Too High to Get Over, Too Low To Get Under

Archive for the category “Food”

Shikagoland Eats: Crisp

I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong.

See, I have this thing about fusion food. That thing being: I hate it. I also hate when people take traditional items like, for example, a torta and then smack it up flip it and reverse it and charge $10 for it (*cough* Rick Bayless *cough*). I live in a neighborhood where there is a Mexican restaurant every 10 feet (representing all different areas in Mexico) and I am more than pleased with that kinda of price and variety.

So when I first heard about Crisp I was like…meh. I have mastered my own Korean style fried chicken in my own little kitchen. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about any of the other menu options. Having had a less than fabulous experience at another Korean fusion restaurant in Lakeview last summer…I was in no hurry.

Again, I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong.

A friend convinced me to give Crisp a try on a brisk Saturday afternoon. I agreed…but only because I needed to go to Lakeview anyway. Like I said, less than enthused.

But almost as soon as I walked through the door, I felt like this was going to be an enjoyable experience. The restaurant itself is very small and the seating is communal (one thing I hate more than fusion food? Communal dining) with big long wooden tables/benches and a counter/stool situation along one wall. You can peruse the menu (a nice stack of laminated menus are available right inside the front door) without feeling like you’re taking up space. Once you’ve made your selections you can proceed to the cashier to place your order and snag a beverage from the coolers in the back. I will admit to gagging a little at the prices ($9 for 5 chicken wings!? I was raised on Harold’s Chicken. You can buy a whole bucket of their chicken for like $15) but some of my approx $18 order was first timer error. And…it was totally worth it.


I should have split the side dishes with my friend. Most of the rice and the kimchi went to waste which made me sad. But they will give you a to-go container for your extras and the kimchi is already packaged to take home if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t have three jars of the stuff at home. So, I could have saved a little money by paying attention to those details. My fault. But $9 for those wings? WORTH EVERY DAMN PENNY.

Crisp has various sauces for their chicken (available in wings, whole chickens, and strips). I went for the Seoul Sassy. GET THE SEOUL SASSY. I repeat: GET THE SEOUL SASSY. Never a more perfect combination of  sticky sweet yet savory spiced saucy deliciousness has ever existed. I actually squealed in excitement with my first bite. Despite being completely coated in sauce, the skin was crispy. Not hint of gloopiness. And as you can see from the picture, the wings are MASSIVE. I barely finished them but not because of lack of effort. The rice was perfectly cooked (doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment but you’d be surprised at all the bad rice I’ve encountered) and the kimchi was great.  The massive roll of paper towels on the table came in very handy as did the assortment of condiments.

Crisp also sells “buddha bowls” (a twist on bibimbop), Korean burritos, and sandwiches.

But really. Go for the chicken.

I can’t wait to go back. If you go, let me know. I’ll tag along :)

Shikagoland Reads The Headlines

I’m too tired to really have any opinions, but because I love you people, I’ll try.

By all accounts, Jeremy Lin is having the best February ever. Or at least he was til ESPN decided to make racist headlines about him, Kim Kardashian set her sights on him, and then…well then there’s this:

Ma’am. Please tuck your thirst.

– I’m totally onboard with this. I mean why should anyone get into college because they fit some arbitrary category? Make everything level and have people get in on their merits! Oh wait…they aren’t talking about people who get into colleges because of legacies? Oh.

Its Packzi Day! – You know whats even more fun? Going to a bakery and buying them. I’m just saying. I went to a local bakery a picked up a delicious assortment…which I didn’t intend to do but they had a $10 minimum on credit card purchases. So. I ended up with chocolate custard, cheese, raspberry lemon, and plum. #fatgirlproblems

– But I’m not sure what the point is because if you’re not not caught up, they are spoilers and if you are caught up then its nothing new as all the trailers are made up of footage from previous seasons. And really, I didn’t need to ever see Joan and Roger screwing on the street ever again.

But I will take any opportunity to post this.

– Because my twitter feed blew up with the news last night, I felt compelled to listen to the  “Birthday Cake” remix. Please note that I had never heard the original but people seemed to like it a lot and I figured it might at least be something I could shake my butt to in the kitchen when no one was around (See also: ‘) but…wow. The song is pretty much crap. Which…well most of their songs are crap so I don’t know why I thought this would be different. Bygones.

