Eat consciously. Eat joyously. Eat well.
July 31st
2:31 PM EST

MSG

BTW, MSG won't kill you.

Takeaways from Harold McGee’s piece on MSG: tomatoes, aged Parmesan cheese, and aged steaks all have naturally occurring MSG in them, which is why they taste good; also, there’s no scientific evidence that MSG causes “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” –Lucky Peach (Ramen Issue)

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July 30th
6:31 AM EST

Mul Naengmyeon | Cold Buckwheat Noodles with Broth

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Just because it’s too damned hot to cook doesn’t mean you have to live on chips and guacamole. Of course, chips and guacamole are pretty awesome.

In Korea, when temperatures rise folks turn to Mul Naengmyeon (물 냉면), a satisfying dish of cold buckwheat noodles (naengmyeon) served with beef broth, a variety of refreshing toppings such as sliced white radish (mu, 무), cucumbers and Korean pear (bae, 배), and pungent Asian-style prepared mustard or mustard oil.

Ok, so there is some cooking involved – but it’s limited to preparing the noodles and seasoning the broth. The broth, however, can be made in advance and even frozen. If you have a vegetable peeler, the rest is easy peasy.

Broth
Most packages of Korean buckwheat noodles will come with packets of instant broth seasoning. They’re not bad but homemade broth is so much better. You can either start with your own oxtail soup broth (gori gomtang, 꼬리곰탕) – our recipe here – or with store-bought beef broth.

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• 32 oz (946 mL) beef broth
• 1 cup (237 mL) filtered or bottled water
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce (“soup” soy sauce or gukganjang (국간장), if available)
• 3 oz (90 g) sliced young Korean white radish (yeolmu, 열무) or Japanese daikon
• 2 large or 4 thin whole scallions, roughly chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
• 1 (2” / 5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
• 3 (roughly 3” / 7.5 cm square) pieces of kelp
• 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 tablespoons white vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon Asian/Korean mustard powder (gyeojagaru, 겨자가루)

Combine ingredients in a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Maintain the boil for five minutes then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 30 more minutes. Allow the broth to come to room temperature before straining it into a lidded container. Transfer the broth to the refrigerator to chill.

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Tip: You can freeze all or portions of the broth. We like to make large broth ice cubes and serve them with the finished mul naengmyeon.

Mul Naengmyeon
While traditionalists may balk, we like to think of mul naengmyeon like a salad, using ingredients that are local, fresh and delicious. If you live outside of Korea and nowhere near a Korean grocery store, making use of substitutions is only natural. And yes, we use roast beef. As in American deli counter roast beef. And it is awesome! Feel free to adjust ingredients and proportions.

• 1 (approximately 25 oz / 720 g) package naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles)
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 2 burpless cucumbers
• 2 young Korean white radishes or 1 Japanese daikon
• 1/4 cup thawed frozen spinach or wilted fresh spinach
• 1/2 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
• 1/2 lb (225 g) roast beef, sliced thick
• Korean shredded red pepper / red pepper threads (silgochu, 실고추), to taste
• Black sesame seeds, to taste
Korean prepared mustard* or mustard oil

Other ingredients to consider include hard cooked eggs, carrot ribbons, and sliced Korean pears.

First, prepare the naengmyeon according the package directions but they generally take 3-4 minutes to cook. Unlike Italian pasta, you’ll want to thoroughly rinse naengmyeon under cold water after draining. Rinse until naengmyeon is cool and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle the sesame oil over the bowl and use your hands to mix the oil into all the naengmyeon.

Next, prepare the toppings. Cube the cucumber or, alternatively, turn it into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Likewise, use the vegetable peeler to whittle down the radish. Chop the roast beef into bite-sized pieces.

Finally, evenly portion the naengmyeon, cucumber, radish, spinach, mushrooms and roast beef among four or five large bowls (stainless steel bowls are traditionally used for mul naengmyeon), placing the noodles in the bowls first. Add a cup of the reserved beef broth to each bowl and garnish with silgochu and black sesame seeds.

Serve mul naengmyeon with Korean prepared mustard or mustard oil – each person can mix in their own to taste. If the weather is especially hot we like to serve the dish with a single frozen cube of beef broth – it will gradually melt, keeping the noodles cold and creating more liquid broth for additional servings of noodles.

