Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Little Spice

     There are some memories of middle school and high school that do not fade. For me, a lot of those memories are of food (obviously), especially of the Asian foods I discovered at my friends' houses. To this day, I love going to see my Korean friend HJY and helping her put together some Korean stew - with rice cakes or fish cakes or mixed seafood or whatever she has around. No matter what she has on hand, whatever we make is always delicious and always such a refreshing change from the Indian food of every day.

     Korean food has also been on my mind because I went to H-Mart. Do you know H-Mart? It is a lovely lovely lovely Korean grocery store, I know there is one in Philly and the one around here is in Burlington (yes, you should go). It has a bakery with lovely buns (like one with a blueberry filling that tastes like blueberry gogurt in the best possible way, if you don't believe me ask my brother) and a section full of delicious Korean side dishes and appetizers (pan-fried whiting that tastes like spicy sticky candy? don't knock it till you've tried it) and a lot of samples! Samples are just the best.

     So, what did I (i.e. my parents) buy from H-Mart? Fish cakes. Tofu. Sriracha. Soy sauce. All the things you need to make a good spicy stew. So, that is just what I did. Last night, I made dinner for my brother and I, and it was good. Actually, it was far far far too spicy - I suffered through it, huffing and puffing, but I sweetened my brother's version quite a bit (honey always saves the day). So, I'm going to give you a modified recipe, one which makes just a little more sense for the ordinary person. Don't worry, it will not be bland.

     I just realized, saying I "suffered through it" makes it sound bad. Let me correct that notion, I would not eat anything half that spicy unless it tasted very very good. I love fish cake, you should try it if you have never had it. The kind I got is very thin, and I sliced it into strips. Once you cook it in liquid, it puffs up and is so soft and soaks up all the flavors around it. Try it! The fish cake, tofu, and udon really soaked up the sweet and tangy flavors of the soup without becoming too spicy, and I just couldn't stop slurping them up even with my lips and tongue on fire. I want more.

Korean Stew with Fish Cake 

3 pieces Fish Cake, sliced lengthwise into 1 inch strips  
1/2 box Tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes  
1/2 cup Shredded Carrots 
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil 
1 Mid-Sized Onion, Minced 

1 tbsp Soy Sauce 
1 tbsp Fish Sauce 

1 1/2 tbsp Sriracha 
3 cups Water 

In a large saucepan or wok, heat up the vegetable oil at medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them until they are translucent. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce and sriracha, and stir everything together. Then, add all the water and the fish cakes. Allow the fish cakes to puff up a little, then add the tofu and the carrots. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the fish cakes are much more puffed up and soft and the tofu is soft as well. It is now ready to serve. I served it with a packet of frozen udon noodles I just cooked in the microwave, you could also serve it over rice.


If you want things much less spicy, add just half a tablespoon of sriracha and you can always add more when you serve it into bowls! 

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