korean

Bento filler: 3-color Spring Vegetable Namul with Crabstick

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This is a very simple and quick vegetable side dish or filler for bentos, using vegetables available in the spring - new or spring cabbage, little carrots, and greens, with shredded crabstick or surimi. You could use shredded ham instead of the crabstick, splash out a bit and use real crabmeat, or just keep it all-vegetable. This is a namul, a Korean salad-like side dish. More about namul (and another namul recipe) here. The addition of a bit of vinegar is very unauthentic, but I think it enhances the flavors.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is shredding the vegetables. You can cheat and use pre-shredded carrots and cabbage, or use your food processor, if you’re not too handy with a knife. continue reading...

Buchimgae or Chijimi (Jijimi) with Kimchi

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Buchimgae or jijimi or chijimi is a thin, savory pancake from Korea. It’s similar to a Japanese okonomiyaki, but is a bit less complicated to make. (Also closely related is pajon, a pancake with lots of green onions.) It’s basically a pancake-like batter holding together a lot of vegetables and other ingredients. It’s a great way of using up leftovers, and holds up a lot better than okonomiyaki as a bento item I think. It makes a nice change from rice or bread based bentos.

Here are two batter recipes. One is a traditional one using wheat flour and beaten egg, the other one is a vegan and gluten-free variation. Use the one that suits your needs. The traditional one is a bit lighter and crispier, and the vegan one is denser. continue reading...

Bento filler: Spring greens namul (namuru)

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Namul (or namuru as it’s called in Japan) is a very versatile vegetable side dish from Korea. It’s one of the key ingredients of a bibinbap but I make namul much more frequently than I make bibinbap. Various vegetables are quickly boiled or blanched, and then dressed with a simple dressing of sesame oil and salt. It’s a great way to eat a lot of vegetables, since the boiling or blanching shrinks down the mass quite a lot. The compactness makes it a perfect bento side dish. It’s so good for you, but tastes great!

I make namul with all kinds of vegetables, including the most commonly used one, bean sprouts. But at this time of year I like to make it with brightly colored spring greens. The toasty sesame oil dressing is a perfect foil to the bitterness of many of these greens. Here I’ve used three kinds of greens that are easily available to me, but do use whatever you have around where you live. I’ve used the dark green, mildly bitter leaves of a puntarelle or catalogna (which I used to think was cima de rapa), spinach leaves, and lamb’s lettuce (also known as mâche - see more about ithere). If I were in Japan at this time of year I’d use spinach, nanohana, and maybe some komatsuna. I’ve listed some green vegetables that would work below. continue reading...