As 2012 comes to an end, I’m taking stock of a few things this year, mostly food-related, because of course. But first, a few nice things to cook this winter to keep warm (it’s snowing out here something fierce in Boston as I type this):
Roasted Kabocha Squash: Steamed to soften, seeds and pulp scraped out, cut into wedges, basted in melted unsalted butter (experiment with adding a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever spices take your fancy), roasted at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, basted in more butter, roasted at 400 degrees for 20-30 more minutes until the surface turns a crispy brown. Enjoy, skin and all.
Spicy Chicken Stew: I like making this dish because it is extremely easy and very tasty. My mother used to call this dish “Seoul Chicken.” Chicken legs are brined in salt water for 30 minutes, then browned in a large pan with some olive oil. Your spicy sauce is made from soy sauce, honey, grounded Korean red pepper powder, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Throw in some potatoes, and carrots for flavor towards the end. Cover and cook.
The best part about the holidays is getting to spend time with family, and one of the best parts about spending time with family is watching my mother move around the kitchen, settling herself into the most uncomfortable looking positions for great lengths of time, prepping massive amounts of food, often with at least three things going on the oven, stove, and microwave. She is a juggler in the kitchen, an army general in food prep, a master of cooking, and terribly generous with her time, energy, and culinary talent — especially when it comes to feeding her family all their favorite foods. When she learned that my sister and I were coming for Christmas, she promptly went out and bought ten pounds of short ribs for galbi, duk-gook and mandu for duk-gook soup, and made a vat of my favorite Korean spicy stew.
The staple to every meal in a Korean household is kimchi, and this year I had the pleasure of watching my mother make tons of it to hand out as holiday gifts to her friends. There are many ways to make kimchi, of course, but we are kimchi snobs and know our good kimchi from our bad.
Needless to say, my mom makes very good kimchi.