Korean Short Ribs with Kimchi and Greens Namul


My husband is a sucker for grocery store samples, which is why last weekend after trying a bite of Mother-in-Law’s Napa Cabbage Kimchi, a big jar of it found its way into our cart. We’re no strangers to the spicy, pickled, fermented cabbage that bubbles as you open the jar, reminding you that it’s happily alive with probiotics. In fact, we were fortunate enough to have our first taste of the stuff in Korea, where it originated. It didn’t take long. We were hooked.


With the jar of kimchi now in our cart, we decided a Korean-inspired dinner was in order. What a coincidence that our butcher recently started carrying Korean short ribs! Also called the “flanken cut,” these beef ribs are cut straight through the bone and are about 1/2 an inch thick, making them ideal for quick cooking. The marinade is a tasty combination of puréed Asian pear, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic, and the ribs get even more flavor from throwing them on a charcoal grill. White rice and our kimchi were obvious accompaniments, but we went in search of another Korean side dish, and found the perfect one – namul (or namuru in Japanese, which you often find as a Bento Box filler). You blanch greens, squeeze out the liquid, roughly chop and throw in a bowl with sesame oil, garlic, and salt. So simple.


Our recently married friends (congrats, M+T!) joined us for this Korean-inspired dinner, and we successfully got them hooked on kimchi as well. The jar boasted a good 16 servings, but the 4 of us polished it off in one evening.


Korean Short Ribs

(Slightly adapted from The Paupered Chef)

3 lbs. short ribs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Asian pear, peeled and diced
1/4 cup mirin
1 TBS. brown sugar
1 TBS. sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped

  • Place the diced asian pear in a large bowl and purée with an immersion blender (alternatively, use a food processor or blender).
  • Add the soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic. Whisk until combined.
  • Put the short ribs in the bowl with the marinade.  Toss until coated evenly with the marinade.  Refrigerate for 3-5 hours.
  • Prepare a charcoal grill for high heat. Have a squirt bottle handy (I will explain in the next step).
  • Remove ribs from marinade and place on the grill. Cover. Because of the fat content, you might find that they flame up a little bit. That’s where our squirt bottle came in handy! But then they calmed down and cooked nicely, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve with Greens Namul (recipe below), kimchi, and steamed white rice.


Greens Namul

(From Just Bento)

2 cups or so blanched greens (we used 1 large bunch of young, tender dandelion greens, and 2 bunches of spinach. Get more than you think you’ll need because they cook down a lot)
1 1/2 TBS. dark sesame oil
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1 large garlic clove
1 TBS. toasted sesame seeds
Optional: pinch of sugar
Optional: chili oil

  • Before blanching your greens, first wash them very well to get all the grit off of them. If your greens have stalks, cut the tender part of the stalk thinly. Discard the tough part of the stalks, if any.
  • Bring a pot of water to boil. First put in the stalks, then the greens that take the longest to cook (we threw our dandelion greens in first). Boil for 1-2 minutes, then put in the spinach. Boil for another minute or less. You don’t want your greens to turn to mush.
  • Turn off the heat. Drain the greens well, then add cold water to refresh and cool them. Drain again and squeeze out the moisture well. Roughly chop. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Grate the garlic clove on a fine grater, or smash it to a pulp with a knife (we did the latter). Mix with the salt and oil. Use your hands to mix the garlic mixture into the well drained and squeezed out greens. Mix in the sesame seeds. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary, or adding a little bit of sugar if the greens are too bitter. If you want it spicy, add a few drops of chili oil.
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Lettuce Wraps with Pork, Cilantro, Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, Peanuts & Sriracha


It was a typical summer in Japan, hot and humid with the occasional torrential downpour and thunderstorm. In an effort to save money on our bills, we played this silly game where we would see how far into the summer we could make it without turning on our air conditioner (once we made it until the beginning of August!) Absurd, yes, but there it is.

So our little Japanese apartment was obviously warm, but we had several fans going that made it bearable. I thought that lettuce wraps might be a good meal for a hot evening. I washed the lettuce leaves then got the “brilliant” idea (blame the heat?) to throw them in the freezer for a minute to keep them cold while we set the table. Ha. You know what happens when you put lettuce in the freezer? All the moisture in the leaves freezes almost immediately, and then when you take them out, they defrost immediately, leaving you with pathetic wilty leaves. Awesome. I can’t believe I just told that story. That night we enjoyed the lettuce wrap filling on its own, and I think I made some steamed rice to go with it. Needless to say, I never blogged about lettuce wraps. And we might have broken down and turned on the air conditioner.


