Main Dish

Whole30 Korean Spicy Chicken

I let you know why I wanted to jump on Whole30, but I didn't tell you the number one reason I chose this program: I get to eat the food I actually like. 

I don't have a sweet tooth. I'm not a fan of bread-y foods. But give me some real home cooked Korean food and I'll immediately devour every last bit of it. 

Sadly in the good ol' U.S. of A., healthy lifestyles usually don't include a lot of ethnic recipes. But then I thought "Hold the phone, I'm a food blogger, I'm Korean ( well half, but's good enough for me so deal with it), and I'm cooking Korean food during my Whole30! I should share it!"

Whole30 Korean Spicy Chicken

Whole30 Ribeye Steak with Korean Salad

When I hear someone call kimchi a salad, this is what I think of. Something fresh, lightly dressed, and can be whipped up in a few minutes. Not the beloved fermented Korean side dish that I sometimes eat like a main course.

No, this salad isn't a traditional dish, but the ingredients hit all the notes you're looking for in Korean cuisine. You also don't have to make a huge amount of dressing because a little goes a long way with the sesame oil and fish sauce. Grossed out by fish sauce? Just think of it as the anchovies in a caesar dressing: undetectably delicious. 

Whole30 Ribeye Steak with Korean Salad

Kimchi Kimbap

Kimchi kimbap is some real Korean home cooking for me. The original recipe more people are familiar with is colorful and has lot of ingredients, which means it takes a lot more time to assemble.

This version is made for a quick meal that uses the sour, delicious, umami infused kimchi that's been fermenting for a while in the fridge. I add the green onions for color, but really you could even leave that out. I also don't use a dipping sauce, which is why I flavor the rice. I know these rolls look like Japanese sushi, but there is no wasabi in sight when I make my Korean kimbap. 

Kimchi Kimbap

Korean Spicy Potato Stew

Ahhhhh. Sick season. 

I'd like to blame having to take public transportation for my most recent sickness, especially since I haven't been honestly sick in many MANY years until I started taking the bus to work, but who knows where it really comes from. 

This is Korean comfort food, reminding me of the times my momma made this when anyone was sick in the house. The amount of ginger and garlic is insane, as it should be when fighting off viruses. The spiciness is also important. Even if you're not feeling ill, eat this for preventative measures, and heck, add some kimchi on the side if you got it. I can honestly say I eat mouthfuls of kimchi out of the jar when I'm feeling just a little under the weather. Heals me every time.  

Korean Spicy Potato Stew

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Ok, this isn't really a recipe. It's more of a "let me present you with a weeknight meal idea" kind of post. Because this is something I eat regularly. When I'm hangry. I usually have ssamjang in the fridge, and always grab the lettuce and thin pork belly at the store when I'm grocery shopping so they are awaiting their time to be called for duty. 

Looking at the ssamjang post, these wraps might look familiar. I never explained the method to my go-to meal madness, so that's why I'm breaking it down here. The attraction to pork belly (known as samgyeopsal in Korean) is pretty self explanatory. And I just prefer the thinner version, which is actually cut for hot pot. But let's shine a spotlight on the red leaf lettuce. It's the perfect flexibility while still retaining that refreshing crunch. It's a completely different experience from Romaine. And remember not to toss the smaller leaves and the sweeter core. Just dip those into the ssamjang in-between making your wraps. It's totally normal to have a snack during your meal.  

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Bokkeumbap - Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is a staple in my home. With an occupancy of two and a half - the half being of the canine variety - I sometimes make too much rice. I can feel "the look" from the husband as I'm typing this ... so let's replace sometimes with always have and always will. 

We're friends, so let me give you some advice: never throw away leftover cooked rice. There's no reason. You can add it into soup, maybe mix a bunch of chimichurri with it, and most importantly, you can make bokkeumbap. 

This dish just so happens to go together beautifully with the soy sauce ginger chicken I made in the last post. And I know what you're thinking. Where the heck is the egg on top?! While I also adopt the #putaneggonit philosophy, when it comes to real home cooking, I don't always feel the need to make my dishes how they're photographed on the internet. Especially since we didn't always have a perfect sunny-side up egg served on top when I was a kiddo. I'm goin' old school. 

Bokkeumbap - Kimchi Fried Rice

Soy Sauce Ginger Chicken

I've been so grateful for the love folks are having for Korean food. In my kid years, the only association to the cuisine used to be kimchi, and a LOT of non-koreans just couldn't get past the smell. For the record, I think it's one of the best smells in the world. I'm surprised there's not a kimchi eau de parfum made yet. 

My spicy chicken recipe has been the most popular dish by far on this blog. I used to think it was because of the spice factor, but now I'm realizing everyone loves chicken ... unless you're my vegetarian husband, but you get where I'm coming from. So here's a non-spicy version for all of my friends that can't handle the heat. I'm glad we've figured out some common ground to stay friends. 

