Galbi Jjim (갈비찜): IP + Slow-Cooked Braised Beef Short Ribs

Fully Loaded Comfort Food 

When it comes to comfort foods, Korean braised beef short ribs (aka Galbi Jjim, 갈비찜) tops my list. It is traditionally made as a slow-cooked stew, and a gorgeously delicious meal. Great to make during the fall and winter months (House of Stark would approve). I also love it as a weekend supper during the summer, as an alternative to a BBQ. I’ve made galbi jjim in both an Instant Pot, as well as over a stove top.

갈비찜 History

This rich braised beef dish is rooted as a celebratory meal, often eaten during Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving Day.  Chuseok originated as an annual harvest celebration and is  observed around the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar on the full moon.  The braised beef short rib dish is made for special occasions, and social gatherings and parties.

I’ve come to appreciate galbi jjim as a one-pot family meal that comes fully loaded with root vegetables like daikon radish, carrots, and potatoes.

Instant Pot takes one-third the time

As a busy mom (someone is tugging at my sleeve as I write this!), I enjoy the convenience of the Instant Pot (IP) to maximize what little free time I have. Using the IP, I can whip this up in one-hour. Over a stove top, I’m committing 3 hours from prep to plate.

The Short Version (IP) Recipe

Let’s start with the short IP version, and I’ll elaborate a little more on making this tasty, simple dish on a stove top. First, you’ll want to assemble your ingredients together and arrange them on the kitchen counter. That way, you know you have everything you need. This meaty dish will serve 4-5 people.

Don’t forget the steamed rice!
Nothing soaks in that rich tasty galbi jjim than a steaming bowl of white rice. I covered the ins/outs of making rice in a previous post that covered a keto-friendly Korean jigae dish here.

Prep the marinade
Make sure you have the basics needed to whip up a marinade. My marinade here is gluten-free and rates low glycemic. I use tamari soy sauce (gluten-free), rice vinegar, a dash of sesame oil, low glycemic coconut syrup (in lieu of brown sugar), minced garlic, fresh ginger, and roasted sesame seeds.

Marinade making ingredients
Get your marinade ingredients ready. Soy sauce (or tamari), rice vinegar (or mirin), garlic, ginger, sesame oil, coconut syrup (or brown sugar), and sesame seeds

The marinade is simple to make. In a medium size bowl, pour 1/2 cup of tamari soy sauce, 1/4 cup of coconut syrup (or sub-in with raw coconut nectar, or brown sugar), tbsp sesame oil, tbsp of minced garlic (~ 6 cloves), tsp of fresh ginger (grated, or chopped fine), and tsp of roasted sesame seeds. Mix the ingredients in a bowl, and set it aside.

Marinade made
Combine the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, and set aside

Soak beef ribs, then score them
You’ll want to get 2.5-3 lbs of trimmed beef short ribs, and place them in a bowl filled with cold tap water. This will help drain the meat from impurities.  Thickly cut beef short ribs are easily found in Asian markets like Ranch 99, or you can specify the particular cuts you want from your local shop.

As you prep the beef and separately the veggies and marinade, make sure you keep your space clean from cross-contamination.

Beef Short Ribs
Place 2.5-3 lbs of beef short ribs in a bowl, then soak in cold water

After the ribs have been soaked, remove them and place ribs on a cutting board. Remove excess fat. Score the meaty part of the beef ribs. When scoring the ribs, I make a simple criss-cross pattern with shallow cuts.

Prep the veggies
Wash all the vegetables and get them ready to prep. I used half of a large daikon radish, 2 cups of cut n’ peeled carrots,  2 medium russet potatoes, 4 stems of Chinese chives (sub with scallions), and several small sweet peppers (sub with 1 bell pepper).  I prefer the mellower flavor of chives (over scallions).

Wash and prep veggies
Half a large daikon radish, 2 medium potatoes, 2 cups of carrots, sweet peppers, and 4 stems of Chinese chives (sub with scallions)

Peel and cut the veggies
Peel the potatoes and rough skin of the daikon radish. Then chop the potatoes and daikon into large cubes.  Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and slice them lengthwise. With the Chinese chives (or scallions), chop them into long pieces.  I used baby cut n’ peeled carrots purely out of convenience, but you can alternately peel and chop up 2-3 large carrots. Then set your veggies aside.

Put it all together in the IP
Plug in your Instant Pot. In the IP, place the beef short ribs in first, followed by your veggies. Then pour in the marinade last.  Add 1/4 cup of water over the top.

