Every day when I wake up at this time of the year, I run to the patio to check if the air is still cool. It almost always is, and for that I’m grateful. Holding on to every (remaining) cool-weather day is like trying to grasp a handful of pearls: futility; hot weather is right around the bend. But for every day that I can wear my longer-sleeved shirts and keep the AC off, is an extended version of bliss.
My 2015 didn’t start off too well, as you may know. Caught a nasty virus and I’m still confounded as to where I picked it up. Then I experienced something I’m convinced is similar to death at the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue). If you’re self-employed like I am, then you know all too well what I’m talking about. [insert grimace here].
Recently, I read somewhere that “January is a mediocre month, it’s neither here nor there.” I tend to agree somewhat. The first month of the year is a time to adjust and align, distill and define. I had to make some hard decisions about certain things in my professional life, and in a fit of paralysis by analysis, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway. To my surprise, I learn that clarity sets in when I don’t overthink things. Now, things are revving up and getting busy again. I’m planning my Food & Flair event at the Podium – hope to see you there! – and plans for the 10th anniversary of Dessert Comes First, what I call DCF10, are well underway. Exciting! I’ve got several photo shoots lined up, and even up to now, it’s still surreal that I’m taking pictures for other people. I love showing these restaurateurs and companies how good their food really looks.
I’m also cooking more now and eating out a lot less. This is something I’ll discuss in a later post but for now, I want to share this recipe with you. Reliant on bottled kimchi and blooming with umami from the gochujang, this soup-slash-stew is made hearty with strips of tender beef. Should you wish – as I do – you can add more spice so that the broth becomes sinus-searingly spicy. This bowl is a perfect way to celebrate the last remaining weeks of this still-cool weather. Don’t overthink this one, just cook it.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 bottles or 2 foil packs of kimchi, the kind you see in the chiller section at the grocery
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste, the one in a red plastic tub)
- 4-5 cups of homemade vegetable broth or broth made from a bouillon cube, whatever you like
- 225 grams of beef, sukiyaki cut
- 3-4 scallions, cut into 2” pieces, no need to be overly precise about it
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package extra firm tofu (the kind packaged in a tetra-pak), cut into 1” pieces
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 3 large egg yolks
- Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add kimchi and gochujang and cook, stirring often, until the kimchi wilts and browns slightly, about 3-5 minutes. Add 4-5 cups of your chosen broth. Toss in the beef, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil and a few grindings of black pepper.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until beef is cooked and kimchi is softened and translucent, about 10-12 minutes. Adjust heat if beef is cooking too fast, you don’t want to overcook it. Add the tofu and the sesame seeds and let simmer for about 3 minutes just to warm up the tofu. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Ladle stew into bowls and top each with an egg yolk.