for a few minutes until soft and unfrozen. Reduce liquid to 2 cups.  Lower heat to medium.
Take half of the odeng (fried fish cake) and cut into smaller rectangles. Add to the water.
Add the gochu jang, gochu ggarroo, sugar, soy sauce and ketchup. Constantly stir until sauce thickens and becomes shiny.
Add the vegetables and mix with sauce.
Add boiled eggs and mix with sauce.
Transfer to plate and serve.


Try these at home! Or, if you’re out and about craving either of these two dishes, I would recommend Sorabol on Keeamoku St. They are on the pricier side, but they do make these two dishes very well in my personal opinion. Enjoy!

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