Thursday, March 11, 2010

North Korea - Korean Noodles

It was a few months ago now, but I remember being horrified by the story of the two journalists who were arrested and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for supposedly entering North Korea illegally. Even if the women were stupid enough to walk into North Korea without proper papers, I thought the punishment certainly did not fit the crime. Luckily it had a happy ending. Bill Clinton got involved and negotiated the release of the poor journalists.

North Korea has been shut off from the rest of the world for half a century. People live in fear, where dictator Kim Jong II runs the country with an iron fist. It’s the place George W. Bush declared a part of the “Axis of Evil,” along with Iran and Iraq.

Many of us know veterans of the Korean War. It began in June of 1950, when North Korea invaded the south. The United States got involved and the war lasted three years and claimed more than 54,000 American lives.

I consider myself an adventurous traveler, but I don’t think I’ll be putting North Korea on my bucket list.

Korean cuisine consists of rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables and meats. Beef is the most valued meat and its consumption used to be forbidden until the Mongols came into power in the 13th century. Chicken, pork and fish are also very popular, as well as dog meat. Using dog meat, they prepare a spicy stew that claims to balance a person’s vital energy in their body. Being huge dogs lovers, this spicy stew would be out of the question for us – even if it does have health benefits.

For our North Korean meal I made a delicious Korean noodle soup. It’s a quick and satisfying meal and one that I have made on a couple of occasions. It was definitely a big hit with the family.

Korean Noodles

1 pound of Chinese dried noodles or vermicelli, cooked and drained.
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups beef broth
1/2 pound ground beef
1 1/2 TBSP soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp Oriental sesame oil
Few drops hot sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup green onions, chopped

While the noodles cook, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the eggs and cook them in a flat sheet until they are set and the top is no longer shiny. Remove the omelet from the skillet and cut it in thin strips.

Heat the broth in a small saucepan.

For the topping, sauté, the beef in a medium skillet until it loses all pinkness. Add soy sauce, sugar, garlic, toasted sesame seeds, sesame oils and salt. Cook for 1 minute.

Divide the noodles among 4 individual soup bowls and spoon the beef sauce over them. Sprinkle each with 1/4 of the eggs and green onions and pour heated broth over.

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