My First (and maybe only) Korean Dinner!

Korean dinner


This week was the Lunar New Year celebreation in Korea.  This is a huge holiday, where you people are often given a three or four day weekend.  It is a time when Koreans meet with their families, and the women and girls make tons of traditional food.  The families take some of it and offer it to their ancestors at their grave sites, and then they celebrate usually at the husband’s parents houses.  The children bow before their grandparents and are given money as well.  I don’t know a ton more about this holiday, but I sued it as an excuse for me to make a meal out of traditional Korean foods.

Whenever I go to a traditional barbecue restaurant, they always serve a tofu soup that I really like.  It is not super flavorful, but it is good spooned over rice, and since I have gotten over my aversion to tofu, I have wanted to try it…especially since I got my new traditional Korean soup pot!  I learned in the Cooking in Korea facebook page that the soup was called deonjang jjigae, which is fermented soybean paste soup.  This is the one soup I have really tried, and I enjoy it, so I was determined to make it.  I paired it with smoked duck breast, as that is an easy protein, and one of the meats that we most enjoy in Korea, and of course rice.

DSC01892First I made the soup.  I put the ceramic pot on the stove, and prepared the DSC01891ingredients.  I wish I would have had some kale or bok choy but I didn’t so I just used the veggies I had, which are not nontraditional on their own.

 I used 4 small potatoes, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 2 tablespoons of garlic, 2 teaspoons of Korean red pepper paste, and three tablespoons of deonjang paste in this soup.

First I washed, peeled, and cubed the potatoes.  Next I quartered one carrot lengthwise and then cubed it up as well.  I sliced the onion, and threw in the pulverized garlic.  Next I put it into the soup pot and turned it on high to let it boil, and cook all the root veggies.


I turned the flame on high, and put the lid on.  I let it cook for about 10 minutes, came back and stirred, and checked the carrots and potatoes.  They were already getting soft, so I removed the pot from the stove, since I can only use one burner at a time.  Next I made my rice.  I have a brown and black rice blend, so my rice tends to look redish purple…you can use whatever rice you have.  I boiled

2  2/3 cups of water, and then turned it down to simmer with 1 1/3 cups of rice and covered for 15 minutes.  I added a drizzle of olive oil in hopes of keeping my rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan (I am good and getting rice stuck on pans!)

DSC01897When it appared that the water was gone from the pan (looking through a glass lid), I took the lid off, stirred it a bit, and removed the pot from the burner.

Next I used my grill pan.  I opened my package of smoked duck breast, and grilled it over the grill pan, just for a few seconds on each side, as it is actually pre-cooked.

Smoked duck is dense like ham, and smells a combination of ham and bacon, which is interesting considering it is a flying animal, not a pig!


Using the grill pan for this is nice, because duck is very very fatty!  The grill pan allows for the fat to run off, and although it is a little dry, it is still very good…especially with the honey mustard sauce that the store included with it!

Once I had the duck cooked, I threw the pot back on the stove for another minute, just to make sure the soup was hot.  Over high heat, it started boiling again within two minutes, showing that this pot can retain heat very well.  At this point, I realized I forgot to throw in the tofu.  So I cubed up a chunk of firm tofu, and threw it into the pot, letting it simmer for a few more minutes.  I should have done this before taking it off the heat the first time, but it still turned out okay.  I tasted it and realized I was in fact missing a little something so I threw in less than two tablespoons of Braggs Aminos (aka soy sauce), and the salty flavor helped.  At the last moment before serving, I also threw in some chopped up green onions which were the perfect complement to the soup!

This is what it looked like done!


Now in Korea, they would give each persona  spoon, a set of chop sticks, and all serve yourself on community plates and bowls.  I don’t have very many dishes in my house, so I did take advantage of this!  I set out one plate of duck, one large bowl of rice, and because the soup pot was so large, I did serve us each our own bowl of soup, although traditionally, it is brought to the table in the pot, and everyone just scoops from there.  My favorite way to eat the soup is with rice.

So anyway, here is my duck and doenjang jjigae.  It was not the best meal I have ever made, but it was pretty good, and my soup was close to those I have had at Korean barbecue restaurants around here.

Now on the the special dessert we got in Itaewon today…strawberry rhubarb pie!

Pho Real!

My favorite food since middle school is Pho (pronounced Fuh).  Pho is Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup.  My sister had a baby when I was in middle school.  She lived with her in-laws, who were from Laos.  Every time we came over, the family made pho.  It was sooooooooo good!  I loved it each and every time, and I remember the first time I had it, I experienced cilantro.  I had never tired it before, and now it is one of favorite herbs.  For those who are from countries other than America, cilantro is what we call the plant form of coriander.  We call coriander the seeds of cilantro.  they have two different tastes, so we classify them differently.

I have always known pho from that standpoint, from my sister’s in-laws.  She and they always told me that it was Vietnamese beef noodle soup.  Well, when I moved to Korea, I was introduced to chicken pho.  I didn’t know that pho could get any better than beef noodle soup, but it turns out that chicken noodle soup is even better!


This past week I discovered konjac noodles.  In America they are mostly known as Miracle Noodles or Shirataki noodles.  They are not approved on Phase 2 of the Omni HCG diet, but I have done some research online saying that it is approved as a freebie food for other HCG diets.  So, I decided to try them.  They are very filling. I cooked a few things with them this week, or added them to other meals just to make them more filling, but 2 days ago, I got the idea that they would make the perfect pho noodles!  I did change it up a bit, as I used chicken instead of beef, and it turned out AMAZING!

