Rolling Rice

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In Korean, “Kim/gim” = seaweed,  and”Bap” = rice.

You may know kimbap (or gimbap) as “Korean sushi rolls”. However, they are not in fact sushi at all, but do resemble sushi rolls. Instead of as fancy food like sushi in Japan, kimbap is eaten as a snack or finger food. It is almost like the Korean version of a sandwich. The fillings can vary but traditional fillings tend to include seasoned vegetables, egg, fish cake, beef, and or imitation crab.

Making kimbap takes some time and effort as you have to individually assemble each rice roll and it’s one of my favorite things to make for my personal kitchen therapy.

Here’s what I rolled up into my rice rolls!

Kimbap (Korean seaweed rice rolls)

  • short grain rice, cooked
  • sesame oil
  • garlic, minced
  • salt
  • sugar
  • nori (seaweed sheets)
  • eggs
  • cucumbers, julienned
  • carrots, julienned
  • Korean pickled radish, cut into long strips
  • spinach
  • thinly sliced lean beef or lean ground beef
  • bulgogi marinade, homemade or store-bought
  • bamboo sushi mat

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Take your beef and put it in a gallon sized freezer ziploc bag or a large bowl. Add your marinade and mix and massage it into the meat. Zip your ziploc bag or cover your bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours.

In the mean time cook your rice and prepare your vegetables with all the necessary slicing and dicing!

Once your rice is cooked, mix in enough sesame oil to lightly coat the rice. Set it aside and let it cool.

Julienne your cucumber, pickled radish, and carrots.

Heat a nonstick frying pan to medium/high heat.

Saute your garlic in enough sesame oil to coat the garlic.

Blanch (or saute in water) a bag of spinach until wilted. The spinach shrinks a lot so be generous! Drain spinach and allow to cool. Using a cheesecloth or your clean hands, squeeze out enough water so that the spinach no longer releases water.

Combine your garlic, salt, and spinach and add sesame oil as necessary so that the spinach is fragrant of sesame. The sesame flavor is important!

Set your spinach mixture aside.

Add your carrots to the pan. Add a bit of water and steam your carrots until cooked through. The water should have cooked off. If not, drain the water. Salt your carrots. This should help with flavor and also keep the carrots dry.

Set carrots aside.

Beat 2 or 3 eggs in a bowl with a dash of sugar and salt. Add to hot pan on medium heat. Cover pan and allow egg to cook through so that you get a nice flat pancake shaped omelette.

Note: It’s beneficial if you have a rectangular or square pan – you can get nice even strips.

Once your eggs are set,  carefully flip the entire thing. Remove from pan once cooked through. You shouldn’t have to wait very long for the other side to cook.

Allow to cool. Cut your egg into thin strips.

When you are ready and your beef has been marinating long enough, add your bulgogi beef to a hot pan on medium/high heat. Flip the meat once it has browned. Remove from pan when cooked through. Make sure nothing is pink!

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You are now ready to roll some rice.

Lay out your bamboo sushi mat on a flat surface and have your ingredients at reach. If you don’t have one of these, you can still make your kimbap! You’ll just have to be nifty and roll your rice rolls with your hands!

Place a piece of gim (seaweed sheet) onto your mat. Make sure the bottom edge of your seaweed sheet is lined up with the edge of the bamboo mat.

Scoop about half a cup of  your rice. Spread the rice into a thin layer on your seaweed. You should be able to see through the rice just a bit. Leave about two inches of uncovered seaweed at the top. img_3700

Add a small row of each of the ingredients at the bottom of your seaweed (opposite to the side where you left the seaweed free of rice.) Be careful not to over crowd this part. As you keep rolling rice, you’ll get the hang of about how much of your ingredients to add. See my photos for reference.

I actually think I could have fit more ingredients into mine but didn’t want to ruin a roll by accidentally overshooting it. 

