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the most tasteless bibimbap I’ve ever had – part2 August 30, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in Everything else.
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So I wrote about my experience with the blandest bibimbap I’ve ever had. (see the picture of the bibimbap by clicking here.) I’ve read the comments, and I’m sure gochujang/gojoojang would’ve probably given it a bit of flavor, BUT my friend and I agreed that even if we added gochujang/gojoojang, it would’ve probably been absorbed into the bowl of …”stuff.” It was that flavorless! (By the way, this was not my first bibimbap experience, and I’m Asian, so I don’t think they didn’t give it to me because they thought I couldn’t handle the spicy food.)

You can see the carrots, meat, other veggies in the picture, but they just had no texture OR taste! I realized that “no texture” was part of the bland taste. I remembered that once I started mixing it, the veggie & rice lost its shape, and the meat disappeared. I was talking to my friend and we came to the conclusion that it was as if they boiled all the ingredients in water for a very long time, got all the juice and flavor out, and used the water for some soup, and used the veggie for the bibimbap.

I’m not trying to say the all bibimbap is bland, but you really had to try this one to understand what I mean by “tasteless.” (But of course, I won’t give you the name for this place.)

Anyway, this is bibimbap make-over day 2. I decided to make an “omurice” with leftover bibimbap. Omurice is a very popular meal for kids in Japan, and it’s basically fried rice (usually seasoned with ketchup) inside an omelet.

The bibimbap rice was still a bit mushy and had no texture, so I cooked sliced onion in a frying pan. When the onion turned clear, I added the bibimbap, seasoned it with salt and pepper and a bit of ketchup, and I removed the rice from the pan. Then I beat 3 eggs, poured it on the pan. After cooking the egg for a couple of minutes, I put the bibimbap rice on one side of the egg, and flipped the other side of the egg onto the rice. I put worcester sauce and mayonnaise on the top of the omelet, and sprinkled powdered seaweed on top.

The omelet looked lonely all by itself, so I sauteed chopped garlic and asparagus and put some lemon juice, and sprinkled parmesan cheese on top for the side for the omelet. (I cooked more veggie too, but I only took a picture of the omelet)

I think the texture of onion made a big difference. It was quite delicious. 😀

I still have a small bowl of bibimbap left. Not enough for a dish, but I might make rice crackers with it. 🙂

the most tasteless bibimbap I’ve ever had – part1 August 29, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in Everything else.
Tags: ,

Last Friday was the going away party for one of my co-workers at a karaoke place nearby work. But since it didn’t start until 8:00, my boyfriend, my friends/co-workers and I decided to grab something to eat before going to the karaoke place. The karaoke place was in Korean town in NYC, so we just went to one of Korean restaurants by the karaoke place.

Two of my other friends and I ordered bibimbap (rice, vegetable and raw egg on the top, usually comes in a sizzling hot stone bowl), my boyfriend and other friend ordered jap chae (stir fried mix vegetables and rice noodle), my other friend ordered bulgogi. (Korean BBQ)

When the waitress brought my food, it looked so good that I took a picture of it.

Looks can be so deceiving.

I mixed it, and started eating.

I mixed some more  and ate some more.

A couple of minutes after we started eating, my friend who was eating bulgogi asked my friend who was eating bibimbap. “So how’s your bibimbap?” She said “Well, it’s a little…” then she paused. So I finished her sentence with “…bland.” We had a “I’m so glad that I wasn’t only one thinking that!” moment. When I started eating, I couldn’t taste anything, so I mixed more, thinking that there was some flavor hidden inside. I kept on mixing and eating, waiting for the explosion of flavors, but it didn’t happen. It was like a puzzle from Professor Layton that’s worth about 99 picarats. “Where did the flavor go?” There was meat and so many vegetables in it, but you could taste NOTHING!

