Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September 6, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Korean Peppers

Cooking With This Week's Box:

Leeks: Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below); Alice Water’s Classic Potato Leek Soup

Korean Peppers: Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see below); Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below)

Variety of Tomatoes: Cream of Tomato Soup

Green Top Red BeetsRoasted Beet & Avocado Salad
Orange Italian Frying Peppers & Red Bell Peppers: Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Linguine

It’s been an eventful week to say the least!  While the rain fell Monday night, I distracted myself by experimenting with the Korean chiles in my kitchen!  I hope you’ll take the time to read this week’s article about Korean peppers and consider trying the recipes for Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce (see below).  These are great condiments to have in your refrigerator and I offer several resources in the article for finding recipes and ideas for how to use them.  You can also use this chile in the recipe for Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger (see below).  It seems like gentle, delicate leeks and hot chiles are on different ends of the spectrum, but they actually complement each other quite nicely in this dish.  This recipe calls for tofu, but you could make it with chicken if you prefer.

If you don’t use the leeks to make the stir-fry, then you might want to use them to make Alice Water’s Classic Potato Leek Soup.  Her recipe calls for yellow potatoes, but I specifically included the Purple Viking potatoes in this week’s box because I think they’re one of the best varieties for this soup!

Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad, photo from Food & Wine
This week we are fortunate to have avocados in the fruit share.  Avocados and beets pair together very nicely in dishes such as this Roasted Beet & Avocado Salad.  Don’t throw away the green tops!  Wilt them with in olive oil and use them as the base for serving this salad.

I have been craving roasted red peppers and this is the week to make this recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo with Linguine.  While the recipe calls for roasted peppers from a jar, please do yourself a favor and roast your orange Italian frying peppers and/or red bell peppers for this recipe!  This recipe also includes onions as the base and this week’s sweet yellow onions will really enhance this dish.

I shared some edamame with a friend last week who had never had them before.  As I was telling her how to cook them I mentioned how when you roast them you can add different seasonings.  In my early days at the farm, I created this recipe for Wasabi-Roasted Edamame to honor Richard’s love of wasabi.  This makes a nice little snack in the afternoon.

Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Photo from Land of Noms
It’s supposed to be a cool week, so this is the week to make Cream of Tomato Soup with fresh tomatoes!  Serve a bowl of this tasty soup along with a Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich and you’re set for a light lunch or dinner.

Hopefully you still have a little fresh basil remaining in your herb garden.  If so, pick a little and use it to make this recipe for Pesto Stir-Fried Carrots, Cauliflower & Cherry (Grape) Tomatoes.  This dish makes use of some of your carrots as well as cauliflower (or substitute broccoli Romanesco) and the grape tomatoes in this week’s box. Serve this dish as a vegetable side to go along with grilled chicken or fish.

I hope you enjoy this week’s cooking adventures.  Lets cross our fingers that we’ll be able to harvest peppers and tomatoes for a few more weeks, but it’s also time to start preparing your plans for some of our favorite fall vegetables!  Spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, Kabocha squash, celeriac and more still coming your way!—Chef Andrea 

Exploring a new ingredient, HVF Korean Peppers

By Chef Andrea

Dang Jo Cheong Yang pepper photo from the
Osborne Seed catalog.
This week your CSA boxes include a beautiful bright red Korean Pepper called Dang Jo Cheong Yang.  Every year we look for some new, interesting vegetables to grow.  Last winter, as we were pouring over seed catalogs, this pepper caught my eye.  The picture in the Osborne Seed catalog showed a long, dark purple pepper that looked to be pretty prolific.  They described it as “a unique Asian pepper that is similar in pungency and appearance to a serrano. The fruit are purple in color and ripen to a deep dark red color. They are easy to harvest and uniform. Outstanding yield and good ripening ability in the Pacific Northwest make this a nice addition to a hot pepper program.”  We thought it would be fun to try something new and we don’t have any purple peppers so why not give it a try!  We have found that the plants are very prolific producers and just as the picture shows, they set on quite a lot of dark purple peppers.  Our next mission was to decide when to harvest them.  Since we’ve never experienced this pepper before we are basically doing our best to assess the qualities of the pepper at different stages and make our best judgements as to when it’s at its peak of ripeness.  I started trialing this pepper when it was just purple and found that it really didn’t have much flavor.  It tasted like a very green hot pepper.  Nothing really remarkable about it.  So we decided to let it ripen more and see what happened.  Now that they are fully red, the flavor has really changed and it not only has heat, but a much more complex flavor than when it was green.

