Kongnamul 콩나물 with Tofu Carpaccio

Kongnamul 콩나물
Soybean Sprout Namul with Leek & Red Bell Pepper
Tofu Carpaccio

Namul (a Korean seasoned vegetable dish) is usually served as banchan (a side dish accompanying the main course). In atypical fashion here, I serve kongnamul (soybean sprout namul) with a sliced tofu cutlet as the main course of a heart-healthy vegetarian lunch. We enjoyed a simple bowl of vegetable dumpling in broth on the side. Crunchy sprouts pair very well with mellow sautéed leek and bright red bell pepper plus a bit of spiciness from gochugaro (Korean chili powder). Toasted sesame oil adds a rich nutty component.

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Please Join Me in Judging TOP CHEF KOREAN FOOD CHALLENGE

Bibimbap 비빔밥

Bibimbap, literally meaning “mixed rice,” a very popular dish in Korea, is prepared with steamed white rice, beef, and vegetables, topped with a fried sunny-side-up egg and spicy red chili paste, called gochujang. It’s one of the dishes that Chefs Guillas & Oliver hoped would  propel them to the number one spot at the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge.

Three teams of two non-Korean chefs randomly chose six traditional Korean dishes which were to be prepared in 30 minutes. Host Cathlyn Choi then provided a Magic Basket, containing traditional Korean ingredients that the chefs were required to incorporate into their dish. As one of six food bloggers along with three other esteemed judges, it was my absolute pleasure to attend this event earlier in the month in San Diego, California.

SIX DISHES SELECTED FOR THE CHALLENGE

bibimbap – beef & mixed vegetable rice with fried egg
tuk bokki – spicy rice cake with vegetables
galbi jim – braised short rib stew
dak galbi – spicy stir-fried chicken
gu jeol pan – royal nine section pan with meat, vegetables, and thin wheat pancakes
kimchi – fermented cabbage

TOP CHEF KOREAN FOOD CHALLENGE

This Top Chef Competition is a part of  [buzzKOREA], a global campaign organized to introduce the brilliance of Korean culture and to share the secrets of the great hidden cuisine of Korea. Korean food is honestly the undiscovered jewel of Asian cooking.

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Galbi Jim – Korean Braised Short Rib Stew


Galbi Jim  갈비찜
Korean Braised Beef Short Rib Stew
with Shiitake, Chestnut, Dried Jujube, Ginkgo Nut, Daikon, and Asian Pear

Inspired by the Chefs and traditional ingredients at last week’s Top Chef Korean Food Challenge in San Diego, Galbi Jim was the first of many Korean dishes I’ve prepared since arriving back home.  It was my pleasure and honor to be invited to the event as one of six food blogger judges. There, I discovered a new love, Hansik (Korean food)!

Shiitake, chestnut, dried jujube (red date), ginkgo nut, and daikon are just some of the exotic ingredients that flavor this intoxicating stew. Beef short ribs are marinated in a mixture of grated Asian pear, with soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, and sesame. The meat is braised over low heat with the vegetables and fruit and the sweet/savory broth is reduced into a rich complex sauce…

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Gina Lee’s Bistro

Thai Marinated Sea Bass with Spinach, Baby Bok Choy,
Chow Mein Noodles in a Coconut Lemongrass Broth

Crispy Fried Shrimp & Pork Won Tons
Hot & Sweet Sauce, Cucumber Slaw

Korean BBQ Flank Steak with Spicy Dressing
Scallion Fried Rice and Tofu Stir Fry

Bento Box: Selection Changes Nightly
Mini Ahi Burger, Crab Cakes, Chicken & Snap Peas Stir Fry, Beef Skewer on Mashed Potatoes

Ahi Burger, Selection from Bento Box on this Night


Korean Lettuce Wraps: Chicken and Tofu, Korean Red Bean Paste
Daikon & Cucumber Relish

Pistachio Crushed Mahi Mahi with Three Sauces

Mandarin Orange Sauce, Creamy Sesame Splash, Soy Syrup


Scott & Gina Lee have been my dear friends for many many years. They opened Gina Lee’s Bistro, an Asian Fusion restaurant in Redondo Beach, over a decade ago. A while back I offered to help Gina start a blog so on this night I took some photos of the food as it was leaving the kitchen.


For dinner, I enjoyed the Thai Marinated Sea Bass paired brilliantly with a glass of Etude Pinot Gris from Scott’s eclectic wine list.

Irene Virbila from the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Everything from Gina Lee’s kitchen tastes fresh and vivid. There’s also a logic to how flavors are woven together.”
I couldn’t agree more. The flavors are just so vibrant…

When you are in Southern California, I recommend a visit to Redondo Beach to have dinner at my friends’ fabulous and unique restaurant. And be sure to tell them Lori Lynn sent you 🙂