– I would like to state for the record that I first saw these pictures while I was eating a raspberry lemon packzi. And then I cried tears made of a powdered sugar glaze. She may be talentless…and 98% biodegradable plastic…but her body is insane.

– Pearl clutchers the world ’round ask: who is watching the child of two incredibly wealthy people; nominate Angelina to adopt Blue Ivy for her own well-being. Next item on the agenda: Is that Beyonce’s real hair and will she let me touch it?

And finally:

Shikagoland Makes: 깍두기 (cubed radish kimchi)

So. The thing about me is: I LOVE KOREAN FOOD. Oh, let me count the ways.

I definitely didn’t grow up eating Korean food. Until a few short years ago I was completely unfamiliar with it. For about two years I lived a stone’s throw from one of the more well-known Korean BBQ restaurants in this fair city. Its a huge restaurant with a TINY parking lot. Whenever we drove past it, my mom would remark “that place must be owned by the mob or something. Look at all those cars”. In general I am mistrustful of restaurants with blacked out windows so I accepted my mother’s clear wisdom on the matter.

Years later I had occasion to dine in that particular mob hangout BBQ joint and…it didn’t make a big impression. I remember being amazed by the dozens of banchan (side dishes) but otherwise…meh. Unlike most things food related, I wasn’t overly interested in investigating Korean cuisine. Plus…I smelled like smoke.

Oh, how times have changed. Now that I live in what is commonly known as Chicago’s “Korea Town” (less and less so by the day) I have dived mouth first into Korean cuisine. I eat it all. And more importantly, I cook it all. And of course, I have favorites.


I have always wanted to make my own kimchi. But I’ve been afraid as I currently live in a relatively small apartment and…kimchi can smell pretty rank. Whenever I make the mistake of not closing up a jar of store-bought cabbage kimchi (usually because I’m in a rush to shove my dinner in my face) within ten minutes or so my entire apartment smells like the stuff. I love kimchi but I don’t want my entire life to smell like it.

But this weekend I decided to throw caution to the wind and make my own radish kimchi, my personal favorite kind. With ai as my guide, I dived in.

I had to hip check four Korean grandmothers for these things. Then I got stabbed in my kneecaps.

As it turns out, making kimchi? Totally kinda fun and easy. All I had to do was peel and cube the radish, then let it hang out in a mixture of salt and sugar for about 30 minutes.

God bless sharp quality knives

The salt/sugar combo draws out some of the moisture and then you end up with…IDK radish juice that you drain off and add back in later.

There seems to be some dissent among people who care about such things about whether you should rinse your radish at this point. It never occurred to me but…well. We’ll see. I am worried about it being aggressively salty. *sigh*

Moving on, now is time to add in the remainder of your ingredients: fish sauce (I HATE fish sauce, but it is infinitely useful), minced garlic, ginger, the radish juice, chopped green onions, and a rather healthy amount of red pepper flakes. Mix it all together with you hands and VOILA!

You CAN haz kimchi

I would have to say that my favorite part of the process was playing around in the mixture and making sure that everything got coated evenly. Because I’m mentally five and like, miss playing with playdough or something. Whatevs.

Because I’m a horader smart, I tend to keep good quality jars that other things came in to re use. Luckily this means that I had heavy 5 glass jars of varying sizes just waiting to house my kimchi.

This jar previously held cabbage kimchi that I bought at H-Mart. INCEPTION


According to the recipe, you can eat it right away or let it chillax and ferment for a few days. Since I tend to prefer my kimchi to swing more on the sour side, I’ve let it sit out on my dining room table since Saturday afternoon.I very much look forward to tasting it tonight…or maybe tomorrow. I’m not really decided on just how long I want to wait. It was VERY hard not to crack into it last night to go with my Super Bowl dinner of short ribs.



Sassy Dames of History

You like brownies don’t you?

Of course you do. Unlike most culinary masterpieces, the brownie has a distinct and pedigreed history. We know exactly where it came from, and therefore know exactly who to thank.

Get out those knee pads, folks. Open those wallets and pay homage to:

Swag her the fuck out.

Bertha Honoré Palmer, wife of the legendary Potter Palmer (a important figure in the creation of the legendary Marshall Field’s department store and owner of the Palmer House Hotel), known as the “Queen of Chicago”, and the patron saint greedy people everywhere.

