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10 Korean Foods to Try (and Why!)

koreanfood

Growing up, my diet was a mash-up of American and Korean cuisine. My Korean mom wanted to make sure that my brother and I didn’t feel different from our “American” friends, so she made sure we ate plenty of hamburgers, pizza, sandwiches and spaghetti–served with a side of kimchi, of course. We ate our salads with chopsticks and marinated our steaks with bulgogi seasoning. When I left home, my mom used the power of FedEx to get her homemade kimchi to me–yes, Koreans are that serious about their kimchi–so I wouldn’t get sick (kimchi has magical healing properties in case you didn’t know!). Now that I’m living in Korea again, I’ve both renewed my love for Korean food and discovered some amazing dishes that my mom never cooked for me (seriously, Mom???).

Here’s a list of some of my favorite Korean foods (my list could honestly go on forever!). If you’re new to Korean cuisine, and you’re ready to venture beyond “beef and leaf” or bibimbap, or if you’re looking for something adventurous and fun to tell all your friends about, here are my top recommendation!

1. Ori – Duck

grilled smoked duckI love duck. I’ve previously written about my deep, heartfelt appreciation for duck here and here. If you’ve never had duck before, but you’re a meat-loving carnivore, then this is definitely a must-try. Most duck restaurants in Korea serve the meat prepared several different ways. My personal favorite is smoked duck. It’s no-nonsense with very little added to it so you can really appreciate the taste of the duck itself. You usually have to purchase the entire duck (which only consists of the breast meat). Prices for a whole duck breast are generally in the 40,000-45,000W range (approx. $40-45) and it’s enough to feed 2-3 people. Smoked duck is served “beef and leaf” style. You grill the duck at your table, and you’re brought an array of banchan/side-dishes, dipping sauces, and lettuce and sesame leaves to wrap your meat. Often, potato and mushroom slices are placed on the grill at the same time to help soak up some of the duck fat as you grill. Those may be the best potatoes and mushrooms you’ve ever had in your life. 😉

2. Samgyupsal – Pork belly

samgyupsalSamgyupsal literally means three-fold fat, but simply put, it’s BACON. Really, really thick-sliced bacon. However, it’s uncured, so it doesn’t have the same salty flavor, but it’s the same cut of meat. It’s generally only seasoned with thick rock salt and grilled at the table. Like beef and leaf, it’s served with lettuce, sesame leaves, dipping sauces, kimchi, and an assortment of banchan. One of the BEST things to eat with samgyupsal is grilled kimchi (just be sure that it’s fermented, not fresh, kimchi). Place the kimchi on the grill as you’re cooking the pork and let the fat from the pork soak into the kimchi. It’s a perfect combination of flavors. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! One serving of samgyupsal usually runs about 12,000-15,000W, and you’ll probably need to order 3 servings to feed 2 adults (one serving isn’t quite enough for one adult). Most restaurants will also serve dwenchangjigae (bean curd soup) with the samgyupsal in a hot pot, but you’ll have to order bowls of rice separately (1,000W/each) if you like rice with your meat. Which I do.

3. Hwe – Raw fish, Korean style! Oh, and live, moving octopus too.

If you’re not afraid of a little raw fish, then you’ve got to give Korean hwe a try. Keep in mind, though, that Korean hwe is really nothing like its Japanese counterpart. If you go to a run-of-the-mill Korean hwe restaurant (not a fancy-schmancy 5-star place), there are two types of fish that are traditionally served raw–gwanguh (flounder) and ooluk (rockfish).

Korean hwe

Although most restaurants will have some variety, they will always have these two fish. In addition to raw fish, Korean hwe restaurants also serve several other types of seafood. Raw. If you pass a hwe restaurant on the street, check out the tanks of live fish and seafood outside the restaurant. You’ll see octopus (nakji) and squid (ohjinguh), sea cucumbers (haesam), and sea squirt (munggae) among others. My 5 year old boys LOVE live octopus (san nakji), and once you get over the fact that your food is still moving and the suckers on the tentacles still work… It just tastes like octopus. 😉 So if you like the taste of octopus, give this a try. It’s just the tentacles–it’s not like in the movie Oldboy where Oh DaeSu gnaws on a whole octopus while the tentacles stick onto his face.

octopus

And to be precise, it’s not technically still alive. The tentacles are cut into smaller, manageable pieces, and it’s served with a small bowl of sesame oil and salt for dipping. Be sure to use the dipping sauce. It prevents the suckers from sticking to the inside of your mouth as you chew! Like san nakji, the other seafood options at hwe restaurants–like haesam and munggae–are really more about unique texture than taste. If different textures and consistencies of food in your mouth really isn’t your thing, it’s probably best to steer clear of Korean hwe. The flavors are unique as well, but from my experience taking friends to eat hwe, it’s the texture that gets them.