Soy Sauce Ginger Chicken

Updated Bibimbap

Whenever I say bibimbap to someone that's unfamiliar with Korean food, almost immediately they react with a series of repetitions of "bee-bee-bee", "bee-pid-ee-boo", and "bee-boo-boo". All have a question mark at the end. 

This dish is made on the regular in my home. The traditional concept is the same -  think of this as an "everything but the kitchen sink" kind of meal - but I tend to use fresher ingredients with lettuce and cucumbers. It's morphed into a bit of a rice salad I suppose. 

The vegetarian husband loves this because it's still delicious omitting any animal protein. As long as there is rice, gochujang, and an egg on top, it's bibimbap to me.

Updated Bibimbap

Korean Braised Beef

Want to impress without breaking the bank? Make this recipe. 

Traditionally, this dish doesn't really exist on the Korean menu. But these are the ingredients I use when I'm cooking the flavors I grew up with. 

The magical part of this is the results that happen when you cook anything at a low temp for a long amount of time: everything in that pot gets ridiculously tender. This is why I search for the larger, cheaper cuts of beef. This is also how you can feed a large group of people. Something I do often, having an internal urge to feed everyone I know. #lifegoals.

Korean Braised Beef

Tteokguk - Vegetarian Rice Cake Soup

Spelling Korean words with autocorrect is the best.

I'm giving this a big 'ol vegetarian label because you'll mostly see this is made with beef to enhance the broth. The soup is also usually enjoyed on Korean New Year to bring good luck and to seal the deal of being a year older. But heck, I'm one to break tradition and would like to receive my good luck any time on the calendar. 

Rice cakes ... can be weird if you're not used to it. Just like tofu, it's best eaten seasoned in a dish instead of by itself. In this soup, they soak up all the flavor and turn into fluffy clouds. 

Tteokguk - Vegetarian Rice Cake Soup

Jangjorim - Salty Beef with Quail Eggs

My cousin and I are about a year apart in age, so we were always galavanting together as young-ings. When we weren't trying to ditch her little brother, we were in the kitchen eating something delicious that one of our moms made. On top of the list of favorites for my cousin was jangjorim. 

I'm not going to lie. I didn't even know the name of this until I was an adult. We just called it "eggs and meat in soy sauce" with a big "please" after the name was said aloud, because of the addicting properties. The beef is salty and tender and quail eggs filled with the soaked up savory broth. Perfect addition to rice and sour kimchi.

Jangjorim - Salty Beef with Quail Eggs

Kalbi - Beef Short Ribs

I love me some short ribs. This is on my "last meal" menu item for sure. 

I'm going to make a bold statement and say that Korean recipes are pretty killer when it comes to marinading meat. The right salty/sweet combo and ingredients like garlic - lots of it, duh - that tenderize into perfection. 

This is simple to make, with the marinade doing most of the work for the flavor and texture. This tastes great when cooked in a pan like I did for this post, but is also amazing on the grill. Because Koreans ... we know what's up when it comes to bbq-ing. 

Kalbi - Beef Short Ribs

Baked Tofu and Broccoli with Garlic Rice

This meal does have a lot of Korean ingredients, but I wouldn't call it a traditional recipe. I wouldn't even call it fusion. It's really a staple in my home's collection of go-to recipes for a weeknight meal. It's healthier than another frozen pizza, delicious and doesn't make you feel like the Pillsbury doughboy after you eat it.

Speaking of health, I think sometimes we forget just how powerful veggies are. Like with broccoli for instance that's become so common, we overlook how good it is for you. I mean how healthy is it? Well-Being Secrets posted this article with extensive research on broccoli, showing that it's actually more unique than we think. Trust that we could all probably eat more of it, and it's a purposeful ingredient in this meal.  

Baked Tofu and Broccoli with Garlic Rice

Korean Chicken Drumsticks

Nothing gets me in the mood to be more patriotic than National Treasure. Yes, the one with Nicolas Cage. Particularly, the sequel.

But really for me, the Fourth of July is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate our independence as unique individuals in the United States. This is why I like to put some Korean flair into my food for the day, being a "halfie" and all, and share it with loved ones as we wait for the fireworks to start. More accurately, the husband will try to wake me up in time for the show, because I would have fallen asleep hours before. Why break tradition? 

Korean Chicken Drumsticks

Spicy Korean Chicken

When I was a little one, I would panic if spicy food came my way. My umma even had to rinse off my kimchi so that I could eat it. Then one day I accidentally put hot sauce on some chicken ... and I LOVED it. That drop of gold opened the door to all things full flavored and bold. Now, I'm addicted to the spicy life. To the point where I'm guilty of having to wean myself off of all things spicy sometimes, so my taste buds come back. Sriracha plus college equals addiction. Just sayin'.

This recipe brings out some of the best flavors that is great about Korean cooking: spicy, tangy, umami with a touch of sweetness. It also brings to light the power of a marinade.

