Meal with fragrant flavor will present happy time to you.
Words of wisdom to enrich even the most mundane acts. When I found these words on the side of a plastic container I intended to use for my next project, I couldn’t help but chuckle.
In Korea, the name “Konglish” refers to any expression that’s a hybrid of the English and Korean languages. Often times, they’re a literal translation of Korean phrases into English, which may or may not be successful. In daily life, I tend to encounter such expressions constantly, be it as a variety name on a box of cookies or a graphic on a student’s tee.
Usually, the ambiguity is part of the charm. In other cases, the lack thereof is simply appalling:
I’m glad the Chinese-adorned t-shirt trend has passed. Moving on…
A few weeks ago, I’d been waiting for the perfect opportunity to try out an experiment. After stumbling upon a roadside tomato stand, and with a string of sunny days in the forecast, I figured the time had come. I wanted to make my own sun-dried tomatoes. It seemed straight-forward enough.
I gathered up a selection of cherry tomatoes, halved them, and jimmy-rigged a set-up to allow for air circulation. A vegetable steamer poised atop a casserole lid served the purpose, but if you have a cooling rack on hand, that’d probably suffice as well. The air flow is key to allowing for even drying.
For weeks, I’d been scouting out my location. Off an outer stairwell of my apartment, there’s access to a south-facing roof. Always crowded with pots of fermenting kimchi, I’d noticed a neighbor drying out peppers there as well. Perfect. With my set-up in hand, I chose a spot, then called upon my patience.
After a couple of days, the tomatoes had lost their juicy luster and had shrunken to a fraction their size. With a supple quality about the same as a raisin, I figured they were finished. Some moisture was retained in the heart of the slice, and they tasted just divine. It was time for the second step.
Inspired by the cordial words on my vessel, I cheerily set out to make an oil marinade for my little tomatoes. I layered them with garlic, salt and herbs in the container, then covered the whole masterpiece in olive oil. I set it in a cool, dark place, then took a trip to the United States.
During my trip, there were a few thoughts of home that drifted around in my head. One was the anticipation of robust tomato flavor in the pastas of my future, and another was a fear of the triumph of larvae. There’s a bit of a situation in my apartment, and let’s just say the provided housing isn’t exactly ideal.
After a wonderful trip, I returned home this past Sunday. By some miracle, my floor wasn’t teeming with squirmy life. Winning. When I opened my cupboard, however, I found a furry surprise. Thankfully, it wasn’t a small rodent (not that I’d be surprised) – just a bit of mold on the surface of my pride and joy. I’ll spare you from an appetizing photo of this step. Instead, I’ll take it as a lesson and advise you, dear reader, what NOT to do. DON’T choose a container that leaves a healthy airspace above your layered beauties, even if it does call out to you with its charming Konglish. Filling the chosen container to the rim with oil would be advisable. Better luck next time. Take two for “Pastas adorned with fragrant tomato flavor…”
Oil-marinated Sun-dried Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes, halved (If using another tomato variety, just slice until about 1/2″ thick.)
Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on top of some contraption that allows for air flow. Sprinkle with salt, and place in an area receiving direct sunlight. Check frequently, and after about 2-3 days tomatoes should appear shrunken, and be retaining only about as much moisture as a raisin. When this is the case, move on to the next part.
Air-tight container or jar
Fresh or dried herbs
Carefully layer tomatoes in the bottom of your container. When the tomatoes cover the bottom, sprinkle with garlic, herbs and salt. Repeat until the container is just about full, compacting periodically with some kind of blunt object (I used a muddler). Pour the container full with enough oil to completely cover the tomatoes and reach almost to the lid. Secure lid tightly, and allow to marinade in a cool, dark place.