At a standard hwe restaurant, you should plan to spend about 15,000-20,000W/person. Platters of hwe are usually offered in small (serves 2-3), medium (serves 3-4) and large sizes (serves 4-6). And often, the large size includes extras such as the spicy fish soup (maeoontang) at no additional charge. The soup is made with the bones of the fish that was served to you raw, and it’s really good! If you enjoy spicy food, you won’t want to pass it up. If you order a smaller platters, ordering the maeoontang is usually an additional 5,000-7,000W.

4. Albab – bibimbap-style rice bowl with fish eggs/roe

albabBibimbap is one of the staples of Korean cuisine, mainly because traditionally, like shepherd’s pie, it was the dish that you could throw everything and anything into. Growing up, my mom only made bibimbap if there was some leftover banchan that would go bad if we didn’t finish it off, so she’d chop up some fresh veggies and green, throw everything in a bowl with some rice, fry an egg and mix it all up with some hot pepper paste (gochujang). If you love bibimbap, and you’d like to venture out a bit, definitely give albab a try. The idea is the same, but the taste is completely different. It’s served in a hot stone bowl like dolsot bibimbap with rice at the bottom and topped with chopped kimchi, dammuji (yellow picked radish), lettuce, sesame leaves, dried seaweed, and a heaping helping of fish roe. The hot stone bowl cooks the eggs as you mix everything together, and the result is just plain delicious. It’s one of my boys’ favorites, and they’ll happily finish off an entire adult serving. Then ask for more. Albab can be found at most Korean seafood restaurants for 6,000-7,000W ($6-7).

5. Haemul Pajeon – seafood pancake/pizza

haemul pajunThis is a must-try dish for the seafood lover, and it’s both like and unlike a pancake and a pizza. The most basic pajeon is a combination of batter (eggs, flour and water) and green onions (or pa, thus the name pa-jeon). Haemul pajeon contains vegetables and various types of seafood (squid and shrimp mostly, but it can also include mussels and clams. There’s also kimchi pajeon (yummy!), which like the name suggests is pajeon made with kimchi. Since the batter mixture is poured onto a pan, it looks more like a pancake, but savory, not sweet so tastes more like a pizza, but not really. 😉 When cooked just right, it’s crispy on the outside and every so slightly chewy in the center. Sometimes, it’s cut into pieces like a pizza, but you’re supposed to just rip chunks off with your chopsticks, dip in the soy sauce-based dipping sauce, and enjoy. It’s meant to be a shared dish, so not something you would order by itself for dinner. Haemul pajeon usually runs about 15,000W and can be shared with about 4 people. It’s a great addition to a Korean dinner, especially if you’re eating family style and sharing dishes.

6. Mook – jello?

black sesame mookMook is difficult to describe. It has a jello-like consistency, but there’s really no other food that it could be compared to. There are many different varieties (made with various ingredients: buckwheat, sesame, acorns), all resulting in different colors and flavors. My favorite is black sesame mook (pictured above), which is made from, you guessed it, black sesame seeds. Some people say that mook has very little flavor and that you eat it for the toppings, but depending on the ingredients, mook does have a particular flavor. It’s a very subtle flavor that goes perfectly with the toppings that it’s typically served with–dried seaweed, green onions, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and a sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. It’s usually served as a side dish, but there are mook specialty restaurants that serve both platters of mook as well as soup with slices of mook in it.

7. Dduk – rice cakes

ddukYou’ve probably seen the street vendors that sell ddukbokki, log-shaped rice cakes stir fried with fish cakes in a spicy red sauce, but dduk is so much more than the chewy white rice cakes. There are countless varieties of dduk, which can be best described as a traditional Korean dessert food. You can find dduk shops all over–in my little neighborhood, I can think of 4 different dduk shops on one street, all within 100 feet of each other. There’s dduk coated and/or filled with various powders, beans, seeds, and jellies, cute little dduk with flower shapes on them in various colors, dduk for special occasions like birthdays and weddings. A small package of dduk generally runs about 2,000W, so stop by your local dduk shop and try it out!

