Monthly Archives: May 2012

Teeny Weeny Tahini Bikini

Swimsuit season is upon us.  Pick your poison – what’s the diet of the year?  Is it Atkins?  Oh no, that’s right, that guy died of a heart attack.  Not a good indicator for my bacon and ranch meal plans.

The cabbage soup diet?  It seems I may have struck gold for this one.  Kimchi pots swarm beneath my window sill.  It would take nothing more than a covert night mission, a large pot, water, and I could be simmering away to abundance!  Tempting, yes, but I’ll admit I’m a little scared.  And not of getting caught by my landlord. The combination of cabbage, spice and fermentation sounds dangerous, and I’m nervous about what it might do to my intestinal tract. It can’t be good.

 They say it takes 28 days in sequence for something to actually make a lasting change.   It’s a shame we didn’t face the music 27 days ago. We may have been able to actually reduce the amount of fat on our body.  Since we didn’t, it’s all about pretending and making ourselves feel thinner.

My go-to is the Swimming Departure-Day(S. D-Day) method.  It’s really quite simple.  Just refuse all sustentence on day of set swimming escapade.  Around 2 pm, while lying in the hot sun, you MAY feel a little lightheaded.  No worries!  Dehydration is the perfect scapegoat for your delirium.  We also all know you weren’t actually going to walk around.  Your stomach looks a hundred times flatter kicked back. 

Alright, alright. I’m not entirely serious.  I may have embraced this method at one point, I may still draw upon it on occasion, but I’ve come of age.  After trials and tribulations, I’ve come full circle back to seventh grade health class.  The only thing effective for healthy weight loss is the combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise.  Spontaneous fat-burning ab-belt, why couldn’t you have worked!?

[May cause static cling]

Begruddgingly facing the facts, I embrace “everything in moderation.”  I consider dieting a balancing act.  I load up as much as possible on a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.  I’m not one to turn down chocolate cake, however, and this is where the balancing comes in.  If I happen to (on occasion) consume, say, three or more (ten) cookie packages intended for individual consumption, I make up for it the next day.  I’m extra strict with the calories, or I ratchet up my work out.  It’s just not practical to deprive yourself of chocolate.  BBC, you’re SO in my corner.  Check it out: Chocolate ‘may help keep people slim’

With summer impending, I figure it’s about time to get on that wagon.  Day 1 of 28, here goes nothing.  I had some chick peas from a recent trip to Suwon, and it seemed a good time for some crisp veggies and hummus (hello, protein!).  This recipe comes to me from my father, by way of The Mediterranean Cookbook by Betty Wason.  It starts with tahini, which you then combine with chickpeas to make hummus. Your biggest challenge is going to be figuring out how best to mash your chick peas.  I’ll go ahead and give you my blessing.  Use a fork, eat an extra cookie, and we’ll call it even as “cardio.”

Tahini Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup sesame oil (I substituted soybean oil)

6 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1-3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped

“The easiest way to make the sauce is with a blender.  Place the oil in the blender first; add, with blender in motion, water and lemon juice alternatively until the mixture is the consistency of thick cream.  Crush the garlic separately in a mortar or bowl and work in the salt.  Add the garlic-salt  mixture to the Tahini.  Do not overbeat.”

Or, chuck everything in the blender and give it a whirl.  That’s what I did.   Emulsion, schemulsion.

Appears smooth and creamy to me!

Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

Guilt-free

100 grams dried chick peas OR 1 large can chick peas

1/2 cup Tahini Sauce

lemon juice

salt, to taste

Since dried chick peas seem to be the most readily available to those of us in the land of kimchi, I’ll start there.  Place the chick peas in a medium-sized bowl and cover with plenty of water.  Allow to soak at room temperature overnight.  

They plump while you sleep

After soaking, transfer chick peas to a saucepan.  Cover with water and simmer, partially covered, over medium heat about 25-30 minutes, or until chick peas easily smash between the fingers. Drain and cool.

If using canned, ensure the chick peas are drained.  Now, choose method of mashing.  I happened to be equipped with a potato masher which worked just fine.  Otherwise, use food mill, blender (make sure Tahini is poured in to provide some lubrication), or a fork.  Mix Tahini Sauce with mashed chick peas, and add lemon and salt to taste.

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Beard Free Sounds Alright to Me

Before Korea, I lived in Colorado.  Ground zero for the hairy and unwashed.  Let’s be clear, I am neither discriminating against those who tend to small mammals under their arms, nor ruling out that I may have given up on shampoo for a short while myself.  Just telling it like it is.

Conducting field research. That’s a lot of hair.

When my grandmother came to town for my brother’s graduation, she was a little confused by the presence of turbans.  Turbans, yes Grandma, let’s just go along with that.  The explanation of dreadlocks may take a while.  You totally wouldn’t appreciate the cool factor that explodes when they’re done up in a lofty nest.  Not to mention the bonus points if the head wrap happens to be red, yellow and green (black accents and african motifs also acceptable).

Example A: Head wrap may not fall in the designated category, but the radiant luster earns plenty of party time credit.

Beards were par for the course and everyone who was anyone rocked one.  To be honest, I can’t disagree with the trend.  I envy beards during brisk rides up the ski lift. They are the face warmer to trump all others.  They’re a perfect tool to ensure you’re able to savor the last bite of every meal.  And also…beards are totally dead sexy!  They work like gravitational force with the ladies.  Well, some ladies.  You know who you are.

Notice how subject A is insuppressibly drawn to the beard. Subject B notes this quality, and wants a beard for himself.