As with every new vegetable we grow, we not only have to figure out how to grow it and when to harvest it, but we also have to figure out how to best put it to use in the kitchen.  Before we go any further, I should offer the disclaimer that I am very much a novice when it comes to the cuisine of most countries in Asia.  Yes, I had “Cuisines of Asia” in culinary school and I have a handful of Japanese, Thai and Chinese cookbooks, but I have to admit that I’m not very familiar with many of the cooking techniques and ingredients that are used in these cultures.  I’m also not familiar with the languages of this part of the world, so I just assumed this was probably some sort of a pepper from China.  I started researching more about this pepper, starting with the seed company.  Unfortunately they didn’t have much to offer beyond the description in their catalog.  When I looked up the name of the pepper, it actually pointed me in the direction of Korean cuisine.  So, based on my research I have concluded that this is likely a pepper variety coming to us from Korea.  Aside from knowing a few people from Korea and eating kim chi, I am not very familiar with the cuisine of Korea.  Thus began another culinary food adventure!  So for those of you who are in the same boat as I am and don’t know much about Korean cooking and ingredients, I’m going to do my best to share some of the information I learned from my research.  If you have more experience with Korean food and have additional information to share with me, I’d welcome your input, recipes and culinary expertise.

Gouchujang I brought home from Minneapolis
last winter.
One basic thing I learned about Korean cuisine is that it includes quite a lot of fermented foods as well as spicy hot foods.  Korean cuisine and its influence on food and cooking in the United States has been growing over the past few years as we see Korean influences crossing over into dishes from other origins, such as Korean tacos and pizza.  I suspect Chef Roy Choi holds some responsibility for this influence based on the success of his food truck business in Los Angeles, California that started with a Korean short rib taco and has now grown to include multiple food trucks as well as a catering business, restaurant and many features in cooking magazines and other media outlets.  Chefs and home cooks are taking some basic Korean ingredients and cooking techniques and applying them to other preparations.  One of these ingredients is called gochujang.  Gochujang is a savory, sweet, spicy condiment used in Korean cuisine.  It is considered a backbone ingredient to Korean cooking and one source I read likened it to sriracha mixed with miso, but with a more complex flavor.  Traditional gochujang takes quite a while to make because the complexity of its flavor comes from a fermenting process.  It’s made with glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, salt and the traditional dried Korean peppers.  If you’re interested in learning more about how this is made, you can find more description and pictures on this blog written by a Korean woman who is a simple home cook sharing the cuisine of her country.  Gochujang is used as a condiment in sauces, soups, dipping sauces, marinades and with roasted meats.  I am seeing this ingredient more in some of my cooking magazines, although I have limited experience using it and have not seen it in any of our local stores.  Last winter when I was in Minneapolis for sales meetings I found a jar of gochujang at one of the food co-ops.  It wasn’t organic, but it was made with non-GMO soybeans so I picked up a jar so I could see what it was like.  I have only used it once, but am glad I have a jar of it now that I’m learning more about what it actually is!

So back to the little bag of peppers in your box this week.  First of all, I want to make sure everyone understands that this is a hot pepper, with the heat level similar to a serrano pepper.  You can use this pepper anywhere you might need a fresh hot chile and I have been using it in recipes that call for jalapenos as well as fresh Thai chiles.  They have added a nice background heat to fresh salsas, scrambled eggs, Thai curry dishes and fried rice.  If you prefer less heat, just use a portion of the pepper or remove the seeds and white pith.  As with all hot chile peppers, handle them carefully and don’t rub your eyes with your hands for awhile after handling them!

Chile Ristra, photo from
In Korea, this pepper is often used as a dried chile.  This makes sense because it has a thinner wall which means it dries very easily.  I’ve actually dried some that have just been hanging out on my countertop, but you could also intentionally dry them in a dehydrator or low heat oven.  You could also use them to make a beautiful dried chile ristra.  Checkout this website for a step-by step guide for how to make a chile ristra.  You can string up the fresh chiles and hang them in your kitchen to dry naturally.  Once they are dried you can use them as a dried chile pepper including grinding them with a spice grinder to make hot chile flakes.  If you aren’t into hot peppers, you could also enjoy your dried chile ristra just as a decoration in your kitchen or use it as a Christmas gift for someone who does like a spicy culinary adventure!

This week we’re featuring two different recipes that use these Korean peppers in their fresh form.  The first recipe is for Salt-Cured Chiles.  I’ve made these before using a fresh Thai chile that is actually very similar to these Korean chiles.  This is a quick, easy way to preserve your chiles and I like it for several reasons.  First, all you need are the chiles and salt.  Second, if you use a food processor this recipe will take you maybe 10 minutes to make, including clean up.  Third, these chiles will keep in your refrigerator for months and retain that fresh chile flavor.  You don’t need much to add heat to dishes, so a little jar can last quite a long time.  You can use them to add heat to stir-fries, marinades, sauces or use them to make your own homemade hot sauce.

