6:35 AM EST
Know Your Ingredients: Korean Prepared Mustard (연겨자)
Yeongyeoja (연겨자) or Korean prepared mustard adds sinus-clearing piquancy to dishes like mul naengmyeon (물 냉면), cold buckwheat noodles, raw vegetable salads and, used as a condiment, to a wide variety of fried snacks. It has a very sharp flavor reminiscent of wasabi and a pleasing pale yellow color. The smooth, medium-thin paste is sold in tubes like toothpaste. Ottogi (smiling boy) and Chung Jung Won (sun/sea/land; pictured above) are leading brands.
If you cannot find yeongyeoja you can make it yourself. Simply combine 1 tablespoon hot mustard powder (gyeojagaru, 겨자가루) with half a teaspoon of water and allow the mixture to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
10:00 AM EST
Vand Chhako (ਵੰਡ ਛਕੋ)
At the Harmandir Sahib (ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ) or Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, approximately 40,000 visitors are served langar each day, though the number can swell to 100,000 on holy days and on weekends.
The Sikh ethos is shaped in part by a set of guidelines for virtuous living known as the Three Pillars: (1) disciplined spiritual practice focused on surmounting evil in order for virtue to prevail, (2) ethical fulfillment of one’s God-given potential, and (3) the selfless cultivation of community by sharing one’s material and spiritual wealth.
But I thought this was a food blog? We’re getting to it!
The altruistic third pillar, known as vand chhako (ਵੰਡ ਛਕੋ) in Punjabi, manifests itself in many ways. One example is the serving of free food (without proselytizing) to anyone, regardless of religion or caste, who visits a gurdwara (ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ), a Sikh temple. To this end, the food, cooked by volunteers, is vegetarian, so all may enjoy the meal. The kitchen where the food is prepared and served, and the meal itself, are known as langar (ਲੰਗਰ). Notable langar customs include mixed seating (men, women and children sit together communally) and eating while seated on the floor, a convention which engenders a sense of humility and equality among visitors. Also, because the langar is part of a larger gurdwara religious complex, shoes are removed and head coverings are worn at all times.
6:18 AM EST
Living in Spain during the late 70s with my Russian ex-boyfriend, Joan-Vladamir taught me many things. Don’t ask high-ranking Soviet officials how they got that scar. Don’t discuss Stalin at the dinner table. And when in doubt, drink.
Although we lived in València, we picked up drinking Kalimotxo from a group of young Basque dissidents we hosted over a summer. The mixture of Coca-Cola and less-than-premium but full-bodied Spanish wine may seem like a terrible idea but it’s actually pretty awesome (and can salvage that bottle of two-buck-Chuck you’ve been embarrassed to serve). Don’t judge.
Sweet, robust and tannic, kalimotxo is an especially great summer drink. Adjust the quantities to taste though you’ll probably want to go easy on the Coke.
• 1-2 parts Tempranillo or Rioja wine
• 1 part Coca-Cola
Combine wine and Coca-Cola one serving at a time to preserve the carbonation. Kalimotxo is often served over ice but we actually prefer it simply made with chilled wine and Coca-Cola. Adding a touch of sherry gives it a flavor reminiscent of sangria though you may want to cut back on the proportion of Coca-Cola as it can become cloyingly sweet.
6:36 AM EST
It’s hot. It’s sticky. Well, you think you have it bad? Ho Chi Minh City (i.e., Saigon), the largest city in Vietnam, has year-round average temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and a mean relative humidity well over 80%. In short, the Vietnamese how to combat oppressive summertime weather – and quite deliciously, we might add!
One tasty thirst quencher is Chanh Muối, Vietnamese salted, pickled limeade. Does the idea of a sweet,sour and salty beverage sound strange to you? Perhaps you’ve never had a margarita or Gatorade.
Starting with the limes themselves which also go by the name chanh muối, it takes about a month to prepare this summer treat. Preserved in brine, however, the limes keep indefinitely and can also be prepared as a warm tonic in winter months (warm chanh muối is a Vietnamese home remedy for the cold and flu). When ready to serve chanh muối simply pluck out a few wedges, muddle with ice and optional sugar and add water (sparkling or still). Some folks simply add lemon/lime soda like 7-Up or Sprite.
