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Dinner, Korean, Lactose Free, Pasta, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

December 7, 2016

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Cold noodles tossed with crisp vegetables are one of my favorite lunch dishes.  I often make a big bowl of Aunty Ruby’s Somen Salad and take it to work to share with my friends.  This recipe calls for perciatelli or bucatini pasta but I couldn’t resist using delicate somen noodles.  They cook up in 3 minutes and are the perfect partner for the spicy cucumbers.  I found this delightful recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine. The subject of this particular article was Korean Barbecue and a talented Korean cook, Mrs. Pai.  This is one of her original side dishes.

Somen Noodles

Keiki Cukes

These beautiful “Keiki Cukes” are grown on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Big Island Produce is a hydroponic farm that produces cucumbers all year long.  They are super crunchy and don’t have any seeds.  We use them to make dill pickles, bread & butter pickles, and add them to all types of salads.

Chopped Scallions

Korean Chili Flakes

Korean chili flakes or gochugaru (not to be confused with red pepper powder), has a unique balance of sweet and smoky flavors with medium heat.  I have heard that hotter varieties are available but the one I buy from Whole Spice tends to be just the right heat for me.

Spicy Cucumbers

The cucumbers are mixed with Korean chili flakes, scallions, garlic, and sesame oil before being tossed with cold noodles.


Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
  • 10 ounces thinly sliced small cucumbers (Keiki, Japanese, Persian)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons Korean chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons roasted sesame oil, divided (Kadoya brand recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 package (3 bundles - 8 oz.) somen noodles
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • salt for seasoning
  1. Toss cucumbers with ½ teaspoon salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Transfer cucumbers to a clean dish towel and wring to remove excess liquid from cucumbers. Transfer to a large bowl. Add Korean chili flakes, sugar, scallions, garlic, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and the vinegar. Mix seasonings into cucumbers; let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook somen noodles according to package instructions. Shirakiku brand cooks for just 3 minutes. Immediately drain, rinse under cold water and place noodles in an ice bath until well chilled. Drain noodles well and add to cucumbers, tossing to combine. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and the soy sauce. Season with salt and additional Korean chili flakes before serving. Leftovers are delicious the following day.


Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Korean, Lactose Free, Pork, Recipes, Rice Dishes

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice

June 7, 2016

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice Kimchi and Spam are staples in many households here in Hawaii.  Crunchy, pungent, spicy, kimchi pairs perfectly with a bowl of steaming rice and Korean hamburger patties.  And Spam?  Well, there are lovers and haters, just as there are for cilantro, Marmite, and anchovies…. Everyone I know loves a bowl of homemade fried rice and most would not turn down this version with kimchi, Spam and a perfectly  fried egg.  Spam may look unappealing straight out of the can, but once fried up into crispy little Spam croutons, it pairs perfectly with rice of any kind.  You ought to give it a try!

KimchiThere is an abundance of kimchi choices at the markets.  Use your favorite brand, but choose one that has a medium heat level rather than mild.

Glorious SPAM!Glorious SPAM!  I always chuckle when I see this little guy on the can.

Crispy Fried SpamFrying the Spam until each piece is perfectly crisp makes all the difference.  You won’t be able to avoid nibbling on them before they make it into the fried rice.

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice

Kimchi & Spam Fried Rice
Adapted from Kenji's Serious Eats recipe.
Serves: 6
  • 5 cups cooked jasmine rice (I use my rice cooker and the measuring cup that came with it - 2 cups uncooked rice)
  • 1½ cups finely chopped kimchi, about 325g (kimchi drained with 3 tablespoons liquid reserved)
  • canola oil
  • 1 12-ounce can Spam, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 cups finely diced onion
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • fried eggs, for serving
  • 1 Fresno chili thinly sliced (optional)
  • Sriracha hot sauce, for serving
  1. Cook rice and let cool completely. I cook my rice in the morning and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. For this dish it is better to use day old rice.
  2. Place kimchi in a mesh strainer set over a bowl. Squeeze out excess liquid (reserve 3 tablespoons liquid). Finely chop kimchi.
  3. Heat a few teaspoons of canola oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add Spam cubes and cook, tossing frequently, until well browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Wipe out wok.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons canola oil over medium heat and sauté onions until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Add ½ tablespoon canola oil to wok. Increase heat to medium high and heat until oil just begins to smoke. Add the rice and cook, stirring and tossing, until rice is warmed. Press rice against the sides of the wok to crisp up (like bibimbap and tag dig). Add onion and garlic mixture, kimchi, Spam, and ⅓ cup scallions tossing with rice to combine. Pour in reserved kimchi juice and season generously with black pepper. Add sesame oil, fish sauce and cilantro. Toss to combine.
  6. Serve fried rice in ceramic bowls, topped with a fried egg, reserved 1 tablespoon scallions, Fresno peppers and sriracha sauce.


