Sunday, July 31, 2005

watermelon water ice

A few days ago, we got some fruit from Trader Joe's. Most of the fruit was really quite lousy, and one of the items was a watermelon that had decent texture, but not a tremendous amount of flavor. So, rather than eating it in its current state, which was somewhat unsatisfying, I spooned it out into a blender, added a little sugar, and a single ice cube (so that the blender had something to toss around), and turned it into a smoothie. I drank that, then realized that I had another half watermelon, and nothing really compelling to do with it.

So, I did the same process to that one, and stuck it in the fridge, in the ice cube containers and froze it. I ate two of the blocks, but they were kind of unsatisfying as well, not to mention hard to eat, because they didn't have any "handles." So, I figured, I'll turn 'em back into a smoothie. I tossed the cubes into Joe's blender (which is a little more hardcore than our KitchenAid), and started to blend 'em up. Without any liquid, it was slow going, so I added some simple syrup I had lying around from the plum soup I made last week.

Blend blend blend, and a couple minutes later, I had something that resembled a sorbet. Yum. I brought it over to Ei-Nyung, and she immediately (and correctly) likened it to Water Ice - a treat we had when in Philly. Exactly the same consistency, and more or less the same flavor, without the chemically overtones of artificial watermelon flavor.

Excellent. I've gotta do this again sometime.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

korean restaurant, part II

This time around, Seppo got the fatty pork (the non-spicy kind) and I got a potato stew, starting with the bin de dduk again. In most places, the fatty pork is cooked by itself and served with the sauces (generally one or more of three: the typical bean paste/red pepper paste combo; a mixture of sesame oil, salt, and pepper; and a fermented shrimp sauce), to be eaten wrapped up in lettuce with rice. This place cooked it up with some garlic, peppers, and onions, which lent a nice fragrance to the meat, but did not explicitly apply other flavors to it, if you know what I mean. This dish got a thumbs up from me.

The potato stew was a half-winner, half-loser. The potatoes and pork ribs were really perfect. I could not ask more of the flavor or texture. But the stew itself was too... peppery or something. It had both red pepper and black pepper, and was really spicy in a way I did not expect from this dish. It felt like someone had cooked the dish, and at the last minute, put in a large handful of black pepper. The flavor of the stew that I could discern under the pepper taste was good -- it was rich and had a good mouth-feel (wow, that sounds so pretentious). But it was just too spicy, and I honestly felt like it was spicy in a way that it was not supposed to be. I don't know. It could just be that the chef is from a different region of Korea than my family. Update: See notes below.

They gave us plenty of side dishes and were quite attentive with the water and tea. The check came out exactly when we wanted it. At the end of the meal, they served us what I think is called su jung gwa, a cold spicy, sweet, reddish drink with bits of dried jujubes and a couple of pine nuts floating on top. It tastes a little like chai, but has no tea in it. Seppo and I really like this drink.

I would definitely recommend it. When I remember the name, I'll be sure to post it. :D [Update: It's called Sahn Maru. I think means the foot or base of the moutain, but I might be misinterpreting.] It's across the street from Koryo BBQ, one door down from the corner. The corner is a new sushi-boat restaurant that we suspect is run by Koreans, as a lot of the business there is Korean-run. We haven't tried there yet.

Update: I found a couple of reviews, all of them positive.
The reviews solve the mystery of the soup. It seems they use a similar broth to the black goat stew, which at least two of the reviews refer to as flavored with mustard. I think it threw me off because I wasn't expecting the flavor or the intensity of the heat, but now that I can retroactively apply this new knowledge to my memory of the dish's flavor, that makes perfect sense. My mom doesn't use mustard very much in her cooking, so that probably just confused me. As the last review mentions though, "The owner is from the Cholla region in the southwest." My mom is from the same region, and that region is famous country-wide as having the best cuisine, so it makes sense that I like this restaurant.

Another bonus is that it is open until midnight! Nice. Another nice thing is that they bring you refills of the side dishes without you having to ask them. The waitstaff (which I suspect is just the owner's wife and daughter) are dressed in modified traditional Korean clothes (hanbok). It was genuinely a pleasant dining experience.

