Categories
Main Dish

Spicy Korean chicken is a great bite to ‘heat’

Korean Chicken
Korean chicken is a spicy, delicious dish, perfect for stuffing into fresh bao and topped with cilantro and sesame seeds.

A lot of people took time during their quarantine to learn to make fresh bread. I don’t know how many Pinterest posts I saw where people proudly showed off their sourdough starters. 

Rather than tackle that particular challenge, I decided to try my hand at some Asian dishes instead.

As a lifelong Kansan, I haven’t had a lot exposure to different cultures’ cuisines, so I decided to see if I could create some of those flavors myself. It was fun to explore some areas of the grocery store I don’t normally even visit.

Last week, I shared my experience with making steamed buns, bao, for the first time, and I promised to tell you how to make the chicken recipe I made to go with it. (If you missed that one, check out my website at spiceupkitchen.net to find it.)

Ironically, while I spent all kinds of time making my bao from scratch, I simplified the recipe for the chicken quite a bit, so even if you don’t have time to make steamed buns, I highly recommend trying this recipe out and serving it alongside some rice or maybe even over some Asian noodles.

This comes from the blog “Kitchen Sanctuary” by Nicky Corbishley. You can find the original post at https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/korean-chicken-bao/. I switched out a few ingredients—opting to use popcorn chicken instead of breading my own and substituting miso and sambal oelek for gochujang paste, which wasn’t available at my local grocery store. I also added extra garlic.

Korean Chicken
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Korean Chicken

Korean chicken is a spicy, delicious dish, perfect for stuffing into fresh bao and topped with cilantro and sesame seeds.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Keyword Asian, chicken, garlic, ginger, honey, Korean, miso paste, sambal oelek, spicy

Ingredients

  • 25 ounces frozen popcorn chicken
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • fresh cilantro for serving
  • white and/or black sesame seeds for serving

Instructions

  • Fry or bake the popcorn chicken according to package instructions. While the chicken cooks add the miso, sambal oelek, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, canola oil and sesame oil in a saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about five minutes, until it thickens.
  • Add the chicken and sauce to a bowl and stir to coat the chicken. Serve the chicken inside bao or over rice or Asian pasta. Top with cilantro and sesame seeds.

This had a great kick to it, spice wise. If you’re not into spicy stuff, you might tone down the sambal oelek a bit and opt for a bit more miso instead, but I highly recommend giving this a try. It has more of a slow, sweet burn to it rather than one that smacks you in the face.

We ate ours in bao, obviously, and the puffed, simple bread was the perfect vehicle for the Korean chicken.

I don’t think I’ll be making bao all of the time, thanks to how time consuming it is, but this chicken will definitely go in the regular rotation.

If I’m going to completely master Asian cooking, I have quite a few more dishes—and countries—to explore. It might have been easier to stick with sourdough.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 7, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Spicy ramen makes ‘miso’ happy

Spicy garlic ramen comes together in about 15 minutes, has lots of levels of flavor and is extremely easy to customize with your favorite ingredients.

One of the first meals Joey and I had inside a restaurant after we were officially vaccinated for COVID-19 was to try out some local spicy garlic ramen we heard about online.

The restaurant serves its spicy ramen in levels, with each level getting progressively hotter. Joey started off asking for a relatively high number, and the sweet girl at the counter just shook her head at him and asked if he was sure. He went with a lower option, just in case.

We really enjoyed the ramen. It was flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. It made for a great meal, so of course, we decided we had to figure out how to make some spicy garlic ramen for ourselves at home.

If you’re not into spicy flavors, I’d recommend starting with less of the sambal oelek, which is a spicy chili sauce. I used only one tablespoon the first time, and in the four or five times I’ve made this since, I added a second tablespoon, and it gives it a good “makes your nose run” heat.

This comes from the blog “40 Aprons” by Cheryl Malik. You can find her original post at https://40aprons.com/15-minute-spicy-ramen/. I added extra garlic in my version.

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Spicy Garlic Ramen

Spicy garlic ramen comes together in about 15 minutes, has lots of levels of flavor and is extremely easy to customize with your favorite ingredients.
Course Main Course
Keyword garlic, gingerbread, miso paste, ramen, sambal oelek, sesame oil, soy sauce, spicy

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1- inch knob fresh ginger cut into fourths
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • dash rice wine vinegar
  • 2 blocks ramen
  • Optional toppings: soft-boiled eggs sliced green onion, sesame seeds, fresh sliced mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

  • Combine the broth along with one cup water in a medium-sized pot. Toss in the ginger, garlic, miso paste, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and stir to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, letting the flavors meld for 10 minutes.
  • If you are serving this with soft-boiled eggs, place your eggs in a pot and just cover them with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil and remove from heat after six minutes. Drain the eggs and immediately plunge them in a bowl of ice water, and set them aside while your ramen finishes.
  • To finish off the ramen, remove the slices of ginger, and bring the broth back to a low boil and drop in the blocks of noodles. Cook for two minutes or until the noodles reach your desired level of doneness.
  • Serve with whatever toppings you choose.

This was so, so good. I don’t normally make something again, let along numerous times, before I share a recipe with you guys, but this one was so good that it has its own card in my recipe box already. 

It’s so easy to add extras, too. You could add shrimp or chicken or tofu, too, if you want some protein in there.

And the nice thing about controlling the spice level yourself is even if you guess wrong, you don’t have to deal with the judgmental eyes of a cashier, silently telling you, “I told you so.”

This piece first appeared in print on April 29, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Uncategorized

Recipe proves you don’t know ‘lentil’ you try

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.