This time around we were much more successful, and since we live in Santa Cruz and most houses don’t even have air conditioners, we’ll never play that ridiculous game again.  Leaves from a beautiful head of red leaf lettuce remained in the refrigerator until dinner time and were perfectly crisp and ready to be filled with seasoned pork, bright green cilantro, crunchy chow mein noodles (from a can, yes, but oh so good), peanuts, and plenty of Sriracha to spice it all up.


Lettuce Wraps with Pork, Cilantro, Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, Peanuts & Sriracha

1/2 TBS. canola oil
1/2 TBS. sesame oil
1 lb. ground pork
1 TBS. grated or minced ginger
1 TBS. minced garlic
2 green onions, diced
2 TBS. soy sauce
1 TBS. mirin
1 TBS. rice vinegar
1/2 TBS. oyster sauce*
1 small spoonful of peanut butter
2 tsp. agave nectar
1 head of red leaf lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
Cilantro leaves
Crunchy Chow Mein Noodles, such as La Choy
Roasted, salted peanuts
Sriracha

*This can be omitted if you don’t have it on hand – we used it to add a little thickness and saltiness to the sauce

  • Add the canola oil and sesame oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the ground pork and cook until no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat. If there is any fat, drain with a spoon. Return skillet to medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently. Add the green onions and stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, peanut butter, and agave nectar. Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary. These lettuce wraps are very adaptable to your tastes!
  • Add the sauce to the pork mixture and cook over medium high heat, stirring, until it reduces slightly and incorporates into the meat.
  • Transfer the pork mixture to a serving bowl. Place your lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Put the cilantro, chow mein noodles, and peanuts in little bowls and place everything on the table for everyone to serve themselves. Don’t forget the bottle of Sriracha!

To go with our lettuce wraps, I used a vegetable peeler to make shavings of daikon (Japanese white radish) and carrot, tossed with a little sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar & salt to taste, and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon with Spicy Slaw


After two flavorful dinners from The Sriracha Cookbook — Ultimate Sriracha Burgers and Camarones a la Diabla — it was time for Sriracha dinner night #3. In this recipe, Sriracha plays a more subtle role, adding just a hint of spiciness to a sweet glaze balanced by the savory flavors of miso and soy sauce. Broiling caramelizes the glaze nicely, while cooking the salmon to a perfect medium/medium-rare. Most of the spice in this meal comes from the slaw. The addition of mint, peanut butter, and fish sauce is reminiscent of Thai flavors. It’s the perfect companion to the salmon, or try it as a zesty alternative to coleslaw at your next BBQ. We also made a quick side dish of sautéed sugar snap peas with fresh chopped mint to tie all the flavors together.


Miso-Sriracha Glazed Salmon

(From The Sriracha Cookbook; Serves 6)

3 TBS. toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white miso paste
3 TBS. Sriracha
1 clove garlic, minced
nonstick cooking spray (or canola oil for greasing)
6 (6-oz.) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick (alternatively, you can buy one large salmon fillet and divide it into portions after cooking)
6 sliced green onions, green part only, for garnish (reserve the white parts for the slaw!)

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • In a small nonreactive bowl, combine the sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, miso, Sriracha, and garlic.
  • Line a rimmed baking pan with foil (this will make clean-up much easier later on!) and spray with cooking spray (or lightly grease with oil). Place the salmon on the foil and brush some of the glaze over the salmon, enough to evenly cover the surface.
  • Broil 6 inches from the flame, basting the salmon twice with more glaze (we had some leftover so don’t feel like you need to use all of it). Broil until the salmon flakes easily at the center of the fillet, 9-10 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if you see some smoke. That’s what the soy sauce does when it’s caramelizing.
  • Remove salmon from baking pan and transfer fillets to plates. Garnish with green onion and serve.


Spicy Slaw

(From The Sriracha Cookbook; Serves 6-8)

For the Dressing:

1/3 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice
1/4 cup Sriracha
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS. fish sauce
1 TBS. grated ginger
2 TBS. sugar

For the Slaw:

1 1/2 lbs. napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 lb. red cabbage, shredded (we used green, so our slaw wasn’t quite as colorful)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned (we grated them)
2 red bell peppers, seeded and julienned
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (depending on your heat tolerance, you may want to omit this. It’s already pretty spicy with the Sriracha)
6 green onions, white part only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
salt & freshly ground black pepper

  • First, make the dressing. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, pineapple juice, Sriracha, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Next, make the slaw. In a large bowl, mix together the napa and red (or green) cabbages, carrots, bell peppers, jalapeño, green onions, cilantro, and mint.
  • Add the dressing and toss to mix. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Spicy Pork with Asparagus & Chile