As  the legend goes, while on the “President of the Board of Lady Managers” committee as part of preparations for the Worlds Fair of 1893, Bertha decided that there should be a dessert that ladies could eat without need for plates or utensils. Bertha dictated that the dessert should be like a cake…but smaller.


Now, in the Hallmark channel adaptation of this wonderful event in American history, Bertha would have rolled up her sleeves and tottered into the kitchen, full of pluck and determination. Only emerging covered in sweat and flour with the bright smile accomplishment spread across her face.

Would you like to know how unlikely that scenario is? From :

Bertha Palmer was famous for her free spending ways and her husband indulged her and did not mind that she was in the limelight. Her jewelry was legendary. According to the author , “so fabulous were her jewels that a newspaper declared that when she appeared on the S.S. Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse with a tiara of diamonds as large as lima beans, a corsage panned with diamonds, a sunburst as big as a baseball, a stomacher of diamonds and all the pearls around her neck, Alois Burgskeller of the Metropolitan Opera, who was singing at the ship’s concert, was stopped right in the middle of a high note.” She traveled throughout Europe, dining with Kings and Queens and mixing with industrialists and statesmen.

What this tells us is that Bertha was as familiar with a kitchen as I am with…well wearing a tiara with diamonds the size of lima beans (but I have DREAMS).

Dishpan hands? How...quaint.

Being a resilient young lass, short on time and long on money, Bertha simply instructed the chef at her hotel to whip up such a confection. LIKE A BAWSE.

And thus the brownie was born.

A few other notable achievements:

  • Bertha began the trend of establishing winter homes in Florida. After building her estate in Osprey, Florida on 350 acres, she named the neighborhood, The Oaks.
  • Back when women had few rights and power, she helped mend and strengthen the lives of common women with the help of the Chicago’s Women’s Club. Made up of a mix of wealthy and working women who met to study social problems, this club was an organization that lobbied for fair treatment of women and children. They also supported kindergartens (the transition period from preschool to first grade) until the city made them part of the school system. They also fought for inexpensive milk for impoverished children and better care for children and imprisoned mothers.
  • Bertha had two sons, Honore and Potter II. In 1902, her husband passed away and against his attorney’s suggestions, he left his entire estate to Bertha. His attorney’s were afraid that she would remarry and Potter’s only reply was that her future husband would need that money to continue supporting her posh and extravagant lifestyle.
  • Bertha treasured her privacy. There were no doorknobs on the outside of her house.
  • Potter Palmer built the Palmer House Hotel…as a wedding gift for Bertha. Just 13 days after it opened…well that pesky Chicago Fire thing happened. But no big deal, Palmer had it re-built.

So lets all raise a glass of milk to Bertha. Fighter of social ills, kickass hostess, responsible for making Florida “happen”, and catalyst for the creation of the perfect #foreveralone snack. The brownie is still being served  at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, in Potter’s Lounge accompanied by “chocolate milk mousse, chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce”. Or, commoners can make it themselves.

I think we know which option would merit Bertha’s seal of approval.


Flashback Post

Its winter in Chicago. Its cold. It has finally snowed. WINTER IS HERE.

Let us rewind to a simpler time. A time of warmth and sun and happiness. Lollapalooza 2011.

So. This past weekend was my once a year 3 day long “whateva I do what I want” experience. Also known as attending Lollapalooza. I’m writing this through post-Lolla struggle so I’m not sure how much sense it’ll make but I can try.


Friday was a pretty low key day for me. I got to the park pretty late in the game, and ended up having to leave for a few hours to deal with a emergency. Meh. I was supposed to meet up with my friend M for Muse but the clusterfuck cell signal situation wasn’t helping so I ended up wandering into the dj tent with my vegan cookie dough ice cream and dancing for about 30 minutes before I peaced out and shuffled to the brown line to go home. It wasn’t the best day.

Perry’s tent was pretty sweet though.

Acts i saw: Ceci Bastida, Foster the People, Girl Talk…wow. I really tanked it that day.

Oh, and I ate this:

Andouille sausage with beer mustard and fingerling potato salad courtesy of Franks n’ Dawgs. PHENOMENAL. I love that place.