Put it all together in the IP
Put the braised ribs and veggie in the IP. Then pour the marinade all over the top

Pressure cook on high for 35 minutes
Close the top of the Instant Pot lid and turn dial to sealing position. Turn on the manual setting at high pressure for 35 minutes. You can use the meat/stew setting, or manual setting. You can let the steam release naturally for 10-15 minutes, or speed things up by opening the vent wearing a protective glove like a silicone mitt.

The one-pot meal is done
Fully cooked galbi Jjim in an IP

Ingredients 

– 2.5-3 lbs of beef short ribs
– 2 medium russet potatoes
– half of a large daikon radish
– 4-5 small sweet peppers (or 1 bell pepper)
– 2 cups of pre-cut carrots (or 2-3 large carrots)
– 4 stems of Chinese Chives (or sub with scallions)
– 1/4 cup water

Marinade
– 1/2 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
– 1/4 cup rice vinegar (or mirin)
– 1/4 cup coconut syrup (or sub with raw coconut nectar, or brown sugar)
– 1 tbsp minced ginger
– 1 tsp minced or grated ginger
– 1 tbsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

Modified recipe for Dutch Oven on a stove top

If you prefer the slow-cooking method, or don’t own an IP, here’s a slight modification on the recipe above.

Pour the marinade and 2 cups of water (bring to a boil)
Pour the marinade and 2 cups of water into the dutch oven and stir. Then bring the mixture to a boil.

Add the beef ribs; bring down to a simmer
Once you get it to a boil, add in the beef ribs, and lower to a simmer. Cook the ribs at this low heat for 2 hours. Make sure the pot is covered with the lid.

After 2 hours, add in the veggies
Add your lovely veggies and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. You want to make sure the beef is tender and the veggies are soft.

Kalbi Jjim
Korean-style braised beef short ribs (갈비찜)

Mom juice pairing

Galbi Jjim goes well with a nice glass of cab, merlot or a lighter pinot noir during the summer.

Bon appétit. Wind down and enjoy dinner!

English Comfort: Boiled Eggs & Soldiers

Healthy-ish Breakfast Comfort Food

Earlier in the week, my hubs and I lamented over England’s loss to Croatia in the World Cup semi-final. Instead of drowning our sorrows in the decidedly unhealthy chip butty (sandwich stuffed with fries), we opted for a healthy-ish British comfort food — boiled eggs and soldiers.

The important part is getting the boiled eggs just right so that you end up with gooey, runny yolk perfect for dipping soldiers (sliced toasts). As I typically boil 6 eggs (2 per person), the boiling time of large brown eggs clocks in at 6 minutes. If the eggs are left too long in the boiling water, they go hard. It’s best to be precise in timing your boiled eggs to get dippy yolk.

In scouring recipes online, I’ve seen a range of 5-7 minutes for boiling time depending on the number and size of eggs. Trial and error may be a factor in getting the eggs the way you want them.

Alternative to boiling eggs in a saucepan

One of the genius inventions that has helped us perfect the boiled egg is an Amazon best seller called the Dash Rapid Egg Cooker, which is currently available for $19.99 ($29.99 list price).

Behold the 6-egg capacity egg cooker

I had gifted it to my hubs as a Christmas gift (more for a laugh), but it’s gotten plenty of use. Boiled eggs and soldiers has become a staple weekend dish. And, it takes 10 minutes to make from prep to finish.

Really Short History 

Always curious about the origins of food, I inquired about the history of boiled eggs and soldiers, only to find that it has a short story. The mentions of “eggs with soldiers” only dates back to the flower power loving ’60s.

The dish may have become dishy during a series of 1965 TV commercials promoting eggs, starring British comedian Tony Hancock. Nicolas Freeling’s novel The Dresden Green published in 1966 mentioned “toast soldiers” used for dipping in soup.

While the history of boiled eggs and soldiers is short and somewhat ambiguous, the dish is fit for a Queen.

Eggs are Nutrient Rich

Eggs are a great source of protein, as well as selenium, vitamin D,B6,  B12, and minerals zinc, iron and copper. Eggs are also known for containing key nutrients such as betaine and choline, which is important for nursing and pregnant women, and essential for brain health. Since you’re boiling (and not frying up eggs in unnecessary oil or butter), you’ve got a heart healthy version of eggs.

Boiled Eggs with Soldiers
Here shown with dry toast (sans butter)

Brekkie fit for a royal

Ready to eat like a healthy-ish royal? You’ll need 6 large brown eggs (all about equal in size). It’s best to use eggs at room temperature. So, if you’ve taken the eggs out of the fridge, let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

If you use an appliance like the Dash Rapid Egg Cooker, just follow the instructions and it will give you perfect dippy eggs.

