Pan-fried 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.

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!

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy – Siena

One of the most wonderful surprises during our trip was the medieval village of Siena in Tuscany. It’s easy to imagine princes and princesses, dukes and dragons, and all manner of swords and sorcery while walking the narrow cobblestone streets of this town.

It’s also easy to gawk at the tempting nibbles of salami, formaggio, and gelato along your stroll.

So much of the town seemed untouched in the rainy drizzle of the November morning when we arrived. We made our way slowly toward the famous Piazza del Campo that when entering felt much like emerging out of a dense jungle into a wide ocean. It was thrilling to imagine the bartering and marketplace activity that must have happened here day in and day out in medieval times.

I must mention that this famous tower is called “The Eater’s Tower” due to its first guardian being known to spend all his money on food. Was this a prophetic sign for things to come?

But nothing could have prepared us for the Duomo in Siena and its adjoining cathedral. Towering above all the orange brick buildings of Siena are the dramatic black and white marble towers of this incredible gothic cathedral. It appears adorned on every corner of its outer facade with elaborate carvings of medieval creatures and intricate designs. And within its walls, every inch is crafted with purpose and care – a testament to the time, sacrifice and devotion its artists had for this structure. We were extremely lucky as well to have viewed the legendary marble-etched floor inside which was uncovered in its entirety (only 6 weeks out of year)!

I also must mention the Piccolomini Library that felt alive when I walked into it. Its wonderfully preserved Renaissance frescoes teeming with gold inlay and brightly colored detail, as well as, an amazing collection of medieval choir books took me back in time to something akin to a historical fairytale.

As we left the cathedral, we walked as if in a waking dream and only snapped back into reality when our stomachs started growling and we absolutely had to find the perfect dining experience to go along with our new found love for Siena.

And we found it – Antica Osteria Da Divo.

Da Divo is housed in ancient Etruscan rooms cut out of the ‘tufa’, the soft volcanic rock on which Siena is built. Cozily lit and surrounded by exposed ancient rock walls, we settled into our table and couldn’t believe our luck in not only finding the place but squeaking in with a last-minute reservation.

We had an array of rustic yet elegant Tuscan dishes that ranged from crispy breaded anchovy fillets pungent with extra virgin olive oil, famous Florentine-style T-bone steak carved table side, Senelese style pasta – thick and chewy – in a rich robust wild boar ragu flavored with whole juniper berries, and an indulgent porcini mushroom risotto finished table side in a Tuscan pecorino cheese wheel. Unbelievable.

We finished off our many courses with plenty of Chianti Classico and homemade Italian cookies with espresso. Oh, and there was a chocolate lava cake – more chocolaty than sickly sweet – that just happened to appear on our table.

Needless to say we were seriously delirious and pretty slap-happy when we finally stood up after the hours of warm-cozy-delicious-sumptuous-all-day-sight(eat)seeing in Siena.

The cold drizzle outside was a welcome embrace when we walked outside. Again we were immediately transported back in time except now the village looked excitingly dangerous in the dark.

Somehow we found our way back to our car and sadly bid farewell to Siena.

We vowed to return one day.

But now, it was time to head to Florence.

p.s. Don’t forget to check Food Pix for more photos from Siena!

New Food Pix! Dim Sum Yum

New gallery of luscious dim sum from Shui Wah in Chinatown Chicago!

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On the menu:
Cha Sui – Chinese BBQ pork
Char Sui Bao – BBQ pork bun
Yeung Qi Dze – Shrimp stuffed eggplant
San Juk Guen – Vegetable stuffed bean curd roll
Fung Tsow – Steamed chicken feet
Gow Gee – Pan-fried pork potstickers
Shao Mai – Pork and shrimp dumpling
Law Bok Gow – Pan-fried turnip cake
Har Gow – Shrimp dumpling

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Shui Wah Chinese Cuisine
2162 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 225-8811