Saturday, January 02, 2016

New Year's Day Dinner

My grandmother came to the US about 99 years ago, back when Koreans celebrated the new year on January first due to the Japanese "influence". Nowadays, the lunar (or "Chinese") new year is celebrated instead.

The photo at right shows three of the dishes I prepared for our January 1st meal. One reason I'm writing this post, by the way, is to provide a place to write down what I did, approximately, to make the red sauce (my variant of 초장) seen in the lower-right photo, to wit:

  • 2 tablespoons 고추장 (go-chu-jang)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
which is not exactly right, and maybe next time I'll reduce the sugar, but that makes a sweet and sour and hot sauce which is pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Moving counterclockwise from there, that's squid. I was delighted to find a one-pound package of frozen squid at Safeway™ this year—oops, I mean earlier this week. I was even more delighted to find, after thawing the squid, that it had already been cleaned! That was so much better than dealing with a three-pound block of ice+squid uncleaned (the "Sea Wave Calmar" that I've bought in the past) which was both way too much squid for us and way too much work for me; I'm not 35 any more. The bodies are cut into rings, and the cleaned squid is dumped into a couple quarts of boiling water for 90–120 seconds, then drained and refrigerated. They're marinated for no more than a few hours in a mixture of

  • green onions
  • toasted and ground-up sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • salad oil
  • soy sauce
and unfortunately I didn't write down any proportions (sorry); maybe next time.

Next, in the upper left, are the mung bean sprouts. These were two pre-washed 8-oz. packages from Safeway, quickly rinsed, and microwaved for about... 6 minutes total maybe? Then they're refrigrated and soaked in the exact same marinade as the squid.

The spinach: This was about 3 pounds, in giant bags from Costco™. I cheated by using pre-washed spinach, a real time-saver and a great blessing of 21st-century civilization. I steamed this stuff in batches using my 8-quart(?) saucepan and a steamer basket. For a batch, I took as many leaves as would fit easily into the pot, and cover for a few minutes. How many is a few? Not too many.

Then I'd pull them out using a pair of long-handled salad tongs into a colander, and put the next batch in. I think it took at least a half-dozen batches to steam all that. The spinach got refrigerated overnight, then I grabbed bunches of leaves maybe an inch in diamater. These I cut into 1-inch lengths, squeezing each little cylindrical section by hand, dumping lots of vitamin-filled water down the drain. Obsessives may wish to collect this stuff and drink it, but not me, not this time.

After all the spinach was drained, the exact same marinade was used to soak it for no more than a few hours. Stirring was needed.

Not shown…

… are the zucchini "chuhn" (my friend google thinks it's spelt "호박전" in Korean) hand-made by the lovely Carol with assistance from Sheri. There was also beef; I got a boneless chuck roast from Safeway and asked the butcher to cut it in maybe 3/16" slices for me. This boosted the price by $2/pound, which for a 4-pound roast was nontrivial but hardly ruinous.

The beef soaks for an hour or two in the above marinade plus some garlic: I smashed then minced four cloves of the stuff and added it to the marinade. It doesn't hurt to score each slice, front and back. They cooked on a charcoal (just call me Neanderthal and a climate-destroyer, but I gas up my little Toyota once a month, and we live in a small house) for no more than 2-3 minutes on one side, and no more than a minute on the other. I don't use a lot of charcoal, so the fire wasn't very hot.

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