I got to the park early with a plan. I wanted to see Chico Trujillo. Not taking any chances with shady cell signals S and i kicked it old school and set a place to meet. Sweet. It rained a bit as the set started but I didn’t really mind and the band was AWESOME. At some point though I realized the irony of coming to Lollapalooza to hear the same kind of music that blares from my neighbor’s car windows at all times. They were GREAT though. I danced and finally felt like I was *in* this Lolla thing. I took video but I’m too lazy to upload it right now. Like you care. If you’re interested, my favorite song of theirs is . It knocks.

Next up I traveled to the opposite end of the park (this travel across the park 10 times a day thing is one of the things that makes Lolla such an endurance test) for Fitz & The Tantrums. They were AWESOME. I’d only heard a few of their songs before but I’m a total convert. Check them out. They rule.

Because I had some time to kill and no one I was interested in seeing at that moment I stuck around with S and saw Mayer Hawthorne and The County.

His music is basically a total bite of 60s70s soul/r&b/etc. He did a bunch of covers and spoke in this weird accent (dare I say blaccent) and…I hated him. It felt like a ironic hipster cover band getting over on making the kind of…you know what? I’m not. I just hated the whole thing. It made me feel icky.

Then I split with S and crossed the park to meet up with my hs buddy Bunny (yes. thats her name. Not her real name but she’s been called Bunny since she was a small child and its the name she used at school) and her husband to watch The Deftones. The sound wasn’t great and frankly, it made NO SENSE whatsoever to put them on a smaller stage. The Deftones are still extremely popular and they released an album a few months ago after a good chunk of time off the scene. But the band still kicked and I had a great time chatting with Bunny who I hadn’t seen since the day we graduated HS. We reconnected on FB though and I always liked her so it was a good reunion.

After The Deftones I crossed the park AGAIN to go to CeeLo with S. WOW. What a hot ass mess. I really thought Cee Lo was gonna kill it but…nah son. It was terrible. It started out well, with covers of Danzig and The Violent Femmes. He came out in an outfit that was kinda Gwar-esque and I respected that. But…the set was plagued with technical issues (there was a theme of that this weekend), and he seemed to do a TON of covers. It was strange. The DJ seemed to produce most of the music despite his band being onstage and the set never got a flow going. Cee Lo himself seemed to say “fuck this shit” and ended the set 15 minutes early after a pretty weak version of “Fuck You”. Disappointing is an understatement.

After Cee Lo we shifted to a position on the hill so that we could see/hear Eminem but not be in the thick of the crowd. It kinda sucked because there was a sound bleed from Perry’s and it really seemed like they halved the mounted speaker situation. I didn’t understand that at all. While we waited we listened to The Atmosphere and now I LOVE THEM. One of the best parts of Lolla is stumbling across new bands and the Atmosphere was definitely my pickup of the fest. Yay!

Eventually it was time for Eminem. M showed up around that time joined us. Bunny and her hubby randomly came across us and hung out. I would never say that I’m a fan of Eminem…but he put on a damn good show and of course, its always surprising to find that you know so many songs from an artist you don’t pay that much attention to. I do like that song he has out now with Bruno Mars and Royce da 5’9” “Lighters” so I was pretty pleased that both of them came out onstage to do that song with him. It was a “moment”. Yay. Em did the fake I’m gonna go and pretend the show is over and then come back out in five minutes for an encore thing and closed the show with “Lose Yourself” which was really fucking epic. As a result of this show I would definitely let Em have some. Deal with it. Another piece of entertainment was watching this one group of kids sitting near us. It was 5 kids, probably in their late teens (I’d give them all 18 at the most). Clearly these kids had…something. And they kept sending the Asian kid off to ask people for…something…to roll their something in. It was pretty funny. They struck out.