Beef, Dinner, Korean, Lactose Free, Recipes

Best Beef Bulgogi

August 31, 2014

Best Grilled BulgogiKorean food is rapidly becoming one of America’s favorite ethnic cuisines and it is no surprise given its bold, spicy flavors.  Korean barbecue beef known as bulgogi is a particular favorite.  This bulgogi recipe is so good it will become habit-forming.  Grilling the beef instead of pan-frying it gives it that bit of barbecue flavor along with lovely grill marks.  My favorite way to serve bulgogi is with rice and a side of mac salad or green salad, kimchi and homemade takuan (plate lunch!) but it is equally delicious stuffed in a banh mi with a generous amount of do chua pickles.  It’s just beautiful.

Bulgogi MarinadeAfter a quick soak in this flavorful marinade you’ll have the best barbecued bulgogi.  Melt in your mouth super thin slices of lean, tender beef thrown on the grill is ready in just a few minutes.  The original recipes calls for flank steak but I much prefer to use the more tender filet mignon or top sirloin.  Thanks to TNCouch for sharing the recipe via

Bulgogi "Plate Lunch"

Bulgogi "Plate Lunch"

Best Beef Bulgogi

Adapted from

Serves 4


1 pound filet mignon or top sirloin, slightly frozen for easier slicing, sliced very thin

5 tablespoons soy sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar

1/4 cup chopped green onions

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Thinly slice partially frozen beef and place in a shallow bowl. Combine soy sauce, sugar, green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and ground black pepper in a small bowl.  Pour over beef.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning once halfway through marinating time.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grate.

Quickly grill beef on hot grill until slightly charred and cooked through, 1 – 2 minutes per side.


Appetizers, Dinner, Korean, Pork, Recipes

Pork-Kimchi Dumpling Pancakes

May 22, 2014

Pork-Kimchi DumplingI can hardly wait to return to the Bay Area this summer.  I get excited just thinking of  all my favorite dishes at all my favorite restaurants such as Redd’s duck confit served on a bed of lentils with a poached egg or the best beef filet I’ve ever tasted at Alexander’s Steak House (where they give each table cotton candy on  a stick after dinner).  Speaking of my favorite vacation city, Corey Lee, owner of Benu restaurant in San Francisco was featured in the January issue of Food & Wine magazine.  This particular issue contains a slew of recipes I want to try, however, it was Corey Lee’s Pork-Kimchi Dumpling Pancakes that really caught my eye.

Scallions, Ginger, Kimchi, Tofu, GarlicThese savory dumplings are very easy to put together once your mise en place  is done.

Wonton Wrappers

Filling DumplingsA dollop of filling on the wonton wrapper, fold and press the edges together.

Filled Dumplings

Dumpling Pancake Ready to FryTen dumplings are arranged around the edge of an 8″ skillet, overlapping slightly.  After quickly frying the dumplings for 4 minutes, a slurry of cornstarch and water is added to the pan.  This creates crispy, lacy, edges and adheres the 10 dumplings together making one impressive pancake that you invert on a platter and serve with dipping sauce.

Pork-Kimchi Dumpling Pancake

Pork-Kimchi Dumpling Pancakes

Adapted from Corey Lee’s recipe ~ Food & Wine Magazine

6 – 8 servings


Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/2 tablespoon Korean chili flakes or 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sugar


14 ounces ground pork

2 tablespoons minced scallions

1/2 cup finely chopped and drained kimchi

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup firm tofu, finely chopped

30 round wonton wrappers

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons canola oil


Mix all of the sauce ingredients until the sugar dissolves.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix all of the dumpling ingredients except the wrappers, cornstarch and oil.  Arrange 4 wrappers on a work surface (keep the rest covered with a damp paper towel).  Brush the edges of the wrappers with water and drop 1 tablespoon of the filling in the centers of each wrapper.  Fold over one side of the wrapper to form a half-moon, pressing the edges together.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap; assemble the remaining dumplings.

In a bowl, stir the cornstarch with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water to make a slurry.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in an 8-inch non-stick skillet over moderate heat.  Arrange 10 dumplings around the edge of the skillet overlapping slightly (there should be almost no empty space).  Cook over moderate heat until golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes.  Drizzle one-third of the slurry over and around the dumplings, cover the skillet and cook for 1 minute.  Uncover and cook until the dumplings are cooked through and the slurry forms a thin crust, about 4 minutes.  Carefully invert the dumpling pancake onto a plate.  Repeat to make 2 more pancakes. Serve with dipping sauce.

Appetizers, Korean, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Quick Cucumber Kimchi

September 4, 2013

Cucumber KimchiThere’s not many combinations better than spicy, garlicky, kimchi and a bowl of steaming hot rice.  When accompanied with either grilled chicken or tofu marinated in Granny’s Teriyaki sauce, or Korean Style Hamburger Patties, it’s a mouth-watering experience.

Japanese CucumberI do enjoy the more traditional Napa cabbage kimchi but there’s something special about crunchy cucumber kimchi.  Whole Spice Korean chili flakes add a beautiful color and mild sweetness without too much heat to the kimchi.

Kimchi Ingredients

Quick Cucumber Kimchi

Serves 2 as a side dish


1 pound Japanese cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices.