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Once you have your ingredients in place, again, make sure the edge of your seaweed sheet is lined up with the edge of the bamboo mat. Carefully start rolling from the bottom. You basically want to roll over the bottom edge of the seaweed and rice layer so that it contacts the part of the seaweed and rice layer just past the mass of ingredients so that you trap the ingredients with the seaweed and rice layer. (That was a mouthful).

Once you have that part rolled over, you’re almost good to go. This part is important to the integrity of your roll, as you want it to be as tight as you can get it to be so that the ingredients stay in the roll.

Once you have completed the initial fold over, press down with the bamboo mat so that it is tight (as seen in the above picture). Maintaining tightness, continue to roll and press with the bamboo mat until you reach the end of the seaweed piece.

Seal the edge with a light coating of water. You simply need to dab your fingers in some water and rub the edge down so that it holds.

Congratulations! You now have successfully created your first kimbap roll!

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I just keep rolling until I get too hungry and want to take a break to eat some or until I run out of ingredients!

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Once you have made your rolls and are ready to eat them, place on a cutting board. Take a long and sharp knife and wet the knife. This is a trick so that the knife does not stick so much to the ingredients, particularly the rice, and cuts through more smoothly.

Hold down your rolls and using long slicing motions that incorporate almost the entire length of the blade, slice your kimbap into ~1/2 inch pieces. I have found that each roll cuts into about 12-14 pieces.

Note: Using long slicing motions yields a nice smooth cut and prevents the knife from squishing the roll and causing it to break apart.

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Share, eat, and enjoy! These are meant to be eaten with your hands. Eat them on their own or serve with a side of some extra pickled radishes, kimchi, more beef, or whatever you want really.

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Carolyn’s Poke Stop – Salmon Poke & Pokemon Go!

img_2635Poke is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. I decided to try making this myself since it seemed simple enough. I find that with any raw type of dish that the determining factor is the quality of the ingredients. For example, if your fish is not fresh, no matter how well you season it, something will still taste less off. This is the reason I chose to use salmon, which I am biased towards as my favorite sashimi fish probably because I have never had quality tuna due to lack of fresh fish and fish markets in the area similar to those you may find in Japan or Hawaii. I was able to find some decent quality sushi grade salmon at my local Asian supermarket.

Salmon Poke (Serves 3)

  • 2 lbs sushi grade salmon, diced
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced
  • 1/4 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium roma tomatos, diced
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • garlic salt
  • crushed red pepper, optional if you like some spiciness
  • Optional toppings ie. sesame seeds, nori, edamame, crab salad, seaweed salad, etc..

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Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix together until well mixed.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This will allow the seasonings to meld together and sink into the fish.

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Serve with sushi rice or any rice of your choice! Top with toppings for that extra color and flavor complex!

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Enjoy!

And no, my kitchen is not in fact actually a Poke stop. This is in reference to the recent and ever so popular smart phone game Pokemon Go!

Pokemon Go is a virtual reality game that you can play on your phone. This game encourages its players to go out and explore the world as the map on the game uses the GPS on your phone to base it off an actual real world map.

Using the streets where you are walking, there are various “Poke stops” and “gyms” which are actual landmark or business locations near you. At a Poke stop you can collect goodies like Pokeballs, potions, and other items you may need on your Pokemon adventure and at gyms you can battle other players and defend your respective virtual reality team. Along the way, you will find Pokemon that you can try to capture. If you have your AR setting on, it appears as if the Pokemon is right in front of you, as seen in the following photos. Different types of Pokemon can be found in different respective habitats. For example, water Pokemon would be more likely to be found by a beach.

I believe the purpose of this game is to encourage video game lovers to get up and walk around and enjoy the outdoors as a chronic issue of video game playing is lack of physical activity and outdoor exposure. I think this is a great start to promoting more movement to address our current society’s issue of sedentary lifestyle and attachment to our technology and devices.

