Every now and then, I come across a dish that makes me say "DUH!" — yes, a dish so elementary in its concept, it makes me speak like a 14-year-old. Yook soo is beef broth that you drink like tea. DUH. How perfectly genius is that? It's usually served at naeng myun restaurants where the steaming, rich broth offsets the cold spiciness of bibim naeng myun or hwae naeng myun. It's also a great counterpoint to the vinegary tartness of mul naeng myun. I can usually go through a jug of this stuff on my own . . . I don't think that you're supposed to drink that much, hence the strange looks from our servers when I request for my cup to be refilled again and again. But to be honest, I don't really care about appearances when I'm confronted with a seemingly bottomless carafe of yook soo. It's that good.
I made a pot of this a few months ago, and we managed to polish it off rather quickly. So tonight I pulled out the 16-quart stockpot and went to town. As with any rich stock, it needs to simmer for several hours to draw the flavor out from the bones. In fact, as I write this, it's still on the stove. Not sure where I will end up storing it all considering that my freezer is at capacity. Guess we'll just have to drink it. Darn. For the recipe, read on.
It's amazing the difference between what you learn at college versus what you learn and retain during those four years. I went to (some) classes, took exams, and came out the other end with a degree, but can I solve the limit of a function when x approaches a constant or recall the dates and significance of the Han Dynasty? Sorry. I do remember all of the places I could use my student ID to buy meals on campus and who played point guard my freshman year (Anwar McQueen). And the first time I had niu rou mian was when Dave and I first started dating, and he took me to Taste of Taipei in the Durant Food Court for one of his favorite dishes. Our palates (and stomachs) demonstrated incredible tolerance back then.
Of course, if we went there today, we'd wonder what we were thinking. But for a couple of college kids who were accustomed to eating instant ramen, Jack-in-the-Box tacos, and sorority-house salad bars, it was heavenly. Later, we discovered the nuanced styles and varieties of niu rou mian at Queen House in Mountain View (fiery chili) and Spices in the Richmond District (numbing peppercorn) who both put Taste of Taipei to shame. But all had a few key ingredients: star anise, ginger, onions, soy sauce, and loads of tender beef. Mine has all of the above plus a bunch of tomatoes which really deepens the flavor of the broth. Not a bad evolution considering it all began at a dirty hole in the wall near Telegraph Avenue. For the recipe, read on.
My first encounter with miyuk guk dates back to about 2003: Dave and I were living in Mountain View, and we were fortunate to live near several great Korean restaurants, including Palace BBQ: an all-you-can-eat mecca of smoky-sweet kalbi, bulgolgi, dak gui...and virtually anything else you could wish for. One buffet line was devoted to the raw, marinated meat, another held roughly 30 types of banchan (side dishes), and the table in the back served the mundane -- but necessary -- rice and soup. The first few visits we focused our efforts primarily on the meats and banchan, but on the fourth visit, I wandered past the soup tureens to see if there was anything I was missing.
And then I found it: an enormous vat of dark green, rich-smelling broth imbued with undulating strands of wakame seaweed and bits of tender beef. I scooped up two bowls, and a love was born. Fortunately, it's incredibly easy to make, so on cold nights (as most are here in San Francisco), I can whip up a pot to serve alongside our favorite meats or even for a simple dinner with rice and the ubiquitous banchan. Read on for the recipe.
In the world of comfort food, braised short ribs are about as comforting as it gets. Nothing beats soft, fall-off-the-bone meat nestled in a rich jus of vegetables, red wine and a hefty helping of fresh herbs. Well, almost nothing.
A few subtle substitutions, as I found, make a world of a difference. Add a twinge of heat by swapping tomato paste for lightly toasted arbol chiles. Replacing the red wine with beer helps to tenderize the meat and gives the sauce a more complex, oaty flavor. Now those are some short ribs that will put anyone at ease.
Read on for the recipe.