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Ramen at work

This is the first post of hopefully many. Each time I visit the asian market, I always find walking down the aisle of instant noodles quite daunting. No longer is ramen just the college staple of the past, now there is package after package of not just top, maruchan, or cup ramen. But how can we tell what is just another dollar special, and what is worth keeping in the cabinet for those lazy days? Hopefully Ramen Wars will give you that edge.

Bajirak brand Kalgugsu.

The picture on the cover shows a clear soup with mushrooms and a big 345 kcal in red touting some sort of health claim. In the end I forgot to take a picture of the real results. In future posts I will show the package and the results.

In the end the soup ended up being bland and didn’t really taste like anything. The noodles were typical of every other brand and was nothing special. The soup base tasted nothing like typical kalguksu, which is closer to a Korean version of Vietnamese pho than ramen. I’m not sure if 346 kcals is a small amount or not, but this amount didn’t help with this ramen. Even if you are in the mood for something different than the typical spicy flavored, or salt induced beef, chicken, or shrimp varieties, this one is not worth it.

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Hello world!

This blog is about all things Korean food related, both to those who are not as familiar with it and to those who want to learn more about it but aren’t native speakers. Welcome!

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One tradition that I was taught was to always have rice cake soup for New Years or dduk kook (떡국). I was traveling up to Tahoe to spend the New Years at a friend’s cabin. One thing that we all share is to enjoy good food and drink, so I decided to keep my tradition going and spread it to my friends by making this dish. I also thought it would be fun to add mandu to it as well to create the rice cake and dumpling soup (떡만두국). Rice cake, or dduk, is similar to Japanese style mochi, where the rice is pounded into a cake-like form. For this stew, you get the dduk in small slivered slices. The mandu, or dumplings, can be made from various fillings and be prepared numerous ways, such as fried, boiled, steamed, or in a soup. I tried to cross reference several recipes I found online while adding my own touch to it. One thing that was a major mistake while making the soup was my lack of ability to expand the recipe for 8 people. I vastly overestimated some ingredients, while also vastly underestimating some portions. In the end, I had too little soup, and way too much filling, and way to much mandu.

My recipe was based on one that I found in the New York Times.

recipe is as follows.

FOR THE DUMPLINGS:

12 ounces mung bean sprouts, chopped
1 cup diced onion
12 ounces kimchi, strained and chopped
4 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
¼ pound ground pork
1½ teaspoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 package dumpling wrappers, thawed
1 egg, beaten
FOR THE SOUP:
1 carton of chicken broth (about 3 cups)
1 dash of soy sauce
1 bunch scallions
1 pound frozen Korean rice cakes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Toasted seaweed julienned
dash of sesame seed oil

I first chopped up the onions and put them and the spouts into boiling water to blanch. Then I drained then chopped them to small pieces. I then added the chopped kimchi and tofu, grabbing a handful of the mixture and squeezing out as much moisture that I could. After that I added the pork, garlic, salt, and sesame oil. I mixed it well to create the filling for the dumplings.

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Taking a thawed packed of dumpling skins, have a small cup of 1 beaten egg to act as a glue for the dumplings. Grab one skin and about a gumball sized portion of the dumpling mixture to it. Apply the egg glue along the edge then fold in half and seal. You can add 2 or 3 folds to the dumpling for texture and appearance if you wish. Set aside till the broth is ready.

The soup didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. I mixed the chicken broth with a touch of soy sauce. After a good boil, I then added the rice cake and then the dumplings. While this was going, I took the lightly beaten eggs and made a thin omelette, which was then cooled, then julienned, and put aside for part of the topping. After about 10-15 minutes when the dumpling skins are translucent, the soup is done. Top the soup with some scallions, sesame seeds, the julienned egg and seaweed. Add pepper to taste.

I will eventually try and find an alternate recipe for the broth since I had too little broth and too much rice cake, which gummed up the whole batch. However the dumplings did turn out great.

Happy New Year!