Boil water in a saucepan  (old school way)
If you don’t have a nifty egg cooker, then simply fill a saucepan with water (enough to completely submerge the eggs) and first bring the water to a boil.

Gently place eggs in boiling water
Then, carefully place the 6 refrigerated eggs into the boiling water using a ladle. Time it for approximately 6 minutes.

Toast and slice the bread
While the eggs are boiling, lightly butter the 6 slices of bread with some nice Kerrygold Irish butter. Then pop the slices of bread into the toaster (higher setting for crunchy soldiers). Each person gets two eggs and two toasts (sliced).

Once the toast is done, place on a cutting board and cut into even slices. Plate them up, along with the empty egg cups and teaspoon (or egg spoon). Crack some fresh black pepper over the toast soldiers.

Time’s up! Remove eggs
Don’t let the eggs linger in hot water. Once the timer goes off, immediately lift the eggs and place them each in an egg cup.

Crack and remove the egg shell pieces
Tap your egg spoon (or teaspoon) on the top of the egg and remove the shell pieces. Then spoon off the top of the egg and take that first bite.

Ingredients

Egg cups (to hold the eggs).
6 large brown eggs (equal in size)
6 slices of bread (gluten-free optional, Udi’s Delicious bread)
Irish butter (Kerrygold spreadable kind)
Cracked pepper
Salt to taste (optional)

Enjoying boiled eggs and soldiers with his eyes closed

With the runny egg yolk exposed, start dipping away with your toast soldier. Enjoy feeling regal and eating a healthy-ish breakfast of protein-rich eggs accompanied by gluten-free soldiers.

 

Probiotics & Keto Korean food

Korean side dishes are health trendy

As an immigrant child growing up in the Chicago area, my mom (a phenomenal cook) made sure we appreciated the wide spectrum of Korean cuisine. Most nights of the week we would have a spread of banchan, a menagerie of colorful side dishes comprised of various kinds of kimchi (fermented cabbage, cubed daikon, and cucumbers), kongnamul-muchim (seasoned, blanched soy bean sprouts), musaengchae (julienned daikon salad), gosari namul (seasoned, sautéed fiddlehead ferns), and sigeumchi namul (blanched, seasoned spinach). And those were only the side dishes.

Throughout a given week, we ate a balanced array of beef, pork, chicken, or seafood dishes. Of course, we didn’t eat all those tasty dishes at once. We sometimes enjoyed a bubbling pot of jigae (spicy delicious stew). My absolute favorite was the kimchi soondubu jigae – a mixed seafood and meat stew with kimchi, soft tofu, and veggies in a bubbling cauldron of deliciousness. During the hot summer months, my dad would fire up the grill and we would enjoy a feast of Korean barbecue, popularized by the kalbi (marinated short ribs) and bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef) always accompanied by banchan.

Back when kimchi was relatively unknown

Back in the ’80s, Korean food wasn’t something I could just tote in my lunch sack. For school lunches, I carried my brown bag of turkey, PB&J, ham, or egg salad sandwich. You couldn’t find Korean food in your typical American supermarket, and you had to shop at an Asian market for specialty items.

These were the days of Stranger Things fame where I revel in flash backs of Eleven’s Eggo waffles, toaster strudels that came with packets of DIY frosting, Chef Boyardee Beefaroni and Spaghettios, Little Debbie’s snacks, Gorton’s fish sticks, blocks of Velveeta cheese, and of course, Hot Pockets. The heyday of packaged meals and Happy Meal boxes.

I see kimchi everywhere

Now when I step into a major supermarket, I smile to myself when I see the many varieties of kimchi that are marketed as probiotic, gut-friendly, diet-conscious health food products. It’s the stuff I grew up with as part of my regular eating existence. Can I bastardize a line from The Six Sense? I see kimchi everywhere. That and Korean-dressed mashups.

Just the other day I walked through the aisles at Whole Food and was confronted with Gochujang Ketchup. Basically, ketchup infused with Korean-fermented chili paste.  The mashup is intriguing to stay the least. Whole Foods now also carries its own brand of 365 Kettle Cooked Gochujang Chips. I have yet to try these. Save for a future post.

Kimchi makes the top 10 list except…

Aside from the now trendiness of Korean cuisine, kimchi has been sweeping the top 10 lists of gut-friendly foods. Men’s Journal proclaimed it as one of the top 8 probiotic foods you should be eating. Similarly, Dr. Axe ranked kimchi on his top 13 list of great probiotic foods. Healthline listed it as one the top 8 fermented foods that boost digestion and health, and Dr. Oz highlighted kimchi as one of the top 5 foods that TV chefs always have in their refrigerators. In a recent Time.com article published in April 2018, kimchi was lauded as a probiotic rich dish that may help reduce cancer risk. And, kimchi consistently makes the keto friendly list of foods, so check that off your ketogenic food diary.

