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Cook, Pop, Cook: Korean Fried Chicken

December 9, 2010 64 comments

My wife and I love Target, except when we don’t. Whenever we exit a Target store in the area with a shopping cart full of stuff despite going in just to pick up a “few things,” it happens. I put D1 and D2 in the car and then put the stroller in the trunk and then *sniff* *sniff* “That smell,” I think to myself, “I know it all too well…” I continue to *sniff* and my wife begins to wonder why it’s taking me so long to get back in the car.

I close my eyes as the scent permeates my airway and then I begin to float like a cartoon as the scent whisks me away and *plop* I land in front of a yellow and red building and…

“Honey, what are you doing?!”

“Sorry hon, I just smelled Popeyes in the air.”

You see, there seems to be a Popeyes within smelling range of most Targets in the area and I find the smell of fried chicken, especially from Popeyes, intoxicating. In fact, I once asked my wife if she would be willing to don eau du bucket of chicken. She said no. “How about eau du bacon,” I asked. No again. Seriously. If my wife wants to seduce me, smelling like fried food wrapped in bacon would work far better than smelling like flowers or whatever else they make perfume smell like. But I digress.

As you can plainly see, I love fried chicken. In fact, I once dreamed of opening a restaurant called Skins n Stuff, where we’d just sell fried chicken skin and sides. And while I love me some chicken from Popeyes or the good Colonel, nothing I’ve tried compares to Korean Fried Chicken. Even the New York Times thinks so in this article.

In fact, in the DMV, Bon Chon chicken is immensely popular and customers are willing to pay $20 for a portion of chicken and wait 45 minutes, which is how long it takes to prepare an order. If you’re near a Bon Chon or a restaurant that serves Korean Fried Chicken, I highly suggest you go. Now. But if not, give this recipe a shot.

Korean Fried Chicken

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Cook, Pop, Cook: Galbi Jjim

July 27, 2010 20 comments

As a disclaimer, I’ll say this recipe is not for the faint of heart. I normally try to cook healthy recipes for my family; this isn’t one of them. The beef isn’t lean and discarding the fat is a no no. So if you’re not a fan of braised fat or eating meat off the bone we are friends off you’re not going to like this recipe much.

Korean BBQ is pretty popular in most Metropolitan areas, so most people are familiar with galbi – Korean beef short ribs. Served bone-in or cut into cubes, the beef is usually grilled over high heat and results in juicy meat and chewy tendons. Not as many people are familiar with galbi jjim – braised Korean short ribs (jjim is a method of cooking where meat is steamed or boiled). This is because most restaurants don’t serve galbi jjim. In fact, it’s usually a dish reserved for special occasions like weddings. The braising results in meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender and the tendon becomes like butter. So crash a Korean wedding if you’d like to try it. Or just follow my recipe. After all, what occasion is more special than a family dinner? Don’t you love your family enough to make this for them?

Galbi Jjim

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Cook, Pop, Cook: Garlic Hummus

May 17, 2010 5 comments

I’ve never really enjoyed beans – aside from singing this song in elementary school:

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart
The more you eat, the more you fart
The more you fart, the better you feel
So eat your beans at every meal

For example, when I first ordered the chili at Wendy’s many moons ago, I picked out all the beans. It turns out their chili is roughly 80% beans, so that was a waste of $0.99. But lately, I’ve actually been enjoying beans and it’s all due to my clever wife.

While I was still drinking bean flavored Haterade, my wife kept looking for new ways to encourage me to eat healthy and having read SuperFoods Rx, she continued looking for ways to sneak beans into my diet. She also kept hearing about the Mediterranean Diet and it’s benefits, so she decided she would try to get me to eat hummus and knock out two birds with one stone and went to Trader Joe’s and bought some of their hummus. Initially hesitant, I ate the pita she made me…within seconds. The Trader Joe’s brand was incredibly creamy and delicious and in minutes, I ate half the entire container. “Man,” I exclaimed, “I’ve never liked hummus before, but this is amazing!!! What is it made of?” “It’s just chickpeas,” my wife replied. “Wait…this is made of beans?!?!” This felt like the sketch where Chris Farley was informed that he’s not drinking regular coffee, and my reaction may or may not have been better than his.

Now, I like beans. Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, i.e., you can build muscle without being constipated. And I love that beans are cheap–frugality is always en vogue in Pop’s household–and can be stored for a long time. I used to only get the fajita vegetables at Chipotle, but I now ask for black beans as well. My wife made this slow cooker chili a while back and it was magnificent. And I still love me some hummus.

