Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Side Dishes We Are Enjoying

In an attempt to finish off my giant daikon, I somehow slipped into making panchan for our meals - and we've been loving it! Panchan are traditional Korean side dishes that are served along with rice, kimchi, and jigae at meals. They're popular, too, in Japan, although the name for them escapes me right now - at any rate, they're a delicious way to round out a meal, and since most of them feature heavily seasoned vegetables, they're happy to sit in containers in the fridge for a couple of days, waiting to be taken out and stuffed into a bento, or put down next to dinner.

First up, mul kimchi - a kimchi that eats like a soup! Instead of being covered in a thick paste of chilis and garlic, cabbage, carrot and daikon are suspended in a cold, gingery spicy soup. It's incredibly refreshing when it's hot outside. I keep this in the fridge, and depending on my mood, just pick out the vegetables for a less spicy option, or have a whole bowl with plain rice.

I still had some daikon hanging around, so I dispatched it completely with two different dishes:

First, Japanese-style pickled radish with soy sauce and lemon peel. It's meant to have yuzu peel instead, but I also had the end of a lemon lurking in the fridge that I used instead. That took us from last Sunday to mid-week.

By Friday about a quarter of the daikon was defiantly holding on, so I googled one of my favourite radish dishes from Korea - daikon pickled with vinegar and chili flakes.

Well, that link gave me the idea for cucumbers, which Peter loves in any form, so while I was doing the radishes, I made the cucumber recipe as well - lightly pickled cucumber with sesame oil.

On Monday, one of my students came in with a 2-kilo cabbage that she had bought at her local farm stand for me, so I knew we'd be having ddalk galbi for dinner tonight - Korean food is always an excellent way to go through volumes of cabbage. But you've got to have creamy salad to go with ddalk galbi, to kill the heat, so it was an excellent excuse to make Japanese potato salad from Just Hungry! It sounds exotic, but it isn't really, it's just creamy and good. It's fairly expensive in Japanese supermarkets - something like 200 yen for 100 g, so I've been wanting to make it at home for a long time, but I couldn't figure out how they got the cucumbers so crispy.

I've also been trying to add one new vegetable to our rotation each week, and this week I felt like playing with lotus root. I used to see it for sale a lot when I was living in Vietnam - ladies would have big dripping baskets full balanced precariously on the back of their bikes. They'd sit in the shade of the trees next to the Temple of Literature and sell bags of it to people whizzing by on the back of motorcycles. I had no idea what to do with it, but there were a few recipes in Washoku, so I decided to be brave and give it a try. Lotus root is blanched and then soaked in a sweet and sour syrup overnight in a glass jar - hopefully it'll be nice for lunch tomorrow.

Since I was making Korean food, it was a good excuse to make chili bean sprouts with sesame oil - Peter ate most of it at dinner, but there's still enough of it left to put in his bento for tomorrow.

As for the cabbage...I've still got about a kilo of it left. I put some aside for making okonomiyaki later this week, but it looks like I'll have to do some more pickling.


Canadian Bento said...

Once we ate at a fancy french restaurant, and I couldn't figure out what the lacy slice of potato was...the chef came out and gave me a whole lotus root to take home. Tragically I was too young to know what to do with it and it went bad :(

nakji said...

That is a sad story :( I blanched it in acidulated water, and then put it in a bath of vinegar/sugar/konbu over night, and this morning it's great. It's like a sweet and sour water chestnut.

L said...

You've inspired me to buy Lotus Root for the first time this weekend. I finally feel confident enough to give it a try.
Hopefully I'll have the lemon-soy daikon, renkon and chili beansprouts in my refrigerator next week.

nakji said...

I'm glad I tried it - and it added a nice crunchy contrast to the potato salad. It wasn't difficult to work with at all, but I think blanching it is key to keeping it white. Stay tuned, because next week, I'm going to screw up all my courage to attempt sea vegetables. Just as soon as I can figure out where they put wakame in the supermarket.

KrasherJack said...

Erin, Mum would like the Korean Chili Beansprout recipe. S.V.P.