Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Samgyupsal (Grilled Pork Belly)

While the weather is not too hot and not too cold, it is the perfect time to take your meal outside! So, fire up your table grill and let's make SamGyupSal.
SamGyupSal is a grilled meat dish made from pork belly, or bacon. However, unlike the western counterparts, this "bacon" is not cured or smoked. Strips of this bacon are cooked on a grill, in a pan on the stovetop, or at a tableside cooker/grill. The cooked bacon is then cut into bit-size strips. Traditionally, each guest then dips a piece of samgyupsal in a sesame oil and salt mixture, wraps the meat in a piece of lettuce or Moosam with rice, and eats it. Because of our angel's allergy to sesame, we prefer to simply wrap our meat in lettuce or Moosam with rice but the result is the same .... one bite of the most Korea's most delicious finger food. That is right, go ahead and use your hands. Experts may use their chopsticks to assist, but most just sip their soju and and dig in. Nothing beats eating this outdoors with a fresh plate of summer vegetables and SamJang for dipping! Yu-u-mmy!

Samgyupsal (Grilled Pork Belly)

1 lb pork belly, sliced thick
1 head of lettuce, leaves separated and washed
cooked rice

Heat a skillet on medium.
Place a few pieces of pork belly in the hot pan.
Sprinkle with salt.
Cook until both sides are brown.
Remove meat from pan and, using kitchen shears, cut into 1 inch pieces.
Serve hot with lettuce, rice, and Moosam.

Black Pork Belly: Black pork comes from the belly of the famous Korean Black Pig of Jejudo (Jeju Island). Due to the unique farming practices, of which I will currently spare you the details, these pigs are said to be much tastier. To read more about these unique pigs see:

This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel go to Korea!.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Moosam (Pickled Daikon Radish)

Moosam is a dish made from thinly sliced daikon radish.  It is simple to make and can be prepared anywhere from a few hours to a few days ahead of serving.  Although this dish can be served with rice at any meal, it is commonly served with Samgyupsal.

Moosam (Pickled Daikon Radish)

3 inch piece of daikon radish
2 T  sugar
2 T rice vinegar
4 T water

  1. Using a mandoline, slice the radish into paper thin slices.  If using a knife, slice the radish as thin as possible.  Try to keep the radish slices in a neat stack.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, vinegar and water.
  3. Place the sliced radish in a bowl.
  4. Pour the sugar mixture over the radish.  The radish should be covered by the liquid.  If it is not, mix another batch of liquid and add it to the bowl. 
  5. Allow this mixture to stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
  6. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for another hour or until serving.
  7. The radish is good for one to two weeks.

This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel go to Korea!.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rice Part Two: The Varieties

While it is common in Korea to cook beans with rice to add nutrition and flavor, it is not a tradition that we can keep in our home. Our angel is allergic to legumes. Although peanuts are the most severe allergy, other legumes are not far behind like soybeans, chickpeas, red beans, and lentils. We have not tested every bean, but we are certain that our angel's allergies extend to enough varieties of beans that it is worth avoiding them all.  This means that if we want variety in our rice, we must look elswhere. So, I turned to the over 40,000 varieties of rice* available throughout the world.  I mix the rices prior to cooking and, once they have cooked together, the result is often as beautiful as it is delicious.  Here are a few things I have learned about mixing rices:

1- By mixing rices, I can easily alter the texture, taste, and nutritional value of any meal. 

2- Most rice is serviced in rice-exclusive facilities so it lessens the chances of cross-contamination with other grains.  Some rice does share equipment with wheat and nuts so you should always read your labels carefully. 

3- Mixed rice requires a different rice to water ratio. This is often done by best guess at my house taking into account the age of the rice, whether it is whole grain and the length of the grain. Any suggestions to this effect would be greatly appreciated.

Allergic Angel Favorites
2:1 Calrose rice:red rice mix
4:1 short grain rice: wild rice mix
Lundenberg Country Wild Rice mixed with medium grain rice
Lundenberg Black Japonica Rice mixed with short grain rice

For more information on the different varieties of rice, has a comprehensive index at:

This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel go to Korea!.

