On The Menu: Jjajangmyeon

  • Easy Jjajangmyeon

Hi!

If you’re a non-Korean friend and reading this but don’t know what the heck I wrote in the title or have any idea of what I’m making and you’re still reading, GOOD FOR YOU! Before writing this post, I asked Sam if he knew anybody that didn’t like jjajangmyeon. We could not think of anybody. Seriously. I think as a Korean, you grow up with this dish and I equate it to the Korean “mac and cheese.” Basically, this is the default go-to dish that all kids will eat. As an adult, it’s almost always ordered at a Korean-Chinese restaurant (New Garden is the bombbbbb. End of story). I’ll admit, my first couple of times trying to make this were complete disasters. I followed various recipes online and wow, they tasted awful. One was too salty, one was way too watery and one tasted too jjajang-y. So what is “jjajang?” It’s a black bean paste.  It’s salty and it’s so unique in flavor but mild at the same time. Like I said, I have not met anybody who did not like it.  So finally, after much experimentation, I think I have finally found a fool proof and super easy recipe that the whole family can enjoy (gluten free when eaten with rice “jjajangbap”). The salt is controlled and I know exactly what goes in it. I feel good about giving this to her because it’s full of veggies. Actually, most Korean dishes are full of veggies so amen to that! Abby LOVES it. She actually prefers it with rice but either way, she gets messy and LOVES it!

Jjajangmyeon: Recipe was adapted from Maangchi

  • 1/2 pound of sirloin or pork loin, fat taken off and diced into small chunks (or whatever meat you choose)
  • 1 large zucchini diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 large potato diced
  • About 1/4 cup of jjajang paste. Don’t pack it in because it’s pretty strong
  • 1.5 cups of water for sauce
  • 2 tblsp of corn starch or potato starch
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar

Dice all the veggies and meat

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Fry the jjajang in some oil for a minute. It’s just to get rid of some bitterness. The jjajang I bought was the one that I found with the least amount of ingredients, no msg and no weirdo things in it.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat and toss in all your veggies and cook until the potatoes are tender. Depending on how big you diced your veggies, this takes about 10 minutes. Then add your meat and and cook until done. Then add the jjajang sauce and stir everything together. As you can tell in the picture, I got excited and added the jjajang first, then the meat. Oops!

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Add about 1.5 cups of water and cover the pan for about 15 minutes under med-low heat. While that’s happening, dissolve your starch in the 1/4 cup of water

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Remove lid from your pan and slowly add the starch mixture into the sauce while mixing. It’ll thicken up quickly so pour slowly.  The sauce will become shiny and so yummy looking!

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Check for seasoning. I usually add a dash of salt and a teaspoon of sugar at the way end to balance out all the flavor. Boil some noodles or cook some rice. We used these noodles:

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Then it’s ready! You can garnish it with cucumbers but we don’t get that fancy around here.

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This is an old picture. I think this was one of her first times trying it but obviously it was love at first bite!

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Enjoy!

On The Menu: Steamed Bun Dumplings (jjin bbang mandoo)

I spent the majority of my life in Walnut, CA before moving here to Georgia. There is a Korean market on the corner of Colima and Fullerton in Rowland Heights. The ownership has changed but 15 years ago, my mom used to bring home steamed dumplings from that market. There was a lady that made them and gosh, they were so good! They were simple, flavorful and the bread had a really nice puff and springy texture to it. I still remember the flavors so well. There were green onions, glass noodles, meat and a slight ginger taste (no black mushrooms here, thank God!).  After a long day at Kumon or Saturday Korean School, my mom would ask me what I would want and these would be what I wanted. Fast forward to last year and with my mom being in China, she started learning different recipes and cooking techniques from the locals.  She called me so excited one day and told me she had learned a ridiculously easy recipe for the bun part of steamed dumplings. Yes, my mom and I get really excited about all things related to food and we can talk about food and recipes forever. Anyways, she told me all you need in water, sugar and self rising flour. I was confused. I asked her if she was sure and maybe she didn’t get all the ingredients but she kept saying “that’s it!” So in remembering the flavors from 15 years ago, here is my attempt at duplicating this delicious mandoo. Don’t expect the bread to come out super puffy. But it is delicate, spongy and dense enough to hold the filling. This is a great short cut recipe in lieu of using yeast and going through the whole proofing process that takes FOREVER. I just gave it to hubby and he literally said “WOW, these are really good!” He’s a really tough critic… seriously…

This recipe will yield 17-18 dumplings. You can cook all of them before freezing.

Filling:

  • 1 pound of ground pork
  • 5 tblsp soy sauce
  • 1 tblsp mirin or rice wine
  • 1 tblsp sugar
  • 5 bunches of green onion
  • 1 large garlic clove finely grated
  • 1/2 cup cooked and chopped glass noodles
  • 1 inch of ginger finely grated
  • 1/8 tsp of pepper

Combine all the ingredients and mix everything in well. I used a micro plane to grate the ginger and garlic. Once all the ingredients are mixed well, let the filling sit so the meat gets marinated. In the meantime, start the dough.

Bun Part

  • 3 cups of self rising flour
  • 1 cup of water+ 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Combine flour and sugar and mix well.  Add water slowly and incorporate to make a dough. This ratio worked for me but you might need less or more water. Basically, the dough needs to be stretchy enough to be rolled out and not sticky.

*Sorry for the quality of the picture. All I had on hand was my phone.

