Whole30 Korean Spicy Chicken

I let you know why I wanted to jump on Whole30, but I didn't tell you the number one reason I chose this program: I get to eat the food I actually like. 

I don't have a sweet tooth. I'm not a fan of bread-y foods. But give me some real home cooked Korean food and I'll immediately devour every last bit of it. 

Sadly in the good ol' U.S. of A., healthy lifestyles usually don't include a lot of ethnic recipes. But then I thought "Hold the phone, I'm a food blogger, I'm Korean ( well half, but's good enough for me so deal with it), and I'm cooking Korean food during my Whole30! I should share it!"

Whole30 Korean Spicy Chicken

Whole30 Ribeye Steak with Korean Salad

When I hear someone call kimchi a salad, this is what I think of. Something fresh, lightly dressed, and can be whipped up in a few minutes. Not the beloved fermented Korean side dish that I sometimes eat like a main course.

No, this salad isn't a traditional dish, but the ingredients hit all the notes you're looking for in Korean cuisine. You also don't have to make a huge amount of dressing because a little goes a long way with the sesame oil and fish sauce. Grossed out by fish sauce? Just think of it as the anchovies in a caesar dressing: undetectably delicious. 

Whole30 Ribeye Steak with Korean Salad

Kimchi Kimbap

Kimchi kimbap is some real Korean home cooking for me. The original recipe more people are familiar with is colorful and has lot of ingredients, which means it takes a lot more time to assemble.

This version is made for a quick meal that uses the sour, delicious, umami infused kimchi that's been fermenting for a while in the fridge. I add the green onions for color, but really you could even leave that out. I also don't use a dipping sauce, which is why I flavor the rice. I know these rolls look like Japanese sushi, but there is no wasabi in sight when I make my Korean kimbap. 

Kimchi Kimbap

Korean Spicy Potato Stew

Ahhhhh. Sick season. 

I'd like to blame having to take public transportation for my most recent sickness, especially since I haven't been honestly sick in many MANY years until I started taking the bus to work, but who knows where it really comes from. 

This is Korean comfort food, reminding me of the times my momma made this when anyone was sick in the house. The amount of ginger and garlic is insane, as it should be when fighting off viruses. The spiciness is also important. Even if you're not feeling ill, eat this for preventative measures, and heck, add some kimchi on the side if you got it. I can honestly say I eat mouthfuls of kimchi out of the jar when I'm feeling just a little under the weather. Heals me every time.  

Korean Spicy Potato Stew

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Ok, this isn't really a recipe. It's more of a "let me present you with a weeknight meal idea" kind of post. Because this is something I eat regularly. When I'm hangry. I usually have ssamjang in the fridge, and always grab the lettuce and thin pork belly at the store when I'm grocery shopping so they are awaiting their time to be called for duty. 

Looking at the ssamjang post, these wraps might look familiar. I never explained the method to my go-to meal madness, so that's why I'm breaking it down here. The attraction to pork belly (known as samgyeopsal in Korean) is pretty self explanatory. And I just prefer the thinner version, which is actually cut for hot pot. But let's shine a spotlight on the red leaf lettuce. It's the perfect flexibility while still retaining that refreshing crunch. It's a completely different experience from Romaine. And remember not to toss the smaller leaves and the sweeter core. Just dip those into the ssamjang in-between making your wraps. It's totally normal to have a snack during your meal.  

Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps

Bokkeumbap - Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is a staple in my home. With an occupancy of two and a half - the half being of the canine variety - I sometimes make too much rice. I can feel "the look" from the husband as I'm typing this ... so let's replace sometimes with always have and always will. 

We're friends, so let me give you some advice: never throw away leftover cooked rice. There's no reason. You can add it into soup, maybe mix a bunch of chimichurri with it, and most importantly, you can make bokkeumbap. 

This dish just so happens to go together beautifully with the soy sauce ginger chicken I made in the last post. And I know what you're thinking. Where the heck is the egg on top?! While I also adopt the #putaneggonit philosophy, when it comes to real home cooking, I don't always feel the need to make my dishes how they're photographed on the internet. Especially since we didn't always have a perfect sunny-side up egg served on top when I was a kiddo. I'm goin' old school. 

Bokkeumbap - Kimchi Fried Rice

Soy Sauce Ginger Chicken

I've been so grateful for the love folks are having for Korean food. In my kid years, the only association to the cuisine used to be kimchi, and a LOT of non-koreans just couldn't get past the smell. For the record, I think it's one of the best smells in the world. I'm surprised there's not a kimchi eau de parfum made yet. 

