I’m not a fan of “quick ‘n easy” cooking. Don’t get me wrong: I’m love cooking that is quick and cooking that is easy, but just not the genre of food writing that sees cooking as something to be got over with. But we all have busy weeks and I stupidly picked one to start a blog. In my other life, I had a huge deadline this week and I’ve been working flat out, getting increasingly panicked about missing The Deadline. So, what to eat when you feel guilty taking even a couple of hours away from work? I discovered the answer in a shortcut product that’s about as far as you can get from Sandra Lee: the wonderful world of kimchi. Not only is it insanely moreish right out of the package, kimchi forms a simple basis for a reassuring winter casserole. For this recipe, I like to use yeolmu (young radish leaves) kimchi, but you could use cabbage instead.
I don’t know that much about Korean food – it’s an area I want to explore more. I enjoy eating it in restaurants, but so much of the appeal is in the panchan (the little bowls of vegetables and fish that are served with meals) that it seems ambitious for the home cook. So, my Korean casserole isn’t terribly authentic. It’s more a variation on ingredients and flavours I’ve encountered in homestyle Korean joints in New York. It is, however, incredibly easy to make and the combination of sweet, salty and spicy is perfect therapy for the stress-case.
Kimchee and beef casserole
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- a knob of ginger, julienned
- 500g of ground beef
- 4 scallions / spring onions, in longish slices
- some shichimi togarashi (Japanese spice mixture)
- 1 package yeolmu kimchi
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, thickly sliced
In a heavy, lidded pot over a medium heat, fry the garlic and ginger in a little oil till just colouring. Add the beef and stir around until browned. Shake in a goodly amount of the shichimi togarashi and throw the scallions on top. Sauté for another minute or two till nothing looks raw. Now mix in the kimchi.
Next, arrange the sweet potato slices on top of the mixture in a pleasing pattern. (This is an important part of the stress relief. Look, something you can control!) In a measuring cup, mix the two types of soy sauce with water to take the total to about 1/3 cup. Pour over the potatoes. You should have enough liquid that if you push a potato slice down firmly, it is covered, but not enough that the whole affair is submerged.
Now, bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes. Serve with rice.
PS: I know the pics aren’t great quality. I’m planning to invest in a better camera, but baby steps…