Korea: Rice Cake Sauté with Greens in Gochujang Sauce & Kimchi

Posted by on Sep 6, 2014 in Recipes | 0 comments

I travelled to Busan in Korea’s south in September 2011 to participate in the International Conference on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific. I think my views of Busan and South Korea are likely colored by what happened at the AIDS conference and for some reason I took absolutely zero photos of my trip there. It was not the best of times.

It very much felt like a police state: the Korean government acts with a heavy hand to quell any kind of dissent. There is a tradition of protesting at AIDS conferences; it’s what we’ve always done and have had to do to make sure that there’s an adequate response and that people can get the medicine they need to be able to survive and thrive. Yet, despite the fact that our protests did not leave the halls of the conference venue, the police came in and aggressively stopped it. They focused their aggression on the Korean activists among the group and we witnessed them get beaten and then arrested. A number of my friends from other countries were also injured. We were angry, shocked, and devastated by the unnecessary brutality. 

On the other hand, the Busan coast was very, very pretty, although very crowded. It was clear that this was a playground for US soldiers on their R&R and drunk Americans were a permanent feature of Busan nights. Not exactly my cup of tea. 

There was one experience, however, that I do cherish and deeply appreciate. One evening, a friend and I decided to escape the madness and go to a Korean spa for a few hours. It was pure bliss. We started out by showering and then spent time in the baths, of which there were many of various temperatures. It was filled with Korean women of all shapes and sizes, bathing, grooming and relaxing, with absolutely no shame about their bodies. It was liberating. Then we spent time trying the very many saunas, cool rooms, and relaxation areas the place had to offer. It was such a needed reprieve from what was happening in the outside world, somewhere where I could completely let go of everything for just a little while.

I ate just fine in Busan, but I really didn’t get to enjoy much Korean food. One evening I went to a Korean BBQ place and ate grilled veggies; okay, but a little boring. Other places I visited had very few vegan options. I could never enjoy the kimchi, because of course it was laden in fish sauce. It may have just been that I didn’t know where to look for a stellar vegan meal (and lacking the energy to put in the effort).

As I was leaving Busan, Hurricane Irene was wreaking havoc at home. It was awful boarding a plane and not being able to contact my partner because the power and phones and everything else at home was pretty much down. We were out of power for about a week afterwards and there was a huge amount of damage and destruction in my neighborhood.

I wouldn’t say no to going back to Korea, even though my first experience of it wasn’t great. I’m sure it does have exciting things to offer. And vegan Korean food is just heavenly! One of my favorite restaurants in New York is Hangawi, which offers spectacularly delicious vegan Korean dishes. Give me one of their avocado stone bowls any day and I am a happy girl.

So today I’m bringing you three Korean-inspired recipes.

Ingredients for Gochujang Sauce

Ingredients for Gochujang Sauce

The first is a gluten free gochujang sauce! While most gochujang sauce is actually vegan, wheat flour is usually used as a thickener. Traditional gochujang sauce is also fermented over several days.

Gochujang Sauce

Gochujang Sauce

By using miso, rather than wheat, as the base, we can skip the fermenting step and still get all of the benefits.

Gochujang Sauce
Yields 1
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup filtered water, plus more as needed
  2. 1/4 cup coconut palm nectar or coconut palm sugar
  3. 1 cup miso
  4. 1/2 cup Korean chili powder
  5. 1 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar
Instructions
  1. Add coconut palm nectar and water and heat to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down, add miso and stir until thoroughly dissolved. You may want to use a hand blender or whisk to get rid of any lumps. Be careful not to let the miso boil.
  3. Add korean chili powder and umeboshi plum vinegar and stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. If the gochujang is too thick, add additional water a little at a time, until you get the desired consistency.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings to suit your palate.
Notes
  1. Feel free to play with the ingredients here. I used red miso, which is strong, but for a milder flavor you could use white miso. If you like your gochujang sauce ultra spicy, go ahead and add more chili powder! If you like it a little sweeter add more coconut palm sugar. If it needs a tad more tartness, add a touch more vinegar.
Vegan Sweet and Simple http://vegansweetandsimple.com/
The second is a somewhat non-traditional dish using traditional ingredients and flavors: rice cakes sautéed with greens in sesame oil with gochugaru chilies and topped with the gochujang sauce.

Key ingredients

Key ingredients

Rice Cake Sauté with Greens

Rice Cake Sauté with Greens

It’s surprisingly delicious! 

Yum!

Yum!

