Eggplant Steaks, Restaurant Style
A couple months ago we had an absolutely delightful and completely unique meal at Roy Choi’s restaurant, Best Friend, at Park MGM on The Las Vegas Strip.
“Best Friend is… Koreatown in a capsule – a portal to the streets of LA, but also rooted in what makes Las Vegas… VEGAS. Hip hop-to-bibimbop. Kimchi-to-spaghetti. BBQ and late-night food. I want Best Friend to energize the minds of people looking to experience the best in life. Whether they are from Hollywood or Hong Kong, D.C. or Down Under, I hope all guests are licking their fingers with their mouths full saying ‘holy sh!t’ as they reach across the table for another bite. LA food in Las Vegas. Los Vegas. Best Friend. Forever.” – Roy Choi
Blown away by the KALBI Korean BBQ marinated bone-in short rib; SLIPPERY SHRIMP crispy rock shrimp, chili mayo, walnuts; ELOTES kewpie mayo, lime juice, tajín, cotija, cilantro; and EGGPLANT SCHNITZEL.
The eggplant was simple yet elevated with its silky interior and crunchy exterior. The sauce was intriguing, creamy, and mustardy. Fresh peppery green arugula provided the perfect balance to the fried eggplant. Brilliant.
In his endearing, personal, and somewhat irreverent cookbook L.A. Son, Chef Choi writes, “I make a mean schnitzel.” Yep, he sure does.
Eggplant Steaks Recipe
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Kimchi Stew with Kale, Pork, and Silken Tofu ~ Soondubu Jjigae
My non-traditional version of the popular Korean tofu stew, soondubu jJigae, is flexible. I always start with kimchi and silken tofu, then perhaps add vegetables such as spinach, mushrooms, or daikon; broth can be anchovy stock, chicken stock, or vegetable broth; it can be vegetarian or made with ground pork, beef, pork belly, or seafood; the salty component can come from soy sauce, or fish sauce, or salt; I sometimes add an egg… or not. I make this fast and easy stew often, changing ingredients with whatever is at hand.
I especially like the myriad of flavors, textures, and colors; it’s spicy, silky, and very satisfying. Last night, there was plenty of kale in the fridge, so that went into the stew as well.
My method is somewhat unorthodox too. I always like to cook the meat ahead of time and drain off the excess saturated fat. Then I use the more healthier olive oil to cook the stew. Flavorful toasted sesame oil is used as a finishing oil only, not in the cooking process.
Note: for a more standard version of soondubu jjigae, please visit any of the fabulous Korean bloggers in the side bar below.
Kimchi and Silken Tofu Stew Recipe
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Kimchi Potato Latkes and Happy Hanukkah!
A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.
We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate that ancient miracle from the second century BCE and potato pancakes are almost everyone’s favorite symbolic food. This year my latkes have a daring twist. 5779 is the year of the Kimchi Potato Latke!
Adults who adore kimchi’s complex spicy, salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fermented flavors will fall hard for this pancake. Kids, unfortunately, not so much…the younger set should probably stick to traditional style potato latkes with that wonderful combination of sweet apples and sour cream, like this one.
The recipe is a marriage between my kimchi jeon (mind-blowing kimchi pancake batter) and my standard recipe for potato latkes. The combination is amazing pancake synergy.
Kimchi Potato Latkes Recipe
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Jajangmyeon (Korean Black Bean Noodles)
Our newest tradition for a BLACK FRIDAY meal is the polar opposite to everyone’s beloved Turkey & Stuffing. JAJANGMYEON couldn’t be more perfect for the day after the Big Feast, giving those precious leftovers a little space to breathe and be enjoyed later on with gusto.
A super-satisfying bowl of noodles coated with slurpy black bean sauce that’s chock-full of pork and vegetables, Jajangmyeon is Korean/Chinese comfort food at its zenith.
Lovelorn Koreans typically eat this noir dish on BLACK DAY which is “celebrated” on April 14th every year. It’s a day dedicated to single people who haven’t yet found their true love; a reverse Valentine’s Day of sorts.
I’m advocating eating Jajangmyeon on BLACK FRIDAY as well. Jajangmyeon can follow that special day of high culinary expectations and not let anyone down with its super tasty salty/sweet flavors and visually astonishing deep dark color.
Jajangmyeon (Korean Black Bean Noodles) Recipe
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Veggie Broth, Crispy Tofu, Gai Lan
Watermelon Radish, Carrot, Bok Choy, Sesame Chili Oil
Have you received a copy of a food magazine in the mail with a cover photo that absolutely floors you? February 2018 Bon Appetit did that for me. There was no way that I wasn’t going to “Cook The Cover” and make that gorgeous Crispy Tofu in Shiitake Broth.
Alas, time passed and I didn’t make it. But, last Saturday’s trip to the Torrance Farmers Market gave me the inspiration…it came from a vegetarian Korean food booth called Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food with a sample of his hot “Vegee Broth.” It was amazing – complex flavors in a vegetarian broth made with fermented vegetable juice, sea salt, low sodium gluten-free soy sauce, and miso.
As I walked the market, watermelon radish and bok choy remembered from that February magazine cover ended up in my basket. I already had carrots and firm tofu at home.
One ingredient that is not in Bon Appetit’s recipe was beautiful Gai Lan, also known as Chinese broccoli. Slightly bitter and slightly sweet, with tasty broad leaves, petite buds, a few pretty white flowers, and tender stems – this had to be added to my version of the vegetable soup.
Here is the link to the original recipe by Bon Appetit, and my adaptations are listed below. Those in the Los Angeles area can find Dave’s Vegee Broth at various Farmers Markets across the county. If you are not in LA, simply follow the original broth recipe. It will take a little longer but be, no doubt, worth your time.
Veggie Broth, Crispy Tofu, Gai Lan Recipe
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Totally Captivating Yuzu Tea
We harvested the last of this year’s yuzu fruit today. It is a neat fruit to grow in the garden because it can be used in so many different recipes and is edible when young and green all the way into the late fall when it is ripe and yellow. An extremely aromatic fruit – a basket of yuzu perfumes the whole room. And it makes an equally aromatic tea: a heady floral elixir with notes of mandarin orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.
The yuzu tea recipe is quite simple. Cut the fruit in half around the equator and remove the seeds. The seeds are large and plentiful but easy to extract. I use the skinny end of a teaspoon to pop them out. Slice the fruit into slivers. Without taking too much trouble, remove as much pith as possible. Place cut fruit in a bowl and muddle with a good amount of sugar. Once well-muddled, place the yuzu/sugar mixture in a teapot and pour in boiling (filtered) water. Steep only briefly then pour the sweet citrusy tea into mugs, along with some of the soft rinds and flesh which are edible too.
Kimchi Flatbread with Fresh Mozzarella
Gochujang Sauce, Scallion Curls, Roasted Seaweed
Looking for something out of the ordinary to top your next pizza? Try kimchi. Funky tangy cabbage kimchi pairs deliciously with creamy fresh mozzarella and gochujang, a Korean red chili paste with sweet heat and a fermented umami richness. The sauce is definitely spicy but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried Korean red peppers. The resulting global flatbread is unique and quite irresistible (for the grown-ups, that is). Crispy roasted seasoned seaweed and whimsical scallion curls add the final flourishes.
Kimchi Flatbread Recipe
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