September 27, 2018 § 1 Comment
I might be one of the very few individuals in the world who actually wanted to be laid off.
I was in month 10 of a long-distance marriage that was taking an increasing toll on my mental health and physical well-being by the day. When they say that the distance makes the heart grow fonder, they also failed to mention that distance can also make you:
- Severely depressed
- Severely anxious
- Dead inside
“Oh,” you’ll say, “Why did you stay in New York then? Why not move to Tokyo to be with your husband?”
Because, dear reader, when you have a dear husband (DH) who works in finance and whose very compass in life is centered on Warren Buffett’s thesis on compounding interest and value investing, you have to stay for the money. It’s one of those rare qualities that make me love him and hate him (my DH, not Warren Buffett, I only have love for Warren Buffett) at the same time. I love that DH works so incredibly hard to make sure our lives are comfortable and that our future is even more financially secure. I hate that it makes him question every time I buy a “superfluous” purchase–”did you really need to get a $500 blazer for work?” (the answer is yes, obviously, it fit me like a glove and I can wear it forever)–but also grounds me because I know in my heart that perhaps I didn’t need one that was quite so expensive. But again, I’ll wear it forever.
There was quite a bit of money lingering around and at the time, and I was able to be convinced that sticking it out for a year or so via long-distance was the best decision for our financial security longterm. The jury is still out on whether or not it was…but it definitely wasn’t worth the emotional turmoil!
[Without getting too specific or ruffling too many feathers on money (yuck!) and finances (yuck!) and lifestyle choices and dollar amounts, I feel the need to add a disclaimer that these are my own thoughts and opinions and you will most likely disagree with me on these concepts. That’s okay, there’s no right or wrong answer! There’s nothing more divisive than money (yuck!) which is probably why people don’t like discussing it, especially with strangers, so let’s agree to disagree without getting too heated. This is simply my story and experience.]
In short, I was making a mid-six-figure-range salary in a position I really loved in New York. I was very lucky to find a great company to work for and we were able to afford a comfortable one-bedroom apartment and most of the perks of living in Manhattan (paying off our student loans in full, shows, gym memberships, vacations, eating out at delicious restaurants, etc). My DH was in business school for two years (and a fabulous Househusband during that time) and I was able to support us and our two cats and dog while he went to school. My job was also the type that the longer I stayed, the more equity and investment grew and I was very pot-committed to the company, which made it all the more harder to think about leaving. When DH found his dream job for a company based in Tokyo after graduating from B-School, it was a sacrifice we both thought was worth making for the long-term, especially since the plan was for him to come back after a six-month(ish) training in Tokyo. Short-term pain for long-term gain! We made arrangements for me to visit once or twice during his scheduled training and so we began our long-distance marriage.
Unfortunately plans change and that six-month timeframe was no longer in play shortly into his training, long story. We decided that I would stay in New York until I received my annual bonus, and then play it by ear on timing. After I received my bonus, in which I received an even more robust equity compensation in my company, it pained me to think about walking away from everything I had worked so hard for over the past five years. Upon my next visit to him in Tokyo, we made the decision to continue playing it by ear until he had more clarity on his own work timing, and I begrudgingly returned back to New York.
And then sometimes, miracles happen.
My company was acquired by another company and consequently, my position was eliminated and my chance to be reunited with DH was finally in sight! So that is why I really wanted nothing more than to be laid off, and when it happened (after a scary and grim and super dark experience), I packed up our life in New York and moved it all to Japan.
Now I start my new journey in Tokyo.
Why “Career: Housewife”?
It turns out there are a lot of forms that you have to fill out when starting a new life in a new country. On all of them, I consistently noticed that under the “Career” or “Occupation” pre-selected fields, there is no option for “Unemployed”. It’s just “Housewife.” And I am completely okay with that. It was a little shock at first, maybe because I had never really noticed it in the States, but I began to proudly label myself as a Housewife in all of my documents and introductions.
Being a professional housewife is HARD WORK! I am still going to work just as hard at being a Housewife in Tokyo and learning how to be me in this new stage of life. There are so many things I have to learn and solve and challenge myself with, and learning Japanese is just one of the many items on that list.
I do have a lot of thoughts on this term alone that maybe I will elaborate on at a later date. I am still navigating my way through the vibrant and still very-foreign landscape of my new home.
Thanks for reading the long version of why I am now a Career Housewife and why I am going to live it to the best of my ability.
I am very much writing and filming from the perspective of a childless housewife. So yes, I have relatively more free time than a mother of a human child. (Fur babies count for a little at least though, right?)
October 18, 2016 § 1 Comment
Every time I am in Korea, my first restaurant stop is Myeongdong Gyoja. They have the best kalguksu I have ever had, which is perfect for me because kalguksu is my favorite food! Kalguksu literally means “knife noodles” and fortunately, they taste delicious in just about any broth. Myeongdong Gyoja uses a beef broth, but I make mine at home with chicken broth. I love kalguksu because I can’t turn down a good bowl of noodle soup. Ramen, pasta, pho, the list goes on, but my absolute favorite is kalguksu. Yes, your breath will smell like garlic for a few hours, but let’s be honest, is that really so bad?
You can freeze the leftover broth or use it as a delicious base for other soups. It will also make a fantastic shabu shabu base broth.