Samgyetang (Chicken Soup)

Samgyetang (Chicken Soup) is a great food for babies and adults alike.  It helps a cold and feeds the soul like no other food I know.  I keep my Samgyetang simple to avoid exposure to too many ingredients. The key to the delicious taste is using a quality fresh chicken, preferably organic. Serve the whole deboned chicken at the table for everyone to eat along with a small bowl of broth. Place a small dish of salt next to the chicken for people to dip theirchicken or so each person may adjust the soup to their own taste.

Samgyetang (Chicken Soup)

1 whole chicken
8 C water, or enough to cover the
3 T salt, additional salt at the end to taste
1 onion,
2 peeled cloves garlic, optional

  1. Wash chicken and place in a large stock pot and cover with cool water.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cover with lid.
  3. Bring to boil and simmer slowly for 1.5 - 2 hours.
  4. The longer is simmers, the softer the chicken and the tastier the soup.
  5. Remove chicken, onion and garlic. Salt broth to taste.

Make It Easy Tip: For those of you with a slow cooker, this is the perfect recipe. Throw all of the eingredients into the pot and cook on low for 8 hours. It is ready when you get home from work!

    Beware....some chickens inject broth into their chicken as fillers. You must look carefully on labels to find information about this. These broths often contain soy, corn, and other unidentified vegetables. It is worth your money and time to find a chicken brand that does NOT add any of these "natural" ingredients.

    This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel go to Korea!.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Rice Part One: How to cook it

    It is impossible to write a blog about Korean food without including something about rice. Rice is the center of the Korean meal and the pride of any Korean wife who can cook it well. Sadly, this was not the case for me. I thought that rice was an accessory, just another food to be decorated by butter, jam, or a really great sauce. I thought that as long as the rice was cooked, it was fine. I could not have been more wrong.
    It has taken me many years to realize that there are actually hundreds of different results when cooking rice. From crispy to mushy or sticky to fluffy, it is not easy to determine what your final product will be. To properly prepare rice, you must take into account the size of the rice grain, the age of the rice, the rice to water ratio, the cooking temperature, the pressure at which the rice cooks and the rice cooking vessel. All of these conditions contribute to the final product. Couple this with an individual's taste preferences and it is no wonder that a good cook is proud of her rice.
    Koreans primarily eat short or medium grain rice. This rice stickier than long grain rice but should not be confused with the "sticky rice" which has a very sticky texture and a much sweeter flavor. The sticky texture is what makes it possible to eat this rice with chopsticks.

    Tips for tastier rice

    * Rinse the rice before cooking. This removes the extra starches on the rice and helps provide a slightly fluffier texture.
    * Soak the rice in water for at least 30 minutes and as long as 8 hours. This allows the rice to "bloom", or slowly take on water, before the cooking process begins.
    * Place a piece of , a hard dried form of seaweed, in your rice while it is cooking. This adds flavor and nutrition to your rice. Remove the seaweed before eating.
    * Cover your rice before turning on the cooking heat and do not open the cover again until the cooking has completely finished. By opening the lid, you are releasing valuable steam and pressure.
    * If cooking your rice on the stove, begin cooking on a medium-high heat. Once the water begins to boil, turn the water down to simmer on low until the rice is finished.
    * Once the rice finishes cooking, turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest, covered, for about 5 minutes before serving. I don't exactly know why this is important but it really does make a difference.
    * Before serving, gently scrape the upper levels of the rice and turn or stir them. This allows the rice to separte and appear more fluffy. Be careful, though, not to scoop to roughly or stir too much as this will turn your rice into a mushy dough.

