Dancing with Miso

My sister is down for the count.  I suspect a mix of wintery weather, lack of sleep, and too much time in airports made her sick.  It stinks when people are sick, as a common person (aka non-medical professional) there is very little I can do to help.  The best thing I can think to do is make her feel comfortable, aka feed her.  I was out with a friend last night she told me to make my sister miso soup, she believes that it’s a cure all for everything.  I’ll take that advice and put a spin on it!  Dwenjang Jigae, is a riff on your standard miso soup.  Ok, I lie, if miso soup is like Miley in her Disney days, this stew is like a long night dancing with Molly and Miley today…

My grandma taught me how to make it in middle school.  The way we make it is a little unconventional from the Korean standard.  The standard recipe usually doesn’t have the gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), uses dwenjang (Korean fermented soy bean paste) and usually has a thinner consistency than mine. I prefer using Japanese red miso to its Korean counterpart.  I tried switching to Korean Dwenjang a few years back, but there is so much variation within the brands of dwenjang and I couldn’t find one that I liked.  My absolute favorite is the stuff my grandma makes but she’s back in the mother land and I don’t think I’d be able to get that through customs.

Here’s the recipe

Kim Family Dwenjang Jigae

6” dashima
5 large dried anchovies
2 small onions ½” diced
3 medium potatoes ½” diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
¼ cup Japanese red miso
2 king oyster mushrooms (or about 1 cup shitake mushrooms sliced) shredded
1 zucchini ½” diced
1 pack (16 oz) tofu (soft) ½” diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 jalapeno sliced thin
3 green onions cut into 2” strips

First the Broth, this is pretty basic in Korean cooking you want to make an anchovy broth, they don’t add a huge amount of salt but they pack in a lot of flavor.  In a pinch, skip this step, but using it does add another flavor dimension. Basically, it’s anchovy and dashima (aka Kombu) infusion… (I’d say tea but my nerdy side wants to protest, teas only come from the camellia sinensis plant!).  Place your anchovies and dashima into about 64 oz of cold water and let it boil while you’re preparing the rest of your veggies.

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I get to washing, peeling, cutting the veggies while the broth is steeping. This whole blog thing is new for me so the pictures aren’t the best but stick with me, I’m a quick study and this thing will be looking good in no time!

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By now, the broth should be finished, set it aside and now we begin!  Saute the onions and potatoes in a heavy bottomed pot with the vegetable oil.  When they are sweaty and nervous add in the hot pepper paste and miso, it’ll look messy. Stay with your pot and keep stirring if you burn this part it will be bitter.  When the mixture looks homogenous, like everyone is playing nicely with each other, pour in the broth.

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Bring the soup to a full rolling boil and add in the remaining ingredients, continue cooking for about 10 minutes.
Serve with rice.

This recipe makes a lot of jigae, but this stuff just gets better with time. Today it will be good, tomorrow it will be even better.

Notes:
Shred the mushrooms – king oyster mushrooms are pretty common in the Korean Supermarket, I like adding them like this because it looks pretty and it is easier to bite into than when you just slice them.  Cut the “shitake” looking cap off of the mushroom.  You’ll have a long log of mushroom.  The mushroom shreds lengthwise so cut the log in half and just put pressure on it, it’ll give and you’ll see how it can be shredded.  Think pulled pork or Jang Jorim.
Meat? Where is the Meat? – My family doesn’t really eat that much meat, but it’s really easy to add in.  Add about 1/2 lb of 1″ diced cubes of beef stew meat (usually chuck or even heel meat) to the potato and onion mixture.  Don’t let the meat brown too much or it’ll be tough. sweaty and happy..

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