|Some of my treasures from the Super H Mart|
My friend Mary Katherine and I have bonded over our mutual disdain for talking on the phone, our admiration for the South Carolina low country and our nomadic upbringings. She is a military brat and I, just a regular brat who’s father was transferred often in the corporate world. Just as living in Brazil impacted my life in a huge way, Korea impacted hers. We both have fond memories of our adopted homelands and both crave a taste of foods that stir our senses. I have become quite adept at my “anglophied” Brazilian dishes, but up until last week had never cooked or even eaten Korean food. I am far from an expert on this type of cuisine, but with M.K.’s guidance, a little help from You Tube and a trip to the Asian market, I cooked up an amazing meal.
|Bulgogi caramelizing in the hot skillet|
|Beautiful finished bulgogi dish|
The second dish M.K. requested was japchae. Japchae is made with potato starch noodles in a soy and sesame oil sauce. The version we made was vegetarian. The noodles were very easy to find and the package even has an easy recipe on the back. Look for “oriental style vermicelli” made from sweet potato starch. The dried pasta is a light gray in color and turns the cooking liquid a very off-putting color. Don’t let this dissuade you, as the cooked noodles are cellophane clear and extremely long. Perfect for twirling and slurping. Place the cooked noodles in a bowl and drizzle with a generous amount of sesame oil and soy sauce. Toss to coat and set aside while you cook your vegetables. I used spinach, carrots, yellow onion, scallions and mushroom for my japchae. I love the versatility of this dish, as you can add as many or as few veggies as you would like, according to your guests tastes. Make sure to sauté each vegetable separately before adding to the bowl of cooked noodles. Toss the noodles and veggies together and add more soy sauce and sesame oil if desired. Sesame oil is one of my favorite things and adds such a unique taste to this noodle dish.
|For some added Korean authenticity, I purchased kimchi and pork dumplings from the market|
Now for the rice. I like to pride myself as a expert rice maker. The rice I grew making is a long grain, pilaf style, loaded with onions and garlic. This meal however, called for a medium grained, no flavor added, steamed sticky rice. This task was accomplished in the amazing rice cooker that M.K. purchased from the Asian market. The forty dollar rice cooker produced some of the tastiest and most fragrant rice I have ever eaten. I have put a moratorium on buying any more kitchen gadgets, but may have to make an exception for a new rice cooker.
|The rice cooker that facilitates making perfect asian-style rice|
|We used a medium grain white rice. Amazing how something so simple can be so flavorful|
|For the over-21 crowd only! Soju “kettle”|
To finish off our Korean feast, we scarfed down some choco pies. Similar to the southern moon-pie, this fluffy little treat, was a cherished memory from my friend’s childhood.
|It’s not quite on par with a Moon-Pie, but is pretty tasty after a few swigs from the “kettle”|
We are fortunate to have so many diverse cultures in the Atlanta area, and the markets that accompany these populations. No matter what ethnicity, your food memories revolve around, you are certain to find a taste of what you are looking for in one of the markets. My favorites are The Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, Super H Mart and Cherians International Groceries.