TL;DR Acts I saw: Chico Trujillo, The Deftones, Fitz & The Tantrums, Cee Lo, Mayer Hawthorne and The County, Atmosphere, Eminem

I ate this:

Kalua pork served on banana bread from Sola restaurant. I felt bad when I saw their tent on Friday cause…NO ONE was eating there. As soon as I looked at their menu board I saw why. They were charging too much. This menu item is $11 in their restaurant and they were charging $10. And its an appetizer. Is it worth $10? Sure. It was DELICIOUS. But you’re serving it to me on a paper plate and I’m eating with a plastic fork while walking down the street. If I was in your restaurant I’d at least get like…a real chair and some water refills (they win though for having the best most absorbent napkins of the food stalls. Really A+ stuff). And almost no one else was charging that much. The other food averaged in the $6-$7 range. They lowered their prices the next day (so did The Gage and one other restaurant that I can’t remember) and I felt ok with paying $9. Idk. Or maybe I just really wanted it. I had never heard of this restaurant before this weekend (even though a quick google search shows that its on Lincoln ave and not terribly far from my house) so I plan on patronizing it soon. As soon as I can fathom doing anything more taxing than going home and crawling into bed.


Lord jeebus. Sunday was…a day.

Started out all fine and good. I ran a little behind schedule but I got to the park in time to catch Imelda May from the start (which was my goal) and she ROCKED IT OUT. Love love love her. After that I really didn’t have anything I cared about for a good chunk so S and I went off in search of food (and met up with M) and then back to the field to see “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart”. MEH is an understatement. OMG I hate them.

After that I was supposed to go with S to see Flogging Molly (who I really like) but I was already starting to lose steam so the three of us settled down to watch The Cars. What happened next is a bit fuzzy but at some point me and M split off from S and we wandered around a bit, checked out the merch tent, kicked it in Perry’s for awhile and then…the sky clouded over.


Determined, M and I went to the field to stake out our spot for The Foo Fighters. SRS BSNS. We wanted to be on the hill so we’d be slightly raised over the crowd enabling us to see the stage/screens and close to the stage so we didn’t have to deal with sound bleed from Perry’s (that second part didn’t really happen. Perry’s WAS LOUD AS FUCK). So we got a good spot. And then…it started raining. First, a light drizzle. A woman sitting near us was like “psssh. Its just a passing shower!”….she was wrong. It rained hard and steady for about twenty minutes. It was hell. M and I were hunched under her umbrella, sitting on blankets that were getting soaked, pelted in all directions by fat rain drops and basically hating life. Except it was kinda fun? IDK. We joked around and laughed and screamed when water ran down our backs. Eventually the rain stopped and portions of the crowd decided to amuse themselves by using the now muddy field as a huge filthy slip and slide. Which then devolved into grown men “bowling” with themselves as the ball and the garbage cans as the pins. Seriously. I was sure someone was gonna break a neck and I was thankful when the cops showed up and shut that bullshit down. Although i must say, the last guy who made it across (and did it with the cop standing RIGHT THERE) actually did a running leap OVER the carbage cans and landed into a penguin slide. It was IMPRESSIVE. I actually applauded that one.

And then:

Yay rainbow! At this point I decided M and I had earned a beverage so I took the loss and trudged through the mud (that was probably at least 30% goose shit) to the closest bev tent for a beer. It was a mess. As with these things, everyone was really friendly and cool and laughing and helping each other out. It seems that Sundays at Lolla are “injure me then offer me drugs Sundays” because I was cheerfully offered something by a nice shirtless guy in a apology for almost knocking me over into the muck (last year on Sunday I got offered E from the dudebros who hit me in the face with a football and then ended up partaking in some herbal refreshment with a couple I met while sitting on the curb immediately after. What is my life) and I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether i partook. (yes i did). S showed up soon after and blessed our situation with a plastic shower curtain that we used as ground cover. I just shoved my wet dirty towel into my backpack. There was nothing else to be done at that point.

Once everything got going, the Arctic Monkeys came out and did a shortened set (I’m now in love with these guys too. They kicked ass). Followed by Explosions in the Sky on the other nearby stage. It was at this point that I figured out that I should probably hit the port-a-potties again before The Foo. I encountered the LONGEST lines ever and the whole thing probably took about 20 minutes (including  another stop at the beer tent and a cig break with another friend I randomly ran into. I’m tsk’ing myself.).

So….FOO FIGHTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This show was just AMAZING. Its always nice to be reminded how much you love a band. I’d say I know every single word to about 80% of their songs but its not the kind of thing I think about often. (that said, Monkey Wrench has been on repeat in my brain since last night and I’ve listened to it about 10 times today already). About 15 minutes into the set…it fucking rained again. HARD. Thankfully S also had ponchos so M stayed dry(ish) under her umbrella and I slipped on a poncho and dealt with it. And that point all my clothes were soaking wet (Wet T-Shirt contest anyone?) and it was a big “oh well we’re just gonna rock out in the rain and be awesome” thing. At some point you’ve got to just accept that your body will be covered in mud, your hair will be wet, and you will get really familiar again with the concept of diaper rash (whatever, you wear wet shorts for 3 hours and then try to walk and tell me your inner thighs don’t feel some kinda way about it).

