Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Korean Burritos: On being humiliated and then feeling better.

For Luke House Church, forever my willing guinea pigs.

I spend most of my days doing things I'm good at.  I'm good at getting breakfast together and kids out the door (albeit not always as smoothly as I would like, but I get the job done) and I'm good at cooking good and nutritious foods for my family and then posting, what I would like to think are helpful blog posts so that others can cook.  I'm good at making coffee and I'm good at updating on facebook.  I'd like to even venture to say that I'm good at driving.  I get the kids safely around our small town all in one piece.  I'm good at these things.

This week however, I tried to do something I am not good at.  What I mean by not good at is this - I absolutely stink.  I am teaching myself how to sew.  I am learning how to sew.  I'm struggling with the sewing thing and it is for sure one of the more humbling experiences of my life.  I will never consider the shorts that I toss on the floor so irreverently as an inconsequential piece of clothing again, because sewing is HARD.  It surely doesn't help that two of my friends have beautiful crafty blogs and both are excellent at sewing.  (See their work here and here.) In fact those two same friends insisted that I could pick up sewing and I would like it and I would be eventually good at it.  They promised me it was easy and encouraged me along the way, trying to help me troubleshoot.

But the first tries at sewing were not that successful for me.  To the point where I really got frustrated.  I spend most of my day doing things I'm good at, like drinking coffee and to do something hard was simply mind-boggling and blinding.  My sewing machine kept on getting tangled, I couldn't cut a straight line, I couldn't sew a straight seam, and everything that I did had to be done more than once. And I was humbled.  And humiliated.  As I sat in front of my sewing machine, with the manual (written in Spanish) trying to figure out what was going wrong, I thought to myself, this is TOO hard and not worth it.  I considered re-selling the machine because clearly I wasn't cut out for it and it was too hard to do.

In the end, after several long excruciating hours, I managed to complete a small project.  I didn't complete it all on my own however as Mom-in-law came to the rescue and helped me finish the edges, which I felt ill-equipped to do on my own.  She did graciously compliment me on my work, saying that for a first project it was excellent.  I think her own expert touch at the end is what helped it come together, but no matter.  I'll take the compliment and keep it in my purse to whip out the next time I struggle at the sewing machine.

After all the struggle, it really made me want to sit and do something that I could do - and well.  I can make food.  I can think of something that I want to make, and I can execute it with a decent success rate.  Don't let the blog fool you -there are failures that happen in my kitchen - I just don't publicize them.  However, my success rate IS higher than the failure rate so I thought I'd go back to what I know better, cooking.

And the project was a Korean burrito an idea that has been brewing in my head since friends SS and CY told me that they had had one from a Korean taco/burrito truck and that it wasn't good.  They both said to me, "You could do one that is so much better."  And it really made me want to make one that was good. It did require quite a bit of thinking and two rounds of edits but now I'm happy with it.  I'm especially grateful that the burrito doesn't require any sewing (although the aluminum foil wrapped around it really does help keep it together.)

You will need to plan ahead as you want to marinate the meat for at least 8 hours, if not overnight, but I know that this will make a great party meal.
Korean Burritos
Serves 4 (but easily expandable...make your own burrito bar.)

1 lb Korean marinated flank steak, cooked and rested.

Mixed Greens
1 head of romaine lettuce (or any other lettuce) shredded
3 scallions cut thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cucumbers chopped
The vegetables can be left separately (if you anticipate picky eaters who don't like certain greens like cilantro or cucumber) or you can just toss it all together. 

Spicy Sauce
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seed

Mix all ingredients in a bowl to combine.  Set aside until needed.

Kimchee Fried Rice
1 cup kimchee finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups cooked white rice

Heat a fry pan over medium heat.  Add vegetable oil, kimchee, ginger and garlic, and cook until kimchee is softened and translucent.  Time will vary on this based on the ripeness of the kimchee, but anywhere between 4-8 minutes.  Add sesame oil and cooked white rice and continue mixing until the kimchee is evenly distributed through the rice and the rice is colored pink.  Set aside. (cover to keep warm if necessary.)