Each chanh muối recipe is a little different so we’ll provide you with a general method good for any quantity of limes. Speaking of which, the Vietnamese language (and many other languages) doesn’t distinguish between lemons and limes and you can easily make this recipe with lemons if you prefer. In Vietnam, smaller varieties of limes similar to Key limes are typically used.
• 1 part sea salt (by volume)
• 6 parts bottled or filtered water
• Sterilized jar (e.g., Ball or Weck canning jar)
Blanch the limes in boiling water for 30 seconds and rub them dry with a clean kitchen towel. This step removes any wax that may have been sprayed on the fruit but also helps extract some of the limes’ essential oil (you want them to dry out a bit). Leave the limes out at room temperature for a day or two to become slightly desiccated. You can skip this step if you’re in a rush. If you’re really in a hurry, simply wash the limes with a bit of dish soup to remove residual wax – just be sure to rinse thoroughly.
Next, quarter the limes (halve the limes if you’re using a smaller Key lime variety) and tightly pack them into the sterilized jar. Press on them slightly to release a bit of juice and to make more room.
Add half the jar’s volume in water to a saucepan and stir in the appropriate volume of salt (6:1 water to salt ratio). For example, if you’ve filled a quart (4 cups) jar with lime wedges, combine 2 cups of water and 1/3 cup of salt to make your brine. Over medium heat, stir the salt until dissolved. Allow the brine to cool slightly but while it’s still hot but not hot enough to burn you, pour it into the jar of limes. Place a lid on the jar (not too tightly; as the limes gently ferment gas will need to escape) and place the jar on a plate (some brine may leak out as the chanh muối ferments).
From here it is best to leave the jar out in the open for 2-3 weeks. The vibrant green color of the limes will dull at which point you’ll know the chanh muối is ready. Extract lime wedges with a clean fork each time and you won’t have to worry about the limes going bad – chanh muối can be safely stored unrefrigerated if you use common sense.
How you make chanh muối the drink is entirely up to you. Play with proportions of lime, sugar and water until you find what you like. Experiment with lemon/lime sodas or even use chanh muối as the foundation for a refreshing cocktail. Dô (Cheers)!
6:39 AM EST
Tteok (떡) Genovese
Pesto – that delicious Italian amalgamation of basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon and olive oil – to us is the essence of summer. Such fresh flavors and wonderful green color! In Liguria, where pesto as we know it comes from, it is often served with trofie, a hand-formed squiggle of a pasta. We provided a recipe for trofie previously. Pesto is also delicious with the little potato dumplings known as gnocchi. However, we found a pairing that we feel is unbeatable: pesto and Korean rice cakes known as tteok (떡). Made from glutinous brown or white rice and sliced into coin-shaped pieces, tteok are sold frozen in Korean groceries. Tteok are easy and quick to prepare (boil like pasta), delightfully chewy, and light. They are also fantastic at absorbing the flavors of whatever dish you add them too. Two of the world’s greatest culinary traditions converge in 500 Tasty Sandwiches’ Tteok (떡) Genovese.
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Pinch of salt
• 12 shrimp, shelled and deveined
• Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
• 4 cups brown rice tteok (떡)
• 1 cup pesto (our recipe here)
• Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Tteok (떡) Genovese is prepared in stages: first we sauté the tomatoes, separately we prepare the shrimp and cook the tteok and finally we combine each component.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft. Transfer to a bowl but do not clean out the pan.
Return the pan to the stovetop and reduce the heat to medium. Add the shrimp and a pinch of black pepper and cook until pink. Add additional olive oil to prevent sticking if necessary. Combine the shrimp and tomatoes.
Add tteok to a pot of boiling salted (as salty as the sea) water and cook until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Cooked through they will remain chewier than gnocchi. Strain but do not rinse.
Add the drained tteok to the tomatoes and shrimp and fold in the pesto until well incorporated. Season with additional salt and pepper and garnish with crushed red pepper flakes. Buon appetito!