First, I boiled 5 chicken bouillon cubes with a pot of water, and three chicken breasts.  I boiled it and added garlic, while peeling and slicing 2 onions.  Once the chicken was done, I shredded it, and then I flame roasted the onions


I roasted it on both sides just until charred.  I used two onions and roasted both of them that way.

I got some of the char off, and added it to the broth.

Next I added some garlic (maybe a tablespoon or two), and powdered ginger to taste.  I also added a sprinkle of cinnamon, as one of the recipes I referenced suggested throwing in a cinnamon stick.  I figured since I have ginger in there, it couldn’t hurt.

I  let the soup continue boiling while I prepared the noodles. The noodles are found in the refrigerator section and are packed in water.

DSC01841To prepare the noodles, you cut the bag open, and rinse the noodles off in hot water.

DSC01842Next I use kitchen sheers to cut them up, as the noodles are quite long.

DSC01843The next step is to wash and slice up some green onions and wash up some bean sprouts and cilantro.  I didn’t have any fresh, so I added a little dried cilantro to the soup to extract as much flavor as I could.

Next up, add a little more ginger or garlic powder to taste, and you may want some salt and pepper if you prefer.

Next serve up some noodles, and make sure there is a lot of broth in a bowl.  Once you are all served up, put the sprouts and green onions over the top.  This is where you add the fresh cilantro if you have it.

Pho tends to be a bit sweet and spicy, so if you are on weight watchers, you can add some hoisin sauce, and some sriracha sauce for very little points.  If you are hcg, you can add a few small pinches of stevia, and some Franks Red Hot sauce (the approved hot sauce).  I honestly used tobacco  cause it is what I have now.


Each bowl is about 7 Weight Watchers points, and for HCG I have no idea how to measure it, but everything except maybe the noodles are approved.

Turkey and dumplings

Thanksgiving was last week.  It was a blast!  I had Thanksgiving with one of my classes of Korean students.  The students had never tried turkey before, and they got the whole thing, from turkey to homemade pumpkin pie!  The students loved it, and what an amazing experience for all of us!  We went around the table and said things we were thankful for and everything.  That got me warmed up!

Well, I did that on the tuesday before Thanksgiving, then we had friends over for another turkey dinner with ALL the trimmings, and NO diet foods.  We had a great time, and got to enjoy a day with friends.

We pulled a turkey breast out of the freezer so we could enjoy some left overs with turkey…You know, you always have t have at least one turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce right?  Well move on a little further in the week, we have turkey for sandwiches, but only one person in my house likes sandwiches ever day.  So, time to think of another use for turkey.  Well it is as usual, a cold winters night, and there is nothing better than a nice hot pot of comforting soup!  So, turkey soup here we come!  It is what mom always did after thanksgiving with the turkey carcass.  Only, I don’t have a carcass.  I mostly used chicken broth, but added as much turkey juice as I could.

The first thing that I did was put 6 cups of water, 6 chicken bouillon cubes, and five small diced up potatoes in a pot and turn it on high.

Next I chopped up and threw in two large carrots.

After that, I diced up and threw in two onions, and three cloves of garlic.

I dumped in one can of corn and one can of green beans next.

Lastly, I dumped in all the juice from the turkey packaging, and diced up and threw in 400 grams worth of turkey breast.

As it was cooking, I measured out 2/3 of a cup of sundubu tofu (liquid silken tofu), and blended it up with another cup of water.  I should have blended it with broth, or some sort of cream though, as it did not cause the texture to be creamy.  I added it to the pot.

After I added it to the pot, I cut up 1/2 a roll of Pillsbury crescent rolls and put that half onto the soup to hopefully be the dumplings.  I know you can do canned biscuits, so I thought maybe crescents would fluff up a bit and work as dumplings.  I put the other half in the oven, and put the lid on the pot.  They fluffed up in the pot when covered, but still stayed pretty flat and lifeless.

They still tasted good, but got stirred into the pot a little when I realized I had not seasoned my soup at all!  So I broke a whole and added some rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.  They were not very floaty, but they still tasted good!

Turkey and dumplings:

400 grams turkey breast

1 can of corn

1 can of green beans

2 carrots

6 cubes of chicken bouillon (better yet, turkey broth!)

2 onions

5 small potatoes

2/3 cup sundubu tofu (liquid silken tofu)

1 can of biscuits for dumplings.

Peel and dice 5 small potatoes.  Put them in a pot with six cups of chicken broth (6 bouillon cubes, or 6 cups of turkey broth if you have it!).  Turn stove on high.  Peel and chop two large carrots and throw them into the pot.  Peel and dice 2 onions, and 3 cloves of garlic and add those as well.  Add a can of corn and a can of green beans.  Put tofu into the pot.  Blend first if you prefer, but not necessary.  put in 400 grams or whatever leftover turkey you have.  Bring to a boil.  Season with favorite herbs and spices.  I chose rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.  Drop in sliced up pieces of canned biscuits for dumplings.  If they don’t all fit in the pot, bake them in the oven following package directions.  Bring the rolling boil of the pot down to a steady simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  When dumplings cease to be doughy, take off the lid and serve hot, with a biscuit (or in my case crescent roll) that came out of the oven.

Weight watchers people!  This pot of soup renders abut 10 bowls full, I am saying 1 bowl = 1 serving, and it is 9 points a serving.