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup thinly sliced Maui or sweet onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

2 teaspoons sesame oil

dash of fish sauce (optional)

3 teaspoons Korean chili flakes

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Place sliced cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.  Toss well.  Let stand for 20 minutes then rinse and drain well.  Rinse the bowl.

Place cucumbers back into the bowl and add the remaining ingredients.  Mix everything together and transfer to a smaller serving bowl.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Sprinkle additional green onions on the top before serving if desired.  The kimchi is best eaten the same day.  Any leftovers are a welcome addition to your bento lunch the following day.


Dinner, Korean, Recipes, Vegetarian

Bibimbap with Korean Style Hamburger Patties

June 28, 2013

BibimbapLike so many others I am in love with Bibimbap.  It really is the perfect meal.  When heating a stone bowl directly on the stove top the rice on the bottom of the bowl gets crunchy and is utterly delectable.  Along with the colorful vegetables layered over the rice and savory Korean style patties this is beautiful dish.  And any meal with a fried egg is at the top of my list.

Dolsot BowlI had never eaten Bibimbap until a few months ago when I had lunch with a friend at a local restaurant here on Maui.  We decided to share the Bibimbap and a lemon grass chicken sandwich.  The sandwich was tasty, but the Bibimbap was a revelation! Once that stunning Bibimbap arrived at our table I think we both secretly wished we didn’t have to share it. I did not realize the rice on the bottom of the stone pot would be crispy.  It really made the dish stand out.  It was a real dilemma when we had to split the fried egg!  We vowed that if we ever shared a serving of Bibimbap again, we would order it with two fried eggs.  So as you can see above, I had to have my own Dolsot stone bowls so that I could make Bibimbap at home.

Bibimbap VeggiesColorful vegetables are quickly cooked and seasoned.

Bibimbap Bean SproutsThese marinated bean sprouts are delicious.

Bibimbap RiceHeat your stone bowl on the stove top, add a bit of oil, swirl and add some rice.  You’ll hear the rice sizzle as it hits the bowl.  Pat the rice gently against the heated bowl. Let it go for a while then add more rice and your prepared vegetables and meat or tofu to warm up.

Bibimbap on Stove

Bibimbap 2Lastly, fry an egg sunny side up and place on top of your heated Bibimbap.  Serve with kimchi on the side. Most recipes call for gochuchang sauce but I love Sriracha so I used it instead.

Bibimbap Crunchy RiceThe crunchy rice is addicting!

Bibimbap with Korean Style Hamburger Patties

Serves two as a side dish or one hungry appetite


 1 cup uncooked short grain white rice

Bean Sprouts

1 bag (10 ounces) bean sprouts – rinsed

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

dash of salt

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon Korean chili flakes (optional)

2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds


4 large shiitake mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

salt to taste


1/2 medium green zucchini

1/2 medium yellow zucchini

1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

salt to taste


3 ounces fresh spinach

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds


1/2 small carrot

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoons sesame oil


1 – 2 large eggs

Korean style hamburger patties (optional)


Cook the rice and set aside until ready to use.

In a medium saucepan (3 qt. works well) bring 6 – 7  cups of water to a boil.  Add rinsed bean sprouts and blanch for 3 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.  Place sprouts on paper towels or a kitchen towel and press out some of the water.  In a medium bowl add bean sprouts, minced garlic, salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, Korean chili flakes if using and roasted sesame seeds.  Stir to combine.  The sprouts can be made earlier in the day and stored in the refrigerator.

Remove the stems and wipe the mushrooms clean.  Slice into thin strips and sauté in a bit of canola oil until the mushrooms become soft.  Add the garlic, sauté for another minute and remove from the stove top.  Stir in sesame oil and sesame seeds and season with salt.

Julienne the zucchini into long, thin strips using only the outer, colorful portion.  Heat a bit of canola oil in a small skillet and cook for just a minute to slightly soften the strips.  Stir in sesame seeds and season with salt.

In a small skillet blanch the spinach for 1 minute until wilted.  Squeeze out the excess water and stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Julienne the carrot into long, thin strips.  Briefly sauté with garlic and sesame oil.  Season with salt.

The first time I used the bowl I soaked it in room temperature water for 5 minutes then placed it on the stove on medium heat to warm up.  I slowly adjusted the heat higher (between medium and medium high) and once hot added about 1 teaspoon of canola oil and coated the bottom and lower sides of the bowl.  (Please follow the heating instructions that come with your specific stone bowl).

Add enough rice to the heated bowl to cover the bottom of the bowl.  Press gently with a spatula.  You should hear the rice sizzle on the hot bowl.  Cook the rice for about 5 minutes and check to see if the rice is crunchy by lifting up a portion with a spoon.  The rice should have a light golden toasted color to it.  Once this happens, add more rice and top with vegetables and Korean style patties if using.  Placing the vegetables in alternating colors makes for a gorgeous rice dish.

Fry your egg sunny side up.  Place on top of the heated Bibimbap and serve with kimchi and Sriracha.

***There are so many variations of this dish. You don’t need to stick with specific vegetables or meat and can easily adjust the recipe to your liking.  Make it vegetarian by using tofu instead of meat.





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