8. Haemultang – spicy seafood soup

haemultangRice, kimchi, and soup are at the center of Korean cuisine, and while rice and kimchi come in a limited number of varieties, the soups are endless: seaweed soup, kimchi soup, bean curd (or miso) soup, soft tofu soup, beef rib soup, ox tail soup, bean sprout soup and and really long list of hangover soups. My favorite Korean soup is haemultang. It’s spicy, delicious, and not for the faint of heart, especially if you go to a proper haemultang restaurant where all the ingredients are fresh. And by fresh, I mean still alive when it’s brought to your table. Haemul, or seafood, is obviously the main ingredient for this soup. A large pot of spicy broth, bean sprouts, green, and a heaping serving of live squid, shrimp, crab, clams, mussels, scallops, abalone, and much more is brought to your table and boiled on the gas burner at the table. And you get to see cool stuff like this:

Our favorite haemultang place does a really great job of adjusting the spice level so that my kids can enjoy it as well, which they do. My kids (and I) will eat just about anything that comes out of the ocean, and if you’re an adventurous eater, then you really can’t leave Korea without trying haemultang. It’s sooooo good! Haemultang can be found at some restaurants in individual serving sizes, but for the real deal, you’ll have to order a larger size. Most haemul restaurants will offer small (2-3 people), medium (3-4 people) and large (5-6 people) serving sizes, and the price generally runs from about 30,000W for the small to 45,000W for the large.

9. Jokbal – boiled pig’s feet

jokbalWhile the idea of eating boiled pig’s feet may sound a little…unappetizing, it’s actually incredible. And it’s more like the pig’s lower leg, not just the feet. Jokbal is prepared by thoroughly washing it and removing the hairs. The skin is left on, and it’s boiled with various seasonings, including the obligatory soy sauce. The skin gives it a unique taste and texture that most of my friends who have tried it have not disliked (unlike sea cucumber and sea squirt). The meat and skin are removed from the bone, sliced and served with a dipping sauce that consists of tiny, salted shrimp. Jokbal is generally thought of as a anju, or food that accompanies alcohol. It’s served on a platter and shared with friends, so it’s not something you’d go to a restaurant and order for yourself. One order of jokbal is one entire leg, including the bone, and at a restaurant, you’ll pay about 30,000-35,000W per order. There’s an area by Dongkuk University Station that’s known as Jokbal Street with numerous jokbal restaurants, but chances are, if you wander around your neighborhood, you’ll find a local place that specializes in jokbal. If you don’t feel like paying restaurant prices for something you may or may not like, you can find packages of jokbal at Emart for about 15,000W.

10. Shabu shabu – deliciousness

shabushabuSaving the best for last! Shabu shabu is one of those dishes my parents never told me about, and when I confronted them about it and bemoaned their parenting for denying me shabu shabu while I was growing up, they claimed it was because it was a dish they rarely ate when living in Korea nearly 40 years ago. Beef was a delicacy, and as a dish that was imported from Japan, shabu shabu wasn’t terribly popular when they were young. Beef is still astronomically expensive in Korea, but the popularity of shabu shabu has soared over the years.

It’s really a rather simple dish with thin slices of beef dipped into a pot of boiling broth, but shabu shabu is also about the process and the experience. It used to be served as a communal dish: one large pot of boiling broth for the table to share; however, most shabu shabu restaurants now provide individual pots. You’re brought a platter piled high with slices of beef, various types of mushrooms, cabbage, dumplings, Korean sweet squash, dduk, noodles… Selection will vary by restaurant. You put your ingredients into the boiling broth and dip them in a variety of sauces before eating them. The sauces both flavor and cool your scalding hot food. Eating shabu shabu definitely demands a bit of patience on your part so as not to burn your tongue and lose the ability to taste anything for the rest of the meal. And probably the day after as well.

If too much of your broth boils off, you’ll be given more to add to the pot, and slowly, all the ingredients you’ve been adding to the broth create this wonderfully flavorful and delicious broth. That’s when you add the noodles. Boil the noodles. Enjoy. THEN, if all that wasn’t enough, most (not all) restaurants provide rice. Throw your rice in the pot and watch it turn into the best rice porridge you’ve ever had. Once it’s all over, you’ll probably have to be rolled out of the restaurant, but it’s worth it. I promise.