A really great end to the weekend though. I love Lollapalooza. Can’t wait for next year. I may seriously have to start a savings fund for a VIP ticket though. I think I’m getting too old for this shit.

TL:DR Acts I saw: Imelda May, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Cars, Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters.

I ate this:

Chicago-esque dog with caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, beer mustard, pickles, and a side of triple truffle fries.

Food Hipster at Home: KFC

I’ve been a slacker.

But I got back into the kitchen tonight. Yay!

Yesterday afternoon I developed a hardcore craving for KFC – Korean Fried Chicken. I’m not a girl who fries things often (or ever) but KFC is so delicious that its worth it. Its basically the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Tonight I made the chicken and siegumchi namul, which is a really quick and easy spinach side dish.

On to the show.

1st: blanch a bunch of spinach, rinse drain and chop.

Then, mix soy sauce, minced garlic, one chopped green onion and sesame oil in a bowl.

Drop in your spinach and mix. Boom. Done. So easy, right?

On to the chicken!

Its fine to use chicken wings or really any smallish pieces of chicken for this. I personally prefer to cut chicken breasts into chunks. After cutting the chicken I mix it with a beaten egg and then batter the chicken with a mixture of potato starch powder, sweet rice flour, baking soda, and all purpose flour.

Time to fry. The trick to the magic of KFC is frying the chicken twice. You fry your batch for about 10 minutes, take it out of the oil, let it sit for a minute and then put it back in to fry a second time. DELICIOUSNESS CREATED

While frying your chicken you can make the sauce which consists of red pepper paste, garlic, honey (or rice syrup), ketchup (yes ketchup) and apple cider vinegar.

Throw the garlic in a heated pan with canola oil, let it cook for a minute and then add the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer for 7 minutes.

After the sauce is done and you’ve completed your second (or third) fry toss the chicken with the sauce. The sauce is spicy with a hint of sweetness. So yummy.


In Korea, this isn’t really served as a main meal. Its usually served as a snack to nom on while gettin’ yo drink on. If I was keeping it real then I’d be pouring myself a glass of soju to drink.

But since its a school night I’ll just have a nice bottle of jarritos.

Tonight I served up the chicken with the spinach I cooked earlier, rice, and kimchi.Yay!

Food Hipster at Home: Ddeokbokki

Tteokbokki, also known as Ddeokbokki is a popular Korean snack food which is commonly purchased from street vendors…Following the Korean War a new type of tteokbokki became very popular. While the older version was a savory dish, this latter type was much more spicy, and quickly became more popular than the older traditional dish. In addition to traditional ingredients, this tteokbokki usedgochujang, a hot paste made from chilli peppers, along with fish cakes. Other ingredients added to tteokbokki include boiled eggs, pan-fried (Korean dumplings), sausages,  (which then becomes rabokki/labokki 라볶이), and cheese. These days, many kinds of tteokbokki are popular such as seafood tteokbokki(해물 떡볶이) or rice tteokbokki(쌀떡볶이).

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I have spice issues. I used to be a serious punk when it came to spicy food. When I was younger I wouldn’t go within five feet of a bottle of hot sauce. As I grew up my tolerance for spiciness increased, but most of the time it just seemed like I was eating things that were spicy but had no flavor.

Enter gochujang.

Ever since I’ve gotten into Korean food my spice tolerance has shot through the roof. Nothing is spicy enough. When I’m out food gets doused in sirracha. When I cook at home I often add extra hot pepper paste and red pepper flakes just to see if I can take it.  I’ve been known to make a bowl of ramyun that can make me choke and sweat from the first bite.

It burns so good.

In that spirit, tonight I made ddeokbokki. I randomly got a craving for the dish, even though I’ve never had it. But I’m familiar with rice cakes (LOVE) and epic spiciness (duh) so my brain knew what I wanted to eat. Good on ya, brain.