For Assembly
Tortillas (burrito sized)
Kimchee Fried Rice
Cooked Flank, sliced across the grain
Shredded cheddar cheese
Mixed Greens
Spicy sauce

On a plain tortilla lay a small mound of kimchee fried rice, about 1/2 a cup. Lay on top of it a layer of sliced flank steak.

Sprinkle cheese on top.

Top with mixed greens.

Finish with spicy sauce.

Good luck wrapping! (I found it useful to rely on a piece of tin foil to help.  If you do a party of burritos, have cut up tin foil ready to go to facilitate wrapping the burrito.)

Printable recipe
Wrapping in foil helps keep it together

Sambal Oelek - available at your local Asian supermarket.  In a good grocery store with a good Asian products aisle, you'll find it there as well.


Arielle said...

rephypOMG you are making me feel hungry at midnight!! They look so YUM-O!

Aros said...

what is sambal oelek? can you find that at a korean store?

Joanne Choi said...

Arielle - you can make them! Pretty easy (aside from having the meat marinaded)

Aros - Sambal Oelek is sold at the Korean store. I will post a link above so you can see what it is.

unjung said...

it looks super delicious!! maybe i will venture to try to make...

Sandy said...

How much of a difference in taste would there be if I took out the cheese? There are dairy allergies in my family. Can I substitute schriracha (sp?) sauce? They don't carry Sambal Oelek anywhere in my city.

Joanne Choi said...

Go ahead and substitute sriracha sauce...which is slightly sweeter and tangier than the sambal. It will work. Maybe Sandy, your parents can bring you some when they come visit? :)

No need for the's a slight flavor addition but it doesn't overwhelm, nor is it the main component.

Helen said...

this looks ridiculously good!

Joy said...

Great way to make a dish your own.

Aros said...

thanks! is there something special about using flank? i notice you use it a lot. can you just use marinated kalbi meat instead for the burrito etc?

Joanne Choi said...

Aros - sure use regular kalbi! Flank is slightly cheaper and easier to prepare (dunking one or two pieces of meat in marinade as opposed to 25.) The flavor is similar although the texture is different. Flank is also more readily available (at Costco and western grocery stores) as opposed to kalbi which requires a special trip to a korean grocery (a bigger deal if you're not Korean.)

The Urban Baker said...

Korean burrito - I'm coming to your house! Everyone says, "you are so good at everything". Not so, I can't sew a straight line! Stick to what you are good at!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joanne,
your willingness to try new things remind me of Seth Godin's article:

Thanks Again for sharing all your recipes.

Joanne Choi said...

Anonymous...thank you for that link to Seth Grodin's article. I started laughing. Clearly I'm in the zone where the hassle out lives the joy, but I have a green dot (several) that are egging me on.

Anonymous said...

Hi Thats my BIGGEST concern~ what u say youre good at! making BREAKFAST for the kids in the morning! like as if mornings arent crazy enough! can you give us tips or how and what you prepare for the kids in the mornings?

Eun Joo said...

I tried these yesterday with my mother-in-law and kids and everyone loved them. I didn't have any beef in the house, but I did have some leftover soy sauce chicken, which I shredded and put into the burrito. Fantastic recipe! Thanks.

Hotel Fullerton said...

These look absolutely amazing... I want to eat one!

peter said...

looks good

Kevin said...

These burritos sound so good!

Miya said...

Looks absolutely delicious and just love the whole Korean and Mexican fusion..

J Davis Studio said...

I've made these a couple times already and I'm planning number 3 soon. They're amazing! Definitely one of my boyfriend's and my favorite meals! I had never had kimchi before but we just moved next to a Korean market that makes their own and now I buy it all the time. I put it on top of baked potatoes with a fried egg, and last night I made kimchi dumplings. Anyway, thanks for the great recipe and starting my love of Korean food !

Jennifer said...

These look amazing. I love Korean food and love sambal and kim chee. my favorite thing to put on rice. said...

Pretty helpful material, much thanks for this article.


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