My spicy chicken recipe has been the most popular dish by far on this blog. I used to think it was because of the spice factor, but now I'm realizing everyone loves chicken ... unless you're my vegetarian husband, but you get where I'm coming from. So here's a non-spicy version for all of my friends that can't handle the heat. I'm glad we've figured out some common ground to stay friends. 

Soy Sauce Ginger Chicken

Updated Bibimbap

Whenever I say bibimbap to someone that's unfamiliar with Korean food, almost immediately they react with a series of repetitions of "bee-bee-bee", "bee-pid-ee-boo", and "bee-boo-boo". All have a question mark at the end. 

This dish is made on the regular in my home. The traditional concept is the same -  think of this as an "everything but the kitchen sink" kind of meal - but I tend to use fresher ingredients with lettuce and cucumbers. It's morphed into a bit of a rice salad I suppose. 

The vegetarian husband loves this because it's still delicious omitting any animal protein. As long as there is rice, gochujang, and an egg on top, it's bibimbap to me.

Updated Bibimbap

Korean Braised Beef

Want to impress without breaking the bank? Make this recipe. 

Traditionally, this dish doesn't really exist on the Korean menu. But these are the ingredients I use when I'm cooking the flavors I grew up with. 

The magical part of this is the results that happen when you cook anything at a low temp for a long amount of time: everything in that pot gets ridiculously tender. This is why I search for the larger, cheaper cuts of beef. This is also how you can feed a large group of people. Something I do often, having an internal urge to feed everyone I know. #lifegoals.

Korean Braised Beef

Tteokguk - Vegetarian Rice Cake Soup

Spelling Korean words with autocorrect is the best.

I'm giving this a big 'ol vegetarian label because you'll mostly see this is made with beef to enhance the broth. The soup is also usually enjoyed on Korean New Year to bring good luck and to seal the deal of being a year older. But heck, I'm one to break tradition and would like to receive my good luck any time on the calendar. 

Rice cakes ... can be weird if you're not used to it. Just like tofu, it's best eaten seasoned in a dish instead of by itself. In this soup, they soak up all the flavor and turn into fluffy clouds. 

Tteokguk - Vegetarian Rice Cake Soup

Jangjorim - Salty Beef with Quail Eggs

My cousin and I are about a year apart in age, so we were always galavanting together as young-ings. When we weren't trying to ditch her little brother, we were in the kitchen eating something delicious that one of our moms made. On top of the list of favorites for my cousin was jangjorim. 

I'm not going to lie. I didn't even know the name of this until I was an adult. We just called it "eggs and meat in soy sauce" with a big "please" after the name was said aloud, because of the addicting properties. The beef is salty and tender and quail eggs filled with the soaked up savory broth. Perfect addition to rice and sour kimchi.

Jangjorim - Salty Beef with Quail Eggs

Kalbi - Beef Short Ribs

I love me some short ribs. This is on my "last meal" menu item for sure. 

I'm going to make a bold statement and say that Korean recipes are pretty killer when it comes to marinading meat. The right salty/sweet combo and ingredients like garlic - lots of it, duh - that tenderize into perfection. 

This is simple to make, with the marinade doing most of the work for the flavor and texture. This tastes great when cooked in a pan like I did for this post, but is also amazing on the grill. Because Koreans ... we know what's up when it comes to bbq-ing. 

Kalbi - Beef Short Ribs

Gogijeon - Meat Pancake

Roughly, gogi means meat and jeon means pancake. I say roughly because pancake to a Korean does not bring to mind the classic Americana imagery of fluffy flapjacks covered in syrup. Instead, the batter is meant to be savory like with Kimchi Pajeon, or just some kind of egg coating.

I make mine with ground pork for the tenderness, and don't add salt because it's naturally salty, and will be served with a soy - vinegar dipping sauce.

Gogijeon - Meat Pancake

Baked Tofu and Broccoli with Garlic Rice

This meal does have a lot of Korean ingredients, but I wouldn't call it a traditional recipe. I wouldn't even call it fusion. It's really a staple in my home's collection of go-to recipes for a weeknight meal. It's healthier than another frozen pizza, delicious and doesn't make you feel like the Pillsbury doughboy after you eat it.

Speaking of health, I think sometimes we forget just how powerful veggies are. Like with broccoli for instance that's become so common, we overlook how good it is for you. I mean how healthy is it? Well-Being Secrets posted this article with extensive research on broccoli, showing that it's actually more unique than we think. Trust that we could all probably eat more of it, and it's a purposeful ingredient in this meal.  

Baked Tofu and Broccoli with Garlic Rice

Korean Chicken Drumsticks

Nothing gets me in the mood to be more patriotic than National Treasure. Yes, the one with Nicolas Cage. Particularly, the sequel.

