Bulgogi - no soy sauce -

Bulgogi was something I used to dream of and think of fondly feeling I could never recreate it without the magic of soy sauce.  Like MOST recipes I found a beyond suitable representation of my favorite and I couldn't be more happy with this one.

There is a sweet bulgogi (often served on beef) and a hot bulgogi (often served on pork).  I love both but prefer the super hot!

For the sweet bulgogi you cut all the pepper(s) in half (or even further if cooking for the heat tolerant impaired) the amount below and double the sugar of the amount below.

For Hot bulgogi you will need:
1 to 2 lb (mine is usually 1.5 beef) of London broil beef or equivalent of pork loin cut sliced thinly 1/8th inch.  I get mine from Afton field farm and I let it half thaw so it is really easy to cut, if you let it thaw fully it will wiggle and squish away from your blade's edge.
1 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp Serrano
1 tsp Paprika  (Getting good paprika is a pain - it should smell Earthy and taste like a round light warmth - not just be red)
1/2 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes OR an equally high heat pepper flake I use - Thai Orange.
A handful of garlic cloves, 6 med. cloves approx.  Crushed using a press.
1 TBSP - 1/4 Cup vegan sugar
1/2 tsp - 1 TBSP any honey you like (I use a really light colored honey for the hot bulgogi and a dark honey for the sweet bulgogi)
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 inch knuckle of Fresh Ginger if you want.  I don't usually, but it is really tasty with it as well.
Top with toasted golden flax seed or sesame.
Top with spring onion, green onion sliced thinly or chives.

All of these peppers I grow and process into either powder or flake form. But if you have a flavorful and reliable spice resource then use those.

When making bulgogi the most important bit is that the meat is sliced thinly (against the grain) this does several things it coats the meat in the spices thoroughly, the meat will curl a bit as it cooks and hold little spicy pockets of garlic, peppers and sugar lastly it cooks it very very quickly and it should be very tender (not overcooked) and made after all other foods for the meal are finished or on their way to being done.

If it looks like way too much pepper, it is perfect.

I cook this, like many things, in a dry (but well seasoned) cast iron pan.  The meat goes directly into a warm-hot pan - it will stick a little but it will release juices from the meat and free up.  Quickly press or add chopped garlic to meat and toss.  Add all peppers and salt, stir in and lastly add sugar and stir making sure all is coated.  If at any point you find this frustrating, or don't have a cast iron pan you can use a spoonful of sunflower oil, safflower oil to the pan to aid in cooking.

It is done once the salt and sugar have dissolved, coat with juices and pepper in the pan and serve with your choice of goodness.

This is usually served with rice and wrapped in a fat green leafy vegetable like a romaine or butter lettuce.  I like it with sweet potatoes or squash in the winter.  Hot and spicy meals make the winter get scared away at least for a moment.  Num.


Stretchin' yo Chicken Change

On the mashed potatoes is my cranberry salsa!  2 Cups cranberries blitzed, 1 shallot or small onion, 1-2 garlic cloves, 3 jalapenos or more, 1/4 Cup olive oil, 1/4 Cup honey and salt to taste (you can always add sugar to taste mix well to have it dissolve!).  Can be served raw or simmered -add honey last if you choose to cook it.

James Brown was sold out for it.  Bad for James Brown, but someone made out like a bandit.  Because chicken change can go so far.  Especially when being poorer the whole needing to eat, well can take its toll on one's wallet.  But also convenience is killing us - all those easy spice packages, quick meals are loaded with MSG (we call it The Spice).

There is a lot of what Jason and I refer to as the natural bad stuff in anything with protein. Or natural "spice."  That is the thing MSG is mimicking which occurs in all proteins once broken down.  So chicken skin will have it.  Bones will have it (marrow).  Even protein rich vegetables.  Like if you make veggie stock and let the vegetables stay in there until they are puree that is bad.   So we will walk you through MINIMIZING it.  It wont eliminate it.  Because a little of the natural bad stuff is completely NORMAL.  The processed bad stuff is horrific.  Chicken soup from a restaurant = MSG, "Homemade chicken soup" with boullion = MSG, Chicken soup from scratch with these instructions will yield as healthy a version as can be made.

The meals from 1 bird and how many they can feed: At the top picture left is the chickens backbone and neck in the plastic.  I will save and freeze this if I don't feel like making soup and then freezing the soup in meal portions. Which will yield 3-4 meals worth of soup at least.  Then the thighs are a meal for Jason and I, the wings and drumsticks are a meal, the breasts and sliced into 1/2-1 inch strips and used in 2-4 meals. So 1 chicken for us is 7-10 meals minimum depending on how industrious I want to be. Even if I bake the entire chicken and shred it into my favorite bar-b-q sauce it will make just as many meals or more.  We are in a bizarre age of owning a lot and consuming a lot but then also no one likes to spend money.  This way you don't quite get something for nothing, but even better you get a lot just from being so wise!

fried breast, oven roasted potatoes and wild rice... dip liberally in the BBQ sauce pictured below!

