Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tastes Like Korean

Sometimes an underlying flavor pervades a culture's culinary consciousness to the point where it is impossible to think of one and not the other. For the Italians it's garlic & oil, for the Thai it's fish sauce, and for the Koreans, it's Gochujang.

Gochujang is a red pepper paste made w/ powdered fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt. It has a texture similar to miso paste, hoisin sauce or even a really thick BBQ sauce.

Gochujang is simultaneously salty, sweet, sour and spicy. It's flavor is vaguely reminiscent of miso paste, only far less sweet and infinitely more spicy. Gochujang is used in Korean cooking primarily as base for soups, hot pots, and various other condiments. It is also used to season seafood and other light proteins.

A taste so bold and unmistakable -- surely it will leave you saying, "It tastes like Korean."

Tteokbokki (Korean Rice Cakes w/ Chili Sauce)

1 # Korean rice cakes (Tteok)

4 scallions, sliced on the bias (whites & greens separated)
1 clove garlic, grated
1 1-in. knob ginger, grated
1/2 cup kimchi
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS Korean chili paste (gochujang)
2 cups water
1 cup fish cake, sliced
2 serrano chilies, thin sliced

sesame seeds, to garnish

1. soak the rice cakes in cold water while you prepare other ingredients; 10-20 mins.

2. saute the scallion GREENS over medium heat until wilted; 2-4 minutes. add the ginger and garlic, saute until fragrant. add sesame oil, soy sauce, gochujang, water, fish cakes and rice cakes. mix well and let simmer until rice cakes are tender; 4-6 minutes.

3. serve rice cakes on a flat plate and garnish w/ the scallion whites, serrano chilies and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do You Speak Greek?

You can learn a lot about the Greeks by living in Astoria for a few years. Indeed, there's much more to these Mediterranean peoples than just Gyros, bad techno and seemingly unmanageable body hair. For example, did you know that Greeks are masterful confectioners? No shit, beyond the ubiquitous Baklavah exists a myriad of delectable desserts with a heavy focus on nuts, fruits and natural sweeteners. Personal favorites include loukoumades, galaktoboureko, and the Frappé.


Loukoumades are basically Greek zeppoles, only far more light and textured than their Italian counter-parts. Instead of being covered with powdered sugar, loukoumades are doused with a warm honey sauce and dusted with sweet cinnamon.

Galaktoboureko is a wild semolina custard ensconced in flaky phyllo dough. It's warm, gushing slice of sweet comfort -- I haven't had anything else quite like in any of my culinary escapades.
The Frappé is an interesting concoction that is reminiscent of both a Starbucks Frappachino and a cappuccino proper. They are made from instant coffee, but don't let that dissuade you; this piquant caffeinated jolt is a real treat.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Monday, April 5, 2010

Meat Mecca

New York City plays host to a number of upper-echelon steak houses: Del Frisco's, Old Homestead, Craftsteak, Keens, Churrascaria Plataforma, Prime House, and Ruth's Chris -- just to name a few. Indeed, this carnivorous multitude encompasses a large number of fine establishments, each with varying degrees of food and service. The approach and execution differ from place to place, but there's one thing they all have in common, they aren't Peter Luger's.

Peter Luger, Inc.
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11211

The Peter Luger Steak House is a culinary institution of epic proportions. Sure, I could go on and on about the peerless porterhouse cut, or the decadent triple-thick cut bacon strips, or the surly, straight out of 1926 waiters -- but you know all that already, so why bother? Instead, I'm just going to share some pictures and let you draw your own conclusions.

Let me just say this, it IS as good as the hype.

Mmmm, bacon.
Porterhouse for two.
Perfect medium.
© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -