Hot Sauce Category

There’s no place like a [Korean] home…

Just when I’m getting cabin fever and feeling homesick, my photo archive reveals a treasure trove of pictures from a visit back home to Pennsylvania where my parents still live. I know it’s trite to say, but memories do indeed fuel the wonder only dishes from home can bring to the soul; especially when you come from a Korean family that loves to eat!

First let’s talk about what to me is the quintessential Korean dish (besides kimchee, of course), bibimbap. Bibimbap literally translates to “mixed rice.” It’s become so mainstream, you find it on the menu in the most unlikely of places. Even just today I discovered that Chicago’s famous gastropub The Publican’s Sunday brunch menu features a pork belly bibimbap!

Bibimbap works for so many reasons, not least of which is that when it’s made at home it takes no prep whatsoever. It originated from literally taking whatever leftover rice and banchan you had (traditional small dishes to eat with rice), throwing it all in a big bowl, adding lots of gochujang (bright red, sweet and spicy fermented chili and soybean paste) and a sunny side up egg (if you had it), and mixing and incorporating everything together until your arm hurt. Then the fam would each grab a spoon (somehow it seems to taste better with a long stem metal Korean spoon), and communally dig in! Even clean up is easy!

And just as layers of flavor permeate bibimbap, so does this dish speak to the rich agricultural history and resourcefulness intrinsic not only to making Korean food, but also eating it. At its core, it’s a no frills, hearty kind of eating spiced up with fire from plenty of hot chiles.

These photos were taken from Christmas 2011. We had a bunch of tasty banchan from my Mom and during a visit to my aunt’s house, a bibim party ensued with gusto! It’s always a special treat when my Dad decides to be the “Bimbim Master,” as we kids like to call him.

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This is the kind of spread waiting for me when I visit home. Gawd. Moms should be recognized as the ninth wonders of the world. All of this was made from scratch, yo.

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We also had some other memorable dishes from the visit including homemade Duk Mandoo Guk (beef soup with beef dumplings and rice cakes) and Guksu jongol (spicy casserole with noodles). Had to throw these in too because they are absolute pure comfort food for any Korean!

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Pure comfort indeed.

Meals from the Pantry: Sunday Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

One pot meals that get better over time are all the rage in our house lately. I’ve gotten in the habit of leisurely cooking a bit pot o’ something in my trusty Le Creuset dutch oven on Sundays, and it’s made dinners during the week (and lunches for the hubby) so convenient and stress-free.

Here’s a recipe I adapted from the iconic Uglesich’s Restaurant Cookbook for a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Their version takes two days, so I created my own version that still delivers the lusciousness and comfort of a traditional gumbo, while staying user- and pantry-friendly. If you want to kick it up for an occasion, use rabbit instead of chicken!

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Sunday Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Adapted from The Uglesich’s Restaurant Cookbook

Ingredients
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup flour
1 medium white onion
2 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (white part mostly)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp of parsley, chopped
1 dry bay leaf
3/4 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp dry marjoram
1/2 tsp dry basil
2 tbsp file powder
1 tbsp cayenne
1 tbsp Cajun spice powder (no salt version)
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cartons (32 oz each) low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced into about 1/2″ thick pieces
1/2 lb (half pkg) Hilshire Farm beef smoked sausage, sliced into about 1/2″ thick pieces
2 lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt
Black pepper
Hot sauce

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The hardest part of this gumbo is the prep. And the hardest part about the prep is poaching the chicken. And the hardest part of poaching chicken is being patient and trusting it’s getting cooked in the pot even though the water is barely simmering!

Poached Chicken
Recipe adapted from About.com

Ingredients
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
4-5 cups water
1 bay leaf
5 whole black peppercorns
Pinch of salt

Cut each chicken breast in half so they are all about the same size. Place chicken breasts snugly in ideally one layer in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot. If you have some pieces on a second layer, I wouldn’t sweat it but just try to layer evenly. Cover chicken with water (make sure all is covered). Add bay leaf, salt, and whole black peppercorns. Stir water just to stop the herbs from floating.

Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low so that the water is barely at a simmer. Partly covered, simmer for 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat completely, and allow chicken to remain in hot water for 15-20 minutes.

Remove chicken to a bowl until it is lukewarm. Shred the chicken and set aside.

This can be prepared a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate over night.

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Now that you’ve got your chicken done, it’s time to gumbo! I highly recommend that you prep and assemble all the ingredients in a mise en place fashion so that you don’t get bogged down in chopping here and measuring there. Especially for something like a gumbo where a lot goes into a pot, not having to worry about prep while you’re cooking allows you to really focus on the flavor and seasoning which is where it’s all at anyway!

