Korean dishes 1st New Year adventure

Published 1:17 am Saturday, January 2, 2016


I usually discuss trends for the New Year at this point of the year, but have found very little in the way of trends in my magazines. I did read in my Saveur magazine, Jan/Feb issue, that we should stop saying FOODIE! It is a goofy word say some, and we perhaps don’t need a catchall word for people who appreciate a great meal and what goes into it. Perhaps we can just focus on the pleasures of eating, cooking, and drinking and leave labels where they belong.

Perhaps we should make resolutions instead of discussing trends. I for one would like to have more dinner parties, but never seem to take the time. I would like to cook more adventurous food, and try really weird ingredients. Again, it takes time to seek these items out. I would like to eat healthier (and most of us want this) but it takes an effort to find the grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, and good local produce. My husband is always saying, “It is better to pay for the good healthy food than pills.” He is right on.

So in the spirit of a new year let us all do better with our eating habits. To begin the year I have some recipes for Korean food that my daughter cooked for us this past weekend. It is my first step in being more adventuresome! These are relatively easy dishes using some interesting ingredients and these dishes are healthy for you. Give them a try.


Bok Choy seasoned with soybean paste

Cheonggyeongchae doenjang-muchim

This is a simple and authentic Korean side dish made with Bok choy. Bok choy is easily available at many grocery stores and you can also substitute Napa cabbage or sweet potato stems instead.

When the Boy choy is blanched and then seasoned with this seasoning mix, it is soft, juicy and a little crispy, and takes on a sweet, salty, pungent flavor. Delicious!


1 pound Bok choy

1 garlic clove, minced

1 green onion, minced

2 tablespoons doenjang (fermented soybean paste)

2 teaspoons gochujang (hot pepper paste)

A pinch of sugar

2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds


Cut off the ends of each bunch of Bok choy and separate the leaves from the stalks. Cut into bite size pieces.

Bring a large pot of water into a boil. Blanch the Bok choy for about 1 or 2 minutes until the white stems soften.

Strain and rinse in cold water to remove any dirt and stop them from cooking. Strain.

Combine garlic, green onion, doenjang, gochujang, sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl and mix it with a wooden spoon.

Squeeze out the Bok choy to remove excess water and add to the bowl. Mix it well by hand.

Sprinkle with crispy sesame seeds and serve immediately as a side dish with rice. You can refrigerate it up to two days.


Spicy Cucumber side dish


This is another Korean side dish using an English cucumber and a few spices and can be made in a few minutes. Many Koreans have their own version of this “seasoned cucumber dish.” Mix this just before serving and you will find this a refreshing side dish for a summertime barbecue also.


Serves 4

1 English cucumber (or 2 to 3 Kirby cucumbers), washed

¼ cup thinly sliced onion

1 green onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)


Cut the cucumber lengthwise in half and cut diagonally into these slices.

Put the cucumber into a large bowl. Add the onion, green onion, garlic, soy sauce, hot pepper flakes, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and sugar.

Mix it well with a spoon until the sugar is well dissolved.


Eggplant side dish


This a delicious, simple everyday Korean side dish. It is meant to be eaten with other side dishes and rice.

If you are a vegetarian, replace the fish sauce with soy sauce.


Serves 4

1 pound Korean eggplants (3-4 eggplants), caps removed and washed

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, crushed


Prep your streamer by adding 2 cups of water to it. Set heat to medium-high for it to boil. It should take about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut eggplants crosswise into 2 ½ inch pieces. Cut the thicker pieces in half lengthwise.

When the water starts boiling, put the eggplants on the steamer rack and cover. Steam for 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Remove from the heat. Take out the steamed eggplant and transfer to a cutting board. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes until you can easily handle them.

Tear each piece into bite size pieces.

Make seasoning mixture:

Combine garlic, green onion, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot pepper flakes, sesame oil in a mixing bowl.

Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Put it together and serve:

Add the steamed eggplant to the bowl and mix well by hand or with the wooden spoon.

Sprinkle with the crushed sesame seeds and serve with rice.