Rice Cake Sauté with Greens
Serves 2
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup frozen sliced rice cakes
  2. 3 cups sturdy greens (I used orach, but you could use kale or collards)
  3. 1 large scallion, thinly chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1/2 - 1 korean chili pepper, diced
  6. 1/2 tbsp grapeseed or other vegetable oil for sautéing
  7. 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  8. 1 tbsp tamari
  9. 1/8 tsp umeboshi plum vinegar
  10. 1/8 tsp salt
  11. Roasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  12. Water for boiling
  13. 2-4 tbsps Gochujang sauce
Instructions
  1. Boil 1 quart of water on stove, along with a dash of salt and a tiny touch of sesame oil.
  2. When the water is boiling add frozen rice cakes (make sure they are separated).
  3. Boil for a few minutes, until the rice cakes absorb the water and are tender (they will be a little chewy, but not so much that they are difficult to eat).
  4. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl mix together roasted sesame oil, tamari and umeboshi plum vinegar.
  6. In a pan, add a tsp of grapeseed oil.
  7. When hot, add rice cakes and sauté on each side until lightly browned.
  8. Remove from pan and set aside.
  9. Add a tiny more oil and sauté 3/4 of the scallions, and all of the garlic and chili pepper until fragrant and soft.
  10. Add greens to the pan and cook until they just begin to wilt.
  11. Return rice cakes, add sesame oil mixture and turn off the heat.
  12. Stir the mixture to make sure the greens and rice cakes are well coated.
  13. Dish onto two plates.
  14. Spoon the desired amount of gochujang sauce on top and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and remaining scallions.
  15. When ready to eat, mix it all together!
Vegan Sweet and Simple http://vegansweetandsimple.com/
And finally, vegan kimchi!

Kimchi!

Kimchi!

I love kimchi. Not only is it spectacularly umami, it is also so good for you. And it’s so easy to make.

Look how lovely this is!

Napa Cabbage Halves. Aren’t they pretty? 

Kimchi ingredients

Kimchi ingredients

Salted cabbage

Salted cabbage

Mixing it all together!

Mixing it all together!

 

Fermenting...

Fermenting…

It’s hard to find vegan kimchi in a store or in most Korean restaurants, because they use fish sauce or shrimp sauce to flavor it.  So here’s my vegan recipe. 

Kimchi
Serves 8
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Total Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 large head of napa cabbage
  2. 2 tbsps sea salt
  3. 1-1 1/2 cups korean daikon radish (it's the one that's green at one end)
  4. 1 medium carrot
  5. 4 stalks scallions
  6. 1-2 korean chili peppers
  7. 1/4 cup minced onion
  8. 1 tbsp dulse flakes
  9. 1/3 cup gochugaru chili powder
  10. 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  11. 1 tbsp ginger
  12. 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
  13. 3 tbsps soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Trim away tough dark leaves from the cabbage.
  2. Cut the cabbage in half
  3. Cut a 2 inch slit down the bottom of each half.
  4. Dunk in a cool water bath to thoroughly wet cabbage leaves.
  5. Place in a large bowl and work salt between the leaves until they are well coated, especially toward the bottom where the stalks are thickest.
  6. Let the leaves sit for 30 minutes to an hour, until they are wilted and soft.
  7. Meanwhile, cut carrot, daikon radish and peppers into matchsticks and scallions into 1-inch pieces.
  8. Place the vegetables and all other ingredients (except the cabbage of course) in a large bowl and thoroughly mix together.
  9. Carefully wash the salt off the cabbage.
  10. As you do so, carefully tear the halves into quarters, working up from the slit cut into the bottoms.
  11. Add the cabbage to the bowl with the other ingredients and work the chili paste into the cabbage leaves, being careful not to break the cabbage quarters up.
  12. Stuff some of the vegetable and chili mixture between each leaf of one of the quarters, and roll the cabbage up into a ball.
  13. You can eat the kimchi immediately, but the flavors really develop when you let it ferment.
  14. If you do decide to ferment the kimchi, place the kimchi balls in a glass jar or fermenting crock. I used two quart-size ball jars.
  15. Pour any remaining liquid into the jars.
  16. If there is not enough liquid to cover the kimchi, make a salt water solution using 1/2 tsp salt to 1 cup of water and add it to the jars to make sure the kimchi is fully submerged.
  17. If using jars, cover tightly with cheesecloth and let sit in a warm place for up to a week.
Vegan Sweet and Simple http://vegansweetandsimple.com/
Kimchi is an essential part of any complete Korean meal, so of course I couldn’t make a Korean dish without it! 

Dinner for two!

Dinner for two!

I hope you try it and like it! 

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