Our Korean themed cooking day was coming up, and I was armed with a list of Korean words that could either turn out tasty or go horribly, horribly wrong. I don’t know. I know next to nothing about Korean food because our go-to Asian cuisine for cooking at home is usually Thai.
Banchan is the Korean term for a variety of small dishes served as an aside with a main dish or a bowl of rice. Many times when dining at Korean restaurants, your waiter will deliver banchan to your table after you’ve ordered and while you are waiting for your food to arrive. They are always set in the middle of the table and meant to be shared. In some ways, banchan reminds me of the amuse-bouche often seen in many of the more high-end American and European restaurants.
As a half-assed gardener with a strong brown thumb, the one thing I manage to successfully grow year after year is a surplus of zucchini. Don’t ask me why – I have no clue. Perhaps it’s the winning combination of neglect and a moist, rainy climate. At any rate, each year I have more zucchini than I could ever possibly eat, and a freezer full of shredded zucchini that takes up space. One can eat only so much zucchini bread, after all.
What the heck is risotto and how does it do that thing it does? Hey, I though rice was an Asian thing, not Italian? Ok, here’s a quick breakdown for you. Risotto is indeed an Italian rice dish, more specifically a Northern Italian rice dish. Usually round, medium or short grain, the most common types of rice used for making risotto are Aborio, Carnaroli, Maratelli and Vialone Nano. You’ll have the most luck finding Aborio in American grocery store, but the latter three are truly the best when it comes to a killer risotto.
Vietnamese food is one of my favorite, and perhaps one of the more interesting, cuisines of Southeast Asia. Although Vietnam was originally part of Imperial China, the French swooped in during the early 19th Century, colonized the entire country, and introduced their cooking style to the locals. By 1954 the locals had kicked the French oppressors back out of their homeland, but the fusion of both foods and languages stuck like a porcupine in bubble wrap.
It was the sort of dessert you would eat in a log cabin in a plaid flannel shirt after spending all winter growing a beard that might rival your chest hairs. The sort of dessert you would want after wrestling bears and spearing fish through a tiny hole in the ice.