Then you see conflicting advice from Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die, who cites epidemiological evidence that indicates that elevated consumption of kimchi (fermented vegetables) could possibly increase the risk of cancer. In a published 2011 study in the Journal of Gastric Cancer, the research revealed the average consumption of kimchi in Korea represents 20% of daily sodium intake. The case-control studies link high intake of kimchi with an increased risk for gastric cancer. A leading culprit may be the high daily intake of sodium, in which salt can damage the stomach lining thereby promoting the carcinogenic effects. Food for thought. Balance and moderation continue to be the keys to a healthy diet.

Chock full of vitamins and lactobacilli

Nutritionists generally regard kimchi as a good source of vitamins A, B, C and of course the probiotic gut-supporting bacteria called lactobacilli, which one finds in fermented foods.  This aids in moving things along and in healthy digestion. Koreans are said to eat on average 40 pounds per person annually.

Kimchi has been around for +2,000 years

Whatever your impressions of kimchi are, it is a longtime staple dish in the Korean diet and a source of nationalistic pride. It dates back at least as early as 37 BC-7 AD. The process of salting and fermenting vegetables was one of necessity to preserve food throughout the year. I recall my grandmothers took pride in making their own variations of kimchi, which would ferment in large airtight glass jars.

Kimchi for every palate

With all the store options, you can have the pick of the litter. My favorites always involve the delectable, crunchy daikon and refreshing cucumber. The nappa cabbage version is the most popular kind of kimchi. If you cannot stomach spice, you can try the milder white nappa cabbage version. Of the store-bought varietals, I like Sinto Gourmet brand for its clean flavors and pretty, resealable packaging that keep the aromas airtight inside.

Kimchi Soondubu Jigae recipe for home

As there are a plethora of kimchi options at your local supermarket or Asian market (i.e. Ranch 99), you can arrange your own colorful tableau of banchan. To create a savory soondubu jigae, I’ll give you my version of a favorite comfort food. As with all cookery, you can experiment to make it your own.

Soup Starter Hack

If you happen to shop at Ranch 99 or equivalent Asian market, a great hack is to buy a carton of House Foods BCD Soon Tofu Soup Starter. It’s an easy hack and all you need to throw in is veggies and whatever meat or seafood you so desire.

The Non-Hack Recipe 

Now if you don’t have a soup starter, don’t fret. I’ve got you covered. You’ll need some store-bought kimchi, soft silken tofu, veggies, seafood (optional), and a bit of imagination. The following is enough for 1-3 servings depending on your appetite, and if you plan to share.

Ingredients (seafood version)

Kimchi (one cup)
Soft silken tofu (12 to 16 ounce carton)
Can of clams (littleneck clams)
Can of tuna (responsibly caught, tuna in water vs. oil)
2 cups of beef or vegetable stock
1 large zucchini
2 green scallions, or chives
Couple tsps of Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
1 tsp of minced garlic (or smash a glove)
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp of soy sauce (or tamari sauce for GF sensitivities)
1 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs

Instructions

Prep
Open the carton of silken tofu, and carefully cut into large blocks or chunks to make it easier for placing in a large saucepan. Chop up the zucchini and scallions, and place on the side. If you prefer your kimchi to be in smaller pieces, then you can chop that as well.

Heat up a large sauce pan
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, pour in your olive oil, gochujang, and sesame oil. Toss in your minced garlic and zucchini. Give that a good stir for a minute. Then add the kimchi and stir it around for a minute or two.

Add the broth (boil then simmer)
After a couple minutes, add the broth and soy sauce. Bring your stew to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer. Add salt to taste.

Add the canned clams and tuna
Make sure to drain the canned clams and tuna before you drop them into the simmering sauce pan.

Incorporate the chunks of silken soft tofu
Remember that the silken tofu is delicate and breaks apart easily. Using a large spatula or large ladle, add the pieces of silken tofu into the simmering pot. Give it 3-5 minutes, and keep the pot covered.

Lastly the eggs
While the jigae is simmering (and still bubbling), drop in one egg at a time. You want the lovely stew to cook up the yellow yolks nicely. Keep the simmering pot covered for a couple minutes. Once the eggs are nicely incorporated, you’re ready to serve up your soondubu jigae creation.

Garnish with scallions or chives
Garnish your finished soondubu jigae with scallions (or chives) and ladle them into bowls.

