Jeju Go To White Castle

In food on 03/14/2009 at 8:44 am

We threw a monster birthday surf n’ turf supper bash for the other half last night. It was also the last hurrah in our current abode. T’will be sad to move out soon. We’d just gotten settled in, but duty calls, so onward and upward. We are looking forward to future soirees in the suburbs.

The theme of the evening was a sake tasting. We’d been saving a bottle from Sakaya to sample till now. It was by far the most well-balanced, crisp but fruit-flecked spirit of the night, which ranged from shoju in a large plastic bottle like the kind where you find Calpico, to a squat Black and Gold sake from Astor Wine. A Japanese friend who couldn’t make it to the festivities promises us a fugu sake when we visit late next week. Ours was Dewazakura, a daiginjo. Two thumbs up.

On the menu, sushi and sliders. I’d been investigating how to make tamago, the other half’s favorite nigiri. Apparently, it requires a long rectangular non-stick specialty pan. I’ve never been especially good at the slow-cook fluffy scrambled diner egg, but I thought I’d give it the old college try. Major FAIL, especially when you’re running late on preparations and the guests are knocking down the door. Our Taiwanese friend later showed up with two perfectly made blocks of tamago, but by that time, we had run out of sushi rice.

Tamago Recipe
Dashi Ingredients:
Bonito flakes (big handful, from smoked skipjack mackerel)
3 cup water
Kombu (optional to add more punch, this is just thick cut, small pieces of dehydrated Japanese seaweed. Good for adding to ramen too)

Boil ingredients for 3 minutes. Take off heat and let steep, the longer, the deeper the flavor.

Use as base for soup or for making tamago.

Tamago Ingredients:
6 egg
1/4 cup dashi
1 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Heat a non-stick pan, then turn heat to medium-low. Pour 1/4 liquid in. Let set and prick any bubbles that form. Roll/flip egg to one side of pan. Key is to make thin layers. Pour next 1/4 liquid in and swirl pan to coat under first batch.

Cut into 1/2″ slices. Place flat on a piece of nigri. Wrap with a strip of nori. Here’s an in-depth tutorial.

We had invented a gunkan we call ‘the aquarium roll’ – rice on the bottom, followed by a layer of avocado slaw, then flying fish roe on top, wrapped with nori. According to the tutorial, it is in the advanced sushi category. Yes, it certainly is. We couldn’t figure out exactly how wide to cut the nori so there would be enough room for the two toppings. I’m not from the school of ‘playing with your food,’ so I’ve delegated tasks that require food dexterity to the other half. I ended up dabbing roe on top of the hosomaki instead.

Inspired by Kenny Shopsin’s magical sliders, I came up with a recipe for our own White Castle version (I also wanted to test drive the grill side of our marvelous Lodge griddle). Sliders are good party food, not too time-consuming and easy to make to order enough for a gaggle of guests. The secret is to find Martin’s Dinner Potato Rolls, which we found at our ghetto supermarket, whose emptying shelves (the cashier claimed it was merely delivery issues, not that they were closing) forced us to hoard the remaining batch of rolls and freeze them a week before the party. They weren’t worse for wear when we defrosted them a day before. Potato rolls add tremendous QQ and rich buttery flavor with a slight hint of sweetness. King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls are a suitable substitute if you can’t find Martin’s.

Jeju’s White Castle Slider
1 lb ground fatty pork
1 lb ground beef
1 red onion, chopped
garlic powder
Worchestershire sauce, several dashes
paprika or chipotle powder
salt & pepper to taste
Liquid Smoke, a dash
1 egg to bind (keeps the lump of meat from falling apart on the grill)
Martin’s Dinner Potato Rolls, sliced
cheese, sliced (cheddar or provolone)

Mix all ingredients. Heat up your cast iron grill. Form patties the size of the dinner roll, ~4″X4″, and 1/2″ thick. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, flip and cook another 4 minutes. Add slice of cheese now. Check for medium rare done-ness by pressing gently with a spatula. If it is slightly springy, it’s done. Do not mash down the meat and let the juices run away!

Heat rolls in oven or brown on dry skillet. Butter both sides. Add meat patty and toppings. Yesterday we had smashed avocado, salsa, kimchee daikon and carrot.

The pièce de résistance was the birthday cake. We had trekked all over Chinatown searching for this panda-shaped cake I read about on Serious Eats, but ended up settling for a mango creamsicle-glazed sponge cake from Double Crispy Bakery. When we checked for the location online, it turned out the panda lived in Flushing. By happenstance, one of our Taiwanese guests was coming from there, so we begged and pleaded for them to make the other half’s dream come true. Happy Birthday!

looks better than it tastes

  1. that cake leaves me speechless. so cute, how could you eat it? my japanese friend had the special tamago pan but still had difficulties. happy birthday!!!

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