Peanut Butter & Squid

Ah, the classic peanut butter and dried squid snack. Where’s the Smucker’s grape jelly, you ask? Wonder Bread? BORING. What that classic combination really needs is a salty, briny, tough and stringy piece of jerky a la squid.

I can almost guarantee that in a Korean living room, bar, or “cafe,” where there is drinking of soju or beer (Hite or OB usually); then somewhere on that same table, there will be an unkempt scattering of fibers from strips of ojingo (dried squid) and peanuts (shelled or un-shelled) being eaten together. This is one of the most popular anju or snacks to eat while drinking for Koreans.

This combination is classic. There are even packaged snacks that deliver the strange combination in one cute little bite-size package.

I admit that peanut butter isn’t necessarily traditional. Typically, you’ll see whole peanuts being eaten with ojingo; some people like my Dad tear the ojingo into a thin strip, wrap it around a whole peanut, and then pop it all in their mouth at once. Others roast up the ojingo over a flame which softens it and intensifies the fishy flavor (don’t try this at home unless you’re an expert Korean person like my Mom. Seriously, it stinks up the whole house and the ojingo pieces usually catch on fire). And still others, especially children, like to take a strip and gnaw and suck on it until it literally looks like a wet ragged piece of cheesecloth at the end of an alien-like creature.

What’s nice about peanut butter is that you most likely have a half full jar in your fridge somewhere. It’s easy to dip into with a hard strip of ojingo. And what you lose in texture with peanut butter, you gain in indulgent sweetness.

Of course, don’t expect to be able to spread that peanut butter on much else, unless you like squid flavor on your sandwiches. And if you’re overzealous with your dipping, expect those skinny jeans to feel a little tighter.

Either way – whole or spoonable, dried or roasted – this combo is oddly wonderful.

Ketchup & Rice

“EWWWW!,” I exclaimed with my best blech face. Sarah, my childhood neighbor (and one of the very few Korean girls in New Castle, PA), proceeded to pour Heinz ketchup all over her beautifully steamed bowl of sticky white Kokuho Rose rice. What was she thinking? Sure, pile on the stinky fermented cabbage, pickled burdock root, dried and fried anchovies, and Spam, but ketchup? That was just wrong.

Right?

Actually, it wasn’t until years later as a twenty-something when I traveled to Tokyo and discovered omu-rice, did I realize why Sarah didn’t flinch despite my outburst, as she ate that bowl of ketchup-y rice. The sweet and tangy western ingredient worked in the strange omu-omelette “paper”-wrapped dome of fried rice. It’s like when you spoon up a perfect mix of buttery hash browns, soft scrambled egg, and ketchup from an IHOP breakfast platter at 3 am (after you’ve been drinking).

I do confess, though, that I never really took to the cold Heinz on hot rice method. And I frankly get a little tired of the flavor about halfway through my omu-rice. Maybe it’s the Korean in me, but I find myself wanting to incorporate a pickle note or spicy kick.

This recipe is still easy and comforting, but brightens up the palate with fresh herb, heat, and texture.

Kicky Omu-rice
Adapted from the recipe by No Recipes

Fried Rice
1 chicken thigh, cut into 1″ pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 cups cooked rice
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1/4 cup napa cabbage, chopped

Egg Blanket
2 eggs
salt
1 tbsp oil

Beat eggs – add a pinch of salt and pepper – and set aside.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the chicken. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Mix in the cabbage and cook until slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Add the rice, ketchup and gochujang. Mix thoroughly.

Fill two deep bowls, about halfway, each with a mound of the rice. Set aside.

Heat same pan to medium, add a tbsp of oil and then the beaten eggs. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the eggs over each other, until the majority of the eggs set and look like fluffy but shiny (moist) yellow clouds (about 3 minutes).

Blanket each mound of rice with the eggs. Garnish each top with chopped cilantro.

EDD is back! New series: Strange Things I Ate As a Kid…and Still Love

Rune is now 14 months old and thriving (knock on wood). Since he’s been able to eat solids, I’ve been trying my best to prepare nutritious homemade food for him from a diverse range of cultures: Korean, Mediterranean, Italian, Vietnamese, American, etc., in order to, expose him to a rich variety of flavors.

Food allergies we’ve discovered along the way (which seem to be on the rise around the nation) have also surfaced, making developing my own recipes for gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, and nut/legume-free recipes a challenge, but also an inspiration that gets me cooking all the time. This will be the topic of another series once I’ve nailed down the recipes. But Rune has inspired me in a different way for this series.

Having a child will definitely get you thinking about all the things YOU ate as a kid.

And when I think back on my childhood, I ate some pretty strange things. Growing up in a Korean-American household in a small town in Pennsylvania can give rise to some odd but wonderful combinations, and memories. I want to explore and revisit all of those strange foods, but also try to reinvent them in some way.

I also want to hear about all the weird things you ate as a kid too! Did you like peanut butter on your hot dog? Or how about ketchup on rice? What’s was the guilty pleasure you ate as a kid that made your little sister grimace in disgust?

To quote Andrew Zimmern: “Eat gross stuff because it will make you a better person.” OK, I just made that up. But you get the idea.

29

01 2015

There and Back Again…

I’m finally able to get back to my beloved blog after a long stint away having this little cupcake!

Rune Suro Trais was born on December 2, 2013 and he was two years in the coming, so we are all absolutely head over heels in love. Although he’s only enjoying a liquid diet right now, I dream of all the first’s to come for him. His first taste of kimchee! His first sniff of tikka masala. His first taste of vanilla Haagen Dazs.

Jordan and I don’t have a picky gene in our bodies when it comes to food, so hopefully Rune will tackle everything we serve him with gusto.

Looking forward to reviving EDD with more eating delights to come!

10

02 2014