Steamed white rice (or brown rice).
Invest in a good rice cooker to get the perfect consistency of rice. An Asian rice cooker generally makes a perfect pot of moist rice, more so than an Instant Pot. I like medium grain white rice like Kokuho Rose white rice. If Kokuho Rose is unavailable, I’d recommend Nishiki’s premium white or brown rice version. When using a rice cooker, I rinse and use 2 cups of medium grain white rice with nearly 3 cups of water in total. As a rule of thumb, for every 1 cup of medium grain white rice, use 1.5 cups of water. For brown rice, you’ll need to double the water otherwise the rice is super hard. So for every 1 cup of brown rice, use 2 cups of water.

Depending on the make/model and setting of the rice cooker, your rice can take anywhere from 30-50 minutes to cook rice. The great thing about leftover rice is that you can leave it in the rice cooker as it has a “warm” setting.

I now leave you with this boomerang video of bubbling kimchi soondubu jigae. I recently enjoyed this stew full of belly-pleasing probiotics. Enjoy some adventurous eats!

 

 

Need a healthy habit? Avocado Toast

By Vivian Lee

The Humble Avocado Toast

Avocado toast with a medium or soft boiled egg appeals to my Seussian sensibilities. I am picturing Green Eggs & Ham and substituting it with this heart healthy beauty. Why the obsession with the avocado toast? In its simplicity (and glory), this little meal is raw avocado smeared on perfectly browned toasts topped with a pinch of cracked pepper, seasoning, and a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You can make your avocado toasts even daintier by cutting them into beautifully thin triangular toasts. Want to make an Instagram masterpiece? Amplify the composition of the avocado toast by going the extra gourmand mile.  But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about why this is the perfect meal or snack.

Nutrient Dense

Avocados are a stone fruit. Yup, that big round stone in the center takes up precious real estate in an otherwise creamy fruit. It’s supposedly the only fruit that contains a healthy dose of MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), and not to be confused with that delightful muffaletta — a meat-lovers sandwich of Creole origins.  So I digress!

Avocados (as you probably read or have been told) are nutrient dense fruits and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. You can toss out those vitamin supplements (I guess this is a subject for a future post). Much has been written about the humble avocado. Having read multiple books on nutrition, including Joel Furhman’s The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life, Forks over Knives, and How Not to Die by Michael Greger, there are some obvious conclusions on the benefits of avocado consumption done in moderation. While there is conflicting evidence-based research when it comes to the benefits and limits to avocado consumption, in its natural state not overladen with heavy guacamole (chip n’ dip) situations, it’s safe to say that you are doing your body good by having an avocado toast.

Blue Zone Approved

Dr. Greger on his NutritionFacts.org site validated claims that the avocado has anti-inflammatory effects and research showing that it can actually help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides. If you ever read Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, there is plenty of evidentiary literature that discusses the benefits of extra virgin olive oil as a healthy plant-based oil. A drizzle of that is Blue Zones approved.

If you’re concerned about weightier matters, then go sparingly on the olive oil and don’t overdo your avocado consumption just because of the stated health benefits. Moderation and lowering daily stress are key facilitators of healthier living. With our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and lack of regular daily physical activity, it’s even more critical to be mindful of what we put into our bodies.

The Good Egg

What about the eggs you say? Eggs are a great source of protein (in moderation please). The whites of the egg are said to be a great source of selenium, vitamin D, B6 and B12. And, you can find mineral composition of zinc, iron and copper. Eggs are good for the eyes as they contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are helpful in combatting macular degeneration. Yep! As we age, our eyesight goes. Eggs are also sources of cholesterol, so don’t go creating a leaning tower of eggs on your toastie.

Avocado Toastie Recipe

Want to make your own avocado toastie? Pick two slices of your favorite toasting bread. I personally love the Udi’s Delicious Soft White (GF) bread for toasting. Set the toaster to a higher setting if you want a perfectly crunchy brown toast.

Make sure the avocado you use is nice and ripe. Slice into thin slices (or you can mash it up with a fork). All depends on your preference. Place the avocado slices on each of the toasts and take half of a boiled egg and place it on top. Then crack some fresh ground black pepper and throw a couple pinches of TJ’s seasoning salt. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top, and you’re good to go!

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1/2 ripe avocado (thinly sliced)
  • Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Pinches of Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salt (all-in-one savory mix of granulated onion and garlic, sea salt, paprika, celery seed, nutmeg, and dry mustard)
  • 1 boiled egg (soft or medium) optional. Halved for presentation.

Other avocado toast

BTW, this image was taken at The Press Cafe. But you get the gist. Avocado toasts are easy to make and consume. And if you want to fork out $6 or more, you can get a delicious avocado toast at one of your favorite local haunts.

Enjoy happy, healthy eating!