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.
First I made the soup. I put the ceramic pot on the stove, and prepared the ingredients. 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!)
When 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!