Chicken Kalguksu (Knife-Cut Noodles) Recipe
Serves 4 generous portions
Broth (adapted from Maangchi):
- 4 quarts water
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 inch piece ginger, smashed
- 10-20 cloves garlic, peeled, trimmed, and left whole
- One onion, halved
- Two green onions, cut into thirds
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- 2 dried jujube, dates (optional)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 tbsp shirodashi (optional)p dried red chili rings
Garlic and mushroom paste:
- Garlic and mushrooms reserved from broth
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Optional toppings: mushrooms, chives, green onion, red pepper flakes
- Broth: Bring everything but fish sauce and salt to boil then reduce to medium and cover. Cook 1 hour. Remove chicken to a bowl to let cool. Scoop out garlic and mushrooms as much as possible to separate into a separate bowl. Discard the rest of the vegetables.
- To the garlic and mushrooms, add sesame oil and salt. Mash together and set aside.
- Shred chicken when cool enough to handle. Throw away bones (if using bone-in chicken breast). Toss the shredded chicken in the garlic paste and set aside.
- To the broth, add salt and fish sauce (and shirodashi, if using) to taste.
- 3.5 cups flour
- 0.5 cup potato starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp veg oil
- 1.25 cups water
- Noodles: Mix together flour, starch, salt, vegetable oil, and water. Knead for 5 minutes. Let it rest 30 min, knead again 2-5 min, let it rest 10 minutes.
- Roll out as thin as possible. If using a pasta maker, roll out the dough on the first setting, then move to second setting and roll out again. Then, use a tagliatelle or pappardelle cutter to cut your noodles.
- If rolling out by hand, dust the dough with flour evenly on both sides and roll the dough into a loose roll. Using a sharp knife, cut slices around 1/8-1/4″ thick and unravel the noodles with a toss of flour so they don’t stick together.
Dadaegi (chili sauce, yangyeomjang):
- 2 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes gochugaru (cannot be substituted with any other chili flakes!)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 green chili pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, minced finely
- 1/2 cup green onion
- 1 tbsp shirodashi
- 1/4 cup chives (optional)
- Dadaegi: Mix together all the ingredients. Let it rest for 10 minutes, mix again until it is a thick paste.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high. If using vegetables or mushrooms as toppings, blanch them and then remove using a slotted spoon.
Add noodles to the boiling pot and stir well so they don’t stick. Boil for 4 minutes on high.
Drain the noodles and add them back to the pot. Add a few ladles of the broth and add salt or shirodashi, and pepper to taste. It shouldn’t be too salty, since the dadaegi is very salty.
Divide the noodles and broth into bowls. Top with shredded garlic and mushroom chicken, mushrooms, chives, and other toppings if using. Serve with dadaegi sauce on the side.
I like to use a separate bowl and add the dadaegi a little at a time to each bite of noodles. But you can put the dadaegi directly into your bowl if you’d like as well!
May 25, 2016 § 1 Comment
There are some dishes in life that can affect you in a profound way. For me, this was THE dish. This dish redefined what pasta meant in my life. That sounds incredibly dramatic, but it serves to illustrate the level of mind-explosion that I experienced when I first tasted this dish. It was most definitely food DEFCON 5.
My husband first made this for me about a year ago and I can remember the exact moment these flavors touched my tongue. It was salty, savory, deep, and umami-laden with incredible flavors of golden garlic, a touch of heat from chili peppers, and intense depth of mushrooms. I fell in love. With this pasta. And pretty sure I felt like I fell in love on another level with my husband.
I am sharing this recipe here after trial and error (and quite frankly, my desire to send this dish out into the world so that others can taste the amazing-ness as I did). Kahn worked so hard on this and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Wafu pasta is a Japanese-style pasta. I know what you’re thinking…SOY SAUCE?! DASHI?! PASTA?! But believe me. This is a journey of food you only wish you took earlier in your life.
UGHHHHHHHHH I AM GETTING HUNGRY ALL OVER AGAIN and I have been eating this for 3 days in a row. That’s what happens, when I make it, I literally cannot eat anything else for the next few days because it is THAT GOOD.
- If you want to get a little fancier, use pancetta instead of bacon.
- If you want to cut the bacon out, that’s fine too. (I just love bacon!!)
- Don’t be mad/angry/upset/sad about throwing out the bacon fat. The first time Kahn made this, I got really upset about this, but after I tasted the richness and deliciousness of his final dish, I got over that REAL FAST.
- If you want to make this vegetarian, use mirin or a very, very reduced kombu-dashi instead of hondashi.
ENJOY and let me know what you think!
Wafu Pasta (Japanese-style pasta) Recipe 和風 PASTA
Serves 2 generous portions
- 4 thick slices of bacon, thinly sliced
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried red chili rings
- 1 lb fresh mushrooms, washed and trimmed of tough root ends (you can use shimeji, shiitake, maitake, button, portobello, cremini, enoki, whatever you’d like!)
- 1 lb green vegetable, cut into thirds and the bottom ends reserved (asparagus, chinese broccoli, spinach, watercress, kale, anything!)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sake
- 2 tbsp hondashi granules
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 lb spaghetti
- 3-4 tbsp pasta water, reserved
- red chili rings, for garnish
- Heat bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Discard all the bacon fat and wipe skillet with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red chili rings to the oil and toast lightly until garlic is golden brown.
