Last night we had the Baker family (a.k.a Boy C, Baker Mom and the Tall Man/The Man in Polo Shirts in Every Color/The Crazy Man Who Wears Said Shirts in 30 Degrees Weather) over for an authentic Korean dinner. Well, as authentic as I can get given my limited cooking skillz, Korean and otherwise.
Since I didn’t think to take a picture of them, this is all I had in my files.
A handsome family, no? I had to crop off their nephew in blue since I didn’t have permission to post his picture. On second thought, I don’t have permission to post a picture of Baker Dad either, but I’m sure he’ll get over it. This was right before they ran the Fun Mile Race. Boy C beat Soso and he didn’t even train!
Why I had conceived this notion of cooking full Korean meal, I have no idea. I find cooking Korean a really complicated and time-consuming affair. There are just so many gosh-darned little side dishes called banchan. If you want to have an authentic experience, you need those banchans.
I guess, I wanted to try it out. Stretch my cooking muscles so-to-speak. I knew there would be a ton of food and we would need other people to help us eat them. The Baker’s minus Boy C are pretty laid back and adventuresome when it comes to food.
I did the best I could. Here’s the spread, minus the grilled meats. Of course, as usual, I forgot to take pictures of those!
Not the best picture. The sun light was streaming through the windows and I was in hurry. Clockwise from the left, fried zucchini, fried tofu, spicy salad, japchae, green beans, kimchi, Korean cucumber salad, stir-fry fish cake, spinach namul, hot paste for lettuce wrap, roasted laver, and lettuce for wrap. Plus, a big platter of grilled Kalbi and chicken kebabs. Really, to be truly authentic, I should have had a soup and few more dishes.
Oh and I had two kinds of fried dumplings (mandoos or gyozas) as appetizers. Don’t have pictures of those either (surprise, surprise).
I had to cheat on a few dishes. I bought the japchae from the Korean store. That probably saved me 3 hours right off the bat. I also used frozen dumplings. Believe it or not, all those other dishes took me all day! I told you, I don’t have mad cooking skills. I’m not a fast cook by any means! Rachael Ray’s 30 minute meals takes ME an hour.
In the interest of full disclosure, I think the japchae made at the store by a little old Korean lady tastes much better than mine. The only reason why I make my own is that I’m hoping with practice, I’ll eventually get better.
Here’s a close up of the fried zucchini, all ready for company.
A picture of the tofu getting fried. It helps to have a large fry pan, to make the process faster.
The finished product!
I usually make these fried tofu and called it a night. We eat the tofu and a veggie dish with rice. May be some kimchi if I had recently been to the H-Mart. Some roasted laver (kim) if I can be bothered to open a package.
If I make the zucchini, I usually make some protein with it. Grilled meat. Stir-fry tofu. Plus, since it is fried, I always feel the need to make a more healthy vegetable option. This is all too much work on a normal weeknight, which is why I rarely make the fried zucchini.
Either way, the two dishes are prepared the same way. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it yourself!
Korean Fried Tofu and Zucchini
Time: 15 mins prep, 15 mins cooking Tofu only, 15 – 20 mins cooking Zucchini only
- 1 block firm tofu
- 1 medium-sized zucchini
- 1 scallion (green onion), chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup potato flour (can substitute with cornstarch)
- salt and pepper
- canola or regular olive oil
- About an hour before cooking, drain the tofu and put it back in the refrigerator. This will allow more water inside the tofu to drain and allow for easier frying. Discard any extra water.
- Slice the tofu in half and slice the halves into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and set aside.
- Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch disks, sprinkle some salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, add two eggs, water, chopped scallion, some salt and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon) and mix well.
- In a shallow container, add the all purpose flour and the potato (or cornstarch) flour, some salt and mix.
- Add 2 tablespoon oil to large frying pan on medium to medium low heat.
- Using one hand, dredge the zucchini slices in the flour mixture, dip in egg mixture and add to the frying pan. Fill the pan, but don’t crowd the pan. Fry until the bottom is golden brown (1 – 2 minutes) and flip. Fry until the other side is golden and set aside on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat until all the zucchini slices are fried. Add more oil as needed.
- Wipe the fry pan with paper towel to remove any burnt pieces and repeat the above steps for the tofu.
- This can made ahead of time. The crispness is lost as the dish cools, but can be quickly reheated or served at room temperature with or without dipping sauce.
I was surprised when Baker Dad declared that the fried tofu was his favorite dish. I would have bet on the Kalbi or Japchae since they are the most popular and the most known Korean food. Well, go figure! Baker Dad, you’re welcome for dinner anytime we make tofu, which is at least once a week! Fried tofu, stir-fry tofu, tofu kebab, tofu soup, curry tofu, steamed tofu, spicy soft tofu stew, tofu stew with beef and noodles, tofu patties… hm, that’s about all I know!
I just had a flashback of that scene from Forest Gump when Bubba recites all the shrimp dishes. Oh yum, now I’m really, really hungry.
Dinner ended with a lovely dessert from Baker Mom. Blueberry Tart, slurp! See why I call her Baker Mom? She makes yummy desserts. We still have like 3/4 of this tart left. Jealous, much? Don’t be a hater. I’m sure this will all go straight to my hips and thighs.