While we know the consensus in Colorado, I’m not so sure of the beard verdict when it comes to clams.  A bit foreign to me, I’m not even entirely sure what a clam beard looks like.  I picture it as a scraggly little tuft, similar to the growth on an unsightly mole.  Either way, I don’t think it’s favored for consumption.  Since I am obviously in no position to identify a clam beard, let alone remove one, I was stoked on a find at NongHyup the other day.  In the cooler section, they had a shelf full of fresh, cleaned clams, seemingly ready to go. I’d been wanting to recreate a clam sauce recipe my friend’s mom let me in on, and it seemed the time had arrived.

Score

I established a healthy 1:1 clam to clove ratio for the garlic, and the rest was smooth sailing.  The best part is that this was on the table in about 15 minutes.  This is key for finding the time to pursue bearded bliss, be it disposing of sharp edges or trailing your local Mufasa.

Dig in

Clam Sauce

Serves 2-3

5-6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin if available, extra generic if living in Korea)

1/4 pound shucked, cleaned, debearded clams, lightly chopped and juices reserved

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

pinch of salt

fresh ground pepper

1/2 pound spaghetti/linguine, cooked

Heat oil in a shallow skillet over medium head.  When oil is hot, toss in the garlic.  Cook, gently stirring, for about 3-5 minutes or until garlic just begins to turn lightly golden.  Be careful not to burn the garlic as it will turn the dish bitter.  Just when garlic is starting to brown, turn off the heat.  Toss in clams, reserved juice, and parsley.  Stir to lightly cook the clams.  Season with salt and pepper.  To serve, spoon over hot pasta.

I’d like to give a special shout-out to my man Don Wooden, new recruit to the Bearded Gentleman’s Club (BGC).  He went for the gold with this one!

I tip my hat, good sir.

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Cirque du Jerk

Sit back and marvel at the extravaganza. 

With summer nipping at our heels this weekend, out came the bbq’s and we bellied up to the beach.  It was a friend’s birthday, and everyone plus their nephew-once-removed came out to celebrate.  Knowing in advance the potential of the gathering to end up in a chaotic frenzy,  I did some damage control and brought along an arsenal of meat. 

I found myself a shrink-wrapped chicken that undoubtedly was the recipient of one butcher’s wrath and fury.  This baby was hacked up with no rhyme or reason.  Legs looked like wings, and breasts were indistinguishable from thighs.   The opportunity for partial bone excavation (or throat-lodged loss of breath) was also very real. Regardless, it was all there, and the lack of giblets meant I was a happy camper in the end.  You can hack all you want as long as I don’t have to venture into the deep for a slimy surprise.  The intimate quest makes me uncomfortable, to say the least. 

Moved by the sunshine, and the accompanying vibes of Mr. Marley, I was feeling some jerk chicken.  I had a spice rub in my cupboard, but that just seemed too easy.  Kicking it up a notch, I sought out this recipe for a blended marinade via Nigella Lawson.  With a little Koreanization, we were in business.

Not the same for the grill component.  At face value, we seemed well off.  A trio had been arranged on the beach, alongside ample coals.  First thing first, I staked a claim, and loaded the grill up with charcoal.  Incentive for taking initiative: control of the almighty torch.  Complete with trigger, this thing made you want to incinerate.  Next best only to a class full of bowing students. P-O-W-E-R. 

Soon enough, the coals were glowing and it was time to get down and dirty.  On further assessment, the absence of a standard-sized grill rack was brought to our attention.  In its place were two small paddle-esque grates. Finding my first opportunity to amaze and astound, I carefully balanced the grates together.  The whole affair was contingent on a slight overlap in the center.  That, and the careful arrangement of  points of pressure (aka carnage o’ chicken).  I could say this worked like a charm, but that wouldn’t have been a circus.  I promised a spectacle.  

No big deal.

Uneven heat from the coals meant frequent chicken flipping was necessary.  This allowed me to debut my ability to calculate the ever-changing points of balance.  With each flip, the grates dipped and the bystanders gasped and squealed. It was a rollercoaster of emotion as we escaped chicken fiasco time and time again. 

For one onlooker, the thrill proved all too much.  She summoned her resourcefulness, and emerged from the woods with a perfectly sized stick.  Without so much as an utterance (imperative for the climactic build-up), she nestled the branch across the grill and under the grates for support.  Genius!  She was showered with praise. 

At this point, it seemed the show was over.  We would proceed as normal, flip to our heart’s content,  and consume the reward subsequently.  And then it happened. 

 

Watch your eyebrows!

 

Caught up in a flurry of social exchange, no one really saw it coming.  All of a sudden, a geyser of fire shot up to the sky!  There was a crack, and the stick was all but a distant memory. Here, the show became interactive.  A front-row admirer’s cat-like reflexes are to thank for saving our supper from the inferno of doom.  Crisis averted, audience AMAZED.

When the excitement died down, it was time to eat.  The chicken was delicious and enjoyed.  There were requests for an encore, but it may have been a limited run.

Jerk Chicken

Adapted from Homestyle Jerk Chicken by Nigella Lawson

Serves 3-4

1 whole chicken, hacked to bits

1  teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or I used mixed herbs)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used paprika)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (stand-in for ground ginger and nutmeg)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 1″ piece ginger root, peeled and cut into chunks

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used teriyaki sauce)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 fresh small(spicy!) chile, whole

1 small onion, peeled and quartered

Combine all ingredients in a blender, puree until smooth.  Pour over chicken in a ziplock bag and allow to marinate.  Grill and enjoy (BYOGG: Bring Your Own Grill Grate).

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