- Add the tough bottom ends of your green vegetable and stir-fry for a couple minutes.
- Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for two minutes.
- Add butter, then add the leafy or tender end of your green vegetable.
- Add your spaghetti to the boiling water and set timer for two-minutes shorter than what the box says for al dente. For me, this is usually 5 minutes. When your vegetables are wilted and mushrooms are lightly golden, your pasta should be ready.
- Add spaghetti to the skillet with the vegetables and mushrooms and add 2 tbsp of the soy sauce mixture (you will have around half of the sauce left over). Add 2-3 tbsp pasta water and toss to combine evenly. Taste one strand of spaghetti for doneness and taste and add 1 tsp more of soy sauce mixture if you want more flavor.
- Serve, with bacon pieces and red chili rings on top as garnish.
April 17, 2016 § Leave a comment
I posted my previous kimchi jjigae post FIVE YEARS AGO. Wow.
Since then, I have tweaked and updated my original recipe to something entirely elevated to a new level, with a lot of help from the QUEEN herself (Maangchi). I honestly love her videos, personality, ability, and spirit so much and have been infinitely inspired by her creativity and passion on a weekly basis. This new kimchi jjigae recipe is an adaptation of her recent update to her recipe here.
Here is a new video I made for this updated recipe:
1. You can use either pork or beef, but pork definitely imparts a more velvety-flavor that goes hand in hand with kimchi. Mmm….
2. Pork belly is also great for this, but perhaps a little more fatty (is this a bad thing?)
3. If you are using the last of your kimchi, don’t just throw away the jar! Pour some water in there and pour the little juices/spices into the stew. The more flavor, the better.
4. Must eat with rice.
5. Feel free to add tofu or vermicelli noodles!
Kimchi Jigae Recipe – Kimchi Stew
- 6-8 dried kelp squares
- 8-10 dried Korean anchovies (heads and guts removed)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced radish
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cups water
- 2 lbs pork ribs/bones
- 4 ounces thinly sliced pork loin
- 4 cups ripe kimchi, sliced (with juices)
- 3 green onion stalks, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2-1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
- 1 tsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
- 1 cup thinly sliced rice cakes* optional
- green pepper* optional
- Add kelp, anchovies, radish, and onion to a medium pot. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes. Strain, and reserve the broth.
- To a large skillet, add pork ribs/bones and cover with kimchi and then pork loin. Top with green onion. Add reserved broth.
- Bring pork and kimchi mixture to a boil on medium high heat. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sesame oil, gochugaru, and gochujang.
- Cook for 30 minutes, then taste to adjust for additional seasoning (if necessary).
- Add rice cakes (if using), green pepper, and green onion for garnish.
- Serve with rice.
April 16, 2016 § 8 Comments
If you love candles as much as I do (and maybe spend a little too much on them), this is a must-read.
Like many things in life, making candles at home was never a thought that came into mind. That is, it wasn’t until one day I came across a fantastic blog post on DIY soy candle making and it looked like a possible fun weekend project. I promptly ordered a basic set of supplies from Amazon, and I got started. (I ordered all of my supplies for candle making on Amazon, links are below!)
Little did I know that I awakened a candle-making beast inside of me and my “fun weekend project” became a new near-daily obsession. (You might be able to see my crazy-eyes in the video…that’s how much I love this new hobby!) For how much I spent on candles per year (you don’t even want to know…) this is an excellent, cost-effective way to make a lot of candles. The best part about it is being able to make candles for people near and dear to my heart because they are wonderful homemade gifts. The most expensive part about this process is the essential oil, so if you’re unsure of what scents to try, start with my below combinations since they’re tried and true. Then, as you feel more comfortable, you can try using different oils.
Making candles at home is incredibly relaxing and fun. Plus, it will make your home smell AMAZING always.
Here is a video tutorial on how to get started on a very fun, relaxing hobby.
To get started, you will need the following:
- Bag of soy flakes (wax) – I used 444 blend
- Heatproof melting pot
- Glass jars
- Plastic drinking straw
- Disposable spoons
- Tablespoon measure
- Mixing bowl
- Essential oils
- For the 3 scent combinations in my video, I used the following essential oils:
- White Musk
- For the 3 scent combinations in my video, I used the following essential oils:
- Paper towels
Directions (for one 8 ounce candle):
- Heat a medium pot of water to a boil and add melting pot. To the melting pot, add your wax. For the wax: 2 cups (16 ounces) of solid wax = 1 cup (8 ounces) melted wax, so for three 8 ounce candles, I used 6 cups of solid wax (48 ounces).
- Once the wax starts melting, use your spoon to take a few drops of wax and add to the bottom of your jars. This will be the “glue” you use to secure the bottom of your wicks to the bottom of your jar. Act quickly because the wax hardens immediately!
- Use clothespin to secure the cotton wick to the center of the jar. If using wooden wicks, no need to secure it (it will stay in place due to its rigid shape).
- Once the wax is melted to at least 180 degrees, reduce the heat on the stove so that the wax will stay at a constant temperature. Melting the wax to 180 degrees makes sure that the wax will stay warm enough when poured into the mixing bowl.