Korean Tacos
photo from KIMCHIMARI
The second recipe is for a preparation I’m calling HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce.  It’s based off of a recipe that is a quick version of gochujang that anyone can make at home.  This is another quick and easy recipe to make.  I think it only took me about 10-15 minutes to make it and clean up.  This sauce will keep for a couple weeks in the refrigerator or you can portion it into smaller containers and freeze it.  Traditional gochujang is a thick paste, but this sauce made with fresh chiles is more of a sauce and less of a paste.  The flavor of traditionally fermented gochujang is more complex, so I don’t want to misrepresent this recipe as the way to make traditional gochujang.  I do think this is a really tasty chili-garlic sauce and it can be used in any recipe that calls for gochujang.  It is pretty spicy, so when you use it in recipes, adjust the quantity to the amount that fits your tastes.  If you’re interested in learning more about how this condiment can be used, I’d encourage you to check out the blog I mentioned earlier that includes recipes such as Korean Tacos.  There is also a nice article entitled “10 Fresh Ways to Use Korean Gochujang.”

I had a lot of fun learning more about this pepper and a little more about Korean cooking.  I hope you have fun experimenting with this pepper in your own kitchens.  I invite you to share your experiences in our Facebook group so we can all learn a little more about this pepper as well as experiment with different recipes and ways to use our own homemade Salt-Cured Chiles and HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce!  Have fun and thanks for trying something new!

Salt-Cured Chiles

Yield:  ½ cup

4 oz fresh Korean peppers
1 Tbsp kosher salt
  1. Thinly slice peppers with a knife or roughly chop them and then use a food processor to chop the peppers into smaller pieces.  If you use a food processor, process just enough to coarsely chop the peppers.  You do not want to make pepper paste or puree. 
  2. Put the peppers in a small bowl and add the salt.  Mix very well with a spoon.  Cover the bowl with a plate or a clean kitchen towel and leave out at room temperature for 24 hours. 
  3. After 24 hours, move the bowl to the refrigerator and mix the peppers once a day for 5 days, or until the salt has dissolved and the now softened chiles are completely covered in liquid. 
  4. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid, tamping the chiles down so that they remain well  below the level of the liquid.  These will keep for several months in the refrigerator.
This recipe was adapted from Andrea Reusing’s book, Cooking in the Moment, although she credit’s Fuchsia Dunlop (author of Land of Plenty) with this simple method for preserving chiles for use long into the winter months.  Reusing suggests pureeing some of the salted chiles along with cider vinegar, garlic, and a little sugar to make your own hot sauce.  Of course you can use these chiles anywhere you need a little heat. Add them to soups, stews, marinades, stir-fry, dipping sauces, vinaigrettes, etc.

HVF Fresh Korean Chili-Garlic Sauce

Yield: 1 cup

4 oz fresh Korean peppers
4 cloves garlic
⅓ cup miso
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
  1. Remove the stem and roughly chop Korean peppers into one inch pieces.  Put the peppers in a food processor or blender along with the garlic cloves and roughly chop them until they are a fine, yet chunky paste. 
  2. Add the miso, maple syrup, and tamari.  Blend together until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavor as needed to your liking.  Add tamari for more depth of flavor, maple syrup for more sweetness, garlic to get more “zing” or salt if it just needs a little enhancement to wake up all the other flavors.
  4. Put the sauce in a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Alternatively, you can freeze it in smaller portions as a means of preserving it for later use. 
Note:  You may use this in place of the Korean fermented chili paste called gochujang.  It’s pretty hot, so a little bit will go a long way!

Recipe adapted from

Chile & Leek Stir-Fry with Ginger

Yield:  4 servings

8 oz firm tofu (drained)*

3 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp sherry or dry vermouth
2 tsp honey
⅔ cup vegetable stock
2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
3-4 leeks, thinly sliced
1 red Korean pepper, sliced thinly
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Cut tofu into cubes.  Combine the soy sauce and sherry or vermouth in a medium bowl.  Add the tofu and stir to make sure the tofu is well coated.  Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes. 
  2. Strain the tofu from the marinade and reserve the marinade and juices in a measuring cup.  Mix the marinade with the honey, stock, and cornstarch to make a paste. 
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and when hot, stir-fry the tofu until crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Reheat the oil and add the chili, ginger and leeks.  Stir-fry over high heat for about 2 minutes, moving the vegetables frequently to keep them from burning.  Stir-fry just until the leeks have softened. 
  5. Return the tofu to the pan together with the marinade and stir well.  Continue to simmer the mixture, while stirring frequently, until the liquid is thick and glossy.  Serve hot over rice or egg noodles.
*Note:  You may also substitute chicken breast meat for tofu.

This recipe was adapted from Christine Ingram’s book, Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking:  The definitive encyclopedia of healthy vegetarian food.

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