Friday, August 25, 2017

Every Day with Rachel Maddow

Next time you see short ribs cut like this, buy them.
When it was reported a few years ago that anchorman Brian Williams had disgraced himself, I didn’t even know who Brian Williams was. Brian Williams. Peter Jennings. Tom Brokaw. I couldn’t tell them apart. A blur. I never used to watch TV news.

That’s changed in recent months. I try (and often fail) to avoid Twitter for most of the day because Trump makes me insane, but as a reward I now let myself turn on the TV at six p.m. for one big bolus of news. Sometimes if I’m tired I turn on the TV at five, but usually I stay off the sofa until Rachel Maddow. I love Rachel Maddow. I know she’s not impartial and I can see how her mannerisms and discursive wind-ups could drive a person nuts, but that person isn’t me. She’s brilliant and incredibly energetic but at the same time she appears to be friendly and nice. If it is an act, it’s a great act. 

So I sit there and watch the first chunk of Rachel Maddow which goes on and on and on before any commercial break. That’s the best part of the show, the first 20 minutes. Eventually she cuts to an ad for a hepatitis 3 or psoriasis drug and I run into the kitchen and chop some onions and get the kimchi out of the fridge. When I hear her voice again, I run back to the sofa and watch until the next commercial break, then back to the kitchen to start the rice cooker, back to the sofa, and so on. It gets tiring towards the end because MSNBC seems to run commercials every 90 seconds in the latter half hour of their shows. Did TV news always backload the ads?

By the time Mark walks in the door at seven, dinner is on the table and I have lots to to talk about.

True to my word, I’ve cooked only Korean dishes since Isabel left for Seoul and it turns out that you can prepare an outstanding, simple Korean meal, start to finish, during Rachel Maddow’s commercial breaks. I’ve done it more than once. It helps if you have a rice cooker.

So here’s what I’ve made:

-a fiery red pork stir fry (dwaejigogi-bokkeum) from Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking that I think I’ve recommended before. I will recommend it again. Maangchi’s online recipe isn’t identical to the one in her book, but it’s close. 

-the galbi (short ribs) from Robin Ha’s Cook Korean! (a.k.a. the adorable Korean comic cookbook) were a big hit and I’m trying another galbi recipe tonight. The gist of galbi: marinate short ribs, cook on a hot skillet or grill, serve with a dipping sauce. More on galbi in a future post. Unless you’re a vegetarian, they belong in your repertoire.

-another dish that belongs in your repertoire: Korean sloppy joes from Koreatown. Just the meat part, though, so I need another name for this dish. Instead of serving the meat on buns, I served it on rice and topped it with chopped peanuts. When you want to lose 15 pounds you should always find ways to incorporate peanuts into your pork entrees. Recipe for this irresistible dish at the bottom of the post.

-for mysterious reasons, leftover rice has been accumulating in our refrigerator and kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokum bap) is one delicious way to dispense with it. You could improvise your fried rice obviously, but I used a recipe from Eating Korean by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee that calls for just a little fresh pork to bulk it up. I’ve made this before and thought it was my favorite, but I just spotted the the kimchi fried rice recipe in Koreatown that uses slab bacon. I’m going to like that better. 

-Unless you absolutely hate kimchi, you must try making kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae). IT IS SO EASY. The classic version I made last night from Cook Korean! consists of little more than storebought kimchi, pork and tofu, simmered together briefly in a pot. Big, satisfying flavor. (This recipe is slightly more elaborate, but it looks perfect.) You can put whatever you want in your kimchi stew if pork and tofu do not appeal. Maangchi has a version that uses canned tuna. 

There have been a couple of duds during this second Korean phase, but I’m not going to waste your time with those. 

Here’s the thing: I’ve been making the same handful of straightforward beef and pork dishes again and again and avoiding everything that intimidates me in Korean cuisine. Which is a lot. Next week that’s going to stop. Here’s what intimidates me in Korean cuisine: Beltfish, bellflower root, fernbrake, dried pollock, octopus, dried sweet potato stems, burdock, jellyfish, water dropwort, fermented sardines, raw crabs, fermented skate, pine needles, ox hooves, mung bean jelly, beef heart, aralia roots, fatsia shoots. I’ve also steered clear of the soups served with ice cubes and the cold noodles in soy milk. I’ve mostly avoided the porridges.

Beef heart is a nonstarter, but I don’t see why I couldn’t learn to love, I don’t know, sweet potato stems?

