Monday, February 21, 2011

Doenjang jjigae (Korean bean paste and vegetable stew)

I don't know if any of you are as addicted to Maangchi's videos as I am.  In my opinion the whole world (outside Korea) owes Maangchi a round of applause for introducing us to so many Korean dishes.  This is one of them.  The video and recipe for it are here, and the dish comes together in not much longer than it takes to watch her make it.  My version is halved and veganized, but otherwise it's Maangchi's recipe:

Doenjang jjigae
Serves 2

1 small potato, cubed
1 cup zucchini or other vegetable (I used green pepper, but green beans would also be delicious), chopped
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 hot green chili
1 green onion
1 cup cubed soft tofu
2 tbsp doenjang (Korean soybean paste)
1 tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), optional
1/2 to 1 sheet nori (optional)

Put the cubed potato, green pepper or zucchini, onion, garlic, and chili into a small saucepan or, if you're fortunate enough to have one, a ceramic pot like Maangchi's, and add enough water just to barely cover.  Bring the mixture to a boil:

When it's hot, add the 2 tbsp doenjang:

Stir it in and continue to boil the stew, covered, until the potatoes are tender.  It will look like this:

Meanwhile, prepare the tofu and green onion:

Add them to the stew, along with the shredded nori, if using, and mix gently.  The original recipe calls for dried anchovies and a few shrimp, so if you want to replicate the taste of the sea--and it does add something nice to the dish; I'm sure traditionalists will say it's essential--feel free to use nori or experiment with konbu or wakame or the sea vegetable of your choice.  

Continue to cook until everything is heated through.  Maangchi smears a little Korean red pepper paste on to the completed dish like a condiment, but I added a dollop directly to the stew.  It's entirely optional but I liked the extra lick of fire...
While the stew is cooking, prepare a green salad, just greens and cucumber and a few green onions, along with a dressing made of:

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp Korean hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Toss the dressing with the greens and sliced cucumber.  To assemble the dish, put some rice and stew in a large bowl.  What I was using for rice is a mixture of various rices and different grains, but rice or a rice-barley mix would be the real Korean way:

Add some salad:

And mix it all together (she really does this, and as mixing salad with the rest of the meal is something I also regularly do, I was pleased to copy the technique, but there's no rule that says you have to; the salad tastes very good on its own, as does the stew):

And enjoy!  The stew is a little like a very thick miso soup, though doenjang has a special robust fermented taste quite different from Japanese miso and a bit difficult to describe, but delicious. This one-pot dish can be ready in the time it takes to cook rice and is perfect for a winter supper after work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Russian salads

One of my co-workers is Russian, and on her birthday, she brought in nine Russian salads so we could all celebrate with her.  And we did...

In response to popular request, she gave out the recipes, and here are two of them, one veganized, and one not, since it was already vegan. 

First, the Tazalyk (the cabbage salad in the back).  I didn't do a step by step on that one because it was so easy, but it is also magically good.  I can't figure out why this is, perhaps because most of the cabbage salads I eat are very tart and full of different flavours, and this is a simple one without even pepper that allows the cabbage's full flavour to come through.  At any rate, it has a nutty, extraordinarily pleasant taste that I just loved and that will probably be even better tomorrow.

Serves 4 as a side dish

1/4 medium head cabbage, finely sliced
1 small clove garlic, put through a press
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower or canola oil

Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add the garlic and salt.  Rub the cabbage vigorously between your hands for a full minute or so, until it is slightly bruised.  Add the sugar, tomato, and oil, and gently mix.

The other salad is the famous Russian Salade Olivier, whose true recipe has never been revealed, but approximations of which have apparently entered the Russian consciousness to the point that, according to Wikipedia, it is a staple of any Soviet Russian holiday. 

Salade Olivier
Serves 4

2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup soft tofu
2-3 dill pickles (depending on the size of your dills)
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup finely diced onion (I used red onion)
1/2 cup Soy Curls
150 grams (about 1/3 cup) sauerkraut, drained
1/2 tsp black salt (or regular salt if you don't have black salt)
1/4 to 1/3 cup Veganaise or other vegan mayonnaise

There are two schools of Salade Olivier, the grated school and the diced school.  I'm doing the diced school thing here.  So, first, get your Soy Curls hydrated in some hot vegetable broth (I used hot water plus Bryanna's Chicken-style broth powder (see sidebar).  Then, dice your potatoes, and boil them in water to cover until just tender:

Squeeze the soft tofu in a clean cloth until dry-ish (my picture of this did not work out at all, but you should all know what that looks like anyway).

Now chop up the other ingredients:

Shown here: diced red onion, dill pickle, sauerkraut, squished tofu
Add the well-squeezed Soy Curls (mmmm....Soy Curls...):

You can if you wish cool the drained potatoes by adding the frozen peas, which is what I did.  Then put everything together with the Veganaise and black salt, and you have a lovely vegan Russian potato salad that really is super-delish, and goes superbly with the Tazalyk, and, incidentally, the pickled red onions from Viva Vegan (this is what they look like after 24 hours in the fridge), to which I am now officially addicted.

Приятного аппетита!

(That's bon appetit for those of you who don't speak Russian.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chipotle, seitan and potato tacos + Becel vegan margarine

Anyone else seen this? My mom found it in Safeway, just tucked in amongst all the other magarines with no fanfare around it. Hey! A choice! This is cheaper than Earth Balance, and in my opinion better tasting, go try it for yourselves. It's definitely the "spreading" kind of margarine rather than the "baking" kind. Nevertheless, I think I've gained five pounds since I bought this little tub.

My blog has been on an unintentional hiatus while I reorganize my daily routine somewhat, for which I apologize to anyone who's been checking in hoping for a new post. I've been cooking, but mostly relatively easy comfort foods like dals and quick pastas and stews. Because a lot of Latin dishes fit into the "quick and relatively easy" category, I have been doing quite a bit of cooking out of Viva Vegan. Here's one of those meals.  The recipe for the tacos is online at Google Books:

Above are shown the ingredients for the Creamy avocado-tomato salsa (except the avocado, added right at the end), whose flavours melded while I prepared:

Chipotle seitan, shown here marinating in its tangy chipotle-lime sauce as the potatoes steamed (the recipe has them roasted, then fried but I'd as soon do it this way):

Get the toppings together:
Radish, cilantro, red onions, and shredded cabbage
Fry the marinated seitan until just crispy at the edges: it looks like this:

Set it aside while you fry the potatoes in what's left of the marinade:

Yummy?  You bet!  Have your tortillas ready:

And build it:

Maybe it wasn't the quickest weeknight meal in the world, but there were lots of leftovers for lunch salads, which were just as good as this!  Mexican food tastes fantastic at any time, but especially for some reason in the winter.