It's time for me to rely on an one-pot dish for the next few days. Korean curry - much like Japanese curry in its mild flavor - is my childhood comfort food. This was one and the only curry I'd known in my childhood. Until I came to the states, curry to me meant this yellow curry mix out of this particular packet, only varied in its spicy heat degree.
It comes seasoned in powder form, so you'd think you can mix the powder in boiling water and it'll just be that. But different families have different versions, and each person has a favorite must-have ingredient in her curry. When it's time to eat, some people mix it all up with rice, some in portions, and there is the minority who are 'dippers' - those who dip a spoonful of rice in curry every time. Have it with rice or noodles - udon noodles are great for this. Always make the whole packet for 4 servings even if you're cooking for one or two, because you can refrigerate it and reheat the next day. Like many stews and soups, it tastes better the next day.
I consider onion, carrot and potato to be the holy trinity of curry vegetables. If I have any meat, I'll start with that. I probably add a few too many whole garlic cloves, but curry-infused soft garlic cloves are a hidden treat. If I feel extra-diligent, I add red bell pepper and broccoli later for their bright color pop and a bit of a bite in this otherwise meltingly soft curry.
Recently, since I saw a more expensive version of the curry packet that has a higher content of turmeric, I started adding a pinch of turmeric to my curry made with a basic curry mix. It does give a boost to its savory-sweet fragrance and bright yellow color. If I'm using meat or chicken, I'll coat the meat with turmeric before I start cooking. If it's just vegetables, add it with onion or even with water later.
Curry Rice (카레 라이스)
Yields: 4 Main Servings
0.5~1lb. Beef stew meat, cut to bite-size chunks
(feel free to substitute with chicken or eliminate meat)
1 teaspoon Neutral-tasting cooking oil (such as sunflower seed oil)
1/2 Medium-sized onion, cut to large dice
6-8 cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Russet potato, peeled and cut to bite-size chunks
2 Carrots, peeled and cut to bite-size chunks
1 Bay leaf
4 cups Water
1 packet Korean curry powder (or 4 servings of Japanese curry blocks)
1/2 Red bell pepper, core and seeds removed, cut to large triangles
1 cup Broccoli, cut to small florets
2 cups Cooked rice (1/2 cup per serving)
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1. Mix beef with turmeric powder. Set aside.
2. Prepare the vegetables. I consider onion, potato and carrot to be the holy trinity of Korean curry vegetables. Feel free to include other vegetables such as mushrooms and cauliflower, cleaned and cut to bite-size chunks like other vegetables.
3. In a heated stew pot, drizzle oil and add turmeric powder-coated beef. Over medium heat, cook until beef turns brown. Stir occasionally to brown all sides. Remove beef and set aside.
4. Sauté garlic and onion in the pot. There should be enough beef fat left to cook garlic and onion, but feel free to drizzle more oil if necessary.
5. When all garlic and onion pieces start turning translucent, add potato, carrot and meat. Stir to coat all around, then add a bay leaf and water. Bring it up to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until potato pieces are completely cooked. Skim off foam on the surface as necessary.
6. Mix in Korean curry powder from the packet. Add red bell pepper and broccoli. Bring up to a boil and cook until red bell pepper and broccoli are cooked, but not completely soft. Remove from heat and serve with rice. You can also serve it with noodles and make it curry noodles.
Store in the refrigerator. If you plan to store it more than a couple of days, keep it in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight then heat it on the stove. If you go from the freezer to the stovetop, make sure you bring it up to simmer over low heat with a splash of water added to it.
강황 (gang hwang) turmeric
감자 (gam ja) potato
양파 (yang pa) onion