flowered kimbap bento

4 04 2011

i made dinner with my bestie tonight, and then we drank cocktails together on my couch while commenting on a hot episode of intervention… what can i say, i’m a girl of extremely refined tastes!

needless to say, two vodka-cranberries in, i couldn’t be too ambitious in my bento-making.  pre-made kimbap (from yesterday’s grocery run to flushing’s H-mart) to the rescue!  i quickly packed the kimbap slices in my skinny pink bento with some fruits and veggies from the fridge — two halved, steamed brussels sprouts; 4 takuwan slices; some pea pods and bamboo leaves, clementine sections and two mini strawberries — plus vegetarian chicken tenders for protein a few pink fish sausage blossoms for a pretty accent.   done and done!

in other bento news, thanks to help from sheri and mils i was able to add the “like on facebook” bento4japan badge.  are you a fan yet?  the bento4japan auctions are still going strong… i’ve got my eye on a certain newspaper-printed furoshiki, but there are lots of lovely items up for grabs, so head on over to ebay and help us continue raising money for relief in japan!

kalbi jjim – rice cooker recipe!

30 01 2010

no bentos this weekend, but i did have a chance to try making one of the boyfriend’s favorite dishes, kalbi jjim, in my new rice cooker — and it came out great! the boyfriend doesn’t like his with anything but meat, but this dish is also great with potatoes, carrots, chestnuts, and any sort of mushroom.

i actually a really hard time finding a rice cooker recipe for this, and the while the “cooking guide” for my rice cooker did include a kalbi jjim recipe, it’s entirely in korean! my korean’s not that good yet.. so, i ended up having to make my own up, by combining several stovetop recipes (including my boyfriend’s mom’s!) and then modifying for this shorter and pressure-based cooking method.

many rice cookers have a “multi-cook” pressure setting for foods other than rice (on my cuckoo, it’s labeled “만능찜”), making them extremely versatile kitchen workhorses! in case you are looking to put your rice cooker to extra use on a delicious korean beef dish, here’s my recipe:

gamene’s kalbi jjim

NOTE 1: my rice cooker holds 6 cups of rice; if you have a 10-cup cooker, feel free to use twice the amount of meat, but you won’t need to double the marinade.

NOTE 2: steps 1-5 below are a little bit cumbersome, but we’re still talking less than an hour here, and you’re going to save tons of time on step 6 by doing this in the rice cooker instead of on the stove. plus, you can do these steps the night before.


  • 2 “racks” of beef short ribs — i bought a package of 4 racks at my korean market and froze 2 of them. you should be using the thick korean rib cut, which is cut across (not parallel to) the bones, leaving 3 chunks of bone in each rack — this is technically called “flanken” style. (these should be about 6″ long and 1.5-2″ wide on all sides.)
  • 2 kiwis, skin removed and cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp. honey or brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup 7-up (not diet)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups daikon (skin removed and cut into approx. 1″ square cubes, but they don’t need to be too uniform)
  • 1 bunch green onions (ends removed and chopped into approx. 2″ long pieces; reserve a few pieces for garnish)
  • 4 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (or plain white heinz vinegar)
  • peeled and chunked potatoes, carrots, chestnuts, and/or whole mushroom caps (all of these are optional!)


  1. fill a large pot about halfway with water, and put it on your stove over a high flame. this should be the first thing you do, so that the water can come to a boil while you’re working on the marinade. i know, you’re like “wait a minute, i thought this was a rice cooker recipe” — but you still have to prep the meat on the stove. don’t worry, it’ll be quick!
  2. in a food processor, blend the daikon, kiwi, green onion, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey or brown sugar, vinegar, and 7-up — everything but the meat (and veggies, if you’re using them). pulse these ingredients together until you get to a consistency that’s more liquid-y than a paste, but not as thin as water (this isn’t hard; the daikon will prevent the mixture from really thinning out too much). this marinade will be a gross brownish-green color; don’t freak out, that’s normal! dump your marinade into a big tupperware (one that is large enough to also hold the ribs!).
  3. once your water is boiling, put the ribs in it and leave them there for about 20 minutes. i know it seems counterintuitive to boil your ribs before cooking them, but this step helps get the blood and extra fat out. once 20 minutes have passed, the ribs will be a uniform greyish-brown, and there will be a bunch of gross stuff (honestly, the best word for this is “scum”) floating on the top of the water. skim that off and throw it out (so it doesn’t clog your drain), drain the water, and rinse the ribs in cold water.
  4. score the meat. to do this, take a very sharp knife, and cut lines about 1/2″ deep, running parallel to the entire 6″ length of the rack, about 1/2″ apart (so you should fit about 3 lines going the long way). then go cross-wise, making a grid pattern of these incisions. scoring the meat will help the marinade penetrate it.
  5. put the ribs into your marinade-filled tupperware and… well, marinate them! if possible, it’s best to leave them in there overnight (though my boyfriend’s mom swears that the 7-up helps the marinade work effectively in as little as 30 minutes!).
  6. when it’s time to cook the meat, dump the ribs AND the marinade into your rice cooker’s pot, along with any vegetables you’ve chosen to include (these don’t need to be marinated, since they aren’t nearly as fibrous and tough to penetrate as the beef). then press the button for your multi-cook/pressure setting. if your rice cooker is using pressure, you’ll only need to set the cooking time for about 35-40 minutes. if your rice cooker slow-cooks non-rice foods, you should set it for at least 60 minutes, and then keep checking it in 15-minute increments after that (it’s done when it’s tender and falling off the bone)!
  7. with tongs, transfer the pieces of meat onto a serving dish and garnish with sesame seeds (i’ve also seen pine nuts) and chopped green onion. discard the cooked marinade that you’ve left in the rice cooker’s pot. serve the kalbi with rice (plain short-grain white rice is traditional, but feel free to opt for healthier brown) and a side of kimchi!