    How to cook rice

    Knuckle Method: I began using this not-so-scientific method of cooking my rice years ago. It was taught to me by a friend whose mother taught it to him when he left for college. You place your rice in the rice cooking bowl. Cover the rice with water and gently rest your fingers flat on the top of the rice. The water should reach your knuckles when the ratio is correct. This method requires a lot of guessing and practice, given the numerous variables which effect quality rice cooking, before learnign to cook great rice. However, with time or in a pinch, this method really can work.
    Cup Method: Nowadays, many people are provided little cups when they buy their rice cookers. I have just recently started using this to cook my rice and I must admit, it has given me a more consistent result. You use the cup to measure your rice then fill the rice cooker with water until it reaches the premark number on the inside of the bowl. The number represents the amount of rice you used. It is important to note that you must use the cup which came with the rice cooker for this to work effectively.
    Measure Method: This method says that you measure your rice and your water using a 1.5 cup to 2 cup rice to water ratio. This is similar to the cup method but not one that I have had work particularly well for me.

    For other suggestions on how to cook rice well, try these links:

    This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel go to Korea!.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Dukbokgi (Sauteed Rice Cakes)

    It took me forever to try the saucey little Korean food called Dukbokgi. I resisted it because I thought it would taste fishy. I am not a fan of "fishy" things and I was surprised to realize that not all dukbokgi is. Dukbokgi is a favorite street food and late night snack for Koreans. Long rice cakes, vegetables, and fish cakes are cooked in a spicey sauce then served with a side of soju. But, it took me a while to realize that all Dukbokgi is different and not all is made with fish. One taste of a fish-cake-less dukbokgi and I was sold. Now, I crave these spicy sticks so often that you would think I was Korean, too!
    But, my new-found love of dukbokgi could not be shared with everyone in our family. Instead, because of an allergy to pepper, our angel was left drewling each time that we ate it. While pepper allergies are not common but, for those who suffer from them, they are equally as concerning. So, as a family, we had to find a way for us all to enjoy dukbokgi.
    After a little research and lots of testing in the kitchen, we figured out a way to make a delicious, pepper-less dukbokgi. And, if mom and dad need a little spice, it isn't hard to mix a little spicey sauce in ours to liven up the party!


    1 lb ground beef
    2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    1/2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
    1/2 onion, cut julienned
    2 C cabbage, finely chopped
    long rice cakes or duk
    3 green onions, cut julienne
    1 t sugar
    3/4 C water
    rice oil

    Place the ground beef in a large skillet with lid, sprinkle with salt and cook, uncovered, on med heat until beginning to brown.
    Add the garlic and ginger then stir until meat is completely cooked. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Lower the heat, if necessary.
    Remove meat from skillet.
    Put one tablespoon oil in the skillet.
    Add the cabbage, onion, and any other long-cooking vegetables to the pan. Sprinkle with salt.
    Give the vegetables a stir, add 1/4 C water and cover.
    Cook 3 minutes or until the vegetables just begin to turn a bright color.
    Add the cooked meat, duk, and 1/2 C water to the saucepan.
    Stir, cover, and cook about 7 minutes.
    Stir and add the remaining vegetables. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
    Uncover skillet, stir, and allow to cook until the water has cooked into a thick sauce. Occassional stirring at this point will help.
    Adjust seasoning and serve.

    NOTE1: Long rice cakes, known as duk, can be purchased at your local Korean grocery. They are usually found in the refrigerator/freezer section already cut into 1-2 inch lengths or in the fresh duk area, uncut. Although most duk is made from rice flour, some bakeries use wheat flour to adjust the texture. I have found the refrigerated duk made in the US the most reliable for allergy control. You may also make your own duk using my Simple Rice Cake recipe but omitting the sugar.

    NOTE2: You may replace the cabbage or add other vegetables to this dish to suit your dietary needs or just pump up the nutritional value. We commonly add a cup of one of the following to ours: sliced zucchini, julienned bell peppers, chopped cauliflower, or julienned carrot. The length of time the vegetable requires for cooking determines when you add it.