- Pour 1 cup of melted wax into the bowl and add your desired scent.
- Lavender/Rosemary/Thyme: Add 1 tsp each of lavender and rosemary essential oils and 1/2 tsp of thyme essential oils.
- Bergamot/Lemon/Cedar/Fir: Add equal parts bergamot, lemon, cedar, and fir essential oils to measure 1 tbsp total.
- White Musk/Sandalwood/Vetiver/Jasmine: Add equal parts white musk and sandalwood, (around 1.5 tsp each) and then add 10 drops each of vetiver and jasmine.
- Stir thoroughly for at least 30 seconds so that the essential oils bind to the wax and blend evenly throughout the mixture.
- Pour slowly into prepared jar with the wick, and then leave undisturbed for at least 24 hours before moving/burning. Your candles will be ready to enjoyed after 24 hours!
All items purchased from Amazon:
Bag of soy flakes (wax) – I used 444 blend – https://amzn.to/2PNDaO3
Heatproof melting pot – https://amzn.to/2RHDjQi
Thermometer – https://amzn.to/2REo9va
Glass jars – https://amzn.to/2JSP1VT
Plastic drinking straw
Wooden Wicks – https://amzn.to/2JSPp6N
Candle wicks: https://amzn.to/2JN8erY
For the 3 scent combinations in my video, I used the following essential oils:
Lavender – https://amzn.to/2REpt16
Rosemary – https://amzn.to/2DaYmae
Thyme – https://amzn.to/2JOzdDo
Bergamot – https://amzn.to/2ASskOl
Lemon – https://amzn.to/2JNsiub
Cedarwood – https://amzn.to/2ASLMLe
Fir – https://amzn.to/2JNIxHN
White Musk – https://amzn.to/2JMyfrk
Vetiver – https://amzn.to/2JOyPET
Sandalwood – https://amzn.to/2D4O6QJ
Jasmine – https://amzn.to/2F9ky6Z
Cost breakdown (approximate):
- 10 lb bag of soy flakes (wax) – I use 444 blend $25.00
- Heatproof pouring pot $12.00
- Essential oils
- Lavender – $12.00
- Rosemary $12.00
- Thyme – $22.00
- Bergamot – $18.00
- Lemon – $13.00
- Cedarwood – $15.00
- Fir – $15.00
- White Musk – $20.00
- Vetiver – $20.00
- Sandalwood – $25.00
- Jasmine – set of 6 floral notes for $20.00
- Mason jars (12-pack) – $7.00
- Wicks (around 200 cotton & wooden wicks) – $24
Total: ~$250 – $260
I have probably made around 40 candles so far and I have barely made a dent in my essential oils. You will need to buy soy wax/flakes frequently as you will go through one 10-lb bag quite quickly, along with the mason jars.
You may notice different fragrance oils online to be a lot cheaper, but I recommend staying away from those synthetically produced oils. Essential oils are pure, distilled scents extracted from organic ingredients and there are no synthetic chemicals involved. Since these are candles and flames are involved, I personally want to reduce as much chemical exposure in my life as much as possible so it is much, much cleaner to use essential oils rather than fragrance oils.
January 23, 2016 § 1 Comment
Lately, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find the time to pursue what I truly love doing – cooking. And like everyone else who is busy working and living in this world, there aren’t enough hours in the day (or weekend) to devote to epic cooking projects. Between balancing my desire to cook and my lack of time, I have developed an upcoming series of posts for making delicious meals in a fraction of the time it usually takes, without sacrificing taste and quality.
This is my 10 minute jja jang myun. My original jja jang myun post is here, for those who want a more “traditional” recipe. But I’ve got to say, this quick ten-minute version is amazingly quite comparable and dare I say, even more delicious.
- My husband mentioned a very valid point the last time I made jjajangmyun. He asked me why all the ingredients are cubed because they always seem to end up all at the bottom of the bowl and don’t get slurped up with the noodles? Besides tradition, I can’t find a reason why the vegetables have to be diced. So, for this 10 minute version, I cut all the ingredients length-wise and similar in shape to the noodles. And you know what? It was a genius move. THERE ARE NO LONGER A PUDDLE OF VEGETABLES at the bottom of the bowl. You will get even distribution of pork and veggies with every bite of noodle!
- To help you cut the pork, freeze it for 30 minutes before using.
- For slicing the cabbage, a mandolin helps tremendously, as this is undoubtedly my all-time favorite kitchen tool.
10 Minute Jja Jang Myun (Noodles with Black Bean Sauce) ‘짜장면’
Serves 4-5 (with leftovers), Prep Time: 5 minutes, Cooking Time: 10 minutes
- 6 ounces/155 grams pork loin or shoulder, sliced thinly into strips measuring 1/8″ wide and 1″ long
- 1 tbsp mirin or rice wine
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced and divided
- salt and pepper to taste, around 1/4 tsp each
- 2 large onions, sliced thinly into 1/8″ slices
- 2 medium squash, sliced thinly into 1/8″ slices
- 1/2 head (around 2.5 cups) green cabbage, shredded thinly into 1/8″ slices
- 1 cup of radish, cubed into 1/8″ slices
- 1 carrot, sliced lengthwise into 1/8″ slices (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 185 grams/~7 tbsp (around 3/4 cup) of roasted Korean black bean paste (bokkeum jja jang)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp potato or corn-starch
- 1 tbsp water
- salt and pepper to taste
- cucumber slices, to garnish
- hand-pulled noodles, per serving cooked according to package instructions
- Marinate pork, rice wine, ginger, 1 tsp garlic, and salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to a large pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork and stir fry quickly until the pork is browned, around 2 minutes. Remove the pork to a small bowl and set aside.