Isabel hasn’t reported on what she’s been eating in Seoul, though today on Snapchat she posted a video of her visit to a cat cafe. A cat cafe tops my list for our Thanksgiving trip to Seoul, right after the raccoon cafe and the DMZ. 

Korean Ground Meat (please help with that name)

This is fantastic. It’s very similar to a Korean ground turkey dish in Nigella Kitchen so I’m 150% confident that ground turkey would make a tasty and healthy substitute for the pig. I’ve made Nigella’s dish a bunch of times and added peas (as she calls for) and spinach (which I prefer) with great success, so you could get some vegetable in there. This recipe comes from Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of the Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta by way of Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard. Slightly adapted by me. 

1 pound ground pork
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5 tablespoons gochujang (
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
big pinch black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil for cooking
rice for serving
chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)

1. In a large bowl, mix pork, ginger, garlic, gochujang, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Let marinate in the refrigerator for as little as an hour or as long as overnight. 

2. Cook the rice however you cook rice.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and saute the onion until soft. Add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally with a spatula, for 5-10 minutes until the meat is done. Serve over rice with chopped peanut garnish. Enough for 4.


  1. In the winter sometimes I mince up a bunch of kimchi and stir fry it with either shredded brussels sprouts or broccoli or cauliflower. It's really easy and looks and tastes festive and complicated. I probably got the idea for it from David Chang.

    I was just in England and France for three weeks wallowing in things I don't normally allow myself to ingest, like croissants, cream tea, rillettes, confit des gesiers, and other extremely wonderful deliciousness. Now it's back to kale and nutritional yeast. So much fun while it lasted...

  2. I'm with you on Rachel & I'm Canadian! I like the investigative journalism of that first 20 min segment. She's just not regurgitating what you've been listening to on all the other shows which start to all sound the same. My husband finds her annoying too. For a nice change to balanced news reporting go to BBC or CBC-they actually talk about what else in going on in the world!

    1. I have found that men dislike Rachel. My husband, my father, my male friends. I find her very reassuring and I'm not sure why.

  3. Korean spaghetti? Korean pork helper? Would that be good over something other than rice? I am not a big rice fan. It looks very good. I am looking forward to the post on galbi.
    I continue to attempt to limit my news intake with varying degrees of success. It's such a downer, every day a downer. I think Rachel Maddow is a respectable news personality, less hyperbolic than many, but I don't watch her much since her show comes on very late here in the central time zone.
    I would not be visiting a cat or racoon (horrors)cafe. The very idea of eating or drinking with that many animals around and jumping on me is abhorrent to me, and I'm an animal lover. Raccoons in the US can be quite aggressive.

    1. I've heard there are cat cafes in the United States now. I'm a little freaked out by raccoons -- we have a bunch in our yard and I avoid them. They're very aggressive.
      Rachel comes on at 6 here, the perfect time.

  4. I intended to visit a hedgehog cafe when I was in Tokyo, but I completely forgot to do it on the only day I had free. I later learned that there was a bengal cat cafe and an owl cafe and I had been in the right area (Harajuku) and completely missed out. But as regrets go, this one is minor.

  5. My husband put a tv in the kitchen, and I almost never watched it until after the election. Now? I watch it pretty much every evening while making dinner.

    1. Yeah. I wish things would get boring again so I didn't feel like I needed to pay attention. I am so anxious all the time.

  6. I like using TV as a way to break up chores but clearly I'm not as speedy as you in the kitchen. And yes, a media diet is a must in these dark days of Orange Foolius.
    Please don't get scratched by raccoons.

    1. Today I wrote a whole crazy schedule for myself because I have so much to do, with frequent podcast-cleaning periods to break up the writing. Write for one hour, clean for one Trumpcast, write for one hour, clean for one Tom Ashbrook. Then, at 6, Rachel.

  7. I made a lot of kimchi years ago -- I liked the David Chang recipe best probably because it was so full of sugar. I haven't gotten back into it, but plan to make some this weekend.

  8. I was intrigued so I looked up David Chang's recipe, and it only had 1 T. of sugar in it. Do you consider that a lot? My kimchi is tangy but not sweet at all, so I thought I would give that recipe a try in future.

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  16. True to my word, I’ve cooked only Korean dishes since Isabel left for Seoul and it turns out that you can prepare an outstanding, simple Korean meal, start to finish, during Rachel Maddow’s commercial breaks. I’ve done it more than once. It helps if you have a rice cooker.

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