    This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel go to Korea!.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    SamJang (Spicy Pepper Dipping Sauce)

    When I first married, I made it part of my job to learn Korean cooking. I turned to the internet and to cookbooks to begin transforming my table into one that more reflected the culture of our home. Along the way, I met many talented cooks who shared with me the secrets of their kitchen and, in time, my meals became a true indication of our family's tastes and heritages. Then, as our family grew, our preferences changed. And, as the preferences changed, so did the food.

    SamJang is the perfect example of how the food on our table became an expression of who we are. SamJang is a Korean hot paste sauce. You can purchase it pre-made in Korean groceries near the GoChuJang and other pepper sauces. However, we have always wanted more from our store-bought SamJang! My SamJang recipe is one that has developed over time. It is simple and uses store-bought SamJang as its base. And, while I add a few traditional Korean ingredients to give the flavor a little more complexity, I also add one ingredient which is NOT Korean at all - COCA COLA! A little bit eastern and a little bit western....that is who we are!

    Now, as our family has changed, Samjang has taken on a new role in our home. Samjang sauce usually contains ingredients like sesame, gochujang and a number of other ingredients that are common allergens. So, this sauce is NOT one that my angel eats. However, because it is served along side fresh vegetables for dipping, it is the perfect, healthy side dish to suit everyone's dietary needs and preferences. My angel eats plain fresh veggies while we dip them in the sauce.
    Try SamJang with any of your favorite veggies. Although in Korea, you are likely to find peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, there is no need to stop with those. We find the freshest vegetables and serve them with the sauce. This week, we are enjoying baby summer squash, broccollini, and orange cauliflower. For vegetables that might be a little too crunchy like broccolli or cauliflower, I steam them and serve them once they have cooled. Give this dip a try. Have fun with it and try some vegetables that you never have tried before.


    (Spicy Vegetable Dipping Sauce)

    6 T SamJang pepper paste
    4 T Coca-Cola
    1 T fresh ginger, grated

    Fresh vegetables:
    summer squash
    any safe vegetable
    Place all of the ingredients in a bowl.
    Mix until the thick paste blends completely with the cola.
    Serve with a tray of vegetables for dipping.

    Reminder:  This sauce recipe is not allergy-friendly.  However, it is an example of how we meet the needs of both our allergic angel and our non-allergic tastes.  We are able to dip our vegetables in the sauce while our angel eats the veggies plain.

    This month we are featuring Korean recipes as we compete for a trip to Korea with  Please visit the AllergicAngel's Korean blog, vote for our posts and help the AllergicAngel got to Korea!. 

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Goguma (Steamed Sweet Potatoes)

    Three years ago, my angel quite eating goguma (sweeet potatoes) when we discovered a potato allergy. The allergy appeared small in testing but as we observed her reactions, we realized that even touching a potato set off a strong reaction. Well, exciting news! After a blood test returned negative for potato allergies, we have been observing our angel for reactions after eating this versatile tuber and found none. While I will still control how much potato and what kinds of potatoes we eat until I am absolutely confident, I am not sure which potato to cook first! Should I cook french fries, hashbrowns …. or something Korean like KamJa JoLim? Let's steam Goguma!

    Goguma, or sweet potatoes, are a relative of the white potato. It has a white or yellowy flesh with white or red skin. In the southern part of the United States, yams are often referred to as sweet potatoes. These yams have an orange flesh with red skin and are not actually a potato, at all. 

    In Korea, goguma are eaten as a snack in the home or around a campfire. They may be steamed in your kitchen or wrapped in aluminum foil and roasted in a fire. Goguma make a simple, delicious and nutritional snack.

    Steamed Goguma

    2 Cups of water
    3 sweet potatoes (not yams)

    1. Place the water in your steamer and begin to heat on medium heat.
    2. Wash the sweet potatoes and place in your steamer basket.
    3. Place the steamer over the water and cover with a lid.
    4. Allow to steam for 30 minutes to one hour depending on the size of the potatoes.
    5. Once they are soft all the way through, remove from steamer and allow to cool slightly.
    6. Gently rub away the skin and enjoy the soft, sweet flesh.
    7. They potatoes are delicious warm or cold at any time of the day!