All-you-can-eat shabu shabu restaurants have become pretty popular, but if you’re not looking to put on 10 lbs during one meal, then a standard shabu shabu place should be just fine. 😉 Generally speaking, shabu shabu runs about 20,000W per person, and you can order additional meat for about 10,000W.

**Making a list of 10 food was harder than I thought it was going to be. I had to leave off so many other foods that I LOVE. Like kimbab, soondae (blood sausage), raw crab, rotisserie samgyupsal (only found on food trucks so far!), jook (porridge)… I often joke that the only part of me that’s thoroughly Korean is my stomach.

Hope you enjoyed my list! I’d love to hear about your favorite Korean foods. Or tell me about the foods you’d love/refuse to try!

Recipe: Galbi-tang, Korean Beef Rib Soup

 

Galbi-tang

Galbi-tang is one of my husband’s favorite Korean dishes, mostly because he loves meat. While he was doing Whole30, it was virtually impossible for us to get our Korean food fix since so much Korean cuisine contains soy and sugar. From delicious, sticky, white rice to kimchi to all the various side-dishes, all the things that contain soy sauce and sugar… Basically everything except samgyupsal (thick strips of pork belly, aka uncured bacon) and lettuce wraps was off limits.

However, there is one dish that we thoroughly enjoyed throughout the Whole30 experience–Galbi-tang–a beef-based soup full of thick cuts of beef ribs. It’s a simple dish with very basic ingredients. And trust me. It’s delicious.

This recipe isn’t difficult, but it requires a bit of prep work. I make the stock/soup base the day before we plan to eat it. Skimming the layer of fat off the soup is probably the most time-consuming part, but overall, it’s a very easy soup to make and well-worth the bit of planning/time management you have to do to make it!

Galbi-tang, Korean Beef Rib Soup

Paleo/Whole30

Serves 5

6-7 lbs of short cut beef ribs (can be purchased at Korean grocery stores–the thick cut short ribs are preferred for the soup)
1 Korean radish (cut in 1/4 inch thick squares)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 tbsp salt
4-6 scallions (diced)
freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 lb dangmyeon or Korean sweet potato noodles, optional (Typically sold in 1 lb bags. There’s much debate over whether or not sweet potato noodles are Whole30 compliant. I’m not here to judge. You decide!)

Prep (day before)

1. Place the ribs in a large bowl and fill with cold water, covering the ribs entirely. Let this sit for about an hour. The blood in the meat will drain out.

Galbi-tang prep

2. Drain the water and rinse the ribs. Place in a large pot (I use an 8 qt. pot) and fill the pot with water. Add garlic and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour.

3. Turn off the heat and just let it hang out and cool overnight!

Cook (the day of)

1. When the soup has cooled completely, there will be a rather thick layer of congealed fat on top. Skim off as much of the fat as possible, and if you’d like, use a strainer to get the smaller bits of fat out.

Galbi-tang prep IMG_6752 IMG_6753 IMG_6755

2. As you reheat the soup, peel and cut the Korean radish and scallions.

3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil to cook the dangmyeon. Once the water is boiling, add the dangmyeon and cook for about 5 minutes until noodles are soft but still chewy. Drain and set aside.

4. Once the soup is boiling, add the Korean radish and boil for approximately 15 minutes (until the radish has cooked through–soft but not mushy).

5. To serve, place a handful of dangmyeon in a bowl and add soup and approximately 1 tbsp of diced scallions. Add salt (if necessary) and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

 

Recipe: Perfect Pan-Fried Tilapia

perfect pan-fried tilapia

My family loves seafood in all forms–fried, baked, steamed, raw. Shrimp, fish, mussels, clams, squid, octopus. You name it. They’ll eat it. Excitement abounds from my little foodie children when I tell them we’re having fish for dinner, so imagine my delight when tonight’s dinner elicited not only squeals of delight before dinner, but sounds of nom nom nom and second and third helpings during dinner!

