Spicy

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

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

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

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

Ssamjang - Korean Dip

This funny looking word is a salty umami bomb. It's made specifically made for a Korean dish called Ssam, which is basically meat and kimchi wrapped in lettuce. Just like with most homecooking, every family makes it differently, with theirs being the best of course. Traditionally the wraps are supposed to be bite sized, which is why my favorite memory of this dish is watching my family excitedly stuff as much as possible into their lettuce bundle, and try to shove it all into their face at one time. This is probably why I can't make a small burrito or spring roll to save my life. 

This dip is simple to make, and uses every day Korean ingredients. Let's dive in.

Ssamjang - Korean Dip

Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake

When my husband decided he wanted to change to a vegetarian lifestyle, my mother was stumped. She was concerned, and still is to this day, that there woudn't be enough for him to eat at our family gatherings, or when she came over to drop off food in fear that we were starving. Then we remembered the beloved savory Korean pancake. Success! 

This pancake is not sweet in any way, and is actually great with pretty much any combo of ingredients you'd want to try, like seafood. The base of this dish is in the translation of the name: Pa (green onions) jeon (flour type batter). Mine are thicker and  fluffy - because I use club soda, sorry mom! - with a crispy edge. I usually add tons of garlic and other pungent ingredients to my food, but the sour kimchi takes care of all of that. 

Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake

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

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

Fresh Cucumber Kimchi

I'm christening this blog with Cucumber Kimchi because Korean food is important to me. It opened the gateway to exciting flavors, nourishment, and most valuable, community.

More important is my Korean Momma. Bless her heart for always making amazing meals, even when she had to feed me as soon as possible so my "hangry" meltdown would subside :) She taught me that the recipe never had to be perfect as long as you cooked from the soul.

Fresh Cucumber Kimchi