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It's a great year for winter radishes. They are still coming up in the intermittent warmth, so go ahead and plant some daikon, Black Spanish, Rose Heart or Purple Plum. It might work. Since the radishes are looking so strong, maybe a few turnips or mini carrots will make it, even this late in the year. All the roots are sweeter just out of the garden. I've been crossing winter radishes for years. Breeding is perhaps too strong a word, since my program consists of pulling up anything too puny looking and leaving a few good ones to flower in spring and mature seed next fall. I've got some good lines going, a rainbow of fat, juicy, flavorful winter radishes. Last week, I harvested a two and a half pound radish seen nowhere else: deep pink all over with the black rough surface characteristic of a Black Spanish and the sweet crunch of a really good daikon. I think it had some Candela di Fuoco parentage.

In Germany, Black Spanish radishes are sliced, dressed with malt vinegar and salt and eaten as a snack with beer. In Korea, daikon is a basic vegetable. Here's a Korean recipe for winter soup which is hearty and warming. Grass fed beef or bison usually has less fat to tenderize the meat, similar to the pasture fed beef in Korea. Use a cut with plenty of bone to make a rich broth.

Beef and Radish Soup
This takes a while to tenderize the meat, so plan it for a day when you can watch the pot for a couple of hours. The soup takes very little time to finish after the broth is made.

1 1/2 lbs beef with a bone, such as meaty sections of neck bone or shank
1 1b daikon radish, cut in 1" cubes
1 onion and 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
thinly sliced fresh green stuff from your garden: mustard greens, cabbage, kale, bok choy, etc., or a small Napa cabbage
1 star anise
1" cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
sesame oil and a green onion for garnish
a little vegetable oil

Brown the beef over medium high heat on all sides in the vegetable oil in a large soup pot. Remove the beef from the pot, reduce the heat to low, and saute the onion and garlic until just starting to turn translucent. Add beef, water to cover, cinnamon, star anise, soy sauce, sugar, mushrooms, and radish chunks and simmer until the beef is tender and can be removed from the bone. It's hot and drippy, be careful. Retrieve the cinnamon and star anise, return the trimmed beef, and add the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are just tender and still bright. Turn off the heat and served dressed with a little sesame oil and thinly sliced rounds of green onion.

Korean rice often has barley, millet or beans cooked in. Korea is very hilly. The terrace farming practiced for millennia is well adapted to growing small patches of grains. Even where the terrain is adaptable to paddy rice farming, grains are grown in rotation.

Korean Rice with Beans
This is momma's cooking, a comfort dish that says "home". The red adzuki beans turn the rice an interesting purple color. I use brown rice but it is authentically made with white rice.

1/2 cup adzuki beans
2 cups short grain rice

Soak beans overnight in a bowl with water to cover. The next day, drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Add water to the bean liquid to make up about 3 cups water. Put rice, beans, and the bean liquid in a pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice and beans are tender. Add water if needed to keep it from sticking.

Rice with beans is good served with some contrasting flavor and crunch. Traditionally, the contrast comes from one the over a hundred varieties of kimchi, but it can be anything vegetable: steamed spinach topped with sesame seeds or stir fried carrots flavored with a little soy sauce and sugar, for example.

Buckwheat Soba and Peas
I like to keep a package of organic peas in the freezer just to make noodles and peas for a quick meal. Korean black bean sauce (check the Asian grocery stores in the Fountain district, there's another on Meridian near WCC) comes in jars and keeps in the fridge for a long time. If you can't find any, South River (Terra Organica) makes flavored miso which works very well in this recipe.

8 oz buckwheat soba or in a pinch, angel hair spaghetti
1/2 onion and 2-3 cloves garlic
black bean sauce
package frozen peas

Put the water on to boil for the noodles. Cook noodles to al dente and drain. Cut the onion into pieces about 1/2" on a side and mince the garlic. Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil, add the peas and cook until the peas are tender. Then add a generous glob of black bean paste and saute briefly. Serve with the pea sauce on top a wad of noodles, rather like spaghetti. The eater takes chopsticks and stirs it together before eating.

This was always a vegetarian dish when I lived in Korea in the 1980's, but recent recipes add sliced beef. I like it with brown rice (not at all authentic) and just vegetables, a hearty working person's meal. If you are feeling authentic, there are all sorts of dried Asian vegetables that can go into bibimbap, such as bracken fern and strips of dried squash (soak in a little water and soy sauce to reconstitute.)

Cooked short grain rice, keep warm
One egg per person
Gochujang, Korean hot red bean paste
Shitake mushrooms, fresh or reconstitute dried mushrooms in a little water, sliced thin
Your choice of vegetables: carrots, daikon radishes, seasonal greens, zucchini in summer, all sliced for stir frying. Peel the carrots and radishes. Cut carrots, radishes, zucchini and anything else hard into sticks 2" long and about 1/4" thick. Thinly slice the leafy stuff.

Stir fry the vegetables. Put a generous serving of rice in each bowl. The authentic presentation is to stir fry each vegetable separately and arrange artistically on top the rice. Or you could be like me and cook it all together. Cover each bowl with a saucer to keep warm. Put a little more oil in the pan or wok and fry an egg for each person. Put a glob of hot red bean paste on top of the vegetables and top with a fried egg. Serve immediately. The eater takes chopsticks and breaks up the egg into pieces, mixing the hot bean sauce with the rice and vegetables.

See previous post "Healthy Korean Food" for more recipes.

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