Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Full to the Brim


     I am full in so many ways. My apartment is full of delicious foods. My oven was full, my slow cooker is full, my fridge is full. I adore this fullness. I am also full myself, I have eaten far too much. My dinner was amazing, absolutely amazing. Are you looking at it? Are you jealous? You should be. You might also be wondering where Part II of the Great Cake went, don't worry it is coming. I just thought it might get monotonous if I kept posting one cake after another (or not as suspenseful). So, we are looking at my dinner tonight instead. And drooling. At least I am.

     This dinner was a very spur of the moment thing. I happen to have a very large pork shoulder defrosting in my fridge. Well, I had taken it out of my freezer yesterday to defrost. As you have probably guessed, it did not. It was still frozen solid when I took it out of the fridge this morning. So I dumped the whole thing into a brine. By 2, the edges were a little more thawed. Exasperated, and extremely hungry, I began hacking away little pieces of it and throwing them into a bowl. And I mean little bite-sized pieces. I threw them into said bowl, covered them with Korean marinade from H-Mart, and then promptly forgot about them. (That was the Great Cake Part II's fault).

     More of the pork shoulder thawed eventually, by the way, so that a good half of it went into another dish I will be sharing sometime this week. I am not even finished cooking it yet (it needs all sorts of fixings) but I can tell you it is delicious so far. But, that's all for teasers. Let's go back to those little pieces of pork. Well, at about 6 when I was finally done with the Great Cake (Parts II and III actually - 2 layers in one day!) I started feeling the pangs of my stomach again. But, I didn't want to deal with making rice. So, I made rice cakes instead! Remember, those little Korean rice cakes I used in soup once upon a time?  They are still in my freezer. And carrots were still in my fridge. I love when I don't have to scurry around to find ingredients.

     It is surprising how easy making such beautiful dinner is. I cooked the carrots. I added the pork and cooked it. I fried up the rice lumps, and ta da! By the way, fried rice lumps are delicious. They are crunchy on the outside but still soft and chewy on the inside. I have no words to properly describe them. They are also ridiculously filling, so I had to save quite a few of mine for later. What else do I have to say? That marinade works wonders. The pork was so moist and flavorful, everything was just spicy enough, the crunch of the carrots contrasted amazingly with the glutinousness of the rice cakes, and that cilantro I had put on top just for show? Its little bright green note undercut that spiciness so it did not overpower the whole dish. I love it when that happens. And now I need to just sit back and enjoy being full, my oh my.

Korean Pork with Fried Rice Cakes

1 handful Rice Cakes (if frozen, let them thaw for a bit in a bowl of cold water) 
1 cup and 1 tbsp Water
1/2 lb Pork Shoulder, cut into Bite Sized (1'' cubed) Pieces
5 tbsp Korean Kalbi Marinade
1 1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil 
3 mid-sized Carrots, cut into small (1/2'' by 1/2'') cubes
2 tsp Cilantro, Chopped Finely

After cutting the meat into bite sized pieces, place it in a bowl and cover it with 3 tbsp of Korean Marinade. Allow it to marinate for at least half an hour.

When you are ready to cook, heat 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Once it is simmering, add the rice cakes. Allow them to cook until they are soft, and then take them out onto a plate (draining off the water) and spread them out so they can dry.

In a large saucepan at medium heat, heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add the chopped up carrots and 1 tbsp of water. Stir everything together, and cover the pot. Allow the carrots to cook for two to three minutes (if you like them really soft, cook for three or longer because the pork will not take long to cook). Then, add the pork pieces and any marinade left in their bowl. Add another 2 tbsp of marinade, and stir everything together. Making sure the pieces of pork are spread out in the pan (so each can cook), cook the pork on each side for about 2 minutes (depending on the size of your pieces). Once it is cooked through, turn off the heat.

In a separate frying pan, heat up 1/2 tbsp of oil at medium heat. Add the rice cakes, and fry them until they are crisp on their outsides (about 3 minutes each side). Make sure they are spread out, if they touch each other they will stick and form one big pile.

To serve, place the rice cakes in a bowl and top with the carrots and pork. Sprinkle the cilantro on top, and enjoy!

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