Entomophagic Anju: Tasty Insect Snacks To Enjoy While Drinking

Edible Insects: Crickets and Kkwarigochu in a Sweet, Sticky, Garlicky Sauce

ENTOMOPHAGIC ANJU #1

Crickets & Kkwarigochu in a Sweet, Sticky, Garlicky Sauce

I asked my friends if they would like to sample some edible insects as a snack…and all I heard was…crickets.

For most of them, it turns out that eating intact insects was intimidating. Go figure. But add in the effects of an alcoholic beverage or two, inhibitions disappear and these same friends become amenable to giving my bug-centric snacks a try.

In Korean, there is a word for food meant to be consumed with alcohol – Anju. In English, there is a word for consuming insects – Entomophagy. Here I present an Entomophagic Anju: Tasty Insect Snacks To Enjoy While Drinking. Let’s get the party started with some cold beers.

Edible Insects: Crickets and Kkwarigochu in a Sweet, Sticky, Garlicky Sauce

Feeling loosened up and ready to indulge in the first anju, my friends gave rave reviews to Crickets & Kkwarigochu. The recipe was inspired by the popular Korean banchan (side dish) myulchi bokkeum (stir-fried anchovy) and it is positively addicting.

Salted stir-fried crickets are coated with a sweet, sticky, garlicky sauce. Kkwarigochu (aka shishito peppers in Japanese) are blistered in a hot wok with a bit of oil. Kkwarigochu are thin-walled mild peppers with a fresh green vegetal flavor and just a whisper of heat. But beware, every once in a while, there’s a hot one in the bunch! Paired with cold refreshing Hite beer, this entomophagic anju was a big hit!

The crickets (aka house crickets, Acheta domestica) have been raised in California for human consumption on a diet of apples and bananas. They are then cooked and dried to produce a crispy, crunchy snack or ingredient with a wheat-y flavor. The entire cricket is edible & no other ingredients are added. (From Marx Foods here).

Crickets & Kkwarigochu Recipe

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Korean BBQ Chicken, Lettuce Cups, White Seaweed Salad

Korean BBQ Chicken, Lettuce Cups, White Seaweed Salad

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken with Iceberg Lettuce Cups
garnished with
White Seaweed Salad, Sliced Scallion & Chiffonade of Perilla

Warning: This is not your ordinary barbecued chicken. Here, grilled Korean-style spicy smoky chicken with a hint of sweetness (dak bulgogi) is nestled in refreshingly crisp iceberg lettuce cups, topped with a white seaweed salad dressed with garlicky mayonnaise and sesame seeds, then finished with slices of scallion and herbaceous ribbons of perilla.

The chicken marinade’s main ingredient is gochujang – a Korean red chili paste with sweet heat and a fermented umami richness. It is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried Korean red peppers.

The chicken is served in “under-appreciated” iceberg lettuce cups. Iceberg is the perfect vehicle for transporting the chicken – the leaves are pliable, just the right size, with a beautiful pale green color, and adequate crunch. My unique white seaweed salad is made of crunchy springy kelp noodles. Perilla (wild sesame leaf) is sliced into thin ribbons and sprinkled over the chicken, adding a complex herby flavor.  It’s all very fresh and summery. Low-carb too.

Korean BBQ Chicken, Lettuce Cups, White Seaweed Salad

Korean BBQ Chicken, Lettuce Cups Recipe

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Unique Korean Banchan: A White Seaweed Salad

Unique Korean Banchan: A White Seaweed Salad

White Seaweed Salad
Garlic Mayonnaise, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Sea Salt

White seaweed salad makes a unique sea vegetable banchan (side dish). Seaweed “noodles,” also called kelp noodles, are made from kelp, water, and sodium alginate. Sodium alginate is extracted from the cell wall of brown seaweed. It is used as a stabilizer, thickener, and emulsifier in many common foods. In modernist cuisine it is used as the cold gelling agent to form spheres that have a thin membrane and are filled with a flavored liquid – a technique called spherification, pioneered back in 2003 by Chef Ferran Adrià at El Bulli.

Kelp noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and low in carbohydrates and calories, and rich in oceanic trace minerals. They have a neutral taste and surprisingly crunchy texture with a curious elasticity. Here, the salad is made with minimal preparation – the noodles are served raw, simply rinsed and coated with a garlicky mayonnaise, toasted sesame seeds and sea salt. The result is an unusual side dish that pairs especially well with spicy Korean dishes.

White Seaweed Salad Recipe

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Kimchi Bacon Cheddar Quiche with Quinoa Crust

Kimchi, Bacon, Cheddar QUICHE with Quinoa Crust {gluten-free}

Kimchi Bacon Cheddar Quiche
with
Quinoa Crust 

Napa cabbage kimchi and sharp cheddar cheese is one of my favorite combinations – kimchi’s zingy fermented flavors and rich full-bodied cheddar, together create an amazing food synergy. And since last week’s Spinach, Tomato, Goat Cheese Quiche with a Black Quinoa Crust was such a big hit, I wanted to share another quiche using the more common white quinoa for the crust. Besides being gluten-free and high in protein and fiber, the quinoa crust has a delightful crunchy-chewy texture, counterbalancing the creamy cheesy custardy filling. In addition to kimchi and cheddar, I add bacon and scallions too. So there is no shortage of flavor in this pie!

