Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fridge-cleaning korean stew

I notice myself enjoying or may be even obsessed with one-pan wonders these days. May be because I have fewer dishes to clean afterwards (the economy is tough, and dish detergents are expensive)? Or is it because the products of these recipes satisfy my notorious greed (for the amount of food) and impatience for beautiful plating? (Seriously though, I don’t know if I am getting mad or jealous when I see some people decorating the steak with some squeeze-bottles like a full-blown wedding cake. But, I am pretty sure I would not enjoy doing so even if I am patient enough). But, I do believe that the one-pan cooking method is the perfect means to clear out my leftover groceries. Most of the time, when the planets line up to favor my luck, the dish will turn out great despite seemingly chaotic amalgamation of ingredients. When these rare cosmic events happen for you, take my advice and write down all the ingredients you put into that witch pot. In fact (drum roll please), this is how this amazing daikon and sweet potato Korean stew was born.

The real stars of this Korean stew are humble anchovies. Anchovies are flavor-packed treasures of the deep sea. Their pixie size may not strike you as impressive, but their almost nutty yet oceanic essence can impart intriguing depth of flavor to any dish. But, they do so subtly that anyone unfamiliar with the ingredient will kind of know that there is something addicting going on in the background, but will never guess that the origin of the aroma. Finally, anchovies are great shortcuts for making flavorful broth, especially when paired with sweet root vegetables like daikon. They are like cinnamon sticks. Stashing a couple of anchovies in the corner of any stew will give the stock extra depth of flavor without much effort from my part.

What I love about this stew is that the sweetness of daikon and sweet potatoes really counteract beautifully with spicy and saltiness of Korean chili paste, a perfect harmony of flavors. (If balance were to be attainable in my life, the easiest route would be in the kitchen. So, why not use every opportunity to attain one?) As the stew bubbles away, the starch from the chili paste and sweet potatoes oozes out and thicken the broth. This almost-silky broth gets an extra boost of creaminess when eggs and cheese are slowly stirred in. As I watch the egg yolk dripping aimlessly into the dish full of carbs, protein and vegetables all rolled into one, I know my ultimate comfort is mere minutes away. What is the best part of this meal? Only one pan to clean :D

The Goddess of umami flavor - dried anchovies

Serving size : 4-6 people


  • 3 cups of Korean daikon (diced)
  • 5 pieces of Korean dried anchovy
  • 2 yellow onions (sliced)
  • 3 cups of sweet potato (diced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • ½ cup of Korean chili paste
  • ½ cup of bean sprouts (blanched)
  • 8 oz. of yam cake
  • 2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 1 and half quarts of water
  • For garnish – use eggs, scallions and cheese

  • Heat up the oil in a vast, deep pan.
  • Add in anchovies and sautĂ© for about 5 minutes under medium-high until the oil is perfumed with oceanic saltiness of the fish.
  • Turn up the heat to high, and tumble in garlic and onion slices. Saute for about 5 minutes as the aroma fills the room.
  • Add in daikon, sweet potatoes, and water. Bring the water to a boil, and stir in the Korean chili paste slowly.
  • Let the stew simmer in a medium-heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Add in yam cake, which are crunchy and filling yet extremely low in calories. Pile up a mountain of blanched bean sprouts, and crack open a couple of eggs. Be rustic, as you want. This is part of the fun of fridge-cleaning cooking. You should be utterly relaxed.
  • Lid on and simmer for another 5 minutes until the eggs get a touch of cloudiness.
  • Pile on the cheese and garnish with scallion. Proceed to mesmerize your guest or yourself.

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