Tag Archives: gochujang

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Gosh, I can’t believe the results of the election. I am just so disappointed in the United States for making such a dumb vote. No really. I think anyone who voted for Trump over Hillary is an idiot who has no idea how the government, economy, and budgeting works. Period. If you are hiring a person to work, who would you hire? The person with zero skill sets and wasn’t very good at his previous job, or the highly qualified person? I think the thing that scares me the most is what this election symbolizes. I have a very bad feeling there will be a huge rise in hate crimes. I don’t think the government will fail and crumble, but I do think there will be some damage to a lot of human rights movements, the economy, and our government budget.

The saddest part is that I was getting many phone calls from Philadelphia asking if I voted yet. I was once registered in Pennsylvania when I was going to school at UArts. It was exciting to know my vote counted in a swing state. It helped elect president Obama. It felt awesome. And it is sad thinking that I have a voicemail from a woman asking if I could walk around the corner to vote, when I wasn’t registered to vote in that state. Yes, I am happy and proud that Clinton did so well in the state of New Jersey, but it is so depressing that my vote isn’t counting more. If we are lucky there will be a strong movement to change the electoral voting system.

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But I think it is important to keep on moving, so let’s talk about these Kimchi Nacho Tots. I thought about this dish after Olives For Dinner made some gochujang queso. Many people who eat Korean food might think cheese + gochujang seems like a mistake. But it is a pretty awesome combo. Making a platter similar to nachos with tater tots is a pretty American meal. But I prefer midwest method of making a bubbly casserole with the tater tots.

I like to eat these with some corn tortilla chips, lettuce, salsa, and korean pickles. Having the mix of soft melty cheese and potato and crunch cold textures is a match made in heaven. The recipe is pretty customizable, just keep things either tex-mex or asian inspired. Don’t want black beans? Try tofu or beef crumbles. Ran out of salsa? Try making some quick cucumber pickles with rice vinegar and sesame oil.

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For this recipe I used Daiya for the cheesy sauce. I don’t normally using fake cheese in this sort of way, but I ran out of nutritional yeast (oh no!) So this was a lot more rich than what I was use to. You can pick whatever cheese you want, but try and pick one similar to cheddar or monterey jack and it make sure it can melt. If it still isn’t your thing, feel free to use nutritional yeast. No biggie.

As for gochujang, it is an important part of the dish. It is a fermented chili paste that is popular in Korean cooking. The taste is pretty unique compared to other chili pastes out there. Luckily it is becoming increasingly more common place in groceries stores so you can grab some. If you live near a Korean or Asian food market you might be able to find MANY different kinds of gochujang. You can even pick from heat levels. If you don’t like hot, I suggest trying to get a mild version and using the max amount. If not, just cut down on the amount.

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If you still can’t find any gochujang, I recommend checking out my cheater’s gochujang recipe, that I listed below. It still uses Korean pepper, but that is much cheaper to get from Amazon online than a bottle of paste. 

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Last Monday I was able to hang out with Alexa and try out two new restaurants. It was amazing. But one thing we talked about was our diets, cuz that is what vegans and weight lifters do. Alexa mentioned how she is eating a high protein diet, trying to get about 113 grams of protein and 150 grams of carbs. It made me think about my diet, as I have started to shift towards a very carb-veggie heavy diet. I hit my protein requirements, but I like trying out new recipes. One thing I learned in art school is that sometime making rules for your art can actually help you creatively. So you might see more protein heavy recipes on the blog. 

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This recipe was already slated to be posted on here, but it fits Alexa’s dietary requirements. High protein and low fat. I used tofu originally in the recipe, but you can sauté some seitan and stir it with the noodles, mushrooms, and bean sprouts at the end. So how much protein? Well I actually shocked myself a little once I crunched the numbers- 52 grams of protein, 63 grams carbs, and 10 grams fat!  That means 44% of the dish protein, 30% is fat, and 26% are carbs. The numbers will shift a little depending on the tofu brand you use or if you use seitan instead of tofu. The dish is pretty hearty, and is 550 calories, which might be a little too big for one person to eat in one sitting, as I can imagine with Alexa (I am usually the one cleaning a plate while she tends to just save it for later)

So where is the protein coming from? Well it is comes partly from the Explore Asian bean noodles. These noodles have particular texture so you might not want to just sub them for normal pasta. But they work well with lots of asian style dishes where they use noodles that aren’t made with wheat. That is why I think they work so well with this hot pot. A quarter of a package has a total of 25 grams of protein, making it the highest protein noodles out there…. well the same protein content as Banza chickpea noodles. I used the adzuki bean noodles, since I like the taste of red beans. The prices I am finding online are around $5 a pack, but I was able to get them at Wegman’s for $3.50, making each serving around 88¢, about 50¢ for the tofu, and $1 for the mushrooms (less if you sub for carrots or a cheaper mushroom). I am not really sure how much the rest would cost as I made the kimchi and broth at home. The other ingredients might cost a bit at first, but the last for a long time.

