Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vegan Korean

Hello All!

My post title is not a declaration of my dietary and ethnic stance but the topic of food discussion today.
The truth is a lot of vegan options come from Asian cuisine, especially because traditionally, soy is heavily consumed especially in SouthEastern Asian countries.  Miso (Japanese)/Dwen-Jang (Korean), a fermented soy bean paste most commonly used in soups and/or as a seasoning, are from the soy bean and are used in every day cuisines.  In China alone there are at least 6 different types of bean pastes!
Aside from this, there is tofu, tempeh and soy sauce to name a few.  Being one of the very few complete proteins to grow in the fields and not come from a butcher's block, soy is a wonderful source of meeting your protein needs.
Aside from soy, the variety in Asian cuisine makes vegan cooking fun!  Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese (not to generalize the great varieties of cuisine in the different provinces alone in this great nation), Japanese, Korean, Fillipino, etc. all lend interesting takes on a lifestyle that can easily be misunderstood as eating, "rabbit food".
The other great thing about Asian cuisine is that because so much of their food is based around rice, it is gluten free, although sometimes depending on the dish (and more recently with western technologies) foods can contain wheat.  So please check packaging for ingredients!
So~ what did I make this week?  Korean Food!  I have been craving rice cakes like crazy.  Sweet and savory/spicy (which is a Korean must), so the following recipes are for a basic Sweet Rice Cake (it's originally called Baek Sul Ki), with options for tasty modifications, and the ever popular Korean staple, Dduk Bbok Ki (spicy rice cakes).
Some of the ingredients may be purchased at Korean or Asian specialty food stores.  Make sure if you have a wheat allergy that you specifically read the ingredients to make sure you get rice cakes for the spicy dish without wheat!  The same goes for Miso, as some contain grains other than rice.

Sweet Rice Cake (Baek Sul Ki)
adapted from Dr. Ben's recipe
Utensils needed:
pot with a steamer insert and lid OR
pot with a fan steamer, and the rim frame from a springform pan and lid
2 sheets of thick paper towels (bounty really is the best)
1 large bowl
1 medium bowl
wooden spoon OR mixing spoon
dish cloth/tea towel

1 lb of frozen rice flour (not the sweet rice kind), thawed for 30 min. - 1hr.
2 Tbsp of sweet rice flour
1-2 Tbsp of raw sugar (or any other sweetener you like)
2 Tbsp-1/4 c water

1/3 c of reconstituted and cooked black beans
*tip: boil dry beans for 30 min. and they should be fully reconstituted and cooked through
1/4 c each of golden and Thompson raisins (or any other dark raisin)
1/2-1 c of fully cooked chestnuts
(I use cooked chestnuts vacuum packaged in simple syrup, but you can buy peeled chestnuts and steam them yourself)

also try: adzuki beans/paste and korean jujubes julienned.

1. prepare the pot, filling with enough water to not reach the bottom of the steamer when boiling (you may have to refill the water in the pot if necessary).  line the steamer with paper towels (if you are using the makeshift steaming basket, here's how to do it:
open fan steamer, place the springform frame on it.  line with paper towels.  if you happen to have a fan steamer with a handle in the middle, just work around it.)
2.  mix the rice flours and sugars together in a medium bowl (if you're planning on using a liquid sweetener, mix it in with the water until dissolved).  slowly drizzle in water and mix through.  ditch the spoon and begin rubbing the clumpy flour together, ensuring that the moisture reaches all the flour.
3.  sift the clumpy flour through a sifter.  TURN ON STOVE.  make sure the water is a gentle rolling boil, or enough to create steam inside the pot, about Med, Med/Low.  Keep lid on pot until everything's ready.
4.  mix in whatever you want to add, then evenly distribute into steamer.  DON'T PRESS THE RICE CAKE DOWN.  I found that when I did that, it didn't cook through.  you can lightly pat the surface, just to even things out, but don't compact it like sand.
5.  place steamer in pot, cover with towel, then lid, and let it steam for 40-45 min.  I like to tuck the tea towel up over the lid and place a weight on the lid.
6.  Turn off stove, then remove steamer, and onto a plate, turn out the rice cake.  remove paper towels and enjoy!  :)

Dduk Bbok Ki
adapted from Maangchi

1 large carrot, sliced thinly into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 green onions, cut into 3-4 in. lengths
1/4 of a small cabbage, cored and sliced into thin shreds
1/3-1/2+ c red pepper paste (to taste)
2 Tbsp miso (make sure it's gluten free if you're allergic)
8 inch sheet of dried kelp
1 pkg of rice cakes for Dduk Bbok Ki (about 2-3 lbs)
4 c water

1.  In a good sized pot, pour water in with kelp.  Bring to a simmer, and let simmer for about 15 min.  This is creating the seafood-y stock flavor.  When the water is a gentle, clear green, put the miso in, and crank stove to HI.
2.  Put the veggies in, and the red pepper paste.  When boiling, put rice cakes in, and let it stew for 15-30 min.  The longer it stews, the more the starch from the cakes thickens the sauce and the flavor gets absorbed into the cakes.  This is what you want!  If you want better rice cakes, make this ahead of time and just reheat a day later.  It is delicious!

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