This dish calls for duck fat, but if you don’t have duck fat, olive oil or coconut oil are great alternatives. However, a word about duck fat. I love it. It’s amazing. Imagine your favorite foods. Yummy… Now imagine them cooked in duck fat. Oh my... Yes, it’s that good. Acquiring duck fat isn’t the easiest thing. It’s not sold in stores, so you have to drain it out of the duck yourself. Luckily, in Korea, duck is abundant and relatively inexpensive. Pick up a pack of smoked duck breast at your local mart and just collect the drippings as you grill it. (I collect the duck fat in a ceramic bowl then strain it with a small strainer as I pour it into a jar.) One duck breast will give you about a cup of duck fat. In the U.S., your best bet is to go to your local Asian grocery story. Whole ducks can be found in the frozen section for far less than you’d pay at a specialty grocery store. Roasting a whole duck and collecting the drippings will give you about 1.5 to 2 cups of fat. Double yum! If you’ve never roasted a duck before, then here’s an excellent tutorial from someone who may possible love duck fat even more than I do! 😉

Perfect Pan-Fried Tilapia Recipe

Paleo/Whole30

1 large bag of tilapia fillets (defrosted) – a large bag typically contains 11-12 individually sealed fillets. For my family, I cooked the entire bag and we only had 2 fillets left for my husband to take to for lunch!
2 eggs
2 cups of almond meal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp tarragon
approx. 4 tbsp of duck fat

1. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and set aside.

2. In another bowl, thoroughly combine almond meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and tarragon.

3. Add about 1 tbsp of duck fat to skillet over medium heat.

4. Dredge tilapia fillets in egg, then thoroughly coat with almond meal mixture. Place on the skillet and do not move the fillets until you’re ready to flip them–approx. 4 minutes. This insures a nice, crispy coating. Flip the fillets, add a small amount of duck fat to the skillet (approx. 1/2 tbsp) and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until cooked through.

5. Enjoy!

Obviously, with 11 fillets to cook, I have to repeat the cooking process a couple more times since skillets only get so big… But so worth it! I served this with steamed broccoli. Huge hit with my kiddos, and my husband said this was by far the best tilapia he’s ever had so give it a try!

Recipe: The Sausage and Spinach Anti-Omelette

I love everything about omelets, unless I have to cook them myself for my hungry horde/family. By the time I finish making the last omelette (mine), my kids have either finished scarfing their breakfast down or they’re close to tears and blame me for making them stare at their delicious omelets without being allowed to eat them. It’s pretty much a lose-lose situation for me. So when I my husband requested a more hearty breakfast during his Whole30, I wanted an easy way to pack some vegetables into our weekend breakfast without slaving away in the kitchen making 5 separate omelets.

IMG_6742

It’s not just a throw everything in a baking dish and throw it in the oven recipe, but it’s a whole lot easier than making individual omelets. And if you love runny yolk (mmmm…), then this is a great way to eat eggs and sausage while packing in some delicious and nutritious greens and veggies. This recipe makes 6 servings.

The Sausage and Spinach Anti-Omelette

(Paleo/Whole30)

12 eggs
1 lb homemade breakfast sausage (I set aside 1/3 of this recipe when I make it for just this reason)
1 small onion (diced)
1 bell pepper (diced) *I used a yellow bell pepper just because that’s what I had on hand, but a red pepper would look lovely–I like pretty food!
1 lb bag of spinach (not baby spinach)
6 medium/large mushrooms (sliced)

1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium high heat until cooked through. Stir often. You do not need to add oil.

2. Once sausage is cooked, add onions and combine. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add bell peppers. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, then add spinach gradually while combining the ingredients. Once all of the spinach has cooked down, remove from heat and set aside.

3. Fry eggs in your choice of oil. We love duck fat in this house! And we also love runny yolk. I tend to cook 6 eggs at a time in a large skillet rather than cooking 2 at a time, but that’s just a matter of preference. If I had the time, I would definitely cook each serving separately, but my kids down really care what their eggs look like–just as long as they can eat them!

4. Serve sausage and spinach mix on top of the fried eggs. My kids love their eggs, sausage and spinach served on top of toasted English muffins.

Recipe: Homemade Breakfast Sausage

We love breakfast sausage. I mean, we really love it. My kids count down to Saturday morning breakfasts, and they tell me how hungry they are within minutes of waking up on Saturdays. And since we’re working hard to cut down on eating pre-packaged foods, delicious breakfast sausages included, I decided to make my own. So after scouring the internet for recipes that were both Paleo and Whole30 complaint (my husband completed the Whole30 in February) and 6 weeks of experimenting with various ingredients, I finally created one that the family loves. It’s delicious.