My friend put a little bit of salt on it, I even tried dumping a bit of the sauce that came with pa jun (Korean pancake) on it. But anything you put in, it was quickly absorbed by the mass of flavorlessness! My boyfriend usually helps me finish my dish when I can’t eat it by myself, but he couldn’t even finish the two spoonfuls of my bibimbap. My other friend who also ordered bibimbap said if I put a lot of hot sauce in it, it’d be fine. But I refused to numb my mouth just to eat the flavorless mushy rice.

It didn’t taste bad, it just had no taste whatsoever. I’ve never had a bibimbap like this one before, and I’m not a picky eater or harsh food critic at all. I wasn’t angry or anything though. Actually, it was so tasteless that it was funny. We spent long time talking about how it was possible for something packed with so much food to taste so bland.

I still didn’t want to waste it, so I took my leftovers and my friend’s leftovers home, and I decided to make rice croquettes with it tonight. I didn’t feel like deep frying, so I used a toaster oven this time. I mixed the bibimbap with a little bit of ketchup and parmesan cheese, made small rice balls using plastic wrap. Then I put mayonnaise on plastic wrap, rolled the rice balls over, and put them in a bowl of panko.(Japanese bread crumbs) I baked them until they were golden brown.

Born-again bibimbap

The outside was crispy and inside had much more flavor from ketchup and parmesan cheese. The inside was still a bit mushier than I wanted, but the crispy panko on the outside definitely helped.

I still have more bibimbap leftovers. So I guess I’ll try making something different with bibimbap tomorrow. It’s weird but I must say I’m kind of enjoying this leftover food make-over. 😛

Japanese oil hardener August 27, 2009

Posted by AnnaTheRed in Everything else.

Not a bento post, but this is something I’ve always wanted to post on my blog.

“Oil hardening” products are very common in Japan. A couple different companies make them, but they’re pretty much the same thing.
You put the oil hardening powder into hot oil, leave it until it cools down, and voila! Oil becomes solid so you can throw it away as regular trash!
The powder is made with natural vegetable oil so it’s very environment friendly.

When I came to the U.S. 15 years ago, I didn’t think the “oil hardener” was anything special. Whenever I had a large amount of oil to discard, I always looked for an oil hardener in a supermarket in the U.S. but I could never find one. So I looked for it online, but came up with nothing except the Japanese one I’m talking about. I was asking my boyfriend if he’s heard of something like that in the U.S., but he couldn’t think of one either. So I showed it to him one day, and he thought it was really cool.

I had a large amount of rather old oil (I’ve been using it for frying croquettes), so I decided to take pictures of how this Japanese oil hardener works.

The one I used is called Yukko

The one I used is called "Yukko" by a company called Lion. It's about $5.50 and comes with 5 packets of oil hardening powder.

Ingredients: Natural oil (very vague, but that's also what the Japanese package says)

Right after you use the oil, pour the powder into hot oil and stir. The package suggests using one package (20g) of powder for 600 ml (about 20 ounce) of oil.

The oil must be hot.

Stir it very well...

Leave it until the oil cools down. I usually leave a chopstick in, so I can tell when it hardens. The package also suggests leaving the little bag that powder comes in into the oil. (So you can pull it to see if the oil is hard enough later.)

I left it overnight. Ladies and gentlemen, the oil has been hardened.

Scrape around the edge, and remove the oil with a chopstick or spatula.  It’s actually easier to remove the oil from a frying pan or wok like the picture on the box, but I use a pot for deep frying.

It looks messy here, but if you do this with a frying pan or wok, it's not as messy.

Once the oil is hardened, it doesn't melt, unless you try to melt it by putting it into heat. You can throw it out with regular trash.

After scraping all the oil off from the pot.

After scraping all the oil off from the pot.

There are a couple of Japanese oil hardeners with different names (Yukko, Temple, etc…), but they’re pretty much the same.
I buy it from a Japanese supermarket in NYC, so it’s not something you can get it at a local supermarket, but you can still buy it online.

J-list/Jbox sells ”Katameru Temple” (tenpuru)

“Japanese oil hardener” set on Flickr