November 8, 2015

Japan, Vietnam, Korea (Ramen, Pho, Bibimbap)

My family seems to think I've become obsessed with foods from Asian cultures lately. From Sichuan, to pho, to Korean japchae, to ramen, I just can't get enough of the flavors. And there's still so much to learn. I had some of the usual suspects over for a night of ramen a couple weeks back. We made to versions, my old standby, Ivan Orkin's shio ramen (pictured above), and chicken paitan (below).
Chicken paitan is full of rich, fatty chicken flavor, extracted from the pounds of chicken feet in the stock. Yes, you want fatty stock, so put in some chicken feet! Both of these ramen bowls were as good as most ramen you can get around town and there's nothing quite like knowing how to make a decent ramen at home. It's not as difficult as you might think.
Chicken and country ham pho has become one of my favorite go-to soups. The recipe comes from Ed Lee's terrific book, Smoke & Pickles. The key to a good pho broth is that it is super-clean. Lee's stock calls for simmering a whole chicken, with onion and ginger, with the slightest little bubble of a boil for about two hours. Even when not making pho, this has become my favorite recipe for pure, clean chicken stock.
After lunching at Yet Tu on Buford Highway, I added Korean food to my new list of things to obsess about. Although, Ed Lee's book referenced above is a Korean-Southern mashup, so the flavors are familiar. I recently made bibimbap, the traditional Korean rice bowl that can be topped with just about anything. I used seasoned ground beef, carrots, spinach, a gochujang sauce and more. A satisfying bowl of goodness on a rainy, wet night. 
While I was at it, I also made kimchi pancakes. Keep your batter ice cold to get the fried pancake good and crunchy and you have a fun Korean party snack.

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