The storm of the decade was predicted to hit Belmont last Wednesday evening. Knowing that these large storms are cyclical, and for once having some sense of preparation, I had our gutters cleaned out a couple of months ago. Normally, my hubby and I work as a team to clear out the gutters on our house; he yanks decomposed leaves from the channels as I stand below him stabilizing the ladder. As you can imagine, it’s not a good scene and we usually throw in the towel mid-job with only about 30 % of the gutters purged. Better to have semi-clean gutters than a broken marriage. But this year, I actually saved a landscaping card wrapped around a pebble that was cleverly thrown in front of my door. “Clean gutters,” it read, along with other gardening jobs that would make an incredible Christmas gift list for me. And clean gutters, they did, and I felt a bit shameful when they showed me all the debris(compost) pulled out of our gutters at the end. Yes, my hubby and I should not do this on our own, for clearly, we have been failing.
The only thing I had left to do for #stormageddon preparations, was to stock up on groceries. I purchased a collection of canned items, jarred sauces, peanut butter, and of course, cabbage, which were piled a mile high at the local market on Tuesday. The incredible versatile celadon vegetable stays fresh long past the prime of many other vegetables, and as evidenced by the abundant advertising at the market, it’s the perfect food to buy before a gigantic storm.
Luckily, we didn’t suffer any flooding on our street when the storm finally died down to a shower. It rained non-stop for about 24 hours between Thursday and Friday, and I wanted nothing more than to curl up on our sofa with some decadent hot chocolate, watching a marathon of syrupy holiday movies. But with two middle school concerts scheduled during the storm, our entire family sans the dog, had to wrestle our way to the school gym/concert hall while trying desperately to stay dry. And my son, who had recently discovered the benefits of using hair gel, had also uncovered the ugly truth behind the combination of rain and styled hair. Why bother?
When the weekend finally arrived, I was in no mood to clean up the branches and leaves strewn all around our yard, nor was I going to go to the market. But the cabbage still looked crispy and fresh, and so using a few ingredients from the fridge and cupboard, I made a winter rice bowl, using bibimbap(Korean mixed rice dish) as inspiration. No, we haven’t jumped forward a couple of weeks, as winter begins December 21st this year, but I will take some liberties here given our current cold wet weather we’ve experienced.
Most of the winter bowl ingredients can be made ahead–even the rice, which can be cooked the day before, refrigerated, and then microwaved. Although the flank steak gets better sitting in the marinade for day or two, it (along with the fried egg) should be cooked right before serving. But all the other components can be made ahead, and instead of serving it assembled, have your guests create their own bowls. And as the hostess or host, sit back with a beer and enjoy the party.
Kochujang (Korean chili paste) is an essential ingredient in this dish, and can be found in most Asian markets.They are usually sold in plastic red rectangular containers. Sweeter and thicker than Sriracha sauce, it is used regularly in Korean recipes. Store kochujang in the fridge, and it will stay fresh for months, long after all the cabbage has been eaten.
- 1/2 cabbage shredded
- 10 ounces of sliced mushrooms (any meaty variety)
- 1 medium daikon (about foot and a half long)
- 1 pound of flank steak
- 4 eggs
- cooked sticky rice for four (about 2 cups of uncooked short or medium grain Asian rice)
- 2 tbs plus 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbs white sugar
- 1/4 c rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbs white vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/2 cup kochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1 tbs kochukaru (Korean chili flakes)
- 1 tbs sesame oil (optional)
- Plus vegetable oil for sauteing
- Take flank steak and place on cutting board. Have the meat striations run horizontally on the board. Slice thinly. (Freezing the steak for 30 minutes before slicing makes it easier to cut into thin pieces.)
- Marinate steak slices with 1 tbs. brown sugar, 2 tbs soy sauce and minced garlic. (Place in the fridge for up to 2 days.)
- Cut daikon into three parts, and then slice into matchsticks. Place in a colander and combine the daikon with 2 tbs of salt. Leave in a sink to drain for 30 minutes. Rinse daikon sticks with water, gently squeeze out excess water, and place in a bowl. Combine daikon with 1 tbs kochukaru, 1 tbs white sugar, 1/4 c rice wine vinegar, and 1 tbs white vinegar. (If making ahead, place in fridge for up to 2 days.)
- Kochujang sauce: Dissolve 1/2 tbs of white sugar in 3 tbs of hot water, and combine with 1/2 c of kochujang. Add 1 tbs sesame oil or vegetable oil to the sauce. (Keeps in the fridge for a week. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
- In a skillet or wok, heat pan on high. Add vegetable oil to coat pan, and saute mushrooms for two minutes or until mushrooms have lost moisture and begin to caramelize. Add 1/2 tsp of salt at the end. Place mushrooms in a bowl. Swipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.
- Add more oil to the skillet to coat. On medium high, cook shredded cabbage for 2-3 minutes or until fully cooked. Add 1/2 tsp of salt at the end. Place in a bowl, and swipe skillet clean again.
- Add more oil to coat the skillet. Raise heat to high, and cook marinated steak for 2 minutes or just until meat is fully cooked. Place in a bowl.
- Just before serving, fry up eggs.
- To assemble: Place a small mound of rice in a large bowl. Have guests place toppings on the rice. Place a fried egg on top of rice bowl, and serve with kochujang sauce.