I’m on the hunt for a hobby, and am fully dreading this opportunity/task. When my only frame of reference for hobbies includes solo piano competitions, and other embarrassing activities of the like, it’s hard for me to approach a non-essential activity without being annoyingly methodical, aggressive, and ambitious, particularly since I have the great dishonor of conflating enjoyment with being good at something. Because of the level of unnecessary intensity I bring to the table, I end up talking myself out of doing anything. For example: when considering taking yoga classes, I decided that I should first start with bartered private yoga instructional sessions, so I could perform with the right form before being in a group setting. When I couldn’t find someone with whom to barter, and because I couldn’t even consider the notion of being completely unprepared for it, I didn’t do any yoga. Another example: I had considered returning to the piano, and got a keyboard for my birthday several years ago. Having picked up all my music from NJ, I started planning how often and how long to practice, made a schedule of when to learn and memorize each section, blahblahblah. Categorically not fun. A bit not good. But it’s the only way I know how to approach anything.
By way of cooking and eating, I think I’m slowly starting to learn to enjoy not only the (hopefully delicious) product, but also the process. Because the enjoyment (of eating) so immediately follows the work and process, perhaps I will begin to conflate the two pieces, and learn to approach everything else with the ultimate goal of enjoyment (instead of mastery, which will always be unattainable, anyway). All this to say, I was totally unbalanced about this week’s meals. Since I was a little lazy and unproductive the week prior, I felt the need to compensate with a rather intensive menu of meals. Plus, I had the added (self-inflicted) pressure of wanting to delight in spring/summer foods and salads. Even with a little bit of unnecessary stress, I experienced a great deal of joy while preparing the week’s menu. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to approach everything in my life with a bit of balance, joy, and ambition, and eat good food all the while.
And now, a recipe. This dish was rocking and rolling, and is pretty perfect for any warm to sweltering day.
Bibim Guksu Recipe
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
10 oz. soba or lo mein noodles (soba is better, but I couldn’t find any in the local grocery store)
1/4 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, julienned
1 large cucumber, julienned
1/2 of a tart apple, julienned
1/2 cup of kimchi, diced
For the sauce:
3 tbsp gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) Note: each brand carries a different weight of spiciness. If you are sensitive to spiciness, start with 2 tbsp, taste after everything else has been mixed together, and slowly add more if you so desire
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted (optional)
See marinated flank steak recipe below.
- Boil noodles as instructed. Drain, and rinse the noodles under cold water to stop the cooking. Shake the water off, put noodles in a large mixing bowl, and add a teeny bit of vegetable oil and mix to make sure they don’t stick together.
- Put your prepared vegetables into the bowl, along with the sauce. Using a piece of plastic wrap to protect your and from the spicy sauce, thoroughly mix the noodles, vegetables, and sauce together. Using tongs or utensils might break the noodles, so best to use your hands.
- Place your mixed noodles into a bowl, and top with slices of marinated skirt steak (recipe below).
Korean Marinated Flank Steak Recipe
Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus up to a 12 hours of marinating
Cooking Time: 10 minutes, plus 10 minutes of resting the meat
1 1/2 – 2 lbs of flank steak, 1/2 an inch thick
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tbsp of ginger, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of ground pepper
1/2 a apple, thinly shredded
1 tbsp sesame oil
- In a large bowl, mix the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions, sugar, pepper, apple, and sesame oil.
- Carefully pour the marinade into a large freezer bag, along with the piece of flank steak. Close the bag, making sure there is no air trapped. Put the bag into the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
- An hour before you plan to cook the steak, take the bag out of the fridge. Let it come closer to room temperature.
- Heat a cast iron skillet at a high heat until smoke starts to come off of the pan. Lower the heat to a medium-high flame, and add the steak. After four minutes, flip it over, and let it cook for another 3 minutes.
- Take the steak off the pan and put onto a cutting board. Let it sit, uncovered, for about 10 minutes so that the juices can redistribute. The cooking time is for a medium rare steak. After 10 minutes, slice to your desired thickness. Place ontop of bibim guksu!