But really for me, the Fourth of July is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate our independence as unique individuals in the United States. This is why I like to put some Korean flair into my food for the day, being a "halfie" and all, and share it with loved ones as we wait for the fireworks to start. More accurately, the husband will try to wake me up in time for the show, because I would have fallen asleep hours before. Why break tradition? 

Korean Chicken Drumsticks

Ssamjang - Korean Dip

This funny looking word is a salty umami bomb. It's made specifically made for a Korean dish called Ssam, which is basically meat and kimchi wrapped in lettuce. Just like with most homecooking, every family makes it differently, with theirs being the best of course. Traditionally the wraps are supposed to be bite sized, which is why my favorite memory of this dish is watching my family excitedly stuff as much as possible into their lettuce bundle, and try to shove it all into their face at one time. This is probably why I can't make a small burrito or spring roll to save my life. 

This dip is simple to make, and uses every day Korean ingredients. Let's dive in.

Ssamjang - Korean Dip

Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake

When my husband decided he wanted to change to a vegetarian lifestyle, my mother was stumped. She was concerned, and still is to this day, that there woudn't be enough for him to eat at our family gatherings, or when she came over to drop off food in fear that we were starving. Then we remembered the beloved savory Korean pancake. Success! 

This pancake is not sweet in any way, and is actually great with pretty much any combo of ingredients you'd want to try, like seafood. The base of this dish is in the translation of the name: Pa (green onions) jeon (flour type batter). Mine are thicker and  fluffy - because I use club soda, sorry mom! - with a crispy edge. I usually add tons of garlic and other pungent ingredients to my food, but the sour kimchi takes care of all of that. 

Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake

Spicy Korean Chicken

When I was a little one, I would panic if spicy food came my way. My umma even had to rinse off my kimchi so that I could eat it. Then one day I accidentally put hot sauce on some chicken ... and I LOVED it. That drop of gold opened the door to all things full flavored and bold. Now, I'm addicted to the spicy life. To the point where I'm guilty of having to wean myself off of all things spicy sometimes, so my taste buds come back. Sriracha plus college equals addiction. Just sayin'.

This recipe brings out some of the best flavors that is great about Korean cooking: spicy, tangy, umami with a touch of sweetness. It also brings to light the power of a marinade.

This recipe brings out some of the best flavors that is great about Korean cooking: spicy, tangy, umami with a touch of sweetness. It also brings to light the power of a marinade.

Spicy Korean Chicken

Mandu - Korean Dumplings

Mandu is the Korean version of lumpia, pot stickers, gyoza, or any other dumpling out there. Mandu-mania is the fun you have making about a hundred of these tasty bundles.

Having flashbacks of my childhood with my umma and her friends gathering around making thousands of these together makes me realize two things: dumplings take some love to make, and it helps to clear the mind. Cheaper than therapy and at the end you get to eat!

The main difference between the varieties of dumplings is the filling. This recipe is a base on what I usually start with, then add whatever else I want as an extra bonus, like kimchi and spiciness. My umma would tell you this isn't the filling she would have done, but I say every household has their version of memory filled meals.

Mandu - Korean Dumplings

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae  - Soft Tofu Stew

Jjigae. Ddukbokki. Japchae. And the more familiar, bibimbap. Music to my ears. It's not the names that make me chuckle as it does for some, but freaking out my auto correct as I'm writing this post because it thinks I can't spell a dang thing puts a smile on my face. 

I've noticed that many "halfies" like myself have lived daringly by slightly altering traditional childhood recipes. Really for me, it's about using what I normally stock in my kitchen and punching up the flavors that I love about the dish. As my momma says, "It must be a generational thing to add that much garlic to everything".

Works for me. 

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae  - Soft Tofu Stew

Vanilla and Spice Pancakes

Have you ever had the cheap, fake vanilla extract that's water with food coloring, alcohol, and sugar? The J.R Watkins' brand is the exact opposite of that. 

I was pretty thrilled when I was sent pure vanilla extract and baking vanilla, which has even more extract flavor, to test out. I decided to bring luxury into something pretty common - lobster mac and cheese anyone? - in order to really see this ingredient shine.

Vanilla and Spice Pancakes

Double Chocolate Rosemary Brownies

When I was sent rosemary extract from J. R. Watkins, the flavor I requested because I'm obsessed with that herb, I was stumped.

Do I put it in a savory dish? I could. Will it turn my dish green? No. Maybe it can go into something sweet? Yes! I had success with the flavor combo of rosemary and coffee in my cookies, so it had to work in a brownie. And boy, did it. Messing with a brownie recipe is pretty sacrilegious, so I decided to use Alton Brown's tried and true approach ... but with more chocolate. 

Double Chocolate Rosemary Brownies