- To the hot pot, add the remaining garlic and add sliced onions. Cook for 2 minutes until slightly wilted and browned and then add the remaining vegetables and cook, stirring frequently for one minute. Mix the jjajang paste, chicken broth, and oyster sauce in a small bowl and then add to the pot.
- Add the noodles and cook according to package directions.
- Once the sauce comes to a boil, add the slurry of cornstarch and water and bring to a boil. It should thicken immediately. Turn off the heat.
- Drain the noodles thoroughly and rinse once with cold water. Divide evenly amongst bowls and serve, topped with around 1-2 cups of sauce.
- Garnish with cucumbers.
November 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
I make this gyeran jjim around 2-3 times a week. I eat it as a side dish (banchan) for dinner or sometimes by itself with a bowl of rice. It’s one of my favorite dishes because it is so simple, absolutely delicious, and best of all, healthy.
For people who have never tried this before, don’t be put off by the name of the dish. I guarantee that you will find yourself addicted to this because after one spoonful, it’s impossible to stop eating it.
- I personally love the slightly toasty bottom that happens when you cook this in a ttukgaebi (earthenware stone pot) on the stove. It fills the entire dish with this richness and deepness that you can’t achieve from microwaving or using a regular pot. You can find this bowl here: Earthenware Pot. If you prefer a non-toasted flavor, decrease cooking time by 1 minute.
- Use any lid you have that covers the top fully to create a seal.
- I like a very mild gyeran jjim because I love the subtle flavors. But if it’s not salty enough, you can add more salt to taste at the end.
Gyeran Jjim – (Steamed Egg) 계란찜 Recipe
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 tsp Asian-style chicken stock powder
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 scallion, chopped finely
- 1/4 tsp gochugaru flakes* optional
- Heat water in a small earthenware bowl directly on the stove on low, and gradually raise the heat as the water heats up. Add chicken stock powder when boiling and mix well.
- To the beaten eggs, add fish sauce, black pepper, and scallion (and gochugaru flakes if using).
- When the broth is boiling on high, slowly pour the egg into stock while mixing constantly with chopsticks. Stir a few times until the egg and broth mixture are well mixed.
- Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, remove from the heat but keep the lid on. Let it stand for 2 minutes before removing the lid and serve.
November 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
I love these cha gio spring rolls as much as I love pho. Whenever I go to a Vietnamese restaurant, I can easily finish 10 of these rolls on my own, which is a little embarrassing in public, especially when dining with others. Now, thank God I can stuff my face with as many as I want in the comfort and privacy of my own home. Just a little secret between me and the deep fryer. Mmmm…
These are delicious. I’ve made them countless times over the past few years when I first discovered that I could learn how to make them at home, and now you can too. I may or may not have inhaled more than 10 of these in the making of this post.
I also love this recipe because they freeze so well. A bit time-consuming to make, admittedly, but when you have a spare afternoon and a marathon of television to watch (for me, it was the Sopranos), it makes the time fly by.
- I use square spring roll wrapping paper for this. They’re in the freezer section of any Asian supermarket. I also let them defrost completely because if you don’t, they will tear and it will be infuriating. (Not that this has happened to my impatient self numerous times….) Also, you can separate around 10-15 at a time and leave the rest under a moist paper towel or in the packaging because it’s a bit cumbersome to separate each sheet at a time.
- Try to get the filling as DRY as possible before rolling these. I made the mistake in the past in not pre-salting my vegetables and draining my noodles and they were a disaster. A delicious disaster, but it will not make for a pretty spring roll (holes, explosions, burnt stuff everywhere).
- As a side, I really like eating these with a quick pickled cucumber or some lettuce. For the cucumber, I do 2 cucumbers sliced very thin on a mandoline, 2 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, and then set in the fridge for an hour, covered. I drain, then enjoy for a cool, crispy snack. And they taste really good with these spring rolls.
- Try to wrap these as tightly as possible. First, they’ll look prettier, but it will help keep the oil out of the roll.
- The dried wood ear mushroom has SO many names. Every time I’ve bought it, I’ve bought it under a different name. Including but not limited to: Auricularia auricula-judae, Jew’s ear, wood ear, jelly ear, etc.
- I like my rolls to be pretty equal in ratio for meat to veggies, and I found that this proportion lends to a deliciously tender, juicy roll.
- I LOVE the taste of taro in these rolls so used taro. But if you can’t find it, don’t worry about it. You can use jicama instead, but try to find taro. You will not be disappointed. And, I found that a big bonus is that the taro helps soak up excess moisture in the filling.
- Please taste test the filling with one dummy roll before rolling the entire filling’s worth. Adjust the taste with more salt if you prefer, I like to keep these pretty well-flavored but not overly salty because the sauce is very salty.