Warning: They are not a bbq joint, so don't expect to cook at the table. Well, except for stews. Some of the stews are cooked at the table if you order for 2 or more.

They are located at 4315 Telegraph Ave in Oakland. [google maps]

tasty new korean restaurant

Seppo and I went to a good Korean restaurant last night. We had gone once before -- the food was excellent, but the service was so slow that we were questioning if we should ever go back. Yes, I know what I said about the service before, but this was a different type of joint: less bustling, large groups and more couples, and a smaller staff in a quieter environment. So this was definitely not a "get up and flag someone down" kind of place.

We had noticed that there was a group of 14 the last time we were there, which is probably why service was so slow, so we decided to give it another shot. And indeed the food was excellent and the service was good -- they were fast and quiet but nice. Last time, Seppo had the dumpling w/ rice cake soup and I had a galbi + soft tofu stew combo, with a bin de dduk appetizer (made from ground mung beans, or maybe soy beans?). THe bin de dduk was the best I've ever had. The dumpling soup had a rich flavorful soup, and the dumpling and rice cake were perfectly cooked. The rice cake still had a little chew and structure, instead of being overcooked as it could easily be. The dumplings had enough integrity not to simply fall apart in the soup.

The galbi was good, not spectacularly wonderful or remarkable in any way, but good. It definitely was not too sweet, which is how some restaurants make it.

[to be continued, as Seppo is waiting for me.]

Friday, July 15, 2005

ribs ribs

Wanted to make the rib recipe from America's Test Kitchen. So I did. I bought some hickory chips, mixed up a bowl of their spice rub, and smoked the ribs for four hours. We ended up with a *lot* of ribs, because I'd originally got a single rack of baby back ribs, but then had invited some friends over, so I got what I thought was a rack of spareribs. Unfortunately, what I got was a *pair* of slabs, because the thing was secretly a two-pack. Well, the two-pack cost as much as the single baby back rib slab, so whatever - I figured I'd just make 'em all. If I was gonna spend five hours tending the barbeque, I might as well make as much as I can.

The other thing was that the chimney started had been thrown out by the guys who cleaned up our back yard. And the grill brush. Dammit.

So, I found another grill brush we had, and piled up the coals. Ei-Nyung oiled some paper and wadded it up, but it burned much too quickly. Ended up having to use lighter fluid, which was a shame, but whatever. We got the coals started after about 20 minutes. Once the coals were hot, I put in a little foil bowl with the soaked (for an hour in water) hickory chips. Put the grill on, and gave it a thorough scrubbing. (we need new grates - after the winter, there's too much rust on the grill to get it as clean as I'd like).

I put the ribs on the "cold" side of the Q, away from the pile of coals, and realized we didn't actually have enough surface area available to get all the ribs exposed at a time. I ended up putting them on in an A formation, where the angled legs are the sparerib slabs, and the baby back ribs sat on the crossbar. I'd rotate them every 20-30 minutes, making sure everything got exposed to the smoke, and heat.

ATK says to rest the ribs for an hour, and we rested two racks of ribs for that long, but cut into the first one after only about 15 minutes. The spice rub was pretty darned good - a little sweet, a little punchy. I'm not sure I'd actually change it in any way, shape or form, and have no ideas as to how it could be better, or how the execution of the recipe could have been better.

The first slab of ribs was good, but not fall-off-the-bone-instantly tender. The later, rested ribs were. Great stuff, and frankly, I doubt if I've had better, without sauce. I brought some to work over the course of the week, and every time, when I opened up the container, the smoky smell was joyous to behold.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ribs. Too many ribs.

Ribs. Too many ribs.
Originally uploaded by eingy.

I figured I'd post this and let Seppo edit this entry about the ribs he made on Sunday, July 10th, 2005. They were delicious by the way. The dry rub was superb. I think we should let it go longer next time for better texture, but the taste was good, a little sweet, a little tangy, with a bit of a kick.