Tag: spicy

Bok Choy Kimchi

Kimchee, the perennial dish of Korea, is not difficult to make. This recipe is evidence that anybody — even I — could make kimchee. Bok choy kimchee in particular is a very simple affair.

4-5 bunches of baby bok choy
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons red chili powder (give or take a few)
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground sesame seeds (a.k.a sesame salt)
1 chopped scallion

That’s it! These are the only ingredients you’ll need. Truly.

First, wash your bok choy thoroughly. I like to give it a rinse three to four times.

Separate each leaf from the bottom stalk part. As you peel away the leaves, you will reach the heart of the bok choy, which looks like the baby of the baby bok choy — this is my favorite part of bok choy. I try not to peel beyond this part because the heart is oh-so-tasty and tender. “Love me tender, love me sweet!”

Shake out as much water as you can from the pile of washed choy. With each layer of bok choy, sprinkle a thin smattering of kosher salt, or any salt that is not iodized. I used sea salt from Costco.

Cover and let the salt lightly pickle the bok choy for a few hours. This batch pickled for about eight hours. You know it’s ready when the greens have wilted and shrunken in size. When it’s ready, squeeze out all the water from the bok choy. The salt will extract some of the bok choy’s juices.

Once squeezed, add your spices and sesame seed oil. Add your chopped scallions, which I actually forgot to do — haha oops! Using your hands, toss the whole thing together. And voila. Bok choy kimchee. Over time it will ferment and become sour like a proper pickled dish should. The best stage, in my opinion, is during the first two days when the choy is still crisp and sweet.


Tonight, I had a pretty intense jjambbong moment. I only had an egg and some melon earlier in the day so by the time I had my lunch break at 7 pm, I had a raging hunger for something freaking good. And I knew exactly what I wanted. THIS!

Jjambong is one of favorite things to order at Korean-style Chinese restaurants. It’s actually a close tie between that and “jja-jang myun,” a delightful heap of noodles served with black bean sauce. Whether to order jjambbong or jja-jang myun is a dilemma nearly every time I go to the restaurants that serve them but tonight, it was a no brainer.

I don’t really know what jjambbong translates as but it’s a word to describe a bunch of ingredients mixed together, which is what this dish entails. The noodles swim in a really spicy, broth along with sliced vegetables, pork and various seafood — usually shrimp, squid and what have you. This one had a mussel in it, which I so joyously discovered mid-way of eating or rather, inhaling it.

I am proud to report that I finished the entire bowl. This was an accomplishment for me, since I usually only order a half-size bowl. All I could think of when I finished was HALLELUJAH!

By the way, for you San Diego folks, I finally found a place where you can order this: San Tong Palace on Convoy. Not the absolute best place for Korean-style Chinese, but it wasn’t too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

Hot Cold Noodles

bibim naengmyun

One of my favorite foods of all time is noodles. Anything involving noodles or a noodle likeness (like spaghetti) is immensely satisfying to me, so I dedicate this post to a noodle dish that I have recently taken much interest to, even though I grew up eating it. Pictured above is a bowl of bibim naengmyun from Hamhung Myun Oak in Garden Grove. My family and I have been going to this somewhat of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant ever since I was a kid and it never seems to fail, especially in the bibim naengmyun department. To continue, I will define what these words mean.

Bibim – “mixed around.” Some of you will find this word familiar, as it appears in  “bibimbap,” the Korean DIY dish that features sticky rice mixed with vegetables, beef, an egg, sesame seed oil and red chili paste.

Naengmyun – “cold noodles.” Mul naengmyun, the most popular naengmyun dish, is buckwheat noodles immersed in an icy cold beef broth and served with sliced cucumbers, a hard-boiled egg and maybe a few slices of pear. Key components of quality naengmyun are ultra chewy, vermicelli-like noodles and a well seasoned, unforgettable broth. Naengmyun is a specialty from the northern regions of Korea of what is now North Korea. If you want truly good naengmyun, you’d have to go to North Korea. Too bad none of us can go there.

Thus, bibim naengmyun is cold noodles mixed in a richly seasoned chili sauce. It’s very, very spicy and full of strong flavors. The deep red color of the dish suggests how damn spicy it is. Doesn’t it look exciting? The sauce has what I like to call the three S’s — spicy, salty and sweet, all at the same time. The one shown above was served with pickled pear and skate, sliced cold beef, the aforementioned buckwheat noodles and of course, the signature hot chili sauce. Both hot and cold, spicy and refreshing, it occurred to me just how deliciously paradoxical this dish is.

Years and years ago, I remember reading an article about a Korean eating custom that explained the logic behind eating impossibly spicy foods on the hottest of days. Upon finishing a bowl of hot noodles or soup (a challenging ordeal in itself), dealing with the sweltering environment suddenly becomes bearable. I confirmed this with my dad, who said the saying goes something like “fight hot with hot, cold with cold.”

And so, some Korean diners eat naengmyun in the wintertime, while in the summertime, hot foods are eaten to combat the heat. Bibim naengmyun incorporates both aspects. You get the refreshing qualities of cool noodles complimented with an invigorating, spicy kick. Though it may not immediately be appealing to those unaccustomed to the dish, it’s a marvelous combination. If you’re ever at a Korean restaurant, look for this dish and if you’re brave enough, go for it.