- I use a baking sheet to hold all the rolls and pop it directly into the freezer, and then after a few hours, I transfer all the frozen rolls into a ziploc bag.
- Don’t love/eat pork? Substitute with ground chicken.
Chả giò/Nem rán Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Roll) Recipe
Recipe yields 100 rolls
- 6 ounces bean thread noodles, dried
- 1 cup dried wood ear mushroom
- 4 small taro root
- 2 large carrots, around 2 cups shredded
- 1 large onion, shredded
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 lb ground pork
- 1 heaping tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 3 green onion, chopped
- 100 medium-sized wheat spring roll wrappers
- 1 tbsp cornstarch/potato starch
- 1 tbsp water
- frying oil
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- juice from 1 lime (around 2 tbsp)
- 1 chili of your choice (jalapeno, Thai bird chili, Jwala pepper, etc)
- shredded carrots
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil. In separate bowls, soak bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms for 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and boil taro for 10 minutes. Drain bean thread noodles well and dry even further using a clean towel. Drain wood ear mushrooms and rinse carefully until water runs clear. Using rubber gloves, peel skin off of the taro (it should come right off) and shred. Using scissors, cut bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle 1 tsp salt over the shredded carrots and onion. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl and set aside for 15 minutes. Discard the fluid after 15 minutes, and add carrots and onion back to the bowl. Add the pork, bean thread noodles, wood ear mushrooms, garlic, salt, sugar, white pepper, and green onion. Using your hands, mix until everything is well combined.
- Assemble work station with filling, wrappers, baking sheet. Mix cornstarch/potato starch with 1 tbsp water to form a slurry. With a square in front of you in the shape of a diamond, add 1 tbsp worth of filling on the lower corner and shape it into a roughly cylindrical shape. bring up the bottom corner so that it covers the filling and then use your fingers to press it into the tube-like shape. Roll up until you get to the middle of the wrapper, and then bring in the left side, then right side, like you’re wrapping a burrito. Add a thin layer of slurry on the top corner and then roll the entire roll up, and set it aside, seam-side down on the baking sheet. You can use this one to taste test for filling salt-level. Repeat 99x. (Did I mention it’s really helpful to be engaged in some sort of television marathon at this point?)
- Heat a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed skillet with your oil of choice (I use vegetable) to 350°F. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when you add a spring roll and it starts sizzling on the sides. Fry for 4 minutes on each side and flip over, or until each side is golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
- For the dipping sauce: Add all the ingredients to a small bowl and mix well.
October 26, 2015 § 1 Comment
Those who know us best, know that we love shabu shabu. Like, LOVE. We love it so much that we have it nearly once a week, and our favorite thing to do is to invite people over to indulge in our shabu shabu nights.
I was looking on my Instagram the other week and I came across a beautiful photo taken by one of my oldest friends, @djsim34, of a dish made by his new wife. I HAD to know what it was because it looked like shabu shabu…but not at the same time. I looked it up online and found this excellent tutorial here: http://seonkyounglongest.com/?p=3081 which I used as the foundation for my adaptation of this dish.
Mille Feuille Nabe is literally translated into “thousand leaves hot pot”. Obviously, I didn’t use 1,000 leaves (you could if you wanted to!) but using different kinds of kale, cabbage, beef, and pork made this super colorful and complex-looking.
- This feeds 6, comfortably.
- We ALWAYS make ramen to eat with the broth at the end of cooking all of the ingredients. Our secret is to use torigara – which is a Japanese-style chicken flavoring – (we use this one:
and we use a special ponzu:
For the ponzu, don’t be afraid to dish out a little more than you expect for a bottle. Typically, a good ponzu will be around USD $13.00, which was a bit of a sticker-shock to me at first, but I soon realized there was a HUGE difference between a more expensive bottle and a cheaper bottle of ponzu. The flavor of the yuzu is really obvious and quite amazing, whereas cheaper bottles are made with yuzu substitute or lemon. Not quite the same. We add the torigara into the main broth, and then add around a 1/2 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon of ponzu to each bowl individually, to taste. We finish with some fresh ground black pepper and a medium-boiled egg. MMMMM.
- I used 2 heads of napa cabbage because the leaves get considerably smaller as you peel towards the center, and I wanted to make sure I have enough for all of my leaf layers. I then chopped up the smaller core leaves and used them in my second round of veggies for the shabu shabu.
- For the broth, I use my go-to for my base in most soups. For this, I used kombu, some chicken bones from a roast chicken I made the night before, radish, onion, and some Korean myul-chi (dried anchovies). It was delicious and not fishy at all, for those of you who are wary of using myulchi. I used to be terrified and quite frankly, grossed out to use myulchi in cooking (I still don’t like them stir-fried) but for flavoring soup bases, it’s absolutely delicious. If you are feeling a bit lazy (which I often do), I do a VERY basic broth with just kombu and sake, and the broth still ends up tasting delicious.
- Our dear friends (hi Gui’s!) gifted us this Breville electric skillet which is one of the most wonderful kitchen appliances ever created. It’s absolutely PERFECT for shabu shabu. It can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BEW600XL-Hot-Wok/dp/B0042RUPFC. If you don’t have one of these tabletop electric skillets, we used to use a table-top gas stove and a heavy-bottomed dutch oven.
