Tuesday, November 30, 2004

kimchi and clams

This is inspired by some experimentations with a recipe for Kimchi Tchigae (Kimchi Stew?) which I got from Copeland Marks and equally from Mary Jeeyoug Park and Hae Ok Park's book "Everyday Korean Cooking". The first book is great, I have had it for a few years and have barely cooked from it. The second book is even better as it is a daughter and mother team who have published their own cookbook and not only are the recipes great but I totally admire and respect their efforts (the company is called Hot Pot Publishing but it appears to no longer exist)..... the original recipes had pork in them and, after making it twice I gave it a little twist. As we are in the full swing of shellfish season where I am, the clams are really delicious, got some lovely little ones from New Zealand.. more like fruit than shellfish.

1 to 2 cups kimchi, I used radish, but cabbage or as you want (great way to use up old kimchi)
4-6 cups small clams, rinsed and scrubbed as necessary
1-2 cups water
2 cloves garlic smashed
1 coin ginger cut into strips (as thin as possible)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp sesame oil, plus a dash to finish
1 tsp korean red pepper powder
1 large handful sotbean sprouts ( I have very big hands.. if you don't, maybe 2 handfuls :))
2 blocks soft tofu (the kind that comes in tubs with 6 blocks or so to a tub) cut into 6-8 pieces each
soy as needed

It's good to use a sauté pan or wide pan with a nice heavy bottom for this as it is easier to cook the clams.
Heat the sesame oil and add the garlic, ginger, red pepper. Fry out for a minute or so on medium heat, then add the sesame seeds and stir for 30 seconds to a minute to give them a bit of colour. Add the kimchi and fry for a bit, add the water and the potatoes and the tofu and cover the pot. Simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked (mmmmm 15-20 mins?) then add the clams. Be gentle as the tofu is fragile but at the same time try and poke the clams into contact with the cooking liquid (see I said to use a wide pot) as I find this makes them cook all at the same speed. If you have a whole pile of clams sitting on top of one another this is a pain to deal with. Anyhow.. so now cover your pot and turn the heat back up to medium, med-hi . Simmer until the clams have opened and had time to cook a bit.. the original recipe said ten minutes which may imply a bigger clam.. anyhow just cook them until they open and don't look raw anymore, if in doubt take one and test it.
Place the bean sprouts in a big bowl and transfer the clams onto the sprouts. Taste the cooking liquid and adjust with some soy or anything else you think it needs. Drizzle a bit of sesame oil on top and pour this over the clams/sprouts.
this is a light apps, or dinner for two with some rice and side dishes. It's light and hardy at the same time as these are some pretty assertive flavours.