Pokemon Go has made taking walks a bit more interesting and I must say I have had a lot of fun walking down the Vegas strip, Golden Gate Park, Pier 39 playing this game with friends who are also Pokemon Go enthusiasts.

However, I do not believe that this type of game is the solution to our sedentary lifestyle. I do believe it is a great joint address to the device dependence and lack of physical activity in many people, however a regular exercise routine and adequate eating is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Even though it has encouraged me to walk around and go outside more, I still find myself playing this game while waiting at a restaurant or if I am the passenger in the car. I do believe that the world would be a better place if we did walk around more and if we got off of our devices during times that we should be enjoying the moment and our surroundings at that moment, especially if we are in the company of friends and or family. I did enjoy walking around playing this game, but I do acknowledge that I probably missed some worthy sights on the Vegas strip, at Golden Gate Park, and at Pier 39 from having my eyes glued to my iPhone screen.

We are all probably overdue for some quality face to face time with our loved ones and some true appreciation of the buildings and plants around us and the food that we eat, because more often than not, we are stuck staring down at our LED rectangles instead.

I hope my take on Pokemon Go and some first world problems was at least somewhat insightful and or interesting to you. If not, I hope you at least enjoyed this poke recipe. Thanks for reading!

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Winter Fancy Food Show 2016

IMG_3798Let me apologize ahead of time for this is an extremely extremely late post on the Winter Fancy Food Show in January 2016. I never got around to writing this post and it almost became a lost cause, but I decided to finish it now because it was an experience worth sharing about.

It also got me thinking about food product development and my undergraduate education and ambitions.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to San Francisco’s Moscone Center and attend this expo as a representative of UC Davis Food Science. This event was reminiscent of taking a trip to Costco, but on steroids. There were samples on samples on samples of foods.

There were piles of premium chocolate, some instant tea droplets, various bowls of uniquely flavored candies, entire limbs of high quality prosciutto and slabs of the best tasting tuna with representatives waiting to slice you a sample of their prized products. Specialty foods are growing in the market. People are willing to pay more for these unique, higher quality foods that are made in smaller quantities. This fancy food show was the place to showcase food innovation at its finest.

(I wish I took more pictures but all I had at the time was my iPhone 5S and was a bit too caught up in eating the food over photographing the food)

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I started off with a piece of chocolate. This was the first thing I saw upon entering the first large show room (there were several!).

Notable: some floral flavored chocolate and a spicy chocolate square.

Following are some of the highlights of my fancy food adventure!

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Artwork with well chosen medium – jelly beans.

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Custom made gelato pop!

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Many, many vendors.

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Some very smooth tasting tuna.

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Freshly sliced cured meats!

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Belgian waffles

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My favorite sight of the day – macaron Golden Gate Bridge

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Various truffle products – white truffle cream, white truffle oil, sliced black summer truffle, truffle honey, truffle sea salt

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The Fancy Food Show, like a Petri dish for growing food trends.

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Fondue and a chocolate fountain!

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Bob from Bob’s Red Mill

IMG_3807Here is a photo of many of the samples I was able to take home and savor later!

From larger to smaller companies, what I enjoyed most about this event was to see the creativeness implemented in so many of the food products. This is the future of food!

So back to how this experience gave me some food for thought about food product development. I have recently graduated with my food science degree with a consumer science emphasis, so food product development is a field I am continuously working towards flourishing in.

Someone had to think of each food product that we use.

Someone had to take raw materials and process them and meld them together to formulate something new and unique for consumers to consume.

Someone also had to experiment with the formula for these products with statistical and sensory tests to narrow down a general idea down to a specific product that will be liked enough and actually sell well int its target market.

I realize this is why I chose my field of study. I want to get people excited about new flavors and foods or even revamp the classic ones.