- You can substitute this to whatever meat you want, if you want all beef, or all pork, you can adjust it to your preference.
- We like to use gomadare (sesame) sauce, ponzu sauce, and the sauce inspired by http://seonkyounglongest.com/?p=3081. Though I usually make my own gomadare, if you are in a bind, this store-bought is fantastic:
- To make perfect medium-boiled eggs, bring a large saucepan of water to a rapid boil, and then add eggs. Set timer for 8 minutes exactly, and then make an ice bath in a large bowl. When the 8 minutes is up, immediately plunge each egg into the ice bath and let cool for 15 minutes. Peel, and enjoy.
- I found these awesome little sauce bowls on amazon that are literally the perfect size for shabu shabu sauce here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005LVHLY6?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00 and the best part: they were a very reasonable price – 12 bowls for $21.00!
밀푀유나베 – Mille Feuille Nabe (Shabu Shabu) Recipe with Yuzu Ramen
For the broth:
- 12-14 2×2 pieces dried kelp (dashima or kombu)
- 12-14 dried Korean anchovies (Myulchi or myeolchi)
- 6 shiitake mushrooms stems
- 1/2 lb Korean or Japanese radish
- 1 onion, halved
- chicken bones from 2 breasts (optional)
- 3-4 quarts water (our electric skillet has a large capacity so I needed the full 4 quarts, but if your pot is smaller, use less water)
For the layers:
- 16 outer leaves from 2 large heads napa cabbage, outer leaves separated from inner leaves
- 12-14 rainbow kale leaves
- 12-14 dinosaur kale or lacinato kale leaves
- 1/2 lb thinly sliced shabu shabu beef
- 1 lb thinly sliced shabu shabu pork
For the nabe:
- 1 12 ounce package mung bean sprouts
- 3 quarts shabu shabu broth from above
- 4 tbsp sake
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 10 ounce package shimeji (Beech) mushrooms
- 1 10 ounce package maitake (Hen of the woods) mushrooms
- 2 10 ounce packages enoki mushrooms
- 2 8 ounce package shiitake mushrooms (Your preference, there are 2 types of shiitake mushrooms, 1 is more compact and ball-shaped, and the other looks a bit floppy, I like the floppy-looking ones and my husband likes the smooth ones, so we usually do 1 package of each)
- the inner leaves from the 2 napa cabbage used above, chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 package shirataki noodles
- 1 package lotus root
- 8 ounces Chinese broccoli or choy sum
- 8 ounces kkenip (perilla leaves) to wrap
- 1/2 lb thinly sliced shabu shabu beef
For the ramen:
- 1 kaedama ramen per person (usually found in the frozen section of a Japanese/Asian grocery store)
- 1 medium boiled egg per person
- 1 tsp ponzu per person
- 1/2 tbsp – 1 tbsp torigara
- For the broth: bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and cover, to simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, and set aside the broth to cool. This step can be done a day before and the broth can be refrigerated.
- For the layers: On a clean, flat surface, lay one napa cabbage leaf, and then layer a slice of beef, kale, cabbage, pork, kale, and cabbage on top. Cut in half, then into quarters into equal-size pieces. Add bean sprouts to the bottom of your pot, and carefully line the layered pieces, cut side-up from the outside. Repeat layering the cabbage, beef, kale, cabbage, pork, kale, cabbage-combination until you reach enough pieces to cover the bean sprouts and bottom of the pot. In the center of the pot, add mushrooms of your choice, I liked the shimeji (beech), enoki, and shiitake on top. You can be creative, decorate with the mushrooms however you’d like. (This step can also be done the night before, by covering the pot and storing in the refrigerator overnight).
- When ready to serve: Add enough broth, sake, and salt to just cover the mille-feuille layers, cover, and bring to to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, skim the foam and let it gently boil for 10 minutes. Enjoy with the 3 sauces.
- When all the layers have been devoured, it’s time to add the rest of the vegetables and meat, if desired. Each person can serve themselves with the ingredient of his/her choice.
- For the ramen: once all the ingredients have been eaten, skim the broth for any lingering impurities and add torigara to taste, and bring a separate pot of water to a boil on the stove. Blanch fresh or frozen ramen noodles to desired consistency (we like hard noodles), strain, and divide among the bowls. Add egg, ponzu, black pepper, and use salt to taste.
- Slurp and enjoy.
Gomadare (Adapted from http://www.littlejapanmama.com/2011/11/goma-dare-recipe-sesame-sauce-for-shabu.html):
- 1 cup Sesame Seeds
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/4 cup Mirin
- 3 tbsp white sugar
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tbsp miso (I use miso with hondashi in it)
- 1 tsp hondashi powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup kewpie mayonnaise
- In a food processor, add sesame seeds. Process until the seeds look “wet” and stop moving around. Add the tahini, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, vinegar, water, miso, hondashi powder, salt, and mayo. Process until combined.
- Taste, and add salt or soy sauce to taste.
- Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Shake before using.