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Sometimes food allergies really do take a back seat!

    Available for download at

    It is funny how God takes us on bends and twists as we move along the path of life.  For so many years we have focused so much on avoiding food allergies and, now, it is hard to believe that, when things become routine, we are faced with a new challenge.  As we rejoice at the simple pleasures a potato (once an allergen) can bring to the life of a child, we turn to realize that we have yet another challenge to overcome.  Our angel is severely farsighted.  How could we have missed this?  Weren't we paying attention?

    In a recent vision screening at school, differences were noted in our angels vision.  We, the teachers, the grandparents and just about everyone who knows our angel, were shocked.  No one had never noticed any of the typical symptoms that accompany vision impairments - clumsiness, headaches, squinting, favoring one eye over the other.  However, after seeing a specialist, the diagnosis was confirmed ... our angel is farsighted.  In fact, severely farsighted in both eyes.  And, although it was never said outright, I got the strong impression that if we had not caught this, our angel would have lost sight altogether.
    Now, we find ourselves treading upon new ground.  Eyeglasses, eyedrops, patches.... these things are all new to us.  And, most interestingly, our angel's allergies are taking a back seat while we adjust to this new challenge. 

    We have shed lots of tears and found creative ways to encourage new behaviors.  We are taking on new challenges and adjusting the family budget as we face new realities.  But, most of all, we are thanking the amazing teachers and child advocates who make early vision screening readily available to parents.  We are thankful to doctors and nurses who patiently attend to concerned and confused parents and children.  Without the wisdom of these people and the early intervention that they offer, we may have faced a very different reality further down the road.

    So, while this week is national Food Allergy Awareness Week and the nation is taking a moment to recognize the impact food allergies have upon individuals and society, those in my house are taking a moment to realize that food allergies are one part of a whole individual.  They are just one of the challenges that people face daily.  We are each shaped, not by the challenges that we face, but how we face those challenges, whether that be food allergies or farsightedness.  We are changed by our attitude toward all that is part of our life.

    This week, lets take a moment to think about the challenges we are facing.  Are you confronting an eating disorder?  obesity?  Perhaps you struggle with a weak knee or just a bad attitude.  Whatever your challenge, face it with strength and understanding.  As for those around you, remember that you have never walked in their shoes.  Be patient; be kind. Treat each other with the type of love that we wish to receive rather than that which we often give.  Tolerate so we may be tolerated and forgive so we may be forgiven.  And most of all, be thankful that we may also be thanked.

    Thank you to all of you who have supported this blog, my challenges and the insight that both have given me.  My dear angel, this blog is for you so that you may one day understand.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Let's go to Korea!

     Korea's Department of Tourism is hosting a blogging contest and I am competing in a contest for a trip to Korea complete with a culinary tour ... but ... I need your help!  The contest features bloggers from around the world sharing their food recipes and experiences.  I am entering my allergy-safe Kroean recipes in hopes to win a trip to Korea. The contest selects its winners based on content, number of posts, and VOTES!  Your help is essential. Here is how you can help:

     Click this link:


    Go and locate "AllergicAngel" under the list of bloggers.


    1. Select a post and give it a "Thumbs Up".  You must open the article in order to vote.
    2. You may vote once for each post and votes may be cast on the same day.
    3. The last day to vote is May 31, 2011, Korea time.
    4. PROBLEMS:  There have been some problems with the "Thumbs Up" box not posting.  If, after opening the post, there is no box, you may:
    • Join the website and leave me a comment so the judges know that you liked the post AND/OR
    • Return later to add  your vote once the problem is corrected and, of course, vote for any new posts which may be added!
    I will keep posting and I hope you will keep reading as we write our way to Korea!

