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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Craving some homestyle Korean cooking

Maybe it's the snow on the ground that's making me nostalgic for Korean winter, but I'm craving some warm Korean comforts like dolsot bibimbap and mandu. Unfortunately, most local Korean restaurants are extremely un-vegan friendly. Every kimchi'dbanchan is made with a fish or shrimp base. Danny and I finally decided to check out H&Y Korean Market in Hicksville, and man am I so sorry I didn't visit this place sooner! It was like stepping into a Lotte Mart in Seoul, but even better because I could read the English labels! This place is far superior to any asian grocery store I've been to: beautiful, fresh produce at rock bottom prices, lots of organic products, amazing rice selection. Danny and I walked up and down each aisle fighting the urge not to throw every familiar product into our cart. We finally decided upon buying some japchae ingredients, goguma (Korean sweet potato), banchan (pre-made side dishes), yonkun (lotus root), and some snacks.
Once home, we started peeling and slicing the lotus root in hopes of replicating the sweet and chewy yonkun jorim that we had in Korea. The sauce thatwe simmered the lotus root in never quite thickened into a syrup, and they failed to become chewy. It was a little disappointing, but they were still edible and healthy at the very least. We decided to boil the entire package of cellophane noodles for the japchae, not realizing that it would be enough to feed an army. To toss with the noodles, we sauteed bell peppers, carrots, king oyster mushrooms, baby bok choy, onions, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. This version of japchae was yummy, but needed a little more oil and soy sauce to taste authentic. As for banchan, we bought our favorite kongjorim (black soy beans in a sweet syrup with soy sauce) and gobo (burdock root). We also had some kim, which I bought in Trader Joe's in a package labeled "roasted seaweed snack."
The meal we prepared certainly resembled the food we had in Korea, but I'm still craving the real stuff. This weekend I'll be having Korean food with my friends and heading to a norebang after for karaoke, so hopefully that will hit the spot. What I really miss is the buddhist temple cuisine that is hard to come by in New York. Luckily, I know of two restaurants in NYC's Koreatown that specialize in this kind of vegan Korean food. At Hangawi, the prices are a bit steep, so I'm saving that dinner for my birthday next month!

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