I enjoy meat – don’t get me wrong – but I’d also be perfectly happy with a main course that consisted entirely of cheese. Because of this, I often let Dustin decide what protein we should have with dinner. When he came home from the butcher shop (yes, the same place I’ve mentioned in several posts now) on this particular night with some course-ground pork, I immediately thought of stir frying it with some asparagus. It is spring after all, and we’d just been talking about how much we miss the beautiful cherry blossoms in Japan, so I had Asian food on my mind. Later, I was casually flipping through the new issue of Bon Appetit and lo and behold; there was exactly what I had in mind: Spicy Pork with Asparagus & Chile. It was meant to be. In true stir-fry nature, this dinner comes together quickly, so make sure all of your ingredients are chopped, measured, and ready to go. We loved the flavor of the pork, seasoned with soy sauce and sherry (we didn’t have any Chinese rice wine, alas), with the crisp-tender asparagus. Some red jalapeño chile added some heat, which was balanced by the savory and sweet flavors of oyster sauce and honey. Next time we would actually add a little more honey, as well as a little more heat. I’d have your Sriracha bottle handy when you’re eating, or better yet, add some to the oil when you add the chile and ginger and let it really infuse the oil.


The first thing I do when I sit down for dinner is start cutting everything on my plate into little bits, so that I can give them to Levi. (But the other day I found myself doing the same when it was just me and my lunch! I realized what I was doing and laughed at myself). The good thing about this meal is that the ground pork could go straight from my plate to Levi’s. Only the asparagus had to get the special knife treatment. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of my little foodie’s version.


Spicy Pork with Asparagus & Chile

(From the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit)

3 TBS. soy sauce, divided
1 TBS. Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry Sherry
2 tsp. cornstarch
12 oz. ground pork (preferably coarsely ground; sometimes labeled chili-grind)
3 tsp. Asian sesame oil, divided
12 oz. thin to medium asparagus spears, trimmed, cut on extreme diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
1 red jalapeño chile, minced with seeds
1 TBS. minced peeled fresh ginger
2 TBS. oyster sauce
1 tsp. honey
2 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
fine sea salt

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch. Add the pork and toss to blend.
  • Heat 2 tsp. of the oil in a heavy large wok or deep skillet over high heat. Add asparagus, chile, and ginger. Toss until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus mixture to plate.
  • Add remaining 1 tsp. oil to wok. Add pork mixture and stir-fry until browned, using wooden spoon to break up pork into small pieces, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Return asparagus mixture to wok. Add remaining 2 TBS. soy sauce, oyster sauce, and honey. Stir-fry until pork is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add water by tablespoonfuls if it becomes too dry.
  • Add green onions; toss to incorporate. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over steamed rice.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi


I recently learned about banh mi from reading various food magazines in the past year. It’s basically a Vietnamese-French sub sandwich. A crusty baguette holds flavorful fillings (such as pork meatballs, barbecued or shredded pork), mayo, pickled daikon and carrots for a little crunch and tang, and sliced jalapeños to add the perfect heat. Bon Appetit’s recipe features a kick-ass Sriracha mayo that will surely please your palate, especially if you’re as obsessed with the spicy condiment as we are. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make the mayo and the meatballs the day before, and throw everything together very quickly the day of. Then sit back and enjoy the familiar chewiness and crunchiness of a French baguette with sweet, sour and spicy Vietnamese flavors. These cultural hybrid sandwiches are definitely going to be made again around here! The recipe below makes 4 sandwiches.

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

(From the  January 2010 issue of Bon Appetit)

For the Sriracha Mayo:

2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)

For the Meatballs:

1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

For the Sandwiches:

2 cups coarsely grated carrots
2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)*
Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
16 large fresh cilantro sprigs

* 10 inches sounded a little excessive to us. If I go to Subway, I’m a 6-inch sub kind of gal. So cut the bread according to your appetite! Also, the recipe doesn’t say to, but we toasted our rolls in the oven before assembling the sandwiches.

  • Stir all ingredients for the Sriracha mayo in a small bowl. Season with salt. This can be done 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Next, prepare the meatballs. Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange on baking sheet. Meatballs can also be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Toss the grated carrot and daikon with the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
  • Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs. Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes.
  • Cut each baguette or baguette piece horizontally in half. Pull out enough bread from each bread half to leave 1/2-inch-thick shell (we skipped this step and were still able to assemble our sandwiches just fine — it depends on the density of your baguette).
  • Spread Sriracha mayo over each bread shell. Fill each with 1/4 of meatballs. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro on top of meatballs. Drain pickled vegetables; place on top of the sandwiches, pressing down on baguette tops. Enjoy!

