Saturday, November 2, 2013

Part 1: Prepping for a Korean Feast

Exciting news and inspiration for the blog! Compassionate Action for Animals was looking for someone to review vegan cookbooks for their newsletter to supporters, and I was looking for some inspiration for this blog and a push to actually cook the recipes I like to wistfully page through. My first review is Terry Hope Romero's Vegan Eats World which features 300 recipes from literally all over the world.
Photo credit: Vegan Latina
 My first test of the cookbook was a "go-all-in" Korean feast which required making 8 recipes from the book (from 2 super recipes for Grilled Veggie Bulgogi and Sizzling Rice with Veggies and Chili Sauce (Dolsot Bibimbap).) I really like Korean food, but it can be hard to find really good restaurants especially if you're concerned about eating vegan (aka avoiding fish sauce, shrimp paste, and the like.) So, I was excited to see if I could make my own high quality Korean eats. Setting out on an epic journey, I found out....

If you're going to make international food, you're going to need international ingredients. Living in a bustling metro, that's not too hard for me (though I did need to go to two separate Asian supermarkets to get all the ingredients for this recipe.) If you like to shop and explore new venues, these recipes give you an excuse to try new things, but don't expect to find everything you need at your local grocery despite Romero's valiant effort to make the recipes accessible.
Some of the ingredients purchased for the Korean feast
Breaking a favorite dish down
Bibimbap is a one-dish wonder and I love it, but never realized all the work that went into the individual elements (seasoned spinach, sesame bean sprouts, sesame scallions, bulgogi marinaded mushrooms and seitan, sushi rice and heavenly kimchi.) It was a lot of fun to break the individual elements down and make them myself. While it's not realistic to whip up this epic feast often, some of the individual elements would be quick and delicious. I sense I will be eating a lot more napa cabbage (kimchi) and spinach in my future.
Homemade kimchi (pg. 56) - much easier than you'd expect!
One benefit of breaking dishes down when you make them yourself is learning more about what you're eating. I've eaten chinese 5-spice for years, but couldn't tell you what the five spices were...until now, star anise, clove, cinnamon, fennel seeds and sichuan peppers.
Homemade Chinese 5-Spice (pg. 41) ingredients (left to right: cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds and sichuan peppers)
Prepping for the feast

Working pretty steadily, I prepped for 3 1/2 hours the night before the feast. Toasting the 5-spice ingredients before grinding them to mix into the 5-spice seitan (pg. 51) and steamed 4 mini seitan loaves which I sliced to add to king trumpet mushrooms and garlic in the bulgogi (sweet soy bbq marinade) that involved grating ginger and an apple before adding it to a half dozen other ingredients. Prepping the kimchi, spinach and bean sprouts involved salting the napa cabbage and blanching the sprouts and spinach before mixing them with their unique flavorful dressings.
Night before prepped dishes (from top left to bottom right): mushroom and 5-spice seitan (pg. 51) in marinade (pg. 249), gochuchang sauce (pg. 308), seasoned spinach (pg. 309), fast lane kimchi (pg. 56) and sesame bean sprouts (pg. 89) 

You can read part two of this Epic Korean feast here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for doing this, Michelle! I hope it's tasty work.