Recently, I had a food adventure at the Koreatown Galleria Shopping Center in Los Angeles. I had never been to a Korean market before, so I was excited to join the Korean food crawl organized by Food Bloggers Los Angeles. Our guide was my friend Christina Conte of Christina's Cucina.
We spent most of our time in the Galleria Market, which is the largest, nicest market in Koreatown and has an adjacent free parking structure. The market was lively on a Saturday, and full of local shoppers and food demonstrations. The food samples were plentiful and a great introduction to Korean cuisine.
I lingered in the produce department with Patricia Rose of Fresh Food in a Flash. There was so much to check out. The produce section got crowded as you can see, but the ladies doing demonstrations and fellow shoppers were friendly and willing to give cooking advice.
One unique aspect of the produce department was the large selection of mushrooms at great prices. I brought home shitake mushrooms, but the varieties available were endless.
Furthermore, the fish department looked fantastic. They sell fresh, whole fish, or you can ask the on-site fish monger to fillet the fish for you. Also, the sashimi seemed fresh and well-priced. Best of all, Patricia found this recipe starter package of pre-cut and washed vegetables and cod all ready to make a fish stew. Even food bloggers like shortcut dinners.
Once I saw the meat section and the thinly sliced boneless beef short ribs, I knew I found the perfect meal for my family. My kids especially like the Asian BBQ restaurants that are popular around town. To make this dish, I needed a marinade to go with the meat. I was hoping to grab a bottled marinade off the market shelf, but they all had artificial ingredients in them. I decided to make my own and got a sense of what the ingredients should be from the bottles, minus the 20-letter chemical ingredients of course. Some of the bottles had pear or pineapple juice in them, and I liked the idea of combining the sweet fruit with the savory soy sauce as a base to the sauce. I ended up using grated Asian pear, and I think that it is the secret ingredient that gives the meat an extra special taste. Also, the sauce caramelizes on the surface of the meat adding even more flavor. The recipe is below.
To round out the meal, I bought pickled daikon radish and pickled bean sprouts at the recommendation of some of the food bloggers who said that the pickled vegetables are a traditional part of the Korean meal. These items can be found in the "not-to-be-missed" prepared food section. I'm a pretty adventurous cook, but I needed help with the pickled vegetables. Buying from this section of the market is another great way to sample a large variety of Korean dishes to see what you like.
No food crawl would be complete without an actual meal. We went upstairs to the food court, which was much better than I expected. I enjoyed this bibimbap meal.
If you want to make your own bibimbap, the market sells the traditional bowls that keep the food warm. I think these bowls are great for keeping soup and rice bowls warm too, especially if you look after small children and find yourself eating too many cold meals. Christina and Kelly, like true food bloggers, are crazy for these bowls because they make great styling props for food photos.
The fun had to come to an end. When I got home, I unpacked all these groceries:
Here's what I made with the fresh shitake mushrooms:
Going on an adventure to an ethnic market was so much fun. I love learning to cook from different cuisines. I hope you'll grab a buddy and try exploring a new ethnic market too.
|Korean BBQ Boneless Short Ribs|| |
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons mirin rice wine
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons grated Asian pear
- Several grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
- 1.25 pounds boneless beef short rib, thinly sliced strips
- To make the marinade: put all the ingredients except the meat in a large ziplock bag and mix with a spoon.
- Then add the beef slices, seal the bag well, and make sure the marinade surrounds all the meat slices. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Heat a stovetop grill pan or outdoor barbecue to medium high heat. Place each slice of meat on the grill and cook about 2 minutes on each side or until meat is cooked through or a little bit of pink remains in the center. Serve immediately.