But there are some things about beans that aren’t as awesome. The liquid in canned beans can be incredibly salty, so you should rinse them if sodium is a concern. They can be high calorie, but let’s be honest, compared to what American’s normally eat, they’re relatively low-calorie. And of course, there’s the issue of flatulence. I have a simple solution: if someone starts *sniff* *sniff* ing and making an ugly face at you, look puzzled and point at the person next to you. If that doesn’t work, you could try the following:

he who smelt it, dealt it
he who deduced it, produced it
he who denied it, supplied it

Speaking of which, why is the subject in all of those phrases a male? Oh right, because girls don’t fart and if they do they point at a boy and say he did it it smells like roses.

Anywho, I decided to make some hummus at home and it was incredibly easy. Sort of. You see, I love Asian grocery stores because you can get things you probably can’t find at other grocers and their items are cheap! But if you need some sort of specialty item and you’re having a hard time finding it, good luck finding someone who can speak enough English to tell you where it is. Most recipes for hummus I found required tahini, and one employee looked at me with a puzzled look and another took me to the aisle with Thai chili’s. I didn’t fare any better at my local grocer as they had only had tahini sauces. So if you’re intent on getting tahini, try Trader Joe’s or My Organic Market; or you can grind up your own like I did.

Pop’s Garlic Hummus

Having been foiled in my attempts to get tahini in a grocer nearby, I decided to make my own. As  hard as it is to find, not to mention expensive, you’d think tahini was something really special; but all it is is ground up sesame seeds. You control the flavor based 1) whether the seeds are whole or hulled and 2) if/how long you roast them for.

Get 1/3C of raw sesame seeds. You can also buy bags of roasted sesame seeds and save yourself a few steps and 10 minutes.

1/3C Sesame seed

You can use a baking sheet, but I like using a frying pan – the sounds you hear as you toss the seeds is almost therapeutic. Roast them on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Roasting the seeds

Now toss that in your food processor (we have the older version of this) with 1TBS of olive oil.

Making tahini...sort of

You’re supposed to grind that up into a paste so a blender or something would have been a better idea, but again, I’m all about simplicity and doing less dishes, so I just used the food processor. My thought was, since I’m going to be blending all the ingredients for 5-10 minutes, the sesame seeds would get ground up then. So I pulsed the seeds a few times to chop them up a bit, opened up the food processor, used a spatula to push the seeds stuck to the sides to the bottom, and pulsed it again a few times.

Now open one can of the beans and pour about a tablespoon of the canning liquid into the food processor, then rinse 2 cans of garbanzo beans and throw them in as well.

The musical fruit

Get your spices ready as well: 1.5tsp of kosher salt, 1/4tsp of coarse ground black pepper, and 1/2tsp of garlic powder.

Hummus spices

You’ll also need to throw in 4 cloves of garlic (no need to chop them; just remove the stem part) and 1/3C of lemon juice. Again, I LOVE me some garlic, so if you’re not a fan or would like to kiss people after consuming the hummus, you may want to use less. Throw all of that into the food processor and use your spatula to mix things around.

Ready to be processed

Use quick pulses at first. Once the beans are nice and processed, you can leave the food processor on until the hummus reaches the consistency you like. Or if you’re like me and enjoy pushing buttons, you can pulse all the way through.

Once that’s done, put some paprika and olive oil on top. You could also add a couple of pine nuts for a nice crunch. YUM!

Garlic Hummus

You could also add sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, cilantro, parsley, etc… I like to eat it with naan or pitas. It’s also a great dip for vegetables and a suitable substitute for mayo in sandwiches – I said suitable. Nothing can replace the goodness of real mayo in a sandwich.

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Cook, Pop, Cook: Chayote Squash

May 13, 2010 57 comments

When we were expecting our daughter, I was worried about being a good dad. Two years later, she knows what a grill looks like, enjoys barbecue (especially ribs and brisket), can identify bacon, and has eaten an entire chicken thigh in one sitting. The jury’s still out on me being a good father, but it’s clear I’m doing a good job raising a carnivore. But with increased rates of childhood obesity and kids getting what used to be called adult-onset diabetes, I know I need to model good habits for my family, such as eating healthy and exercising. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for new vegetables and recipes to try.