    Thursday, May 5, 2011


    This is a fun drink that uses three simple ingredients - rice, sugar, and water. My angel and I make it together since the only cutting is done with a blender.  It needs to be served cold and it does NOT work with any rice other than long grain.  (Guess how I know that!)  My angel and I

    This drink is common throughout Mexico.  Many people today purchase it as a bottled drink but it is not difficult to make yourself.  The basic ingredients and technique were given to me by a Mexican friend when my angel was first diagnosed with allergies.  She thought that this might be a treat for my angel.....and it is!

    Horchata (Mexican Chilled Rice Drink)

    1 C long grain rice
    zest of 1/2 lime (optional)
    2 C warm water
    1/2 C sugar
    1. Place the rice in a bowl and rinse.
    2. Add 3 C water and lime zest to the rice. Cover and soak overnight.
    3. Place rice and water in a blender and blend completely, adding another cup of cold water, if needed, to help blend.
    4. Slowly pour rice mixture through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  This step is important.
    5. Press the rice into the strainer, stirring to help the liquids pass through.
    6. Once the rice liquid has passed through, add sugar and additional water until the desired taste and consistency are reached.
    7. Chill and serve.

    NOTE:  This recipe makes enough to fill one blender.  To make a pitcher full, double the recipe.

    Lime Horchata:  After pressing the liquid through the strainer, add the juice of one or two limes along with the sugar.  This really brightens the flavor.

      Taco Salad

      When you can't eat flour and corn, tortillas become an issue.  However, with our family's push to incorporate more veggies in our diet, the taco salad is a great substitute.  To add a little texture, scoop onto Edwards and Sons Brown Rice Snaps and enjoy.

      Taco Salad
      1 lb beef
      1/2 onion, chopped
      1 t salt
      1 T dried garlic
      2 T dried oregano
      1 t brown sugar (optional)
      1 T rice flour
      1/2 C water
      1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
      Cilantro-Lime Rice
      Cucumber and Mango Salsa

      1. Heat a skillet on medium heat.
      2. Add the beef and onion to the skillet.
      3. Add the salt and stir.  Continue stirring to break the beef into small pieces during cooking.
      4. Once the beef is mostly cooked, add the garlic, oregano, sugar and rice flour.  Mix.
      5. Add the water then stir and cook until the liquid forms a sauce.
      6. Turn off the heat.
      7. To form the salad, place a handful of lettuce on a plate.  Top the lettuce with one scoop of Cilantro-Lime Rice, a spoonful of meat, and some Cucumber and Mango Salsa. then serve.

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Mango Salsa

      Cucumber and Mango Salsa
      1/2 English cucumber
      2 fresh mango or 2 cups frozen chopped mango
      1/4 red onion, finely chopped
      1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
      1 lime
      salt, to taste

      1. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and in half again lengthwise.
      2. Chop the cucumber into 1/4 inch pieces.
      3. Chop mango into 1/4 inch cubes.  Place in a bowl.
      4. Add onion, cilantro, and the juice of 1/2 of the lime to the bowl.  Toss.
      5. Add salt and more lime juice to taste.
      6. Let rest 30 minutes and serve.
      NOTE:  This may be made one day ahead to really allow the flavors to blend.

        Cinco de Mayo

        I can't believe that tomorrow is already Cinco de Mayo!  I have been so busy with spring repairs on the house that I completely forgot about this fun day.  For many who have pepper allergies, it is easy to see why it might be overlooked!  Here is my game plan, including ingredients, and I will work to get the recipes added so that you can celebrate this holiday tomorrow, this weekend, or any day that you feel like a FIESTA!

        The Menu

        Taco Salad: beef, dried oregano, onion, sugar, lettuce, salt
        Cilantro Lime Rice
        Mango Salsa: fresh mangoes (may use chopped frozen ones if fresh is not available), cilantro, red onion, salt, fresh lime
        Horchata: long grain rice, sugar, brown sugar, water

        The Fun

        And for those who really want to celebrate, add a touch of Mexican culture with a Mexican Hat Dance.  Grab your sombrero and follow these directions for a Mexican Hat Dance to get your group moving!