Most of you probably missed the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show in Chicago last week. This 4-day show is open only to culinary professionals and students, showcasing everything from latte machines to microgreens and everything you can imagine that has anything and everything to do with delivering the food that comes to you at a restaurant.
I was there to represent Korea and cook and talk about Korean cuisine for the duration of the show. My cohorts were Chef Walter Neuhold, who has cooked for years at some of Seoul and Busan’s finest hotels, and Chef Youngsun Lee, who owns the Kimchi Taco Truck in New York.
We started the morning serving bindaeddeok (Korean flatcakes made from mungbeans and rice).
(courtesy of Chef Walter Neuhold)
2 cups dried mung beans, peeled and split
6 tablespoons short grain rice (or basmati or sweet brown rice)
1 zucchini, julienned
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 spring onion, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
handful of perilla leaves, sliced
Combine mung beans and rice and add enough cold water to cover. Soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of sea salt on julienned zucchini, let sit for one hour, then squeeze our the moisture.
Strain soaked beans and rice, then transfer to a strong blender. Add 1¬æ cups of water to the beans and rice, along with a teaspoon of sea salt. Blend until you have a consistency of pancake batter. Add chopped onion and blend until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl and gently fold in the rest of the vegetables. (You can store this batter in an airtight container for up to a few days in the refrigerator)
Heat a little vegetable oil in a nonstick pan. Place pancake‚Äêsized dollops of batter to the pan. When bubbles rise to the surface, flip and cook for another couple of minutes. Press down with spatula for a few seconds to make sure the batter and vegetables are cooked through.
Serve immediately with a side of seasoned soy sauce.
Later in the afternoon we also served kimchi and kimchi arancini, a fun fusion take on an Italian favorite.
Kimchi Arancini Recipe
(courtesy of Chef Youngsun Lee)
2 cups kimchi puree
2 cups kimchi juice
1‚ÅÑ2 cup gochujang (Korean chile paste)
1 cup sriracha sauce
1 1‚ÅÑ2 lb. Queso Hebra (Oaxaca), grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
6 quarts arborio rice, cooked
2 ‚Äì 3 medium egg yolk, beaten
4 medium egg white, beaten
1 cup panko
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumb
Combine the kimchi puree, kimchi juice, sriracha sauce, cheeses, and egg yolk. Gently fold in the rice to the mixture. (It’s easiest to wear gloves and mix with your hands.) Slowely add in the beaten yolk, one at a time to get a thick consistency, like cookie dough.
Roll mixture into a small ball, about 1 inch in diameter.
Combine the panko and breadcrumbs.
Roll the rice ball in the breadcrumbs until completely covered.
Heat a medium saucepan full of hot oil until oil reaches 350 to 375 degrees F. Fry the test arancini to make sure it stays together. If the ball falls apart, add an additional egg yolk to the rice mixture and make all of the dough into bite-sized balls. Roll in the breadcrumb mixture and fry until golden brown.
During the lunch hour, we also served bulgoggi wrapped in red leaf and topped with a bit of seasoned dwenjang (fermented soybean paste), microgreens and sesame seeds.
We also served some of Chef Youngsun’s take on Ddeokbokgi, Gingseng Tofu Mousse with a bit of dried dates (jujubes) and some omijacha (Magnolia Berry Tea) and soojeonggwa (Ginger Cinnamon Tea).