Recently, we had guests over from Thailand and we went to an Asian grocery store in our area. One of the ladies who was staying with us saw a vegetable and said, “Have you tried this?”

WTH?!?!

It looked like a pear ate something really sour. When I told her I never tried it, she said, “Aroi MAK! (very delicious in Thai). I looked at the sign and it was called Chayote squash and it was $0.99/lb. Whenever we visit her in Thailand, my wife and I love her cooking, so I absolutely trusted her, and that evening, OH MY GOURD…I fell in love with chayote.

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Easy Creamed Spinach Recipe

March 17, 2010 6 comments

Creamed spinach is fastly becoming one of my favorite things to have with steak. A good steak should be tender but you should also have to wrestle with it at times. Gristle, tendon, large chunks of fat…no one ever said love was easy. So to give a nice contrast and respite from the chewing, I prefer my sides to have the consistency of food that has already been chewed once, e.g., mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.

Tonight, I made strip steaks with mashed potatoes, broccoli and creamed spinach. It was my first time making creamed spinach, so I didn’t think to take pictures, but all my guests seemed to like it, so I’m sharing my recipe with you. This is also why I don’t have any pictures.

For pop, cooking is all about simplicity. Sure, using fresh spinach and wilting them perfectly seems nice, but it takes way too much effort. So I used frozen spinach. And guess what else I use to make creamed spinach? You’re so astute…cream! That’s right! Cream + spinach + seasonings = creamed spinach. I looked up recipes on the Web and found the typical seasonings are salt, pepper and ground nutmeg, the latter of which seems to work very well with spinach. I tweaked the ratios to my liking.

Pop’s Easy Creamed Spinach Recipe
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

1-10oz package of frozen chopped spinach
1-10oz package of frozen cut leaf spinach (provides a contrast w/ the chopped)
3tbs of unsalted butter
2-3 shallots – I love me some shallots, so I used 3
4-6 cloves of garlic – I love me some garlic, so I used 6 cloves
6oz heavy cream
1tsp kosher salt
1/2tsp coarse ground black pepper
1/2tsp nutmeg

1. Follow the instructions on the package of the frozen spinach to cook them. Strain and cool.
2. Chop up the shallots and garlic all fine like – I like to use the Oxo Good Grips Chopper to save time.
3. Melt the butter in a sauce pan
4. Toss in the shallots and garlic and using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, cook ’em for a few minutes – they should change color–more yellower–and smell good. Aren’t my descriptions so precise? 😛
5. Toss in the spinach. Make sure you get the garlic and shallots all throughout the spinach and let the flavors meld a bit.
6. Add the cream and mix well. Mmmmmm…heavy cream!
7. Now add all the spices.
8. Keep cooking until the consistency is about what you’d want it – mine took about 5 minutes. If it’s too watery, throw in some corn starch.

Mmmmmmm!

UPDATE: Made it again over the weekend, and this time, I have pics. I also made more (used 3 packages of frozen spinach) so I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly.

Spinach prepared, drained, and ready to go

Shallots and garlic chopped

Mmmmmelted butter

Salt, black pepper, nutmeg

Garlic + shallots + butter = delicious

Spinach + shallots + garlic + butter

Added the heavy cream and spices

Cook, Pop, Cook: Shin Ramen

March 12, 2010 19 comments

Today dear reader, I reveal to you an ancient Korean secret (I learned it 3 days ago) passed down through many generations (a hyung–that’s an unrelated older brother–told me he heard about it on Korean TV) on how to make the perfect Shin Ramyun.

The Perfect Shin Ramen

Actually, that almost looks like chef boyardee…but whatever. Onward!

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Cook, Pop, Cook: Chicken Tikka Masala?

February 17, 2010 Leave a comment

One of my all time favorite foods is chicken tikka masala. The creamy sauce poured over tandoori chicken is a little piece of fatty heaven for me. The fact that it is most often consumed via All You Can Eat (AYCE) Indian lunch buffets is definitely a bonus. My wife recently spotted this recipe on one of her favorite blogs and we decided we HAD to make it.

So yeah, Pastor Ryan’s version turned out just a tad better than ours. ^_^

Trust me. It tastes a lot better than it looks. It may have been the garam masala we used, but it didn’t taste like the chicken tikka masala we were used to. It tasted like a Thai/Indian curry. A bit odd, but really tasty. Also, a bit of caution: your oven is going to smell really Indian-y for several days if you don’t air it out afterwards. How to make it after the jump.

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