Korean BBQ at Home

We love going to our local Korean BBQ restaurant. It’s one of our favorite go to place on our Fridates. It’s just a bit pricy specially if you go on Friday nights and weekends. Korean BBQ places allow you to grill your food at your own table. They not only provide a wide selection of meats and vegetables but various side dishes as well.

My uncle recently gifted me with a Saladmaster electric smokeless indoor grill. I got really excited because I can now have a “DIY” Korean BBQ at home. Come weekend I shopped for all the ingredients I will need for my BBQ. First on the list were the vegetables, I chose our favorites – zucchini, white mushrooms and eggplant. I also got some spring onions and lettuce leaves which they always serve with the meats at the restaurant. Oh, I forgot to get pickled radish.

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There are a variety of thinly sliced meats you can choose from at our local Asian store (H-Mart). I got the marinated Beef Ribeye Roll and a pack of Pork Belly.

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You must also have Banchan to complete the experience, literally translated it means side dishes in Korean. They are served in small portions and are meant to be shared family style. I got an assortment – soy bean sprouts, gobi (fernbrake) and spinach. I also got a package of crabmeat pancake. You can buy these pre-made at the Asian store.

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The grill did not really take a long time to heat. The temperature is not that high though compared to the gas grill at Korean BBQ places. This did not really affect the taste and outcome of the food, it just takes a little bit longer to cook.

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“Nilaga” with a Twist

I don’t really know how this dish is called. I just remember both my maternal and paternal grandmothers serving this on occasion when we come to visit for Sunday lunch. My mom also makes this for us at home.

When I got married, this was one of the very first dish I served my husband for dinner. I chose it because it was the easiest to make with very few simple ingredients. I have not made this in quite a while. I was just really pressed for time in making dinner tonight and when I was looking through what I have in the fridge, I’ve thought of this.

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It’s just like “Nilaga” that I previously posted. The only difference is that you only make use of napa cabbage as your vegetable and the addition of a beaten egg at the end of cooking.

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Tortang Giniling (Filipino Frittata)

Tortang Giniling is very similar to a frittata. The traditional Filipino way of cooking torta makes use of banana leaves. I believe our grandmothers did this because they did not have such a thing as a non-stick pan way back then. The banana leaves serves as a liner to help prevent food getting stuck on the pan and limit scorching. Plus, they add flavor and fragrance that’s makes the dish distinctly appealing. Filipino torta is mainly ground meat (giniling), pork is usually used. I prefer ground chicken or turkey when I make my torta.

Here in the Northeast, banana leaves are available in any Asian store. They come frozen in plastic packages. However, I did not use banana leaves to make my torta. I just used a thick bottomed stainless steel pan.

First, sautee onions and garlic in a little oil. Add your ground meat and cook till browned. Then add cubed potatoes and carrots. I did not have red bell peppers on hand but I usually throw some in towards the end of cooking. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender but not mushy.  Let the mixture cool.

Once it has cooled, add 5 eggs to the meat mixture and blend well. Note: do not beat the eggs before adding it in.

Heat a thick bottomed stainless steel pan then add your oil. It’s important to make sure your pan is properly heated and your pan well coated with oil. Add your meat mixture and spread evenly. Cook over medium to low heat until bottom is browned and appears to hold it’s shape. I cook this for about 2-4 minutes depending on the thickness of my torta.  Cook until just set and you can see bubbles forming on top.  Then transfer the pan to the oven and broil on high until cooked and the top is browned evenly. This only takes a few minutes so make sure to watch it while broiling. Note: You may use a non-stick pan but make sure it’s oven safe.

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Filipinos usually eat this with rice and ketchup. This would also be good served with a side of salad.

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Onigiri Elves

I had a couple of leftover seasoned fried tofu pockets from the Inari sushi I made the other day. So I decided to make some onigiri for lunch. I was feeling a bit creative and was inspired to make these onigiri elves.

You only need three basic ingredients – seasoned tofu pockets, cooked rice and nori sheets (dried seaweed).

I just shaped the rice into small balls and stuffed it inside the tofu pouches to create a hood. I then used the nori punch to decorate and make the face of my onigiri.

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My Onigiri Elves. Itadakimasu !

Filipino Chop Suey

There is American Chinese Chop Seuy and then there is Filipino Chop Seuy (Tsapsuy). This dish obviously has Asian influence. I am not exactly sure when this was introduced to the Philippines. As our history books says Filipinos were already trading with Chinese merchants as early as the 9th century even before the country was colonized by Spain. This is mainly why Philippine cuisine is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, not only in name and ingredients but in the manner of cooking as well.

I have made Chop Seuy countless of times and I have never use the same exact ingredients. I like to mix and match different vegetables not only for color and texture but also based on what I have in my crisper.

This a a stir fried dish of vegetables with the addition of meat (chicken, shrimp, beef or pork). For this recipe I used carrots, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, and snow peas. You may also use broccoli, red and green bell peppers, baby corn and zucchini to name a few. You sautee minced garlic and onions and then you add your choice of meat. Let meat cook until tender. Then add you vegetables beginning with the ones that takes longer to cook. Season with salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoons of oyster sauce. The vegetables usually releases it’s own liquid so it’s up to you to determine if you need to add more water to the dish. Some like to thicken the sauce with a slurry of water and cornstarch.

I made this for our dinner last night.