Ddeokbokki is, by my standards, a fairly simple dish. You get some delicious tube shaped rice cakes (ddeok), green onions, dried anchovies (more on that later), hot red pepper paste, and hot red pepper flakes, and basically throw it all together. As with lots of Korean dishes different people add different things to their ddeokbokki. Tonight I went with stir fried fish cake (since i have some I need to use) and shiitake mushrooms. I’ve read about folks adding mandu, ramyun noodles, eggs, and on and on.

I need to take a moment here and explain just how much I was NOT looking forward to dealing with these anchovies. I’ve skipped them in SO MANY recipes, and I always feel like something is missing but….ew. These motherfuckers still have EYES, son! They look at you like “you know this is fucked up, right?” Also, in order to use big ones likes these (the preferred size for soup/stock making) you have to remove the head (ok easy enough right?) and the intestines.

The what!? How am I supposed to know what a anchovy intestine looks like? *sigh* But, apparently leaving the intestines in is bad juju (it’ll make whatever you’re cooking bitter) so I did some googling and managed to make myself do it while thinking the whole time “what is my life? I’m picking out dried fish shit alone on a Sunday night”.

Sorry guise.

I’m going to have nightmares about this.

Moving along, once you’ve gutted the little fuckers (and stabbed yourself a few times on their teeny tiny vengeful little bones) toss ‘em into a pan with water and let it boil for about ten minutes to make a quick stock (warning: anchovy stock makes your apartment smell gross). After that its simple. Remove the anchovies, toss in the ddeok, a little sugar, red pepper paste, red pepper flakes, and green onions. At this point I added the fish cake (which I cut into not geometrically correct triangles) and shiitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring constantly (to keep the ddeok from sticking to your pan) until the sauce has has thickened and, if you’re me, your eyes are watering.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble. I take it as a good sign when your food looks angry.

Nice and thick and ready to set your insides on fire.

Make yourself large quantities of some cold beverage and dig in.

Next time I’m gonna make it way spicier though. My lips only burned for like twenty minutes, tops. Weaksauce.

Food Hipster At Home: Yukgaejang

I have a thing about Korean food. I’ve only eaten it regularly in the past year or so. Some of these posts will document my forays into Korean cuisine.

Of the dozens of Korean dishes I eat regularly, yukgaejang (육개장) is hands down my favorite. I sample it in every Korean restaurant I come across. Sometimes its lackluster (ahem, random Korean restaurant in SF) and sometimes its passable. My favorite place to get it is Banpojung near my home. Yukgaejang is a spicy beef and vegetable soup. But…ITS SO MUCH MORE. Its just an excellent melange of delicious. And the spicier, the better…for me at least.

I have made yukgaejang once before…with mediocre results. It was spicy (but still not spicy enough) and bland. I wasn’t getting the full beefy deep flavor. I see now that the first recipe I used was way oversimplified.

The main components of yukgaejang are:

  • beef (brisket is best)
  • bean sprouts
  • green onions
  • fernbrake
  • a whole lotta spicy shit (red pepper oil and red pepper flakes)

It starts off simple enough. Make a beef broth, right? Beef, water, onions, garlic. So on.

Mmm beefy. Once the beef cools, it should shred easily. Brisket is awesome that way.

The you’ve got to briefly boil your bean sprouts and fernbrake. Then mix up the RADIOACTIVE SAUCE.


The spice base consists of red pepper flakes (of death), red pepper oil, soy sauce, sesame oil (oblig), garlic, black pepper, and salt.

CONSUME AT YOUR OWN RISK (terrible picture is terrible)

Then you toss all your veggies and shredded beef with the sauce and let it rest for about 20 minutes so all the flavor seeps in. After you let it rest, you saute it up for a few minutes.

By now your kitchen will smell amazing and you may be sneezing from all the spice. Take it as a good sign.

After all that we come to the easy part! Dump your spicy goodness back into the broth, and cook it for 20 minutes. At that point if you want to be awesome, beat an egg and drizzle it over the soup for the final touch of greatness.

I made this on Sunday, but I didn’t try it until last night, a firm believer in the rule that soup tastes better the next day. It was PHENOMENAL. I may have done a happy dance. I had it for dinner again tonight and it was equally delicious and satisfying.


Whatever. Trust me. Its delicious.

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