In a large pot or dutch oven, add the oil and set on medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add the flour. Try to sprinkle it evenly over the oil. You’re about to make a roux which is as traditional as traditional gets in Creole Cajun cooking! By using a whisk or a wooden spoon (I like to use both based on how things are progressing), stir the flour into the oil for about 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll see a lovely transformation take place where the flour and oil mixture transforms into a creamy base the color of peanut butter.

Add the onions, celery, green pepper, scallions, garlic and parsley. Saute until veggies soften and are mixed well with the roux.

Add the thyme, basil, bay leaf, cayenne, and about a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper. Stir into veggie and roux mixture, then pour in can of crushed tomatoes.

Again continue to incorporate all ingredients well, then add the chicken broth.

Give everything a good stir and then add the shredded chicken, andouille, smoked sausage, file powder, Cajun spice powder, and some healthy dashes of both the Worcestershire sauce, and your favorite Louisiana pepper sauce or Cajun hot sauce.

Jordan being a hot sauce fanatic ensures we always have a good variety, but use what you like and how spicy you make it is up to you!

Bring the gumbo up to a boil, then turn down the heat until you have a gentle simmer.

Simmer on low partially covered for 2 to 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper and cayenne and/or hot sauce (as desired).

Serve over cooked rice.

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This is definitely one of those dishes that gets better and better the longer it sits, but you’re going to want to treat yourself to a least a little bowl! Don’t forget you can garnish with a little chopped scallion on top too, and maybe a couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

Woo-eee!

Spring in NOLA: Swamps, Shells, and a Dream Come True

We started bright and early the next day and went on the Honey Island Swamp Tour. It was like we were in some untouched fantasy land full of creatures, strange plants, and adventure! These guys do a great job by the way and I highly recommend them for a small group tour.

The Original Honey Island Swamp Tour

Afterwards what better to fill our swamp bellies but with some incredibly addictive Johnny’s Po Boys. Despite how famous and touristy this place is, it’s still legit eats! Soft-shell crab for me, oyster for Jordan, and a side of their sweet jambalaya to share!

Soft-shell Crab Po’ Boy

Fried Oyster Po’ Boy

Sweet Jambalaya

The only thing more killer than these po’ boys was the mega-nap Jordan and I took after…zzz…the….zzzzzz…

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One word: Middendorf’s! Waaaay back when Jordan and I started dating, one of our first conversations about food was about his days as a child in Mississippi. He spoke with such passion and affection for a place in Manshac, Louisiana that he and his family would go to on special occasions. It lies on the isthmus between Lake Maurepas and Lake Ponchatrain, and he’d spin yarns about sucking crawfish heads and tails over cajun spice-soaked newspaper table cloths. He’d also talk of the fried platters with such gusto that the memory became a food goal for me. And guess what, check off one ticker box for this girl!

“We’re with you through Thick and Thin!” – Middendorf’s

All manner of crustacean in this gumbo!

Fresh big boiled critters!

Middendorf’s Special Fried Thin Catfish

Old School Deviled Crab

Shrimp and Catfish

This was a dream come true, and Middendorf’s remains a living legend.

If you ever get to New Orleans and want a quick fun road trip around local parts, Middendorf’s is truly worth it!

Trust me on this! Git! Git!

Spring in NOLA: K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

As food pictures and travel logs keep piling up so fast in my crazy life, I’ve decided to let my pictures do more of the talking for me, especially since eating is most of what we did in NOLA anyway! Hee hee! Enjoy!

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K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen – Legendary Chef Paul Prudhomme’s famous restaurant on Chartres Street. Classic and authentic New Orleans’ flavor, spice, and soul.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Caper Dill Remoulade
Never had this version with a creamy Shrimp saute but it made the dish luxurious.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Classically comforting – a milder version.

Crawfish Etouffée
Doesn’t get any more authentic than this. Deep layers of slow-cooked flavor in a buttery peppery brown sauce. Super fresh crawfish tails shrewn throughout. My first true taste of a NOLA classic.

Blackened Twin Beef Tenders with Debris
It takes two days to make Chef Paul’s famous and secret Debris sauce. So of course, I had to try it and I’m glad I did. It elevated what is not my preferred cut of meat to a sophisticated savory height. I highly recommend lapping up all remaining sauce with some warm cornbread.

Although we sadly had to pass up dessert given we’d licked each of our plates clean through dinner, what better treat than making some new friends!