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*Korean and Japanese prepared mustard is sold in tubes like toothpaste. If you cannot find it whisk together 1 tablespoon hot mustard powder with half a teaspoon of water. Allow the mixture to stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

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July 29th
11:00 AM EST

Know Your Ingredients: Cubeb (Piper cubeba)

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Cubeb, also known as cubeb berries, Java pepper, tailed pepper and, in Hindi, kabab chini (कबाब चीनी), now mostly unknown in the West was once a highly valued spice in Renaissance Europe. A relative of common black pepper, cubeb has a warm, earthy flavor with notes of pine and nutmeg. Today it is commonly used in Moroccan cuisine including the famous spice blend ras el hanout (رأس الحانوت), Indonesian curries, and as a flavoring agent for spirits such as akvavit and gin (it is a predominant botanical in Bombay Sapphire). Use cubeb in place or in combination with black pepper to add greater dimension to your cooking.

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Piper cubeba, from Köhler’s Medicinal Plants (1887)

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July 28th
8:09 PM EST
A few pictures taken over the weekend at and around our Sullivan County farmhouse test kitchen.

A few pictures taken over the weekend at and around our Sullivan County farmhouse test kitchen.

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8:01 AM EST

Green Tomato Salsa

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Though they are related, green tomatoes – simply under-ripe red tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) – are not the same as tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica), a green (and sometimes purple) husked fruit of the same family. Both are more tart than sweet with a texture that is rather dry making them interchangeable – but only when you’re in a pinch. We were in a pinch.

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While salsa verde made from tomatillos is a classic Mexican sauce, green tomatoes are rarely used in cooking. Our garden, however, had an abundance of tomatoes at the very end of the growing season that just were not going to ripen. We turned to the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for a solution. What follows is our adaptation of the book’s own Green Tomato Salsa recipe.

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Even though this recipe employs a substitution don’t think of it as a compromise. The healthy volume of lime juice not only acidifies the recipe, making it safe for home canning, but also makes the green tomatoes taste a little more like tomatillos. The combination of dried and fresh hot peppers gives this salsa some nice depth. We also love the texture: because green tomatoes are quite dry – they reminds us of eggplants – the salsa, even when processed in a water bath canner will have the consistency of pico de gallo. You could process the salsa further with an immersion blender to make a delicious simmer sauce that would be delicious with chicken or fish.

Finally, you don’t have to can the salsa (it will last about a week in the refrigerator if you don’t) but if you do it might be a good idea to review proper technique over at the National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://nchfp.uga.edu/).

• 7 cups cored green tomatoes, diced
• 2 guajillo peppers
• 2 pasilla oaxaqueña or chipotle peppers
• 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, minced
• 2 cups finely chopped red onion
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup lime juice
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, minced
• 2 teaspoons toasted cumin seed, ground
• 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the Peppers
Toast the guajillo and pasilla peppers on a dry pan until fragrant. Cut away and discard the stem, membrane and seeds. Finely mince the prepared peppers.

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Cook the Salsa
Combine the tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, lime juice and salt in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. While the lime juice and salt will eventually soften the tomatoes don’t expect a soupy, loose salsa.

Once at a boil add the cilantro, cumin, oregano and black pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

Canning
If you are preserving your salsa, ladle it into prepared canning jars, leaving a half-inch headspace and process for 20 minutes. Tip: To more easily fill the jars first pour the salsa from the pot you cooked it in to a large measuring cup or pitcher.

P.S. Check out 500 Tasty Sandwiches’ other salsa recipes: 

Tío Ricardo’s Roasted Tomatillo & Tomato Salsa
Sikil P’ak (Yucatán Pepita Salsa)
Beer Salsa
Salsa de Pasilla Oaxaqueña

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July 26th
3:00 PM EST
Did you know 500 Tasty Sandwiches is on Facebook? “Like” us and all your wildest dreams will come true!

Did you know 500 Tasty Sandwiches is on Facebook? “Like” us and all your wildest dreams will come true!

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July 25th
9:03 AM EST
Recipe for Hot Dogs on the Rocks from Roberta Ashley’s 1967 book, Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen, in honor of Mick Jagger’s birthday (July 26th).

Recipe for Hot Dogs on the Rocks from Roberta Ashley’s 1967 book, Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen, in honor of Mick Jagger’s birthday (July 26th).

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July 24th
11:00 AM EST

Hungry for more? Follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches on Facebook and Twitter!

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July 23rd
6:35 AM EST

Know Your Ingredients: Korean Prepared Mustard (연겨자)

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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.

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July 22nd
10:00 AM EST

Vand Chhako (ਵੰਡ ਛਕੋ)

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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.

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