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So let’s talk about the soup outside of nutritional content. Let’s talk about the cultural context. So many people know that kimchi is a korean pickled cabbage. There is also a popular korean stew called kimchi jjigae. Kimchi jjigae has become so iconic and has become a popular dish in Japan- translating into kimchi nabe. The differences are subtle, but my vegan version is a little bit more like the Japanese version… with protein noodles. If you are interested about the differences, Just One Cookbook does a good job explaining all the differences.

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I’ve mentioned how I love my individual sized hot pots, or donabe have been a life saver. I admit, they are kind-of pricey. You can use other types of pots, and you can find similar things in Asian food markets for a discounted price. Take a look around. But since the dish is designed to be eaten by one person, the recipe is small. So if you are using a normal pot for everyone, adjust accordingly. It is easy enough to double or triple the recipe for however many people will be eating with you.

If you do buy a donabe for this recipe, I found a blog post about seasoning your pot! Most pots don’t come with manuals, so I had no idea this was something that needed to be done a day in advance. It will make your pots last longer and doesn’t take much effort to do.

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I really enjoy Korean food. I suppose this recipe could of been placed for the “share your favorite cuisine” prompt on day 25, but this recipe is so simple! I am not the type of person who does “quick” and “easy” unless it is re-heating older dishes. I can tell you right now that this isn’t a “healthy” recipe. I am not sure what the health benefits are outside of the carrot.

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If you aren’t familiar with Korean food you probably have never heard of this dish. If you are going to a Korean restaurant in the US, you probably would get served these as an appetizer. But in Korea they are often served in street stalls and speciality restaurants. At the speciality restaurants it is usually that you order a big serving of rice cakes (according to your party) and order add ins. I first was introduced to this concept from the Korean show Let’s Eat. The main character Soo-kyung orders a big pan of Ddukbokgi (spicy rice cakes) with ramen, and lots of other non-vegan foods. It is a great scene to sell the dish with all or orgasmic moaning and all.

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This recipe is super simple, you can make it on the fly for yourself for lunch or as a starter. But you can easily make a more sustainable meal by doing the add ins. Traditional add ins aren’t really vegan, eggs, fish cakes, blood sausage, mandu (pork dumplings) and cheese. But some options are vegan like ramen noodles, rice, and fried batter. You can sub some vegan versions of the food like some daiya cheese, vegan sausages, veggie dumplings, and fried tofu. Look, I never said this stuff was healthy. This Korean COMFORT food.

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Now, let’s talk ingredients! Although this is simple to cook (sauté carrots and rice cakes, then boil in a spicy sauce) the ingredients might seem a little foreign if you don’t have easy access to asian food market. The ingredients that will be hard to find are the rice cakes and gochujang. Gochujang is a thick paste made from fermenting chili peppers. I wrote about it on the blog, and give a recipe for cheaters gochujang. Gochujang is starting to pick up in popularity, and I was able to pick up a pack at Wegman’s!

The rice cakes are fairly common in lots of other asian cuisines. You can buy them in a log to slice, or you can get them precut. They can come in many different shapes, like these flat ovals that I used, little spheres, or long logs. There are even novelty shapes like stars, but they tend not to be available in the US. (if you want a sneak peak at the fun shapes, you can check out this REALLY old Eat Your Kimchi video) Try going to HMart, which specializes in specifically Korean foods. But most Asian food markets should have rice cakes. They need to be refrigerated (which is why they are hard to buy online), so check in those sections. And keep in mind mochi is different from the rice cakes for this recipe. Mochi is usually sold sweetened. If you are worried, check the ingredients.

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So start with this simple recipe, and next time, jazz it up. Add sausages, some soy cheese, more veggies, whatever your mind can think of. This is seriously a yummy meal, and quick to make.

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I’ve probably passed by hundreds of bibimbap recipes on blogs. And can you blame people? Bibimbap is super easy to make. It is also the father of the “vegan bowl.” Think about it- the grain (rice), the veggies, greens (spinach, kimchi), protein (traditionally egg or meat), and a sauce (gochujang). An authentic bibimbap uses up various “namul,” or veggie side dishes. Plop on some rice, dress with side dishes, give a protein, and plop on some gochujang. Your dinner is done.

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But if you actually go to a Korean restaurant and order a bowl, you might not have the beautiful bowls you can find on google. You might get a bowl where all the veggies and protein are all sautéed together. This is an easier method when making the dish at home. Though the traditional style is a great way to use up leftovers from a big Korean style dinner. 