Growing up drawing as a hobby, I see food product development like an art project. You choose your media, designate a canvas, and execute the piece. Sometimes it takes a few tries, some scrapped work, and some new ideas to produce that final product.  Throughout the process, you bring together your materials (ingredients) in your studio (kitchen) and transform these materials into a masterpiece  (your final food product or dish).

This world of culinary innovation excites me for the future and my own future. My first exposures to such excitement was when I visited the new local Trader Joe’s in my hometown in 2004 when I was 10 years old. Trader Joe’s is infamous as the place to be adventurous as you can find new and unique food products to try with their smaller portions and consistent inflow of new products.

I hope to someday contribute to the research and development of the food industry with my creativity and passion for cooking, food science, and nutrition.

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Summer of Pancakes

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and gets me excited to get out of bed. I generally crave something sweet first thing, so pancakes and waffles are my favorite. But if you know me, I can eat breakfast food at any time of the day – pancakes, waffles, eggs, and potatoes.

I used to think that I disliked pancakes and that I only liked waffles, but I actually really love both. I’ve taken a liking to pancakes this year and have eaten more pancakes than ever this summer.

Pancakes are lighter and a bit simpler to make than waffles, as there is next to no fat in the batter and you just need a frying pan to cook them instead of a waffle maker. Pancakes are not crispy like waffles, which is why I have always considered myself a waffle person, but I have found that I do actually like pancakes if they are fluffy enough and WITHOUT SYRUP. I have a huge disliking towards any sogginess in food and have discovered that I enjoy pancakes if they are not doused in syrup and this may have been the reason for me not to like them as much in the past. So for my undergraduate graduation this past Spring, I couldn’t help but put a stack of pancakes on my cap.

This graduation was followed by summer of fantastic pancakes to go with a summer of fantastic adventures with my boyfriend John. Here is a tour of my summer of pancakes.

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My graduation cap decoration.

 

I started my summer off by visiting the PACE digital art gallery in Menlo Park complete with brunch at Bill’s Cafe right before.

The portions at Bill’s are massive. I think I should have just ordered pancakes only because I couldn’t finish all three huge pancakes in addition to my ham steak and poached eggs.

These banana macadamia coconut pancakes were to die for.

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Banana macadamia coconut pancakes at Bill’s Cafe in San Jose, CA

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You can tell that I like pancakes and that John was excited for EDC.

There was a super cool interactive digital installation where you can scan your very own artwork which would then be digitized and brought to life on a screen. Visitors are provided pre-made outlines of fish which we were able to watch swim on a background of a coral reef under the ocean. There was another similar interactive display but with outlines of automobiles and a background of a town and its roads.

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The night before EDC.

The following week, we took our long awaited road trip to Las Vegas for EDC Las Vegas 2016. If you don’t already know, the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas is a three night event, Friday – Sunday from 6 pm – 6 am. As soon as we checked into our hotel, we began adjusting our sleep schedules from normal to night owls. Getting a bit hungry by 4 am, we went to get some early morning brunch/brinner/breakfast/late night snack/meal. I couldn’t resist $2 pancakes even though I already ordered a plate of hashbrowns, eggs, and toast.

As I was saying, I am always down to eat breakfast/brunch food at any time of the day.

I continued my pancake adventure after EDC as I spent a few weeks in the LA area until driving to Vegas once again to spectate the USPA Powerlifting National Championships.

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Cinnamon roll pancakes at Kimmie’s Coffee Cup in Fullerton, CA

These cinnamon roll pancakes were delicious but I’m glad I got the glaze on the side because they were extremely sweet on their own. I experienced quite unpleasant indigestion for the rest of the day after this due to my insistence on finishing all of my food.

After dining out so much, my stomach and my wallet both became sufficiently worn, so I began making pancakes at home again.

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Sometimes Bisquick is the best.

I would cook pancakes from scratch, but Bisquick makes the fluffiest, most satisfying and also affordable pancakes.

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The day back after our Vegas trip for USPA Powerlifting Nationals.

However, my all time favorite pancake mix is Kodiak Cakes brand Power Cakes mix. As a powerlifter, I do need to consume more protein than the average person to maintain adequate nutrition due to constant stress on the muscles. Power Cakes has added protein to the mix ~ 14 g per serving allowing me to have pancakes for breakfast with a kick of the protein that I need. Kodiak Cakes brand also use all whole grains and egg whites in their mixes so I can consume pancakes on the daily and still have an affordable, nutritious breakfast. Sometimes I don’t want to eat eggs or meat so getting protein from pancakes is fantastic!

I am eternally grateful to Costco for carrying this mix for $11.99 for a pack of three. You can generally find it elsewhere for $5-6 a box. John and I went through an entire Costco box in two weeks because we decided to have pancakes for breakfast every morning.

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Strawberry fields ❤

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Strawberries and kiwi

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Blueberry walnut matcha

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Aren’t these Star Wars mugs that John got for me the cutest?

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The process

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Blueberry pancakes

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John loves my pancakes too.

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So I guess I’m a pancake person.

I had a lot of fun this summer cooking and consuming pancakes. I was able to take advantage of seasonal fruits – strawberries and blueberries are my favorite. Sadly, you know summer is over when the prices of these fruits begin to rise again (and when you see pumpkin spice products on shelves).

Now that summer is over… nothing really changes. I will keep craving sweet foods for breakfast thus I will keep eating and making pancakes when I have time.

What’s your favorite way to have pancakes? Or do you swear by waffles? Or do you prefer savory breakfasts?

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Mine vs his. He likes a lot of syrup, I like next to none.

 

Oh and I didn’t forget about waffles. Here’s a little something for you waffle people because I love waffles too. (Bonus if you’re a Star Wars fan!)

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Death Star waffles. Thanks John for the waffle maker!

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Fermented Soybean Paste Stew

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Korean food can be so hearty and light at the same time. This stew is one of my favorite Korean dishes as the soybean paste makes a rich broth, yet the vegetables and tofu keep the dish light.

Having completed my undergraduate career about a month ago, I am currently still in the process of moving back home and job hunting. Where I went to school, there was a scarce supply of Asian ingredients making it difficult not to miss dishes close to my roots. One thing that I enjoy about being back at home is that I am fortunate enough to have a variety of Asian markets to do my grocery shopping.

I could only think of making this dish for dinner tonight when my grandmother gave me a beautiful squash grown right in her own backyard and when my mom brought home some locally handmade tofu.

Doenjang Jigae (Fermented Soybean Paste Stew)

  • 1 pack tofu, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini/Korean zucchini, chopped
  • handful enoki mushrooms, pulled apart
  • handful shittake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 piece dried kelp, ~2″x2″
  • handful dried anchovies
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tbsp fermented soybean paste (doenjang)
  • 1 tsp Korean chili pepper flakes
  • Some other optional add ins: Korean spicy marinated pork OR just some ground beef OR chopped up SPAM OR small clams

To make the broth, start by boiling your water in a pot. Add  kelp and anchovies and let boil on high heat for about 15-20 minutes. The broth is the most important part to a good doenjang jigae.

Strain out the kelp and anchovies. Reduce to medium heat.

Dissolve the doenjang into the broth.

Then add the garlic and chili pepper flakes (I used a whole dried chili pepper because I did not have any Korean chili flakes on hand). Simmer for a few minutes.

Add your vegetables – the zucchini, onions, and mushrooms. Simmer for a few more minutes until vegetables look cooked through.

Now add your tofu and simmer for another few minutes.

Serve with rice. This stew also goes well with some kimchi and some marinated meat.

NOTE: For some more meaty flavor, you can add some spicy marinated pork, chopped up SPAM, ground beef, or clams. Or you can just keep it light and omit the meat. To make this dish completely vegetarian, omit the anchovies from the broth.