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Separate the dough and roll into 1.5-2 inch balls. This will make approximately 17-18 balls. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin and the trick here is to make the outsides thinner than the center. You can do this by turning the dough clock wise while rolling the edges out. Roll out until the dough is about 5 inches in diameter. Put a dollop of filling in the center. I put about a little less than 2 tablespoons worth. Bring all the edges together in the center, pinch and twist. The dough should be moist enough for the edges to easily come together.

Line the steamer with parchment paper. Steam the dumplings for 20 minutes. For the first batch, I put them too closely together because I forgot that they would puff up so a couple of them stuck together. Make sure there is about an inch space between each dumpling.

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Oh, they were so good and so easy! The only part that takes some time is the rolling out part. Have a mandoo/dumpling party and you’ll be done in no time!

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Abby enjoyed these too! You can set a bit of filling aside before seasoning all of the meat. Season baby’s portion of the meat according to your baby’s tastes. They are soft but study enough for baby to hold.

Enjoy!

On The Menu: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

  • Breakfast (egg, toast and avocado)
  • Lunch (One of Abby’s favorite smoothie mixes)
  • Snack (cheese, fruit, crackers)
  • Dinner (Dakbulgogi (teriyaki) chicken and rice)

(Before I post, bye bye Posterous 😦 They will be shutting down at the end of this month. Hello new blog and new name)

I have tried to be pretty consistent with menu planning once every week since moving to Georgia. Of course there are weeks where we get away with making spaghetti, ramen or bibimbap (mixed rice bowl) for a couple of days. But I want to make use of the resources I have around me. We feel really blessed to have great farmer’s markets close by and a Whole Foods is literally 5 miles (4.9 to be  exact) away from me. I usually plan the meals on Sunday while Abby is napping and I get my inspiration from the Food Network, magazines or whatever we are craving. It’s always a wide variety because we’re Korean so Korean food is always good, we LOVE Italian and Mexican and as far as American cuisine goes, a nice hamburger, stew or roast can hit the spot too. Thus, I made it one of my missions to open Abby’s palate up as much as possible because I was a pretty picky girl in my early years (another reason for Baby Led Weaning since you literally offer everything you eat). You might be thinking that some ingredients or flavors might be too strong for a baby but Abby has been handling everything great! Below is what Abby had to eat for a couple of days. Breakfast was different because it’s easy but she enjoyed the same lunch and dinner. Like I’ve said before, I try and work with the same ingredients so that there’s little waste. With a little prep, you can have a wholesome meal plan set for a couple of days.

Breakfast: Egg, Toast and Avocado

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of green onion chopped
  • 1 piece of bread
  • 1/2 of an avocado

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Yes, I wanted to “try” and be cute with her food. Nothing went to waste as Sam ate whatever was left. I tried giving Abby regular scrambled egg with no salt and she wasn’t a fan. I decided to put chopped green onions into the egg mixture before cooking and it bam! she loved it with no salt needed. I cut a piece of soft bread from a Korean bakery and spread avocado on it. Then sliced up the remaining avocado half into chunks.

Lunch: Zucchini, Squash, Broccoli, Yogurt, Avocado and Banana Smoothie

Recipe makes a little over 14oz. of food. We split it up into 4oz pouches

  • 4 frozen cubes of zucchini/squash and 2 frozen cubes of broccoli. 6 cubes total
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1 4oz tub of vanilla Yobaby yogurt (it can be any flavor)
  • 1 medium banana

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I absolutely love Fresh Baby’s freezer trays. I buy a big head of broccoli, one large zucchini and one large yellow squash and puree them. Once frozen, I have them as standby anytime I want to add veggies into her food because veggies are always less liked than fruit. I defrost them for a couple of seconds before incorporating into the mixture. I’ll probably be giving her smoothies with veggies in it until she’s 18 or out of the house. 🙂

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Using my awesome Beaba Babycook that I got from one of my dearest friends!

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We bought the Infantino Fresh Squeezed Station at Target for around $24.00 and the Squooshi Reusable Food Pouches on Amazon. The Infantino is great for freezing and storing and the reusable pouches are great for the day’s use.

Snack:

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Organic butter crackers (generic version of Ritz) from Whole Foods, cheese chunks, two grapes peeled and one large strawberry. Sam and I love this snack combo (from our days working at Nordstrom). That’s probably why she eats it so often 🙂

Dinner: Chicken, Rice and Broccoli (dinner for the whole family)

  • Korean Teriyaki Chicken (seriously, so good and the ingredients are easy to find)
  • 2 chicken breasts (about a pound)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (if you like food on the sweeter side, add 3)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine
  • 4 garlic cloves minced finely or grated (use microplane)
  • 1/2 in chunk of ginger minced finely or grated (use microplane)
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

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Cut the chicken breasts into 2 inch chunks and strips. Mine were not uniformed at all. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and toss the chicken in. Cover the chicken in the marinade and cover the bowl or transfer into a ziploc bag to sit for at least 6 hours or overnight is best.

Cook in a pan over a medium heat until all the chicken is cooked through.

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Abby’s dinner with a broccoli floret that I saved on the side from the puree.

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Yes, it’s messy but it’s oh so fun!

We all enjoyed this dinner because it was gluten free! For all of you worrying about salt and sugar content, Abby has a very large rice and veggie ratio compared to the meat. I diced up only 2 chunks for this meal. She didn’t get a whole lot of fruit but she had her Super Acai and Berry Tofu smoothie today! Will post that recipe soon.

Enjoy!