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But one of the secrets I will teach you is how to make bibimbap in a dolsot. Dolsot is the Korean word for a stone pot, and many styles are available online. I personally use my nabe, a Japanese styled hot pot, which is sized for one serving. The biggest difference between the two styles is that a dolsots come with a tray to carry it with so you don’t burn yourself. If you use a stone pot, you will get a yummy crispiness to bottom of the rice. It is easy to burn and takes practice, so be patient.

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The beauty of bibimbap is that is simply translates into mixed rice. So it is flexible with ingredients. Don’t want seitan? No problem, use tofu or beans. Don’t like carrots? Just skip them. Don’t want gochujang? You can use miso or doenjang. The key is to use fresh and cheap ingredients.

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asksnanswers

Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaI was recommended to eat Greek Yogurt to help with some harsh side effects of my medication, but dairy makes my tummy hurt. What are vegan options with probiotics?

Well, a fast an easy answer would be to eat vegan yogurts, but I think you deserve more options. I will go and breakdown all your options, but most might involve some personal kitchen time. You see, all those yummy probiotics in yogurt are just are a bi-product from fermentation. So I will list a few types of vegan ferments that are fairly easy to do at home. 

Quick notes- if this little post really interests you I would recommend picking up The Art of Fermentation. The book is pretty much a dictionary of fermentation styles, and will go into details about practices in certain regions. For example the chapter on pickles goes into details of different type of pickling in India, Japan, mushrooms, fish, etc. The book lacks lots of specific recipes, but gives you guides, giving you lots of wiggle room with the dishes.

There is also some basics with all type of home-ferments. Some guides seem scary and long, but most just reiterate some basics. Wash hands during preparations, wash and clean everything thoroughly, make sure all soap and sanitizers are rinsed off, and all cultures are living things. Think of them like plants, you need to take care of them, and you oddly start to like them, at take photos of them when they do cool stuff.

There are also more vegan ferments, but I didn’t list them because you need to apply heat to eat them. Some example would be sour dough, tempeh, fermented grains, etc. By adding heat, the probiotics really won’t do much for you.

Vegan Yogurts

The quickest response to a vegan yogurt option is a soy yogurt. These are now pretty widely available at supermarkets, though the price tags are still pretty high. They usually have live active cultures, but tend to have lots of added sugars. You can make your own homemade vegan yogurts, but it can be tricky. You need to keep a consistent 110 temperature, which is why some people buy yogurt machines. You will also need to buy a yogurt culture, which I am never thrilled about. Modern yogurts have mediocre yogurt cultures, and will only live so many generations before having to buy more cultures. Belle+Bella have a non-dairy yogurt starter, if anyone is interested in making yogurt at home.

Don’t want to make your own yogurt? Most stores have big containers of yogurt in plain or vanilla. I recommend grabbing one of those and mixing in granola and fruit for flavor. Want greek yogurt? Take regular store bought or homemade yogurt and strain through a cheese cloth to separate more of the water from the yogurt. Voila! Your done!

Step-by-step Instructions: Waking Up Vegan

Vegan Kefir

You might of heard about this yogurt alternative- kefir. I haven’t seen any dairy-free kefirs in stores, though there are some commercial coconut milk kefirs. So you will have to make some for yourself at home. The plus is that vegan yogurts have a hard time thickening due to low protein levels (and homemade yogurts are thinner than what we are use to, thickeners added to both vegan and dairy commercial yogurt). So consistency will be more similar to the original product.

Unlike yogurt kefir is a lot less fussy. You don’t need to monitor the temperature, and naturally has a thinner disposition. The downside is that kefir grains (the culture) really enjoy cows milk, not vegan milks, so they need to replaced after awhile.

Step-by-step Instructions: Chickpeas and Change
Note: She includes how to make nut milk, you can skip these steps if you use store bought milk.

Water Kefir

Unlike making vegan kefir, water kefir is a lot more stable. Get kefir grains once and they can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. Water kefir is made from sugar, dried and fresh fruits. Most people describe it as a probiotic soda, and there lots of wiggle room for flavor since you can switch the fresh fruit around.

This seems like a pretty low maintenance sort of culture, and would recommend to anyone who wants fresh probiotics with little work. There are two steps to the brewing process, and with some planning you can get two brews rotating (as shown in the tutorial below)

Step-by-step Instructions: Bonzai Aphrodite
To Buy Cultures: Amazon

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Asian cooking can be intimidating. There are many pastes, sauces, and liquids that are specific to certain regions and countries. You’ll be told there aren’t any substitutes, so you buy sauce after sauce, cluttering your refrigerator. So it is understandable if you want to really know about what you are buying.

But if you are into Korean food you’ll notice a common ingredient- gochujang. It is a fermented soybean chili paste that goes on a lot of various dishes. It is either really easy or extreamly hard to find. It usually depends on where you live. In New Jersey I can find some at a few generic grocery stores chains in their “international” aisles. But I am aware that there is a large Korean population in the area. It is easy to order through HMart or Amazon, with many brands to choose from. Each brand has their own heat and sweetness levels, so keep that in mind with your recipes and shopping.