Berber-Q sauce is the same as Bar-b-q, I just double or triple a lot of the spices like allspice and garlic. Making a very dark sauce.

1. Breasts  depending on size, you can make more than one meal alone from them.  The average bird yields two meals just from the two breasts for Jason and I.  So 1 breast cooked and shared along with fruit, veggies, greens makes a very reasonable meal.  We usually make Jason's favorite from the breast -- Bar-b-Q fried chicken tenders.

2. Wings and Drumsticks any one of those or both served up with something is a pretty hearty meal. There are a lot of combinations that can come from these humble pieces.  They can be stripped and made into pot pie, empanadas, tacos, pizza topping, gravy for grains, hot wings, a fruit compote served on top of them or roasted up with some root vegetables.  (the links are for most of the meat of the chicken, not just wings and drumsticks)

Oat flour crusted drumstick and thigh baked with strawberry/apricot sauce (simmer fruit lightly until it "bleeds" with a touch of sugar or honey), basmati rice and fresh zucchini
3. Thighs are usually baked in shallow sunflower oil in my cast iron skillet.  I remove the skin from them and lightly coat the tops in sunflower oil and then add my herbs and a coat of whole wheat flour and home processed oat flour (for extra crunch). I cook them on 400 until the top crumbs are crispy and when poked no red-pink juice comes out.  I usually just keep an eye on them so they don't get overbaked (too often the case with veggies and meat alike)  You want the chicken moist, that just means taking it out AS SOON as the juice runs clear. These on special occasion I bake with the drumstick intact and makes for a more energy rich meal rather than heavy on the grains.  Thighs are good in pot pies, handpies, tacos and roasted.  Like most dark meat is.  I like to make thighs with my Apricot and Strawberry sauce.*

Some veg being cooked in water separate from my chicken water to be added once the veggies are just undercrisp.

4. Backbone and Neck makes the best soup.  This is because of the natural spice it contains of course, but also because the meat on them is difficult to remove and this keeps it from being wasted.  The skin and the bones - also what little meat remains on it - once boiled makes a soup that it difficult to resist.  (Which on this blog, we know why that is)  The meat once boiled for NO LONGER THAN 20 MINUTES is very easily removed once it has cooled.  I will go into further detail under the rules.

So 1 chicken for 2 people will make AT LEAST 6 meals.  Realistically the soup will be eaten at least 2-4 times between 2 people (we had it for 3 meals each with some leftover which we then used the remainder for potpies and got another 2 meals from - making 5 meals from JUST the backbone and neck). So for Jason and I one chicken makes 7 to 10 meals.  So you can see how a humble bird can be really worth the price tag so many think is too high. Soup freezes really well!  So to help you make cooking easier and have a quick dinner for the family take out a little tub of your homemade soup defrost it an then place it on a low simmer heating pan and make up whatever else you'd like with it.  Voila!  Dinner in a half hour.

RULES for soup:

  • I leave the back and neck intact to remove whole.
  • Don't overcook, the longer you cook the chicken parts, the more you break it down and you don't need a liquefied chicken in order to make a tasty soup.
  • As the SPICE/foam/fatty sludge builds up and floats to the surface scoop it out and throw it away.  Dogs love this crap and it is an okay treat for them.  But beware they will become HYPER FOCUSED (yes, like children after fast food) on getting more and acting out.  So I toss my furry pal outside when she gets spice-treats.
  • Final rule make sure there is a lot of fresh veg and herbs going in the soup to stretch it and also to add flavor that isn't just birdfat and salt.

When I was a kid and I was watching a friend's family member (an old German woman) cooking some beans, I noticed she was skimming the foam and froth off the top of the liquid.  I asked her 'What are you doing?' she said "I'm throwing away the farts."  What she was doing was removing the broken protein from the legumes (msg) taught to her by her mother to help with digestion and to ease stomach issues.  She knew them as farts.  I know now that it causes digestive upset to have large amounts of this stuff.   So when you skim this stuff whether it is fatty, foamy or other -- your stomach and family members will thank you.

The natural form of "The Spice"that collects on the surface of the boiling soup -- we skim it off and into another pan while it is cooking.  When soup cools, it may also have a "skin" on it, that looks like ice.  This is also "the spice" so make sure you remove it before stirring or eating.

My soup is water, onion, celery, garlic and carrot along with salt, pepper and whatever herbs I may have.  It feels a little insulting to give ratios really since the ratio is usually whatever amount feeds the number of people you have and a single chicken back can make about 15-18 cups of soup (not broth but all in all).  The ratio of veg-broth-chicken is a taste thing.  I almost always plump up a soup with 2 cups of onion, 2 cups of carrot, 1 heaping cup of celery and a handful of garlic cloves.  The more the merrier.

In case you missed where I get my chicken.  It is from Afton Field Farm they are good folks and wonderful stewards of the animals they keep.  You can get a detailed account of what the goings on are at Afton Field Farm through Alicia's blog.  In the "Our Friends" list on the left side of the blog are links to people who care, people who do it right and other resources.  If you are not local and want a farmer who does it right check out localharvest.