We’ve all been there- trying to find a way out, to find something, anything that will lift the Dinnertime Doldrums. Recently I’ve been in a major food rut. Nothing sounded tasty, fun, easy, etc. So I tried one of those ingredient-delivery services. Not a pre-prepared meal service but a service that decides what you will cook and sends you the ingredients all packaged up nicely along with simple recipe cards. Since the company was new to town I got a major discount too. This post isn’t a review of that service (don’t get me wrong, the service was great!); this post is about reawakening my desire to cook, my desire to try new things and finally seeing the light at the end of the Dinnertime Doldrum tunnel!
I received ingredients for Korean Turkey Steam Buns with Easy Kimchi. OK, confession time: I have never cooked Korean food. Korean cuisine is something I have had other people prepare for me and I’ve paid for them to do so. And I can probably count the number of times I’ve done that on one hand… So to say I was feeling a little intimidated is an understatement. Steam buns? Kimchi? Really?? In 30 minutes??? Well guess what- Yep, I did it! I sliced, I grated, I minced, I sauteed, I steamed, I ate! Ahh.Maze.Ing. And yeah, I did it in 35 minutes. Granted I think this was definitely a Westernized version and I’m sure true kimchi takes longer than 20 minutes, but that’s not the point. The point is I needed something to awaken the curiosity behind cooking, pull me out of the rut of what to make for dinner. There is something (not to be dramatic butkindaifyadon’tmind) powerful about trying something new and getting outside of your comfort zone in the kitchen.
One of the ingredients in the kimchi was in a little bag and labeled “gochugaru”.
“What?” – me pulling ingredients out of the box.
So I did what anyone would do and googled. Gochugaru is a red chilli pepper flake/powder and almost looked like it had crystals. It’s the spice that gives Korean cuisine it’s fiery deliciousness and I am now a believer. At first glance, it looks similar to crushed red pepper flakes but upon closer inspection you will see those crystals. With some trepidation, I put a bit of the spice on my tongue not knowing what to expect- would it be immediate fire in my mouth? would I break out in hives from the heat? Yeah, neither of those things happened. In words that can’t describe, gochugaru is not crushed red pepper flakes you find in a packet from the pizza place. It is more complex- smoky but sweet, with a gradual burn in a pleasing way. From what I understand, there’s different heat levels of gochugaru so be mindful of that when shopping.
Trying this new spice inspired me to keep branching out. I’m definitely going to put this easy kimchi in my regular rotation- cool and spicy sweet- yum! But I’m also curious how I can do some Korean-American fusion. I was *supposed* to be writing about potato salad for the Fourth of July- I make the same recipe every year. This year I’m gonna hold some of the salad aside and toss in a palmful of this fun, new (to me!) spice and see what happens.
Feeling in a food rut yourself? Check out a new food blog, go to the library and peruse the cookbook section, ask a friend what they’ve made or eaten that’s worth sharing, look up different variations on a dish that’s one of your standbys.
On that note: What’s something you’ve made lately that’s worth sharing? Tell us in the comments!
Adrien Paczosa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian practicing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding counties.
She is the owner and founder of I Live Well Nutrition her Dietitian practice which started in 2007 and serves clients in the Austin, Texas area in two locations. Fearless Practitioners, the division of her business that offers training to dietitians and wellness professionals.