Saturday, February 16, 2013

South Korea - 닭갈비 Dalk Kalbi - Spicy Chicken

Hi All, 

닭갈비 Dalk Kalbi
This week I decided to tackle something a little easier than haggis as the haggis was a lot of work if I am honest. Having lived and worked in Jeju Island South Korea and having a crazy passion for all things Korea I decided that this would be my next stop on this culinary adventure. 

Almost all Korean food is delicious in my mind (with the odd freaky dish I'd rather not have) but Korea is probably most famous for its Barbecued meats and so I had to have a recipe that was meaty. One of my best Korean friends, Christine, who I met in Beijing sent me the recipe for 닭갈비Chicken Kalbi - basically marinated grilled pieces of chicken.

This is the recipe that I am going to post below but last night I invited a few friends over for dinner and rather than just serve up the 닭갈비 Chicken Kalbi I decided to make a Korean feast and serve up a bunch of dishes. We had 떡볶이 ddoekbokki,   김치찌개 kimchi jigae불고기 bulgogi as well as the chicken. Each dish is linked to a great site where you can find further recipes to make them yourself as I dont want this post to be lots and lots of dishes. 

Today as I am writing this I am eating leftovers and I am so glad that I made so much food.

불고기 bulgogi

Diced boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast. I used 4 breasts roughly chopped into bite size chunks.
Half of a savoy cabbage washed and roughly chopped, again into bite sized chunks.
1 onion roughly sliced 
1 carrot sliced into pieces about £1 coin thickness so that they cook quickly when stir-fried.
1tbsp sesame seeds (used for garnish)

The Sauce/marinade:
Into bowl large enough to fit the chicken pieces first put

불고기 bulgogi & 떡볶이 ddoekbokki
3 tbsp Gochujang (red chilli paste) 
2 tbsp light soy sauce 
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ginger powder
1 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tbsp sesame oil
4 or 5 cloves minced garlic 

this sauce/marinade mixture can be used with other meats, seafood and vegetables.

Combine all of these ingredients and give them a good stir and thanks to the red pepper paste it will look like a bloody red sticky gloopy sauce. Add in your chopped chicken pieces and mix around. Leave to one side to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Traditionally Kalbi is cooked on a barbecue grill over hot coals but I dont have a barbecue and so for quickness I simply stir-fried the Kalbi in a wok but you could equally use a frying pan.

When you are ready to cook put a little oil (I used sesame oil) in a pan then spread the chicken and top with vegetables. Give everything a good stir around so that all the vegetables and chicken get coated in the marinade. Cook for 2 minutes adding a drizzle of water if needed. Continue to cook and stir in the wok until the chicken is cooked through. Move it onto a serving plate and garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds then tuck in.

When eating Kalbi in Korea normally people will take the cooked meat and place it in the middle of a salad leaf, wrap the leaf round the meat and then stuff it into their mouths and they enjoy. It can also be eaten with a bowl of steamed rice. Its up to you how to make it. Really fast, really tasty and it has a bit of a spicy kick to it! Get your Korean feast on and let me know how it all goes.
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Scotland - Haggis, Neeps and Tatties!

lungs n windpipe #haggis via xonnelgiarc
i heart haggis #haggis via xonnelgiarc
liver you long time #haggis via xonnelgiarc
So i finally got round to starting this cooking challenge and where better to start than my home country of Scotland. Haggis is our national dish and most people i know have never made it from scratch - simply bought it pre-packaged and then just boil it.

I delved deep into the internet and came up with a few recipes, folk stories and options and as i knew it was going to be a challenge i went with a recipe from 2009 Guardian newspaper with step by step photos and instructions (link there incase you want to try this at home - not for faint hearted).

Because some of the ingredients freaked me out a little, namely the intestine: used to hold the haggis mixture together like a bag, i altered the cooking method from boil in the bag to steaming the mixture laid out on a plate. This didn't alter the texture or flavour but it did stop me from throwing up when trying to clean the intestine which still had lumps of poo in it when i bought it at the market and which smelled like the worst baby nappy ever filled.

Ok so down to the ingredients:

1 sheep's heart - preferably fresh but not still beating.
1 sheep's liver
1 sheep's pluck = lungs and windpipe (this was the part that freaked me out most!)
300g of oatmeal - toasted under the grill until lightly browned
2 tbsp white pepper corns
2 tbsp black pepper corns
1 fist sized bunch of fresh herbs - I had fresh thyme and sage and rosemary stored in freezer so thats what i used.
1 large cows intestines - well cleaned - i gave up and chucked them in the bin after they made me vomit in the sink.
(a pair of rubber gloves as i knew the feel of the organs would give me the willies!)