Most recipes I came across called for just 1 lb of ground pork. Honestly, that’s barely enough to feed my family a single breakfast. So I make my sausages in 3 lb batches, which allows me to freeze some for later because some Saturday mornings, I just don’t feel like spending 40 minutes prepping breakfast.

sausage

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

3 lbs of ground pork
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp sage
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
3 tbsp maple syrup (optional–we love a hint of sweet in our sausages, but the addition of maple syrup crosses this recipe off the Whole30 list!)

1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a mortar (A mortar and pestle are not necessary, but I love grinding all the dry ingredients together and particularly grinding up the whole fennel seeds). Grind/mix ingredients thoroughly.

2. In a large mixing bowl, comine the ground pork and the dry ingredients. Be sure to mix thoroughly. (Add maple syrup if you’d like and mix.)

3. Shape individual sausage patties and place them on a sheet of wax paper. If you’re making extra to freeze, then cut your wax paper in a small enough size so you can easily place the sheets of wax paper in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, remove them from the wax paper and store in a ziplock bag or container.

4. Cook over medium heat until cooked through. Avoid flipping the patties over often. It’s best to leave the patties alone until they’re fully cooked on one side, then flip them once to cook and brown on the other side.

5. Try not to eat too many! 😉

Recipe: Baked Curry Chicken

UPDATE (4/1/2014): I made this tonight with bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh because I forgot to specify and that’s what my husband brought home from the store. It was A-MAZ-ING! The skin was crispy and flavorful–his “mistake” was sooooo worth it!

Whipped this up for dinner last night, and it came out perfectly! Juicy and flavorful. It was easy to make, my children loved it, and we had enough leftover to eat with salad this afternoon for lunch.

It’s Paleo and Whole30 compliant, so get cooking!

IMG_6714

Baked Curry Chicken

In normal circumstances, this recipe would probably feed 8 people. However, my hungry horde eats a lot. And we love leftovers.

2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thigh
2 tsp curry
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground white pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Rinse chicken and pat dry.

3. Mix all of the dry ingredients.

4. Place chicken in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle dry ingredients on and combine thoroughly, making sure that each piece of chicken in thoroughly coated.

5. Boneless, skinless chicken thigh pieces typically come in large, flat pieces. Either fold the pieces in half or roll them so that you’re not placing them in the baking dish flat. Arrange in a baking dish so that the chicken pieces are not touching each other.

6. Bake for 30 minutes (or until chicken is cooked through). I served this with a cauliflower mash (that my 5 year old boys thought was mashed potatoes–woohoo!) and fresh tomatoes and avocado slices. Yum!

Recipe: Delicious Pad Thai Recipe

This is a recipe that I put together about 7 years ago, back in the days before children when I could spend hours in the kitchen perfecting my meals! Pad Thai is one of my husband’s favorite dishes, so I spent a lot of time making sure this recipe was just right. It suits our palettes perfectly–a hint of sweet, a bit of spice, and all the savory goodness that Pad Thai is supposed to have. Enjoy!

Photo Jun 17, 8 01 15 PM

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb rice noodles (flat, ¼ inch wide)

1 lb shrimp and chicken
1/3 c. fish sauce
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. lime juice
2 t. paprika
4 spring onions (chopped)
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. garlic (minced)
2 eggs
1 c. bean sprouts
2 red chili peppers (chopped) NOTE: This will make a VERY spicy dish. You can either use one pepper or leave them out altogether for a mild dish. Also, you can substitute less spicy peppers such as jalepenos, which is what I often do because my kids can’t eat it if it’s too spicy!
1/2 c. peanuts (crushed)
  • Mix fish sauce, water, sugar, lime juice, and paprika. Set aside.
  • Scramble eggs and set aside.
  • Boil water and put noodles in to soften them (approx. 10 minutes). Do not completely soften the noodles because they still have to absorb a bit of water from the mixture. When you bite into them, there should still be a hint of hardness in the center. Drain and set aside.
  • Stir fry oil, garlic, chili peppers, and peanuts until garlic is brown.
  • Add meat. When meat is fully cooked, add noodles.
  • Add liquid mixture. Stir fry until the liquid mixture is completely absorbed.
  • Add eggs. Then add spring onions and bean sprouts and stir for about two more minutes.