“Thai” Basil Stir Fry


One of our favorite Thai dishes was the inspiration for this meal, except that we used regular basil instead of thai basil – the kind that everyone has tons of right now that screams caprese salad or pesto. Well, we wanted to do something a little different with ours. We found it was the perfect addition for a stir fry! Mizuna, carrots, and green beans were sitting in the CSA box waiting to be used, which we coated in an almost-perfected sweet/spicy/salty sauce. As usual, the measurements I’m giving you aren’t specific, but there are some guidelines. Trust your tastebuds! When we were done, it tasted pretty darn close to Thai take-out! If you desire to give your basil a break from Italian food, we recommend this dish.

sesame oil and canola oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
a spoonful of hot chile paste and/or 2 small dried chiles, sliced
2 scallions, white and light green parts chopped, and dark green parts chopped and reserved for garnish
a couple generous handfuls of mizuna leaves
(it cooks down a lot, so don’t be shy)
4-5 small carrots (or 1 large) , sliced into medallions and blanched for 1-2 minutes
(you can skip the blanching if your slices are thin)
a few handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
soy sauce
rice vinegar
mirin
fish sauce
brown sugar
a handful of fresh basil leaves, washed, dried, and sliced

  • Heat a splash (about 2 tsp.) of sesame oil, and a bigger splash (about 2 TBS) of canola oil in a wok until very hot.
  • Add the garlic, chile paste and/or dried chiles and stir fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the scallions and stir fry for another minute.
  • Add the mizuna and green beans and stir fry for 3-4 minutes until mizuna is wilted and green beans are still slightly crisp. Add the carrots and cook a minute or two longer.
  • Add about 1 TBS each of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add about 2 tsp. each of mirin and fish sauce. Add about 1-2 tsp. of brown sugar. Stir everything together.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking (remember, fish sauce is salty so don’t add too much without tasting!)
  • Turn off the heat and stir the basil into the stir fry until it’s wilted.
  • Serve on top of steamed jasmine rice and garnish with reserved green part of scallion.  A dry Riesling would go great with this meal.

    Asian Meatloaf with a Sweet & Spicy Glaze


    I have to admit I was more the souf chef for this one. Dustin comes up with the greatest recipes. I’m proud to have a husband who enjoys being in the kitchen! I had an idea a few weeks ago about making some sort of Asian flavored burger. He was thinking along the lines of meat loaf (which we’ve never made before). So we combined the two and the result was one of the best dinners we’ve had in a while (though the spicy pork tenderloin on Sunday was pretty hard to beat). You can change this recipe any way you like – try adding shredded carrot or chopped water chestnuts, or anything else you desire. We used ground pork and beef, but you could also sub turkey or chicken. Steamed rice seemed like the natural accompaniment, and since the oven was already on for the meatloaf, we roasted some asparagus that I tossed with sesame oil and chili flakes.

    For the Meatloaf:

    2 TBS. red miso, dissolved in a little water to form a paste, divided
    1/2 lb. ground pork
    1/2 lb. ground beef
    1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
    1 egg
    4 green onions, white & green parts chopped
    1/2 cup chopped shitake mushrooms (we used baby shitake mushrooms)
    a thumbnail-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 TBS. soy sauce
    1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
    1 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
    a squeeze of honey
    1 1/2 tsp. mirin
    1 tsp. brown sugar


    Simply Asparagus

    For the Glaze:

    1 TBS. chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
    squeeze of honey
    squeeze of hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
    1/2 tsp. brown sugar

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a little bowl, combine the red miso and a little water to form a paste. Set aside.
      • In a large bowl, combine the ground meats, breadcrumbs, egg, green onion, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and 1 TBS. of the miso paste. Mix with your hands until combined.
      • In the same little bowl as the remaining miso paste, add the soy sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, honey, mirin, and brown sugar. Mix well. Spoon this mixture a little at a time into the meat mixture, and use your hands to incorporate it in. Reserve about a spoonful of sauce in the bottom of the bowl to make the glaze.
      • Shape the meat-mixture into a loaf-shape on a greased baking sheet.
      • To the bowl with the reserved spoonful of sauce, add the chili paste, honey, hot chili sauce, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Spoon on top of the meatloaf.
      • Bake the meatloaf for about 45 minutes or until done. If making a side of roasted asparagus, toss the asparagus on another baking sheet with a drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkling of chili flakes, and some salt & pepper. Put in the oven for the last 10-12 minutes of baking time.
      • Serve with steamed rice. Serves 2.