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Inari Sushi

I must admit this is the first time I made “Inari Sushi”. I was just browsing the web looking for bento ideas when I chanced upon this. Inari Sushi are rice in tofu pockets. Since my family loves anything tofu, I just got to give this a try.

It is said that this sushi is named after the Shinto god “Inari” who loves fried tofu. For this recipe you will need seasoned fried tofu pouches, cooked rice and rice seasoning mix. You can make the tofu pouches yourself or just buy it pre-made. There are two kinds of tofu pouches that is available in the market. The most common is the canned variety which you can find in the vegetable aisle of any Asian store. Then there is the plastic packaged ones found in the refrigerator section. Some brands include seasoning packets for the rice.

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Two kind of seasoned tofu pockets and rice seasoning mix

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The tofu pockets I choose to make this sushi came with its own rice seasoning mix.

To assemble, mix rice with seasoning. If you don’t have the rice seasoning you can add various finely minced seasoned vegetables like mushrooms, carrots, celery and sesame seeds. Shape rice into small oblong shapes. Stuff the rice balls into the tofu pouches. Be careful as you do this as not to tear the tofu skins. Arrange in a platter and serve with dipping sauce of soy and wasabi paste.

This maybe an alternative for those who do not like to eat raw fish in traditional sushi and for vegetarians.

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My Inari sushi

Adobo

If the Philippines has a National dish, that would be Adodo. It is the most popular and well loved comfort food of all. Every Filipino family has their own recipe and way of cooking adobo. The basic ingredients for this dish are – chicken or pork or a combination of both, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns and dry laurel leaf. The ratio of soy sauce and vinegar really depends on one’s personal taste and preference. Some like it cooked a bit dry and some with more sauce.

You can get creative by adding other ingredients like mushrooms which is my personal favorite, hard boiled egg and potatoes. The possibilities are endless.

Just combine all the ingredients in a pot and simmer until meat is tender. You can strain the meat from the sauce and fry till golden brown. You then return the sauce to the pan and cook till a bit thickened. This step is optional but will give the dish an added depth of flavor.

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I made pork adobo with mushrooms for last Thursday’s dinner. We almost always eat this with rice.

Strawberry Daifuku Mochi

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In celebration of Spring I decided to make Strawberry Daifuku Mochi. Mochi is primarily made of glutinous rice flour. There are two kinds of glutinous rice flour you can find in the market. The first one is the “mochiko” or sweet rice flour and the second is “shiratamako”. Both are used in making all kinds mochi based sweets but shiratamako will give you the elasticity that you need in this mochi.

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For this recipe you will need red bean paste (koshian), strawberries, shiratamako. potato starch, sugar and water. You can make your own red bean paste but I just bought mine pre-made. You can find this in the refrigerator section of any Asian foodstore.

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First, wash and remove the stems from your strawberries and pat dry. Divide your red bean paste into 6 equal sized balls. Flatten each ball and wrap the strawberries in it tip side down. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

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Get a baking pan or any wide and flat surfaced container and sprinkle some potato starch on it. Set aside.

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Combine the shiratamako. sugar and water and mix well, make sure that everything is well combined and your flour is dissolved. Place in a heat proof dish and steam for 15 minutes.

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Remove from steamer and give it a few stir using a spatula dipped in water. Pour mixture in your prepared pan and sprinkle more potato starch on top. Warning, the mixture will be very hot. Work quickly and divide the sticky dough into 6 equal portions.

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Take one and flatten it into a disk then wrap the red bean coated strawberry, again with the tip side down. Smoothen the outside and set aside. Repeat with the remaining strawberries.

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Ninja Bento

I already made a ninja onigiri last year by using carrots strips and cut out nori as decoration. This time, I only used nori sheets to make the mask and the eyes.
A plastic wrap makes it easier for me to mold the rice and keep the nori in place. It also makes it less messy since the rice tends to be sticky to handle.

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Ninja Onigiri, chicken nuggets, mixed vegetables, strawberries and ketchup

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Ninja Bento

Beef Nilaga

Beef Nilaga reminds me of the boiled “corned beef and cabbage” usually served during St. Patrick’s Day. Beef nilaga for me is the easiest Filipino dish you can prepare. It’s just boiling your choice of meat and adding vegetables.

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For this recipe I used “kalitiran” (top blade) for the cut of meat. You may also use beef brisket or shank as a substitute.

Start by boiling your meat with onions and ground pepper (whole peppercorns are preferable) until tender. Don’t forget to skim and remove the scum from the broth as it boils. Season with salt or fish sauce, the most commonly used Filipino seasoning. This is similar to the Thai “nam pla” or Vietnamese “nuoc mam”. Just a word of warning for those unfamiliar with it, this has a very strong and pungent smell. This will also give “umami” flavor to your soup.

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Add your choice of vegetables, for this I made use of bok choy (chinese greens), carrots and cucumber. As always I make do with what I have on hand. Some purist may cringe at the idea of adding cucumber to nilaga. My family has always used cucumber because it not only enhances the flavor of the broth but gives it a distinct fragrance. We also sometimes add squash for it renders sweetness to the dish.

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The commonly used vegetables in making nilaga are potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Hence, it’s similarity to the boiled “corned beef and cabbage”. Since moving to the Northeast I’ve learned to substitute ingredients to what we have locally. It not only makes for an interesting dish but challenges your creativity as well.

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My Beef Nilaga