Kimchi Quiche with Quinoa Crust Recipe

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Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

St-Germain Liqueur is created in the artisanal French manner from freshly hand-picked elderflower blossoms. Its sublime taste hints at pear, peach and grapefruit, yet none of them exactly. It is a flavor as seductive as it is elusive.

Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage distilled from rice that has slightly floral and barely sweet flavors. Pleasantly light with a round mouth-feel and an alcoholic content of 20% (about half as much as vodka), it is usually enjoyed neat, sipped from a shot glass.

Angostura Bitters, a product of Trinidad, is an aromatic preparation of botanically infused alcohol. Just a couple dashes of its distinctive herbal spice flavor enhances the other components by adding another layer of complexity.

To create an Absolutely Bewitching Martini, pair soju with elderflower liqueur and angostura bitters, and enjoy a fusion cocktail that is delicate, captivatingly complex, and impossibly irresistible.

Elderflower Soju Martini Recipe 

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Gochujang Chicken Adobo and Chef Hooni Kim

Korean-Filipino Gochujang Chicken Adobo

“The food that you cook has to come from within.”
Chef Hooni Kim to the students of Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, May 5, 2015.

Invited by the Korean Cultural Center Los Angeles to demonstrate Korean cooking to the students at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, he flew across the country to share his passion. With such a broad subject to cover in one class, Chef Hooni Kim decided to focus on a few special ingredients, ones that really give Korean cuisine its unique flavors.

One of these special ingredients is gochujang – the red chili paste with sweet heat and a fermented umami richness. It is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried Korean red peppers.

“I like to share Korean flavors and Korean culture through my restaurants. Not only do I feel like I need to cook delicious food, I need to teach a bit about Korea through the flavors.”

The menu at his Michelin-starred New York City restaurant Danji was inspired by his Korean-American heritage and his New York stomping grounds. The second restaurant, Hanjan, features pure Korean cuisine inspired by all his trips to Korea, the place of his birth.

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Doenjang Adds Umami Notes to Mashed Potatoes

Doenjang 된장 Mashed Potatoes Butter, Roasted Seaweed, Gochugaru, Sesame Seed, Black Pepper

Doenjang 된장 Mashed Potatoes
Butter, Roasted Seaweed, Gochugaru, Sesame Seed, Black Pepper

Umami is the savory taste and round mouth-feel imparted by glutamate and nucleotides found in certain foods. Doenjang, that funky-chunky-fermented-aged Korean soybean paste, has an exceptionally robust umami profile.

In 1908, a chemistry professor at Tokyo Imperial University was intrigued by the complex flavor and deliciousness of dashi, a simple Japanese soup base made from seaweed. Upon investigation, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda was able to isolate the principal flavor ingredient of kombu (the kelp used to make dashi). Using classical chemistry procedures he identified this substance as glutamic acid.

Glutamic acid is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of proteins. Bound with minerals such as sodium, potassium, or magnesium – glutamic acid becomes glutamate, a salt. It is the salt form of glutamic acid that elicits the taste. Following Ikeda’s glutamate discovery, other foods were determined to be sources of umami, and that the process of fermentation forms and releases amino acid and nucleotide compounds as well.

Doenjang is made from dried soybeans which are boiled and stone-ground into a coarse paste, then formed into blocks called meju and allowed to ferment with the help of warmth or sunlight and bacteria. One to three months later, the blocks are placed in large pottery jars and covered with a very salty brine as the fermentation process continues.  At the end of the long process the liquid is filtered off, this liquid is Korean soy sauce called ganjang, and the remaining solids are our salty-earthy-complex-umami rich paste with a pungent aroma – called doenjang.

Doenjang 된장 Mashed Potatoes Recipe

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Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Korean Influence Chili Chocolate Brownies
with
Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Gochugaru is a Korean red chili powder that is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried red peppers. Korean chili plus a fruity California olive oil and the sharp, exotic flavor of ground ginger come together in this fusion brownie that is an intense spicy grown-up dessert.

Gochugaru Brownie Recipe

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Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake {Breakfast Bindaetteok}

Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake {Breakfast Bindaetteok}

Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake
Breakfast Bindaetteok

Mung Bean Pancake (Gluten-Free, Low-Carb)
Nappa Cabbage Kimchi, Scallion
Topped with a Sunny-Side-Up Egg
Gochujang Sauce

It’s those savory caramelized bits of kimchi that make this pancake so irresistible. Dried-peeled-split mung beans are soaked overnight in water, then pureed in a blender to produce a pale yellow batter that yields a tasty low-carb, gluten-free pancake with an interesting slightly chewy texture.

The pancake is topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Gochujang sauce made from fermented red chilis, is spicy and slightly sweet and makes the perfect condiment for this breakfast which is a twist on the popular Korean appetizer called bindaetteok.

Savory Korean Breakfast Pancake Recipe

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Korean Macaroni and Cheese with Beef, Kimchi, Cheddar

Korean Macaroni and Cheese with Beef, Kimchi, Cheddar

Korean Macaroni and Cheese with Beef, Kimchi, Cheddar

One stellar food pairing is kimchi plus cheddar. So when it came time to create a macaroni and cheese dish for Food Network’s Comfort Food Feast event, I immediately thought of kimchi. Funky tangy kimchi partners with sharp creamy cheddar, ground sirloin, and gochugaru, a Korean red chili powder that is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried red peppers. The resulting fusion dish is an irresistible grown-up full-flavored mac and cheese.

Korean Macaroni and Cheese with Beef, Kimchi, Cheddar

Beef & Kimchi Mac ‘n Cheese Recipe

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