Tag Archives: onion

Feeling Saucy: Mole Poblano

8 Oct

Growing up in the agricultural belt of the Pacific Northwest, the sheer scope and popularity of Mexican cuisine was so pervasive that it wasn’t until I moved to New York for school that I realized there were places where people actually believed Taco Bell qualified as food, let alone ‘Mexican’ food.  As a child, I didn’t take advantage of this in the same way I might, now–I couldn’t tolerate the taste of cilantro, picked at things I couldn’t recognize, and generally stuck to beef burritos and enchiladas without fail.  Nevertheless, my mother used to faithfully order chicken mole whenever it was available, while I turned up my nose and couldn’t fathom eating any sauce so unconventional.  Years later, I found myself craving it now and then, with only hazy memories of the dish to go on, and in Korea, I’m sure you can imagine it became even harder to procure.

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Mole sauce (pronounced ‘mol-LEH’), in its native Mexico, refers to a wide range of thick, richly-flavored sauces, all of which are based upon varying blends of chili peppers thrown together with nuts and other spices.  Legend has it that mole was invented more or less by accident, when a group of poor nuns found that an important visitor would be arriving, and needed something to feed him.  Chili peppers, day-old bread, nuts, spices, and a little chocolate were sacrificed to the cause, along with an old turkey, and a quintessential fusion dish was born.  Ingredients indigenous to Mexico, such as chili pepper, tomatoes, squash seeds, and chocolate may be cooked alongside Mediterranean almonds and raisins, African sesame, and even Asian spices such as anise and cinnamon.  Despite being based on dried pepper, the sauce is not hot-spicy, but features a rich, slow depth of taste that can be disconcerting to those used to milder flavors.

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Dalkkalbi

25 May

A uniquely Korean food that I’m always a little surprised hasn’t caught on more, internationally, is 닭갈비 (dalk-kalbi).  In Seoul, dalkkalbi restaurants are everywhere. dalkkalbi001
You come in as a group, sit down around a table with a built-in hotplate, and the server brings your chicken to cook in front of you while you wait.  At heart, it’s just spicy chicken stir-fry.  External trappings may include 떡 (ddeok, or rice cake), potato, sweet potato, an assortment of vegetables, mushrooms, glass noodles, shredded cheese, or even a round of fried rice at the end.  Either way, I’ve never met a foreigner who tried it and didn’t like it.

I’ve been telling myself I was going to whip up a batch at home for months, now, but between the move, training for a new job, and general new-home issues, I didn’t find time until today.  I used an excellent recipe, which I really didn’t stray too far from.  The curry powder was kind of a surprise addition, but I tried it and it really works. Anyway, I’m exceptionally pleased with how this batch came out.  Now I’ve just got to figure out what to do with all the leftovers!

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Kumquat Salsa

3 Apr

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So I’ve been playing more with photography, lately.  The other day, I happened to pass a fruit stall on the street and saw these (okay, I’m going to be stereotypical and say adorable) little citrus fruits heaped in baskets for less than $3. I honestly wasn’t what they were, at first.  I came home and googled about my confusion, and it turned out they were in fact kumquats, which I had never seen before that I could recall.  The obvious solution? Buy some the next morning. They were tiny and adorable, okay.

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Shire Apple Stew

20 Jan

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If you haven’t seen The Hobbit yet… well. What are you waiting for?!  If you have, or have any familiarity with Tolkien’s books, you probably know that Hobbits hold the culinary arts in high regard.  This soup is a flavor blend I got the itch to experiment with a couple months ago, googled around and found a recipe for here, then had the renewed urge to try after seeing the film, but didn’t get around to making until today.  All of the ingredients, I feel, would be the sorts of things easily found in Tolkien’s Shire–I couldn’t help but glance twice at the contents of Bilbo Baggins’ pantry in the movie, after all.  Potato soup, of course, is a firm staple in the realm of comfort food (for me, at least).  This recipe, however, dresses it up and gives it a rather classy twist, perfect for entertaining a crowded table on a cold winter night.

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Out with the Old (a.k.a. getting laser eye surgery in Seoul)

4 Jan

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It’s been a really intense few months!  First there was my birthday, and some fixated attention on scale numbers that were inching closer and closer to my goal.  Then there was a sinus infection. And periodic checks to make sure the world wasn’t ending. And holiday parties, and holiday cheese platters, and holiday punch.  Then there was LASEK, and being unable to read anything smaller than font size 36 for a few days, if I could open my eyes at all.

Nevertheless, here I am, with my fancy new cyborg eyes (courtesy of Dream Eye Center in Myeongdong, here in Seoul: 02-779-7888).

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I’ve only had the protective post-surgical lenses out for a day and a half, now, so my vision is still not at 100%, but at least the pain is gone.  Let’s just say cooking was still easier than reading this post as I type it.  I’m hoping the last of the fuzziness clears up pretty soon, and I am looking forward to steadily-improving distance vision.  Even with some blurriness now, it’s better than it was pre-surgery without my glasses, and yesterday/today were supposed to be some of the worst in terms of visual clarity and my eyes arbitrarily deciding to go in and out of focus.

(Update as of March 30: My vision is now better than 20/20 and holding pretty steady!  The pain went away after the first few days, and my eyes got tired pretty easily for a week or two, but it didn’t slow me down for long. Definitely pleased with my vision now, and enjoying the freedom to not worry about glasses fogging up all the time.  I definitely recommend the procedure, if you’re on the fence about it, and the clinic I went to was very professional and well-organized, with staff and doctors who spoke great English and could answer my questions.)

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Drunken Dog-days Chicken

22 Aug

In Korea, there’s a dish that’s traditionally eaten during the three hottest “dog days” of summer.  It’s called samgyetang (삼계탕), which translates literally to ‘ginseng chicken soup’.  Lots of people swear by it, and I’ve eaten it and cooked it a few times, but never was quite sold on the taste.  However, when I found a recipe for a delicious garlic chicken stove-top dish (from SmittenKitchen), looked at the miserable, hot, rainy weather outside my window, and thought about it for a moment, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

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