Thursday 31 Jan
After returning from the market with the pluck, heart and liver i donned my rubber gloves and set to washing the organs. I filled a large pan with water and added a good tablespoon of salt. After washing the organs thoroughly i placed the liver and heart in the pan with water and then carefully placed the lungs in the pan - windpipe hanging out the pan to allow impurities to drip out and into another pan (see the photo) - if squeamish avoid looking in the pan that collects drips.
Bring the pot of organs to the boil and simmer gently for 1.5 hours. The organs will turn a greyish colour and just leave them sat in the water they boiled in until cool. I left them overnight.

Friday 1 Feb

cooked liver for haggis #rtw80p via xonnelgiarcI tried washing out the intestines in salt water, in vinegar, in bicarbonate of soda and it was just turning my stomach to the point of vomiting. the smell just wouldn't go away. I googled ideas on how to clean them properly and i came across a couple of sites that said bacteria living in the intestine can cause brain problems and/or paralysis if ingested and so i thought, best not to die making haggis. the intestines got chucked in the bin.

On a flat baking tray pour out the 300g of oatmeal and gently toast under the grill until browned. Place the oats in a food processer along with the washed herbs, the black and white pepper and blitz. No food processer then you will be busy chopping all this up finely.

Remove the organs from the water they have been boiled in. The liver and heart can be put straight in the food processer. I chopped the heart into pieces as i was nosey and wanted to see inside (see pic). Carefully remove the lungs and cut away the windpipe. One of the lungs looked very black and shrivelled and when i cut it open the inside looked dirty (not sure what it should look like) so i put it in the bin along with the windpipe. I placed the good lung in the food processer and gently pulsed until everything was chopped finely - like minced meat.

haggis heart #rtw80p via xonnelgiarcAs i had got rid of the "bag" to boil the haggis in i wasn't sure what i was going to cook it in. I thought about using a sock, a pair of tights, a condom etc. Then i thought about simply steaming it. If i laid the mix out in a bowl and simply steamed it for 30 minutes then it would cook the haggis. At the end of the day people didn't eat the intestine - if they did i certainly bloody wasn't, it was simply the casing used to boil the haggis. So thats what i did - got out the steamer!

I set up the steamer and steamed the haggis. Over the dried mixture i poured about 150-200ml of the leftover water from boiling the organs just to make the mixture moist but not too wet. I didnt find suet here in Beijing and decided against simply using butter. So that was another ingredient  missing - this didnt affect the flavour or texture at all and probably made the entire dish more healthy. Liver is very good for you and lungs are mostly pure protein and the heart too.

While steaming the haggis i washed and chopped some potatoes and some pumpkin - couldnt find neeps/turnips here so i decided that turnip would be the next best thing.

I put them in pans and boiled until soft. Once soft i drained them and mashed them with butter cracked black pepper, a little salt and a wee splash of whisky. 

haggis mix pre cooked #rtw80p via xonnelgiarcThe haggis was ready and the food got plated up for the three of us - me and two guests - one of them a scotsman who on facebook said that the meal tasted amazing - perhaps the whisky had him hammered but no! He had seconds!

Upon serving the haggis, neeps and tatties i gave it a tiny drizzle of whisky and simply enjoyed with a wee dram! 
This has been a learning experience and I'd happily say that it turned out delicious but im not sure i would make my own haggis again. Please let me know if you go ahead and try to make this as I'd be interested to know your experiences. So that's week one out of the way and now its on to deciding which country I will choose next! follow me on Twitter @rtw80p and please share this with your friends.

conquered the haggis #haggis via xonnelgiarc
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Whats this all about?

Hey all, if you have read the about section then you will probably know that:

a. i love travel 
b. i love cooking and eating and 
c. i love making friends and doing rather weird projects.

My aim in this project is to contact friends from 80 countries, have them recommend recipes from their native homelands and then im going to try my best at cooking these recipes, posting the recipes on here along with a bit of blurb on how I met such friends and depending on the difficulty of the recipe - whether we are still friends - joke!

I want to broaden my cooking skills and have a bit of a laugh online at the same time so I really hope that you will tune and try some of the recipes yourself at home and let me know either through the comments and/or tweeting me on twitter, how you get on. I have set a time frame of 80 weeks which seems long but I am sure will fly in with all the cooking and searching of ingredients.

I have decided that the first recipe will be made and posted first week of February and ideally I will post weekly form then on in but it may be that due to other commitments that I might end up cooking 2 or 3 per week or 2 or 3 per month. Stick with me, support me and cheer me on when the going gets tough and the cooking gets tougher and hopefully we will come out at the end of 80 weeks fatter, fuller and happier in general. Through these recipes and my friends and their tales of the foods, how we met etc I really hope we can become closer and you readers can learn to love my friends that I have made over the years, just as much as I have. The years have been kind and the people I have met on my journeys have been kinder and in my opinion there is nothing better in life than cooking, eating, traveling and meeting new people.

happy reading, spread the word about my crazy journey and see you somewhere along the road at one of the many it stops! One last note - get to the contact page and follow me on twitter please :D

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