Artisanal soy sauce

I’ve been tasting several soy sauces lately.  The difference between grocery store bought balsamic vinegar or olive oil compared to artisanal ones are enormous, so enormous that this would be for another day, another long post.  I don’t remember what my mom used when she was in Korea other than the fact that she had several different types of soy sauce, but ever since we moved to the States, she’s been using Yamasa instead of more accessible Kikkoman.  A couple of Japanese restaurants I worked at during my poor years preferred Kikkoman over Yamasa for some unknown reason…

Yamasa, the other standard

Yamasa, the other standard

The standard.  Kind of.

Kikkoman, the actual standard

…because these two are pretty damn similar.  Very salty.  Low sodium ones always suck a little more than regular ones.  This cannot possibly be the only options, right?  I mean, this is like choosing Bertoli versus Colavita.  There are subtle differences, yes, but really?  No.  I tasted some more:

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How to cook rice without a rice cooker

My rice cooker is broken.  I don’t want to talk about the details of how it came to be so broken because it was just stupid.  But here is the sad state of my rice cooker:

broken top

broken top


the hinge is messed up

the hinge is messed up


so it doesn't close anymore

so it doesn't close anymore


unless I put a big book on top

unless I put a big book on top

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Mom’s Korean BBQ Marinade

restaurant version
attack of chopsticks: restaurant version

You’ve probably had Korean BBQ ribs like the ones above at a restaurant before with your friends, right?  If not, you are missing out and you should immediately gather some friends and go.  If you already have, it should be nice to know that the dish is very easy to make at home.

Kalbi was the first proper Korean dish I made.  It’s super easy to make, super easy to play around and change it around to make your own, super easy to incorporate into another dish.  Kalbi and soju (cheap Korean liquor) makes for good times, guys.  Even for some eclectic, awkward mix of people like these:

cheers!

cheers!

I’ve seen many variations on this but the below is the easiest and easily the best (it’s my mom’s recipe).

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Eating Alone by Li-Young Lee

I’ve pulled the last of the year’s young onions.
The garden is bare now.  The ground is cold,
brown and old.  What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
eye.  I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears.  I can’t recall
our words.  We may have strolled in silence.  But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear.  In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees.  I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done.  Sweet green peas
fried in onions.  Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic.  And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.

Persimmons

Persimmons have always been a staple autumn and winter fruit for me. There are two kinds, a more opaque colored one with a shape of mochi and a flat bottom and  a more translucent, deeper colored one with long oval shape and pointed bottom.  New York Times and other blogs are calling them by their Japanese names, the first Fuyu and the second Hachiya.  I know them as the one my mother loved, more readily available and therefore cheaper, referred to as regular persimmons; the other one my mother never purchased for me, the one we called yeon shi, meaning the soft persimmon.  She purchased it only one at a time, reserved for the baby cousin visiting us for Korean Thanksgiving.

NY Times picture of Fuyu persimmon

NY Times picture of Fuyu persimmon

Tea and Cookies blog picture of Hachiya

Tea and Cookies blog picture of Hachiya

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The Clean Plater by Ogden Nash

Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Food,
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.

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Garum Colatura

If you like anchovies but you don’t want to actually deal with it, use garum colatura.  Here is the image I took from Zingerman’s website:

garum-colatura1

And, here is the New York Times article on garum colatura.  Melissa Clark called it “a translucent amber liquid that is the very essence of anchovy.”  Now who can resist that?  (Actually a lot of people.  I know a few who won’t eat anything anchovy.  I’m just talking to people who like anchovies.  Well, anyone who enjoys briny seafood should give it a try anyway, you may like it.)

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