Recipe: Orange and Ginger Glazed Cornish Game Hens

It’s sweet and tangy and goes perfectly with Asian stir-fry veggies and rice. However, we did steamed veggies since my kids like their vegetables with absolutely nothing on them. Weirdos.

Photo May 21, 6 59 57 PM

4 Cornish Game Hens
Orange juice and zest from one orange (or as my kitchen would have it: two really old, dried-up oranges)
2 TBL sesame oil
4 TBL soy sauce
4 TBL rice wine vinegar (regular white vinegar is fine as well–just add some sugar to taste after combining all the ingredients)
4 TBL honey
1 TBL minced ginger
1 TBL minced garlic
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients (minus the Cornish game hens, obviously) in a bowl. Taste the sauce to see if it suits your taste buds. If it’s too salty, add a bit more honey or sugar. If it’s too sweet, add a bit more soy sauce. Coat the hens with the sauce and let it sit for 30 minutes on the rack of the roasting pan. Coat once more.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover the roasting pan with foil and place in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove, baste, then return to oven uncovered for another 20 minutes. Hens are fully cooked when juices run clear when pierced between breast and legs or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh reads 165 degrees. If necessary, cook in 7-10 minute increments until the hens are fully cooked. Transfer hens to a cutting board and let them rest for 10 minutes. Serve with rice and vegetables.

It’s delicious. Plus, it makes your whole house smell like oranges. 🙂

Because I Love Good Food

It’s not just me though. My whole family loves to eat.

food

At the beginning of 2014, my husband and I committed to making healthier food choices. It wasn’t really a New Year’s Resolution, but an overall we-need-to-pay-more-attention-to-what-we-eat. As a family, we don’t eat a lot of processed foods, and aside from our weekly dinner out, we don’t eat out much. However, as a busy mom of 3 small children, I often fall into the quick, microwave meal and grab a few kid’s meal in the drive-through on our way home trap. None of us really enjoy pre-packaged/fast food, and I usually have to beg my kids to eat their BK cheeseburgers… But when the day’s getting the best of me, at least I fed them something, right??? 😉

One of my friends suggested I start meal-planning as a way to help take the pressure off and avoid those quick meals. The first couple weeks, it was a real chore. I would spend my entire Friday night searching for healthy dinner options, googling recipes, making grocery lists… But it got easier. Way easier! Barely 2 months in, and it takes about 15-20 minutes to plan the menu and prep the grocery list for the week, and it definitely alleviates the stress of trying to figure out what to cook for dinner every night.

I also experimented with Paleo recipes and found that my family really enjoyed them. However, we eat a lot of rice–sticky, white rice–and although we’ve definitely reduced the amount of rice we eat, I can’t get rid of it. It’s honestly been the center of my diet for 34 years, and I love it. It loves me. We love each other. We will remain friends. Despite still eating delicious white rice (on occasion), and never feeling deprived, in the first two weeks, I LOST 2 LBS! Weight loss certainly wasn’t my goal when we started this, but it’s definitely an added bonus. I gained 8 lbs in the few months following my farewell to breastfeeding, and less than 2 months into our clean eating, I’ve lost 5 of those pounds. I should add that I took a 2 week hiatus from our healthy meal planning because my husband was out of town for work, and my boys celebrated their 5th birthday, and well… There was a lot of scrumptious cake to be eaten. 😉

So anyway, all this leads me to a fun addition to the website–FOOD. Before kids, I loved to cook. I loved experimenting with new recipes and whipping up new stuff. I spent hours prepping and cooking delicious dinners for my husband. We had friends over to eat on a regular basis. Planning dinner parties was honestly one of my favorite pastimes. But those of you with children understand… Once kids come along, you eat what you can, when you can! However, this whole meal planning thing has helped reunite me with food. Good, home-cooked, non-processed food. Which means I have recipes to share! Delicious, healthy recipes that the whole family will love.

Here’s a preview of recipes to come:

Photo Jun 17, 8 01 15 PM
Delicious Pad Thai Recipe
Photo May 21, 6 59 57 PM
Orange and Ginger Glazed Cornish Game Hen Recipe
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Easy Tilapia Recipe