It’s not the elegant soup I would serve at a dinner party, but rather a rustic soup I absolutely crave on a winter night. This soup is kimchi guk on steroids.
Kimchi guk is a simple Korean soup where chopped napa cabbage kimchi is simmered in beef broth. Sometimes daikon, meat, or tofu are added. It is usually garnished with scallions.
This version with ground beef, buckwheat noodles, seaweed, and swordfish is much more hearty, and served as a meal. The broth is sour, spicy, savory, salty with a hint of sweetness, and really explodes with flavor.
There are a few non-traditional foods that I like to pair with napa cabbage kimchi such as cheddar cheese, mashed potatoes, and BBQ oysters. Swordfish is another, with its mildly sweet flavor and a juicy meaty texture with a good balance of fat, it just goes well with sour and spicy kimchi.
We live in Southern California, where we can walk to the docks and pick up local fresh fish arriving by the hour. Our markets are full of fresh fish that is flown in daily from around the world. So, why buy frozen fish?
Convenience of having protein in the freezer, on hand, ready to thaw.
Value where frozen is typically 20 to 25% less per pound than fresh.
Availability when fresh fish is not in season, frozen is always there.
Taste and texture are not sacrificed, especially in a recipe like this stew.
The frozen farm-raised Atlantic salmon comes from Whole Foods Market where they source from responsibly managed fish farms that aim to help maintain sustainable seafood supplies. Their salmon are raised in carefully monitored, low-density pens and tanks without antibiotics, pesticides or added growth hormones.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living. For a cold weather meal, I loved the idea of a smoky fish stew and added another layer of smoky heat with Korean chili threads (shilgochu). They are finely-sliced dried chilis that are reddish brown in color with smoky red pepper and fruity flavors, and a medium degree of heat. Along with fennel fronds, the chili threads add a savory embellishment to the final presentation.
H Mart’s seafood department is exceptional. I couldn’t pass up the beautiful striped bass sashimi and if I had more time, I would have waited for the yellowfin tuna that was about to be filleted.
Their produce department is fabulous too, showcasing the best of California fields plus esoteric fruits and vegetables found only in Asian markets. Not sure how the fuyu persimmons would be used, but several ended up in my basket just the same.
Inspiration for this vibrant ceviche comes from both my garden and my new favorite Korean supermarket. In the yard is a tree full of Persian limes while wrinkled passion fruits harvested days earlier are sitting on the counter.
The super-fresh striped bass will become ceviche, with a quick 10 minute lime marinade to preserve its pristine qualities. Paired with sweet-tart passion fruit and honeyed persimmon…a refreshing, clean, snappy recipe takes shape…
Korean Chili Con Carne
Red Beans, Kimchi, Shishito Peppers
Sesame Garlic Yogurt, Yellow Picked Radish, Scallion
How’s your Korean food vocabulary? Gochujang, gochugaru, kkwarigochu, pat, kimchi, danmuji, pachae, chamgireum and bokkeun-kkae are some of the ingredients that transform a traditional chili con carne into this super-flavorful Korean Chili with a unique topping.
Gochujang and gochugaru are sold in varying degrees of spiciness. For this recipe, I use medium-hot heat level as shown on the packaging. Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste with sweet heat and a fermented umami richness. It has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried Korean red peppers. Gochugaru, also made from sun-dried red peppers, is a coarse-ground chili powder. Together, they give this chili its distinctive Korean spiciness. Kkwarigochu (shishito)are thin-walled mild peppers with a fresh green vegetal flavor and just a whisper of heat. But beware, every once in a while, there’s a hot one in the bunch! Kkwarigochu stand in for green bell pepper used in standard recipes.
The usual Western chili toppings of onion, cheese, and sour cream are replaced with a Korean flair. Pachae (curled green scallion) stands in for the diced white onion. Yellow cheddar is replaced by danmuji, a yellow pickled radish that is sweet, sour and crispy. Thick tangy yogurt gets a punch from garlic and rich toasty notes from sesame oil. Finally bokkeun-kkae (toasted sesame seeds) add visual appeal, nutty notes, they are a common Korean garnish.
Korean Chili con Carne with Red Beans and Kimchi Recipe
Beautiful summer tomatoes and fresh basil are calling out for spaghetti. Spaghetti al pomodoro. But how can we make a refreshingly simple recipe of spaghetti with tomato sauce just a bit more interesting? How, just give it a twist! Turn the pasta into a “caterpillar.”
And for more interest, exchange the recipe’s predictable pinch of red chili flakes with Korean chili threads, shilgochu 실고추, finely-sliced dried chilis that are reddish brown in color with smoky red pepper and fruity flavors, and a medium degree of heat. They are cooked in butter for about a minute to soften then tossed with the spaghetti, adding a vibrant accent to the dish.
Wild strawberries and sweet little grape tomatoes have a particularly delightful affinity for each other. Their red color contrasts with the exotic greens. Radish brings peppery flavors while roasted sunflower seeds add salty flavors – eliminating the need for additional salt and pepper. Kimjaban, crunchy roasted seaweed takes the place of croutons while adding sweet and salty notes.
Dressing is not tossed with the salad mix, so the flower petals look fresh-picked and the seaweed retains its crisp texture. The dressing consists of three distinct high-quality oils – fruity olive oil, toasted sesame oil, and fiery chili oil that are balanced by aged balsamic vinegar. Using chopsticks, diners can coat the salad ingredients with the oils and vinegar. And they just may want to reserve a bit of the syrupy balsamic vinegar to pair with that last wild strawberry for a grand finale.