(Image and recipe from My Korean Kitchen)
It’s week 8 or 9 of shelter-in-place for us and I feel the drain of cooking and cleaning after every meal 7-days a week (with help from the Hubs now and then, and gracious friends this past week ;)). Before the shelter-in-place order, we would eat out Friday evenings and the weekends, but now our home has become a 24-hr diner, and moms, I feel ya. If I was by myself, I’d eat simple things like eggplant spread on toast and call it lunch, but do my husband and daughter consider that a meal? Nope. And because I haven’t been eating red meat for the past couple of years, and I don’t cook chicken that often, I feel like my husband, especially, is not consuming enough protein, hence losing his hair (is my theory). Of course there are other factors like stress, age, genes, but his once beautiful black hair is now so scant and peppered with gray. Balding and gray–I thought it would be one or the other–but both! ’tis so cruel. Lord, you have taken away my hair but blessed me with regrowth and thick curly locks. Lord, please, please bring his hair back! T-T
I digress, so beyond the point. ehehe…
To inspire next week’s menu or meals during the month of May as the weather continues to warm up, here are some easy-ish recipes to incorporate into your meal planning:
- Cold Noodles (Korean Mul-Neng-myun (물냉면)): Easiest way is to go to buy a couple packs of these ready-made noodles (found in the refrigerated section in the Korean/Asian market), slice up some cucumbers and pickle them quickly in a vinegar mix (equal parts vinegar and water, with a little sugar), and add ice. For protein, add a hard-boiled egg and try to dig up some frozen meat. If you don’t have ready-made noodles or don’t want to risk going out, you can substitute buckwheat/soba noodles and use cans of chicken broth as the base soup. If you want to be fancy and take more time, here is Maangchi’s recipe, or if you want it simple, try My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. I personally don’t like pears in my noodles, but a hard-boiled egg is a must.
- Poke bowl or vegan poke bowl (회덮밥 or vegan): Add any veggies in the fridge and tofu/raw fish to rice and stir in some soy sauce and sesame oil if you don’t have red-pepper paste (home-made sauce: 2 tbs red pepper paste, 1 tbs corn/rice syrup, 2 tbs vinegar, 1 tbs sugar, 1 tbs minced garlic, 1 tbs lemon juice).
- Any of these 3 Korean noodles: These 3 noodle recipes are very easy to make with items most likely in your pantry/fridge. Her videos are calming and most of her recipes are somewhat approachable. Note: Her recipes are typed in the video’s description box.
- Unagi Chauke (unagi bowl): I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but it seems simple enough. I’ve tried her okonomiyaki and yaki udon, and they were both very good. Her recipes are solid so I’d browse through the site to see which ones would be more for your taste/effort. The yaki udon is simple and quick, so I also recommend that dish. The okonomiyaki is delicious, but it’s very time-consuming and requires special ingredients, so unless you’re up for a cooking project, it’s not a quick meal you can whip up with pantry items (it takes 1.5+ hrs of prep and 12-15 minutes to cook each okonomiyaki)
- Soba: The most similar recipe to what I usually make is Just One Cookbook’s oroshi soba. My quick tip is to use a pre-made soup base, i.e., Kikkoman’s Koidashi and forgo the whole dipping sauce/soup base prep. The pre-made soup base can be used for other dishes as well (udon, stir fry, etc.). There are many soba noodle dipping sauce soup bases options sold in Asian markets. All you need are soba noodles, the soup base, a small radish, and some green onions. I often add a silken tofu with soy sauce-based dip as a side-dish.
- Katsu sandwiches: Just One Cookbook’s or Bon Appétit’s spicy version. A change from a regular katsu rice dish. I can’t wait to visit Konbi. I may need to drive all the way there and order take-out if this quarantine isn’t over by the end of May. Until then, I’ll try it make a baked version at home.
- Peppered Steak: The Seasoned Mom’s recipe sounds like the meat incorporation my husband needs.
- Thai chicken thighs: add some chili sauce, fish sauce, peanuts, and cilantro to change up a chicken thigh recipe
- Hainanese Chicken Rice: a bit time-consuming, but easy enough with pantry/common ingredients (a pressure-cooker might speed things up)
- Veitnamese-style vermicelli noodles: This is a simplified version of what we’d find in a Vietnamese restaurant. Easy to make at home.
Basically, you can prepare a bowl of noodles/rice and throw on some vegetables, protein of choice, and a sauce and call it a meal. Change up the vegetables, protein, and sauce, and there you have it, Asian cooking. haha ;)
During this quarantine, if I could learn anything practical, I’d like to learn sauces and marinades.