ANOTHER NOTE: Stew often tastes even better after it sits for a while because the flavors further meld together over time, so leftovers will be just as delicious!

Enjoy!

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Red Bean Stuffed Matcha French Toast

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I finally got my hands on some matcha powder that I picked up at my local Asian supermarket. Matcha is finely powdered green tea leaves and can be added to liquid and consumed as a beverage or is popularly added into baked goods. Since it is concentrated green tea as it is made from the leaf itself, it can be a good alternative to coffee. It also adds an interesting flavor to your drink or food. Also, if you have heard about the health benefits of green tea, such as its high content of polyphenols, you may guess that matcha has a higher content than just steeped green tea! And you are correct! 

In case you don’t already know, here are some more good things to know about matcha.

I decided to try something different with it. I love breakfast food, I love French toast, and I love matcha, so why not matcha French toast? Asian-European fusion at its finest!

Red Bean Stuffed Matcha French Toast (Serves 1)

  • Two slices of soft/sweet bread (I used coconut toast bread from the Asian market that I found in my fridge)
    • Note: mine would have turned out better if I had thicker bread and red bean paste instead of red beans.
  • 1/4 cup boiled adzuki (red) beans + desired amount of sweetener [or prepared red bean paste (even better)]
  • a generous amount of cream cheese
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 egg
  • splash of milk
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp butter

Beat egg in a shallow dish.

Mix in a splash of milk and matcha powder.

Dip your slices of bread into the matcha egg batter. Cover entire pieces of bread with batter. Soak up that green deliciousness.

Heat a frying pan or skillet on medium heat. Melt your butter onto the pan.

Fry bread on both sides until browned and cooked through. Are you excited yet?

Assemble: Slather slices of bread generously with cream cheese. Add red bean mixture or red bean paste. Fold together like a sandwich and press together.

Top with powdered sugar and other toppings of choice such as sliced fruit, maple syrup, and or chocolate chips.

Enjoy your creation!

 

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Sometimes I crave Korean food…

IMG_5391[1]Bibimbap (Korean for “mixed rice”) is one of my all time favorite Korean dishes and it is also incredibly simple! There are many variations of this dish depending on ingredients on hand. It is traditionally made with warm rice topped with a variety of vegetables, usually an egg, often some beef, and gojuchang, a savory and spicy red chili paste.

There are two versions of bibimbap. It can be made in an ordinary bowl or can be made in a stone pot (which would be called dolsot bibimbap) which keeps the food hot and allows the rice to crisp. I hope to invest in one of these stone pots eventually as I am a huge fan of crispy rice. I highly recommend giving it a try if you can! If not, this bibimbap recipe will do wonderfully as well!

Simple Veggie Bibimbap (serves 1)

  • handful of shredded carrots
  • handful of mung bean sprouts
  • half of 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • a handful of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (I only had button mushrooms on hand)
  • a handful of spinach
  • a handful of kimchi (fermented cabbage)
  • sesame oil
  • garlic salt
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg
  • ~1.5 cups cooked white Calrose rice
  • gojuchang

IMG_5386[1]Heat a nonstick frying pan with medium heat.

Lay out rice on the bottom of a wide round dish.

In your hot pan, pour in a small amount of sesame oil. Saute zucchini in the oil until tender. Season with garlic salt.

Repeat this for the rest of the vegetables one by one.

(I sauteed some sliced green onions into the spinach and the mung bean sprouts for added flavor.)

Lay each of the vegetable bunches on top of the rice in a circular fashion as shown.

Proceed to add some more oil to your pan.

Crack your egg into the pan and fry sunny side up.

Top your dish with your egg.

Garnish with more sliced green onions and some sesame seeds.

Top with gojuchang. (not pictured)

Bibimbap is “mixed rice” so mix it up and enjoy!

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Serve with some KBBQ on the side if you wish! I made some bulgogi, Korean marinated beef, to go with my mixed rice.

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