Tofu Buchim (Simple Korean Fried Tofu)

In a highly scientific survey conducted by this blog on foreigners checking out of Korea, I asked what people would most miss about the ROK. Obvious answers like cheap transportation, liberal drinking laws, and the ability to easily save half a paycheque were abound, but the answer people are most certain, and certainly passionate about? The food. The set of sides accompanying each meal, spilling off the edge of the table. The incredibly cheap prices, where cooking Korean at home usually saves a negligible amount. The spiciness, the sauces, the DIY meals—we’re all really gonna miss this cuisine.  And since we’ve now entered our last month in Korea (cue a wave of mixed emotions), I want to squeeze in as much gochujang, red pepper powder, kimchi, and kimbap as possible into my next month—including the meals I prepare for myself.

koreantofu-5

After my article for Colorful Daegu on Kimchi Jeon, they’ve requested I put my kitchen to work again. This time I made a simple fried tofu dish, mostly as a host for a spicy, savory, salty sauce—one that I’ll be stocking regularly in my fridge from now on. While I’m not a huge fan of tofu as a main protein source (nobody likes OD-ing on estrogen), I do believe in moderation. Where beans and lentils are not actually plentiful here in Korea, tofu—so long as it’s organic and not jam-packed with GMOs—can make a nice occasional vegetarian protein source, a pretty side dish with a kick, or as I used it, a salad booster for my lunch.

Head on over to Colorful Daegu for my post on Tofu Buchim!

 

Green Juice Omelette

 

As someone who’s into veggies, and isn’t easily grossed out, I have to (and hate to) admit that I find juice pulp kinda icky.

Maybe it’s the texture, maybe it’s the fact that it’s food coming from the deject pile. Or maybe it has something to do with the day in the summer where I didn’t clean out my juicer and left for work… (oh yeah, if you’ve never done that before, I don’t advise you start doing so now.)

I know it’s such a waste of beautiful, fibrous, organic green veggies, but other than making dehydrated pulp crackers on occasion (back in the good ol’ days when I had an oven), I tend to donate my juicing leftovers to Toronto’s Green Bin program and call it a day. Except here in Korea, where they just get tossed atop the mountains of garbage outside my building’s front door. When I make juice once a week it doesn’t really bother me—but since I’ve decided to mostly quit coffee (I can do it!) and dump sugar for a little bit, I’ve been juicing almost every day! Greens pulp galore.

I tried putting them in my smoothie one time, choked down half the thing and dumped the rest in the toilet (sorry, earth!). The thought of putting them in a soup thereafter made me gag.

But I think I found one way to get those leftover greens down: Enter the Veggie Pulp Omelette.

IMG_4813 copy

Hey, it’s not the most beautiful dish going around. But it is a win-win-win, really—reducing kitchen waste, saving a buck or two, and of course, filling your belly with nutrient-dense green goodness. And it’s so easy.

IMG_4805 copy

Sprinkle  a 1/2 cup of juice pulp (I like kale, spinach, celery, lemon, and garlic) with your favorite seasonings—here, I  use sea salt, pepper, and plenty of Korean red pepper powder. Add the pulp to 3 beaten eggs (and a splash of non-dairy milk, if you prefer).

IMG_4806 copy

Fry in coconut oil as you would a traditional omelette, a few minutes each side until both sides are browned slightly. Serve alongside toast, potatoes, or atop some leafy greens with melted coconut oil and green onions as I’ve done here.

IMG_4809 copy

Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back for your resourcefulness!

IMG_4812 copyDo you have any more ideas for juice pulp? If so, please share in the comments! I’d love to hear your suggestions and maybe you can help me thing of more ways to save my kales 🙂

 

Rice Milk: Riches from (Dish) Rags

It’s been a banner Lunar New Year so far.

Luke got food poisoning. I got head lice. (Who gets head lice?!) We had a nice run-in with some soju swaggin’ Koreans and some near-nasty repercussions. Our school closed down. Our school closed down! I guess it is, as they say, the Year of the Snake. We’ll be taking a pay cut for the next little while, but things could always be worse.

We still have jobs for the duration of our original contract here in Korea. We can keep our little, cozy apartment. Nobody got arrested or deported. I don’t have any little pests crawling through my hair, and Luke’s internal organs are in the clear. Also, I learned how to make rice milk.

Taking a temporary pay cut wasn’t in our original plans, but it looks now it’s part of the challenge to keep saving for our upcoming trip. We’ve been looking for ways to cut back, and one of the easiest ways to do so is to make do with what you have (right, dad?).

For example, we have rice. And lots of it.

IMG_3790

I do love my hyun-me bap and it’s sure a nutritionally sound alternative to the usual choice grain here, it’s bleached-out brother (see: my earlier post on its bountiful benefits), but man—nor woman—can live on rice alone. Faced with a barrel of the brown stuff, I decided to transform my grains into something a little more practical: rice milk.

Almonds aren’t cheap on this continent and I generally try and steer clear of soy, so my non-dairy milk options here are pretty limited. Thankfully, rice is everywhere, cheap, and organic is pretty easy to find. Perhaps if you head up to your local Koreatown or Chinatown you’ll find the same? If you’re on a tight budget of your own, maybe this trick will benefit you like it has me and my belly 🙂

Here’s the how-to:

1. Soak 2 cups of rice overnight and rinse well.

IMG_3791

2. In your food processor or blender, blend the rice with 4 cups of filtered water (If you want more or less, just stick with a 1:2 ratio and you’ll be fine).
IMG_3795

3. Use a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or, in a pinch, a clean dishcloth or fine mesh strainer to separate the pulp from the liquid. (See my tutorial on almond milk for technique and photos.)

4. (OptionalRinse out your blender or food processor, pour the liquid back in and blend any combination of: 1 tsp. vanilla extract, a pinch of sea salt, a pitted date or some agave, or even cacao powder to make chocolate rice milk.
IMG_3806

5. (Also optional, but highly recommended!) Save your rice “grits” to make porridge–cover one cup of the rice pulp with water in a pot, stir in your favorite oatmeal ingredients (I like cinnamon, vanilla, and chopped medjool dates), bring to a boil and simmer, covered, till the water is absorbed. Add in a splash of your fresh rice milk and bask in your incredible utilitarianism.
IMG_3801I’ve been freezing batches of my rice grits in single-serving portions to cook up for quick breakfasts—one benefit of only having a hot plate to cook on is that I can get my grits boiling in under a minute… a benefit, so long as I can avoid burning said grits immediately after 😉 Maybe you’ve better luck than I? Feel free to share your experiences below!

Until then, enjoy and annyeong ka-sey-oh!