The color of gochujang varies, but most commercial brands use dyes to get a bright red color.

The color of gochujang varies, but most commercial brands use dyes to get a bright red color.

How to Make It

Gochujang is made by taking fermented soybeans and mixing them with chili powder and rice. The mixture is put into earthenware and left out into the sun to ferment further, developing a unique flavor. Modern gochujang is sweetened and pasteurized to stop the fermentation process. This makes a shelf stable product, making transportation cheaper.

You can make your own gochujang but you’ll need a sunny backyard as sunlight is vital for the fermentation. If you want to give it a try Maangchi has directions to make you own gochujang. Her recipe uses various powders that are made to make process easier.

But what if you live in the middle of nowhere? There are no Asian food markets? You can still buy tubs pre-made, but it can be intimidating to buy online. Plus gochujang can have coloring and preservatives. If you want to avoid that you can make cheaters gochujang No, it isn’t authentic, but it tastes very similar and it’s pretty damn good. It will also give you a taste before buying the tub.

Cheater's Gochujang
Need gochujang but are completely out? Here is a cheaters recipe to get you by.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup miso
  2. 4 tbsp agave syrup
  3. 1 tsp-1 tbsp korean chili powder
Instructions
  1. Stir all ingredients together until combined
  2. If you can't find korean chili powder you can use 1/2-2 tsp of cayenne powder
One Raw Bite http://one-sonic-bite.com/

Gluten Free?

Although Wikipedia says that gochujang is made with soybeans, rice, and pepper, wheat sneaks in there with modern recipes. I have not sat down at the market and read the backs of all the gochujang cases, but I haven’t come across one without wheat. If you want a gluten-free version you can make gochujang at home with Maangchi’s directions, which is good for people with wheat allergies. The recipe uses barley malt flour, which barley contains gluten, so that might be a problem for you. 

Or you can find a gluten-free miso and make my faux gochujang! This also extends to whatever miso you want including chickpea miso, making a soy friendly version. Realistically, the amount of gluten in gochujang is very small. If you eat normal miso without a problem, gochujang shouldn’t be a problem either.

Cooking

Gochujang is often used as major component in Korean cooking. It is often mixed with other ingredients to make sauces or vinaigrettes. Most of the time it is used to coat food while being cooked, such as spicy Korean rice cakes or in a veggie stir-fry. The key to unlocking the power of gochujang is letting it caramelize when grilling or baking.

Recipes

Adzuki Bean Burgers
Ddukbokgi – Spicy Rice Cakes
Dolsot Bibimbap – Korean Rice Bowls
Kimchi Hot Pot Soup
Kimchi Nacho Tots
Kohlrabi Kimchi and Adzuki Tacos


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I am in love with a new Korean drama- Master’s Sun. It has one of my favorite actresses Gong Hyo-jin. She is an amazing actress, who can play a shy, kind-of hearted girl or a hard-ass gang master. Most Korean shows have various elements that make it hard for a Westerner to watch. They are usually a little sexist, slow moving, drawn out, and the girl AWAYS gets with the asshole guy. Master’s Sun probably will have the lead actress get with the asshole guy, but they set it up in a way that makes it understandable (and funny). The show is quite polished and well written. Heck, I even got my husband to say he would watch it with me.

The story is of Gong-shil, who sees ghosts. She found that being able to see ghosts has prevented her from leading a normal life, and finds herself as a maintenance woman at an apartment complex. One day she bumps into Joong Won, a rich and snobby business owner. Whenever she touches him, the ghosts disappear. It is a really good show, and I recommend checking it out on Hulu.

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Okay, enough gushing about the show and start gushing about these burgers! I had adzuki beans sitting in my cupboard for months now. I wasn’t sure WHY I had them, but they were sitting there, stewing in my mind for ideas. I finally thought burgers would be the best. And I figured I would make them with some gochujang paste for a kick.

I tried to keep it to ingredients that you would find in a Korean kitchen. Some might be a stretch but they are pretty accessible to Westerners. I was afraid that the burgers would fall apart, but they are actually more sturdy than the burgers I based the recipe on! I am guessing it was the mix of seaweed and short-grained rice.

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I’ve been terrible at posting lately! I’ve been busy. There has been some exciting news, as my mother is moving from Utah, all the was across the country, back to the east coast in New Jersey. It has been almost a decade of her living a 4 hour flight away, so it should be an interesting change. She is already planning embroidery and sewing projects with me. 

I started to write this post last night and I had the hardest time. I am currently doing a detox, which I like to do them from time to time. I haven’t done one in awhile since I have been eating so well. Writing this entry is hard since I see the photos and want to pull out the leftovers. It is a little painful. 

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