Spicy soy sauce (Adapted from http://seonkyounglongest.com/?p=3081):
- 3 Tbs. Soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Sugar
- Fresh zest and juice from ½ lemon
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 chili of your choice, jalapeno, Thai bird chili, Indian Jwala pepper, etc, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp gochukaru (Korean red chili powder)
- 3 Tbs. shabu shabu broth
- 1 green onion, minced
- In a bowl, add all ingredients and stir until well-combined.
Pour into a sauce bowl. 🙂
September 5, 2015 § 1 Comment
This is an update to my favorite post of all time, my mom’s yukgaejang recipe. It has also been a Cozybogie favorite over the past four years (!), thanks so much for all of your support! I made a video to help demystify anything that the pictures failed to explain. Please let me know if you have any lingering questions.
I’ve copied some of my notes/pictures from my previous post here, as they still apply. I took my old recipe and updated it with some minor improvements over the years, and I’ve got to admit….it’s better than ever.
1. Many Korean grocery stores sell a special cut of beef made especially for yuk gae jang, or for making beef stock. I strongly recommend using this if your grocery has it. If not, using brisket and a mixture of beef bones will work just fine. This time, I used around 3.5 lbs of beef soup bones and 2.5 lbs of beef eye round and beef shank. Any cut of beef with a long grain is fine (ie flank, brisket, beef eye round, beef shank).
2. I like to use red chili flakes on their own in this recipe, as opposed to a mixture of chili paste and flakes. The paste can leave the broth tasting impure and sweet.
3. Using a lot of fresh, green onion is a key flavor component to this recipe. Halve the white portions length-wise because the white part is often too thick. I know 12 stalks sound like a lot, but don’t leave it out.
4. My favorite part of this soup is the egg, so I use 3. If you don’t love eggs as much as I do, feel free to use 1.
5. Use fernbrake root, also called boiled royal fern. This can be found in the refrigerated section. Yuk gae jang is not yuk gae jang without this delicious root. I noticed it’s also called “osmund” at H-Mart. I’ve also found it in my Japanese grocery store as “Warabi”.
6. You can either use mung sprouts or kong na-mool (bean sprouts).
7. This may sound like cheating but if you have it, feel free to sprinkle in a little beef da-shi-da (Korean beef stock powder) towards the end of cooking. It’s fine if you don’t have it or can’t find it, but it adds a nice extra bump of flavor.
육개장 – Yook Gae Jang or Yuk Gae Jang (Yukgaejang) Recipe
- 3.5 lbs beef bones
- 2-3 lbs brisket, beef eye round, beef shank, flank steak, or yuk gae jang beef cut
- 6 shiitake mushrooms (if using dried, soak in water for 1 hour)
- 1 gallon water (16 cups)
- 1 onion
- 1 small radish
- 4 tbsp red chili pepper flakes/powder (gochukaru)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp chili oil (or sesame oil)
- 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp fish sauce (I highly recommend 3 Crabs fish sauce)
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 12 ounces mung bean sprouts or soy bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
- 12 ounces boiled royal fern (fernbrake root), rinsed and drained
- 1 bunch (~12-14 stalks) green onion, rinsed and ends trimmed
- 1 package (7 oz) enoki mushrooms, rinsed and bottoms trimmed
- 3 eggs, beaten with 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp beef dashida *optional but a nice boost if you have it
- Bring the meat, bones, and water to a rapid boil on high heat for 5 minutes. When you see all the impurities and foam rise to the surface, take the pot off the heat. Carefully, drain the water and rinse the meat and pot quickly with cold, clean water. Add the meat back to the pot and refill with another gallon of water and bring to a boil—the water should be clear.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and radish, and simmer the beef for at least one hour covered. Remove and reserve the radish after one hour. If possible, simmer for 3-4 hours, while keeping a vigilant eye on the water level and replacing water as it evaporates.
- While the beef is simmering, mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl: red chili pepper flakes, sesame oil, chili oil, vegetable oil, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, sea salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Trim sprouts, and rinse the fernbrake root several times with cold water. Drain, and set aside.
- Cut green onions into thirds, set aside. Separate the whites and greens. Slice radish into thin 1/4 inch slices.
- When the broth is ready, carefully remove the cooked beef, radish, and onion pieces. Skim the fat. Carefully drain the soup into a large, heat-proof bowl using a fine sieve to catch any bone fragments (you may need some help here if the pot is heavy). You will have 16 cups of broth. Wash the pot with soap and water and return back to the stove, along with the reserved broth.
- When beef is cool enough to handle, shred the beef into spaghetti-width size pieces and place into a big bowl.
- To the shredded beef, add the fernbrake root, sprouts, and white part only of the green onion pieces. Add the marinade into the mixture and using your hands, toss all of the ingredients together gently.
- Once the mixture is well-mixed, bring the broth to a boil. Carefully add the marinade mixture to the pot and simmer on medium for 30 minutes.
- Add the rest of the green onions, shiitake, radish, and enoki mushrooms and simmer for 5 more minutes. At this point, you may add the beef stock powder dashida desired.
- Slowly add in the beaten eggs. Be careful not to over stir, or else the broth will be very cloudy. Stir in one clockwise motion when pouring in the egg so that it’s well-distributed, as the eggs will cook instantly as soon as it hits the broth. Wait 5 seconds and stir just once more clockwise around the pot, and then turn off the heat.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Enjoy with a bowl of steaming white rice.