This recipe brings out some of the best flavors that is great about Korean cooking: spicy, tangy, umami with a touch of sweetness. It also brings to light the power of a marinade.

Spicy Korean Chicken

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae  - Soft Tofu Stew

Jjigae. Ddukbokki. Japchae. And the more familiar, bibimbap. Music to my ears. It's not the names that make me chuckle as it does for some, but freaking out my auto correct as I'm writing this post because it thinks I can't spell a dang thing puts a smile on my face. 

I've noticed that many "halfies" like myself have lived daringly by slightly altering traditional childhood recipes. Really for me, it's about using what I normally stock in my kitchen and punching up the flavors that I love about the dish. As my momma says, "It must be a generational thing to add that much garlic to everything".

Works for me. 

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae  - Soft Tofu Stew

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

This is one of those dishes you don't need to reserve for the holidays. It's a perfect companion to the Thanksgiving table because it's a satisfying hug in a dish. But really, these flavors are perfect for any gray day - every day here in Seattle minus two weeks - so I like to make this year round. 

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

Spiced Tofu and Carrots

Sometimes I just can't. I've worked a full day retouching images in the dark. The bus was way too packed, which made an odd odor. And I forgot to eat breakfast, so I had an early lunch and now I'm starving for dinner. I think about takeout, or a burger. Or better yet! Order a pizza because I can use the app so I don't actually have to talk to someone. 

Then my stomach reminds me that I need to put that phone down and march into the kitchen, because she feels queasy every time I go down this road. After a quick argument I agree - she's always right - and look for something quick and easy. That's usually when I use lots of spices, put everything on one tray, and pop the food in the oven so there's the least amount of fuss possible. 

Spiced Tofu and Carrots

Pork Chops with Rosemary Rice

I definitely judge my food by "lit candle" worthiness. 

Spending time in the kitchen making a meal is arguably a luxury. Take the luxury even further to sit down and enjoy the meal and you've crossed into blasphemy. 

No judgement here, as I too have the spot on the couch that's carved out with the shape of my body. No matter how long you spend on a meal, we all have moments where you want to turn off your mind by allowing time spent in the rabbit hole that is YouTube. Being accompanied by homecooking is a pretty huge plus. 

But sometimes, even if I'm by myself, I will light a few candles at the dinning table while patting myself on the back with a job well done. 

Pork Chops with Rosemary Rice

Veggie Patties

Having a vegetarian husband, when I'm a meat eater, has been interesting. We've figured out how have meals together, and even though I eat less meat now, I'm able to buy higher quality steaks, when I have cavewoman cravings. 

But the biggest thing I've taken note of is the "fake meats" sold in grocery stores. In the beginning when I was trying out vegetarianism too - obviously didn't stick - we thought we were making the healthier choice if there were no animal products in the ingredients. We were wrong. So wrong. And we only found this out after we started reading the labels months latter. I never thought so many chemicals magically combined could make something taste like beef. Gross.

So here is a veggie patty that isn't supposed to mimic meat but is hearty enough to be used in a burger. 

Veggie Patties

Spaghetti with Alfredo, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Basil

I get tired of cooking even though I have a food blog. I can power through making work lunches or whipping out a meal from the empty fridge, but sometimes I hit a wall. Hard. 

Truthfully, this round lacking of motivation came from googling how many blogs exist online. For the love of Queen Bey, I'm still really not sure why I did that. I'm the first one to slap the mouse from the WebMD addict, but seeing 27 MILLION on my screen made me panic a little. 

I went into existential crisis mode - no need to worry about me, this happens a couple times a year - boiling down why anyone would want to be a tiny sardine in an unpredictable ocean. 

Writing this post means I got my bearings back. My husband requested a simple meal we usually make on a weeknight for his birthday. He's not a complicated person, which is why I think his food preference reflects that. I wanted to get back in that kitchen, but he let me know that it was also ok if we needed to order out again. 

I said a big "screw that" and off I went to the pantry. 

Spaghetti with Alfredo, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Basil

Spring Rolls with Sriracha Sauce

Last post we made a london broil. Now, I'm going to show you what I did with that juicy piece of meat. 

Spring rolls, aka fresh rolls, are one of my favorite things to eat. Next to Korean BBQ, I would label this meal as a favorite runner up. Oh and that's right: I make this into a meal. I know you normally see these as appetizers but I make these into the main course. And just like with k-bbq, I can make this into a social gathering by doubling ... ok tripling, because that's how I do ... the ingredients and adding things like chicken, tofu, avocado, bean sprouts, and noodles. Everybody wins because they can make their own roll just to their liking. 

But when I'm just making this for a few mouths or a solo meal, I'll stick to something a little more simple and pre wrap the rolls before sitting down to some quality binge watching. 

Spring Rolls with Sriracha Sauce