Thai Sapa

thai sapa pho My first bowl of pho in Utah! Notice I say Utah and not Salt Lake… that would be because is was actually in Springdale, UT right outside Zion National Park (literally starts where the park ends). Cort and I went for a midweek spontaneous camping trip. Because we can because we are still unemployed. So we packed our bags and drove for 4 long hours. And after google maps directed us to the WRONG DEAD END entrance (aka Kolob Canyon) we finally made it. And it was a lovely day. Blue skies with scattered clouds. Not too hot, fairly windy.

We hiked up the three Falls right across from the Lodge. I unfortunately had a severely hard time due to elevation acclimation (or lack thereof) and we had to take many more rests than usual. But we made it to the Big Falls and took a nice long relax on some boulders, staring through the trees, tuning out the HORDES of people and children.  And since it was a particularly strenuous hike we took it easy the rest of the evening and went for THAI!

I ordered a pot of delicious green tea and of course the pho.  Cort ordered Tom Kha and thai tea. It was all delicious. The pho was delicately seasoned and had a decent amount of vegetables (though it could have used more chicken.) It was rejuevenating and refreshing and filling. The perfect meal for a first day of hiking.

Jjajangmyeon!

IMG_1960 (2)This is an Asian noodle dish that I learned about from my fascination with Korean culture and kdramas.

This is a Korean dish. It is also a Chinese dish. It is, in fact, a Korean Chinese-fast food dish. Very popular in Korea. Also one of the traditional dishes for those who spend Valentine’s Day alone! (I mean it’s just too messy for date food. And I would eat spaghetti on a date.)

Now time for a confession. I have not tried any “authentic” jjajangmyeon. I’ve never bought it at a restaurant or had a Korean friend make it for me. I just thought it looked so delicious that I had to try it. So I looked up this recipe and made it. Twice. To make sure it tasted the same, of course. XD

After finding the proper ingredients, it actually wasn’t that difficult. The recipe itself was a bit confusingly written, so I’m going to re-write it below. The original however comes from the ever-entertaining Nasties Simon and Martina. Watch EatYourKimchi, you won’t regret it!

This is a very unusual dish – very salty, slightly sweet, very savoury and thick. The noodles are slightly dense and chewy and the sauce is very unique and I love it. I made half of the original recipe (my half recipe measurements are listed below) and still had enough for two more servings.

Make sure you add NO additional salt. Because this sauce can get quite close to briny.

The modified recipe!

Ingredients:

– 3 Tbsp oil
– 2.5 TBSP Black Bean Paste AKA Chunjang 춘장
– 1 medium sized onion (or however much chopped onion you desire)
– 1/4 Lb ground pork
– 1/8 TSP ground black pepper (or add more to taste)

– 3/4 Tsp sugar
– 1/2 TBSP Oyster Sauce
– 1 Cups of water or broth
-Fresh noodles, preferably kalguksu 칼국수 noodles (4 servings)

For The Thickener:
– 1/2 Tbsp potato starch (or corn starch)
– 1 Tbsp cold water

Garnish:
Thinly sliced cucumbers, or carrots or any thinly sliced crisp and light flavoured veggie.

Cooking Instructions:

1. In a small sauce pan heat the oil over low heat. Add the black bean paste and stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes.

**If you stir well enough and constantly it will be smooth and sauce like. If you do not it will look like this=> (this isn’t a bad thing, but it looks the opposite of appetizing.)

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2. When the mixture starts to release a strong smell (like chocolate or freshly baked bread) or once the time is up, strain/pour off the excess oil. Set the black bean paste aside off the heat.

3. Add more oil if you need to, then toss in the onions. Sauté on medium heat until softened but not totally cooked.

4. Add the pork, grind on some black pepper while yelling BAM and let it cook.

5. As the pork cooks, start boiling hot water for the noodles.

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6. Once the pork is lightly browned (don’t dump off the pork oil) add the black bean sauce and stir furiously! You should coat the pork well.

7. Add the 2 cups of liquid and simmer for about 5 minutes. If you’re adding more veggies, add them now but reduce the liquid to 1.5 cups since the veggies will create more liquid.

8. While the pork mixture simmers, cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Most kalguksu noodles require you to rinse them in cold water after you drain them until they are almost cool or else they will form a death ball of noodles that cannot be separated. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.

9. Combine the starch and water thoroughly. This is your thickener, aka slurry.

10. Add the sugar and oyster sauce. Mix thoroughly and adjust seasonings to taste!

** The more your reduce the pork and black bean sauce, the saltier and more intense the black bean mixture will be, so you can test the flavour as you simmer it and decide when you want to stop.

11. Once you like the flavour, add the potato starch slurry to thicken it. Stir well and it should thicken almost instantly. Sauce is finished!

12. Add the noodles to a bowl and scoop on a hearty serving of sauce. Garnish with thinly sliced cucumber and eat before it gets cold!

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