Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beat the Heat

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The heat has ultimately chased me out of the kitchen these last few weeks. With an air-condition-free apartment that can reach temperatures of the high 20s on the hottest days (I'm melting!!), I wasn't digging the thought of heating my place even more. Furthermore, the hot weather made me want something cool and refreshing to eat, and that only lead to thoughts of cold noodles.

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As I've said before, I really enjoy tofu, and with my being on a Korean cuisine kick lately, I discovered kongguksu, a cold noodle dish that's served in a soy milk broth. It's cold, it's refreshing, and it has all the soybean goodness and flavour I like so much in tofu. While I could have easily made the broth from scratch, my crappy, dull blender just wouldn't result in a smooth soy milk broth, and nothing could be less appealing than chunky soy milk (ewww...). I cheated and bought some soy bean soup concentrate at Galleria. You simply add equal parts water, cook the noodles and serve with your preferred toppings, like julienned cucumber, sliced tomatoes, or hard boiled eggs. I even added some shredded chicken breast that I had steamed in advance.

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Which is a bit ironic, considering that after having kongguksu, I had cravings for something hot and spicy, and you can't get any more Korean than kimchi. With some leftover kimchi in the fridge, I quickly whipped together a kimchi jeon, a savoury pancake (it did look pretty at first. And then all hell broke loose as I tried to flip it). Hey, if you can't beat the heat, you might as well join it, right?

Kimchi Jeon
Makes one 12-inch pancake

1 cup well-fermented kimchi, squeezed of excess liquid
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup water (or if you want, do half water, half kimchi juice)
1 egg
Pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the flour, salt and water and mix until just combined. Add the kimchi and mix to combine.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan over medium heat. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly across the surface of the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


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