Well, I did it to myself again. I noticed a lonely bag of 60-cent lentils sitting at my local grocery store, and I decided to bring them home and figure out what to make with them.

I mean, 60 cents? Who can resist such a bargain?

I’ve only made lentils once before, for a soup, so I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to buy more, but then, of course, I doubled down and chose what appeared to be a pretty involved recipe to use them in.

But let me tell you what: it was so worth it. This was so delicious, so if you’re ready to undertake a cooking adventure with me, I’d encourage you to give this a shot.

The recipe I tried comes from a blog named after its author, “Bianca Zapatka.” You can find the original post at https://biancazapatka.com/en/lentil-meatballs-curry-sauce/. I added some more spices to my version.

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Lentil Meatballs in Curry Sauce

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword coconut milk, curry, gingerbread, lentils, meatless, red bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, vegan

Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

Curry Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or use olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated (or sub 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red chili flakes

Instructions

  • Cook the lentils according to package directions. (Don’t worry if they get a little mushy—you’re going to process them anyway.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • For the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until it’s soft, and then add the garlic and remove the skillet from the heat when it browns slightly.
  • Add all of the meatball ingredients to a food processor or blender and process to a coarse consistency. There will probably still be some whole lentils in there, and that’s perfectly fine. Taste the filling and add any more spices, if necessary.
  • If the mixture is too wet to hold together, add more breadcrumbs until it reaches a consistency where it will. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes to let it cool down before handling it.
  • Have a bowl of water handy and shape the mixture with wet hands into about one-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. They can be fairly crowded but not touching. Brush them with some additional olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  • While the meatballs cook, start on the curry sauce. Using the same skillet as before, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook them until soft.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and curry powder, and stir to combine. Once the garlic is slightly browned, add the tomatoes, water, coconut milk, salt and chili flakes.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Place a lid on the skillet and let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until it’s smooth. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and let it cook for a few minutes to thicken a bit, and taste it to see if it needs more seasoning.
  • When the meatballs are finished, drop them into the skillet with the curry sauce and then serve over cooked rice with some pita or naan bread on the side.

I added quite a bit more spice to my version, because I like spicy curry sauce. If you’re more in the mild camp, I’d encourage you to look up the original recipe and follow those amounts a bit more closely.

This was such a great meatless meal, because you honestly don’t notice that there isn’t meat in it. The “meatballs” aren’t meat-like in consistency at all, but they have great flavor. They’re a bit like a soft hushpuppy.

And while Joey was pretty skeptical watching me cook my lentils, he was totally on board once dinner finally hit the table. My forays into discount shopping sometimes freak him out a bit.

But now I still have half a bag of lentils to try to use. We’ll have to see what I come up with next.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 6, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Condiment

Chipotle sauce is the ‘crema’ the crop

Chipotle crema or creamy chipotle sauce is a spicy concoction that is perfect for Mexican food or anything that could use a little kick.

After the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory, Joey and a friend traveled to Kansas City for the parade.

Apparently, the experience is less than glamorous, and he came home after a long day pretty exhausted from standing outside for hours with no access to food or water and little access to any bathroom facilities. (But with absolutely no dimming of his post-championship enthusiasm.)

They left early in the morning, grabbing some breakfast on the road, and then didn’t eat again until late in the afternoon, and Joey claimed that the tacos he ate were the best he’s ever had.

Now, that could have been the slight starvation and dehydration speaking, but he was insistent that we should try to recreate the experience, specifically because we had some barbecued pork shoulder sitting in our refrigerator, and these weren’t just any tacos: they were barbecue tacos.

With the meat already prepared, it was simple to just saute some onions and peppers to go with it, but the main trick was recreating the sauce Joey said he tried in Kansas City: crema chipotle.

Since Joey always expects me to perform miracles, I started researching the fabled sauce and apparently, I managed a pretty good facsimile, which is what I’m going to share with you this week.

The recipe I found comes from the blog “Laylita’s Kitchen,” by Layla Pujol. You can find the original post at https://www.laylita.com/recipes/creamy-chipotle-sauce/. As you will see, it’s a very simple recipe. I did add extra garlic and some paprika in my version.

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Creamy Chipotle Sauce

Chipotle crema or creamy chipotle sauce is a spicy concoction that is perfect for Mexican food or anything that could use a little kick.
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chipotle, crema, sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt Mexican crema or crème fraiche
  • 2 small chipotles in adobo sauce remove seeds to keep it a bit milder
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • juice of one lime about two tablespoons
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
  • Taste it and add more seasonings, if necessary. Also, if the sauce is too spicy, add a bit more yogurt. If it isn’t spicy enough, add more chipotles and adobo sauce.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator between uses. Greek yogurt tends to have a one to two week shelf life, but use your best judgment.
  • Serve with anything that could use an extra zip—tacos, sandwiches, quesadillas, etc.

We have been getting all kinds of mileage out of our batch of chipotle sauce. It was amazing on our barbecue tacos, but it’s also been going on turkey sandwiches for lunches lately.

I was glad Joey got more out of his trip to Kansas City than sore feet and a very fleeting view of the Super Bowl champions as they waved to the crowd.

Our sauce is now amongst the other condiments in our fridge in its very own squeeze bottle, so I suppose that’s the highest honor a sauce can achieve.

And unfortunately, I reinforced to Joey once again that if he can vaguely explain a food to me, I can probably figure out how to make it.

As long as he sticks to the less complicated stuff, I think I’m in the clear, but it would probably be to my benefit to keep him away from anywhere fancier than a taco truck.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 20, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.