Hello readers! I hope you are enjoying our blog. We will eventually figure out categories and this one will go under cooking or Korean eventually. If you live in a small town and do not have a Korean grocery it can be hard making Asian dishes. When I first moved to the US it was something we had to deal with. In future blogs I will show you how to use whatever you find to make a delicious recipe. Today, I want to share some photos and introduce you to just two ingredients. When you first enter any large Asian market, it will be overwhelming. Try to take a friend who is more experienced and take your time looking around. Make it fun! On this recent trip to H mart in Cary, NC I saw people from all walks of life shopping there and it made my heart super happy. I love that people are learning to love Korean cooking. It is generally very healthy and very veggie centric. We do love our meats but you can totally do Korean Buddha style like my late “harmony” who ate mostly vegetarian and a very few fish dishes.
Cheong- gochu 청고추 is a very important ingredient in Korean cooking. They are usually 3-4 inches long and have a “sweet” flavor but can be very spicy – because of their range of taste, some people do not like to use them. I love eating these peppers fresh and raw or tossed in at the last minute to many of my soups. You can also “pickle” these peppers Korean style. If you can not find these peppers in your store you can substitute with Serrano or Jalapeño.
These beauties are called Perilla or Sesame leaves. For the longest time I did not really understand what they were. Although perilla and sesame are not particularly closely related, they are often called the same. They are very important in authentic Korean cuisine. These leaves come from a flowering plant called Sesamum indicum. Koreans call these leaves kkaenip 깻잎 which literally translates to sesame leaves. In a 100 gram serving there are only 37 calories. In comparison 100 grams of lettuce has 15 calories. In this size serving you will get 7 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of dietary fiber (which is awesome for weight loss), calcium, iron, rich in vitamin C. One downside is that it does contain 1 gram of saturated fat which is not a healthy fat. Personally, I think it is worth it for all the other benefits. This herb has been touted for all sorts of healthy benefits but there is not enough evidence for me to want to share any of that. I just know it is delicious and I love to eat it. I like to use it for wraps instead of lettuce but it is not for everyone because of its slight strong “exotic” flavor. If you like fennel or thai basil you probably will enjoy the taste. But like cilantro most people either love it or hate it. If you live in North Carolina like I do, you can grow these annual herbs in a planter or in your garden. They produce seeds at the end of their cycle so you can gather and plant again and again. In the future I promise to share recipes with you but today I will end by encouraging you to add fresh raw plants into your diet. I am NOT a vegetarian but I eat a lot of veggies. Expand your palette with me and I will help you add some fun dishes to your dining table. Thanks for reading!