Korea’s All-Conquering Carrots

15 February 2018

Happy Lunar New Year to all our readers – wishing you all many culinary adventures in the Year of the Dog!

With both South and North Korea back in the headlines with the Winter Olympics in full swing in Pyeongchang and the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula, this week Knidos Cookery Club will be making a dish that has become a hit in the former Soviet Union and beyond – spicy Korean carrots.

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Spicy Korean Carrots

It’s a dish that’s not really from Korea, north or south – largely unknown outside of the countries of the former Soviet Union until recently, this simple dish has now gone full circle and can now be found on tables in South Korea.

It originated with the Koryo-saram, Korean people, who were deported en masse from the borderlands of Russia’s far east to Central Asia in the late 1930s. Fearing a Japanese fifth column in the Soviet Union via this Korean community, Stalin ordered the mass deportations in 1937.

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Korean carrots and other salads on sale in Almaty’s Green Bazaar, Kazakhstan

The deportees adapted their cuisine to local conditions and replaced traditional ingredients with carrots to create a spicy, coriander-rich side dish and it remains a popular choice on dinner tables in Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which are still home to around 300,000 ethnic Koreans, descendants of the deportees from the 1930s.

There’s a Turkish connection with the Koreas as well. With Turkey on a war footing once again, wading into battle against the Kurds in northern Syria, a recent film has brought a mostly forgotten war involving Turkey from the 1950s back into the spotlight. Can Ulkay’s “Ayla: The Daughter of War” tells the story of a Turkish soldier who saves a young Korean girl during the Korean War of 1950-53.

Turkey sent troops as part of a United Nations led brigade to defend South Korea against North Korea in the war. The soldier finds himself unable to take the orphan back to Turkey so the pair lose touch after the war, but in a fairytale ending are reunited 60 years later. Put your feet up and enjoy the movie with a bowl of spicy Korean carrots!

Ingredients (serves around 4)

200 g carrots peeled into thin slices – use a julienne peeler or a sharp knife

One garlic clove minced

One small onion minced

One teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

Half teaspoon red chilli flakes

Dash of olive oil

Two teaspoons cider vinegar

Half teaspoon honey

Pinch of salt

One teaspoon sesame seeds

Method

Mix the julienned carrots with the garlic and leave to marinate in a container with a tight-fitting lid (this carrot salad can get quite pungent, so this is important!).

Heat the olive oil and fry the onion until just beginning to brown. Mix the vinegar with the honey and salt and then pour over the carrots, add the coriander and chilli and the fried onions and mix well.

Leave the carrots to marinate in the air tight container in the fridge for at least four hours, the longer the better, to allow the flavours to blend fully.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve as a side dish with fritters such as our mücver.

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Waste Not, Want Not: The Beet Goes On

1 June 2017

“Waste not, want not” was a familiar refrain at mealtimes when I was growing up. My parents had grown up with the rationing of World War II, and the lean years after it, and they were instilled with a mentality that saw nothing going to waste.

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Here at Knidos Cookery Club, we’re big fans of this philosophy as an antidote to our throwaway culture. We couldn’t resist this beetroot on sale with it stem and leaves in place – bits that are more usually removed and discarded before the root hits the supermarket shelves.

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The stems and leaves contain loads of nutrients and taste delicious when simply sautéed with a spring onion, a clove of garlic and a dash of soy sauce and lemon juice to make a great side dish.

Having been brought up to believe that beetroot was something that came pickled in jars and ready sliced, it was a revelation when I first came across the leaves and stems cooked in a similar way in Greece many years ago.

Don’t forget that you can also use the main part of the root in a vivid Rip Red Risotto or in a tasty Georgian pkhali  – the beet goes on!

Ingredients (serves 3-4 as a side dish)

the stems and leaves of a fresh beetroot

one garlic clove

one spring onion

soy sauce

olive oil for frying

juice of half a lemon

Method

Heat the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat and add the sliced spring onion and chopped garlic. Cut the stems from the beetroot (reserve the root for another dish). Separate the leaves from the stems.

Cut the stems into 2 cm slices and add to the onion and garlic and stir fry for five minutes. Shred the beetroot leaves and add to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook for two minutes, or until the leaves begin to wilt. Add a dash of soy sauce, stir and serve straight away, pouring the lemon juice over the beetroot  sauté.

Adventures with Artichokes

5 May 2016

This week Knidos Cookery Club is attempting to tackle one of the most daunting vegetables out there – the globe artichoke. This enormous edible thistle with its armadillo-like outer leaves has always intrigued me – you never quite know what might be lurking inside the beast.

Known as enginar in Turkish, it is widely cultivated in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. It is a measure of the regard that this vegetable is held in that it has its own international festival in Urla near Izmir, Turkey (this year’s has just gone – it was held from 28 April – 1 May).

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An artichoke plant in Turkey

On 1 May, Knidos Cookery Club donned its walking boots and joined the annual walk from Datça on the Mediterranean Sea to the shore of the Aegean Sea, north of the village of Kızlan. On the way a number of artichokes were spotted growing in people’s gardens.

On returning home, my aim was to try and serve up something close to a dish that is a staple of many home-cooking restaurants in Turkey – an artichoke bottom filled to the brim with mixed vegetables or, sometimes, broad beans, but after peeling away the outer leaves and the choke my specimen’s bottoms were found to be a bit lacking in the size department.

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The planned dish of broad beans, bakla in Turkish, overflowing from an abundant base had to be modified at the last moment and instead I settled on a salad of diced artichoke and broad beans in a lemony sauce, garnished with strips of avocado.

Broad beans appear around the same time as artichokes in the market in early spring and the two team together well, especially with the addition of a lemon or two. For an even greener salad, I picked up some ripe avocadoes in the market and topped the finished dish with a few slices of alligator pear.

The tough outer leaves can be eaten as well. After steaming for 30 minutes or so, the bottoms of the leaves reveal some tasty artichoke flesh that you can pull through you teeth to get at the goodness. Dipping them in melted butter with a dash of garlic makes them even more delicious.

Ingredients

Two medium sized globe artichokes

250 g fresh broad beans

Two spring onions

The juice of one lemon

One ripe avocado

Olive oil

Herbs and spices

Method

Wash the artichoke and cut away the stem. Steam it in a large pan for 30 minutes or so until the outer leaves are tender.

Peel the leaves away from the main body and save to eat as a starter, dipped in olive oil or melted butter.

Now remove the fibrous choke that surrounds the fleshy, edible part of our oversized thistle. You should be left with a concave disc of artichoke.

Place the artichoke in lemon juice to stop it discolouring.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the diced spring onion.

After a few minutes stir in the peeled broad beans and chunks of squeezed lemon and cover with a mix of water and the rest of your lemon juice and keep at a rolling boil for 30 minutes. Boil off as much liquid as you can to leave a runny, lemony sauce.

Chop up the artichoke and mix with the broad beans in the lemony sauce. Add fresh herbs such as mint and parsley and season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with thin strips of avocado and serve with a tomato and onion salad to contrast the vivid reds with the verdant greens of the artichoke medley.