Spicy Cold Buckwheat Noodles, Spicy-Sweet Shredded Squid, and Soy and Sesame Spinach

This week we are eating food from Korea. I love Korean food. I say that with having only eaten beef bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchi, and japchae BUT I love everything I’ve eaten. My cousin’s wife is from South Korea and every time she posts their meals on FB, I’m left drooling and wondering if moving back to Uvalde would be worth it just to be able to eat dinner with them on a weekly basis. Fyi, it wouldn’t be. Based on what Sujin has posted and the few meals I’ve eaten, I knew we had to do Korean food for this project. James and I were giddy about it all weekend.

Koreatown: a Cookbook came out earlier this year and I’ve had my eye on it since. It got on my radar when Food 52 named it one of the best cookbooks to come out this year and honestly, the cover is what got me. I totally judge books by their covers, literally. I don’t do it with people so I at least have one redeeming quality. But yes, the cover of the book is very simple yet appealing. Look at it! Very basic black, no crazy font or a chef holding a bowl of rice, it really lets the food speak for itself. I loves it. And I mean it, I really love this cookbook. It’s the first book during this entire project where I’ve sat and read through the entire thing. Well, not the entire thing, there were some interviews that bored me, but I’ve read most of it. The tone is very conversational and it doesn’t treat cooking or food as something precious. There’s no pretension about it, they are making food that you like to eat because it’s good. Not because it’s trendy or has some hard to find ingredient, it’s just good food. I cannot recommend this enough.

Which is why I won’t be sharing the recipes. I really want people to check this book out. It’s not terribly expensive, $30 at Barnes and Noble, and I think it’s a great book to have if you like cooking and like eating. If you are really not into buying it, check out the preview on Google Books. I’m not saying you can Google the names of the recipes and they come up on Google Books. I’m not saying that at all.

This meal was kinda just thrown together. I ran out of time this week and didn’t plan my meals but I did earmark all the recipes I wanted to makein the book. I was running short on time Tuesday because I spent so much time grocery shopping so I just went through the book, found three recipes that didn’t require marination or a two hour fermentation, and made them. I’ll be doing the same today because, ugh, you don’t care why. So yeah, these meals were pretty quick. Most of the work was in the prep. I had to chop a good amount of veggies so I’ve decided my next tool purchase will be a mandolin slicer. I also forgot to set the rice cooker to the “Quick Cook” option when making the rice so it took a little longer than usual to get our rice. If I use the “White Rice” setting, it takes over an hour to make two cups of rice. Hello rice cooker? I need rice now! Haha, I need it rice now! Lame joke.

The buckwheat noodles were good but they did remind me a lot of the Indonesian Gado Gado in terms of fresh veggies. Although instead of a delicious peanut sauce, we ate a molten lava based chilie sauce. Gochujang does not mess around! The spinach was fine as well but it wasn’t anything special. The belle of the ball was the squid. Oh man, I loved that squid so much! I didn’t know what to expect with dried squid because I’ve never had squid except in bento boxes. It’s very chewy and I can’t say it’s my favorite. I don’t like it when my jaw hurts from chewing so hard. The scent from stir frying it wasn’t all that appealing either; my kitchen smelled very fishy and at one point James walked in and said “Oh, wow, um, that’s strong…” and walked out. When it was finally time to eat, I took a deep breath and shoved some squid in my mouth.

The burning. So.much.burning. I know I’ve mentioned it before but I’m not a fan of spicy food. It’s not that I don’t like the flavor or that the heat bothers me that much, I just physically can’t take it. “You just said the heat doesn’t bother you” It doesn’t hurt me but it does numb my mouth. Seriously, anything hotter than a banana pepper and my tongue and lips go numb so I’m not able to enjoy the full flavor of the food. I recently looked into this and apparently it doesn’t happen to everyone so that explains why some people can eat a ghost pepper and continue eating while I eat a quarter of a jalapeno and have to chug warm water just so I can taste the rest of my meal. Also, if you are eating spicy food, drink warm water, not cold. Warm water lifts the oils off your tongue while cold water sets them in. Science!

The squid was delicious! It was spicy and sweet and so, so chewy! But it didn’t make my jaw sore! The only way I can describe it is that it’s like the small nuggets of batter in General Tso’s chicken. You know what I’m talking about. The itty bitty pieces of batter that always get thrown in with the rest of the chicken and are crunchy yet chewy? That’s what this squid was like. And I can’t wait to make more of it. I’m not joking when I say this will be a snack staple from here on out. It took all of fifteen minutes to make and it was amazing. You need this squid in your life.

And if you’re wondering, the girls ate sandwiches. I was not in the mood to hear about how spicy everything was.

I can’t wait for the rest of the week!

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