Friday, September 26, 2014

Korean Kalbi

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I've had a lot of great news or progress in my different areas of my life lately. I can't share all of them, but I'm very excited about different things going on. I'm loving the positive flow coming my way. And I think it's important to channel the good stuff and run with it, because not all days come as easily. And the negative energy sucks even the most overwhelming positive energy out of you in seconds in if you let it.

I've made going to my holistic chiropractor a pretty important priority right now, and I'm grateful I finally did because I've been seeing awesome results. My hormones are finally trying to regulate themselves again. I haven't had any headaches in the last few weeks. My shoulder has been much better overall and more consistently. I have even noticed more energy. I'm also building a great relationship with them, and that's been the best part. It's so rewarding and encouraging to finally interact with somebody in the flesh who understands what you're talking about and actually knows more about nutrition and well-being than you do. I love my connections with all of my fellow bloggers and readers, but some days are harder when the people in your life can't understand what you do or what you know or what you are going through.

I'm also excited to announce that I'll be hosting my very first fermenting class! I'm going to be teaching the locals how to brew kombucha! If you're in the Mobile, AL area and you're interested, make sure to follow me on Facebook at The Primordial Table to sign up for the class. I do many of my own ferments from apple cider vinegar to sauerkraut to Master Tonic to kombucha to water kefir, and I'm very happy to be sharing my knowledge with others. I'm also developing more recipes to share on the blog so you can make your own ferments too! (Hint: they're easier than you think!) I also sell SCOBYs so if anyone is ever interested, I've made them SUPER affordable, because I want you to get started. All you have to do is message me on my Facebook page.

As for food, I'm on an international kick lately. When I was growing up in Hawaii, we ate a lot of Korean food. A family friend was Korean, so we learned a lot of the dishes from her. One of my favorites was Kalbi, a special cut of beef short ribs. I don't see them often, but I happened to come across some the other day that were on sale, and it was like the universe was screaming at me to recreate these for gluten-free, international foodie in me. I tried to get really creative, but there just is not a good AIP substitute for sesame oil. And this dish is just not the same without the incredible taste of sesame. So unfortunately, this dish is not AIP but is a great option so for someone who has reintroduced seeds. (If you haven't, don't worry. I'm restarting the Autoimmune Protocol next month on the first so there will be lots of fabulous recipe developments in the future just for you!)

Korean Kalbi
2 lbs beef short ribs (cut across the bone)
⅓ cup coconut aminos
⅓ cup sherry wine or pear juice
¼ cup honey
1 Korean pear (Asian pear or Bosc pear), peeled and cored
8 cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp green onions, chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Place the short ribs in a bag. Combine all ingredients except green onions and sesame seeds in a food processor and pulse until a mostly smooth puree. Add the marinade mixture to the bag with the beef. Marinate the ribs for at least 2 hours but up to 24 hours. When it comes to ethnic dishes, I always prefer to marinate for the full 24 hours whenever possible. When ready to cook, fire up the grill and preheat to medium heat. Drain the ribs. Place the ribs on the grill and cook each side 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness. This cut tends to stay more tender when cooked to medium rare or medium at most. Garnish with the green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with cauli-rice and grilled veggies like squash and onions.

(If you don't have a grill, you can also pop under the broiler for 3-4 minutes a side. Be careful not to overcook or the meat will likely get tough.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cucumber & Octopus Salad (AIP)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that when you purchase an item your price stays the same, but I make a small commission to help run my blog. See more information here.*

I remember dining out at an Asian buffet with a several friends a few years ago. I was thrilled they had octopus salad. My friends thought I was gross. The baby octopus tentacles were too much for them. They were entertained, but more disturbed than anything else. I chomped down as much as possible for dramatic effect.

I spent many of my early childhood years in Hawaii, so trying weird and crazy things wasn't very, well, weird or crazy. Our traditional family meals are strongly focused on Portuguese and Italian foods with a New England influence. We grew up eating Japanese, Chinese, and Korean at home and in restaurants regularly. In fact, when traveling with my family, the new tradition is to find the strangest cuisines we haven't tried yet. Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Peruvian, Nepalese—yep, I've tried them all. Ok, there are still several on my bucket list, but going AIP has brought a lot of my food experiments to a halt. Most ethnic foods contain lots of nightshades, and aside from corn and gluten, nightshades seem to be the one group of foods that I can't be even a little bit flexible about. I've had to cut back on eating out a lot, most especially at ethnic restaurants unfortunately.

Instead, I've been challenging myself to recreate dishes in the kitchen. Some are much easier than others, and some take just that extra little bit of inspiration. I was ecstatic when I found octopus at my local grocery. It's impossible to find octopus salad that's gluten free, and Tako Sunomono is definitely a favorite Japanese dish of mine.

This recipe is a perfect balance of crunchy & chewy and sweet & sour. The English cucumber is important; it's the long, skinny cucumber without the waxy coating and less seeds. You can substitute a regular cucumber, but it won't be the same texture. If you're against using sugar or sweets, then you can skip the honey, but it really needs at least some to give the dish the hint of sweetness and balance that is characteristic of the Japanese dish. And while, this recipe might look a little more complicated, it's very tasty and rewarding and a wonderful opportunity to try something new.

Cucumber & Octopus Salad
½ lb raw, whole baby octopus
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
⅓ dried wakame seaweed, chopped into small pieces
3 tbsp coconut vinegar
1 tbsp honey or sugar (optional; use less or more to taste)
1 tsp coconut aminos
⅛ tsp sea salt
1 tsp sesame seed (omit for AIP)

Set a medium pot with water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, push the head of the octopus inside out and make sure there are no internal tissue remaining. Put the head back right side out. Push down on the middle of the inside of the neck to push the beak out of the bottom of the octopus; you should see a little black beak poking out underneath in the center of the tentacles. Pull it all the way out. Clean all the octopodes (this is actually the correct form of octopus in the plural, in case you were wondering) the same way. Rinse and add to the pot of boiling water. Boil for 45 minutes. When the octopus is fork tender, remove from heat and allow the octopus to cool in its own liquids while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a separate dish, sprinkle the cucumber slices with the tablespoon of salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place the seaweed in a bowl and fill the bowl with enough hot water to cover; set aside. Going back to the cucumbers, squeeze out the excess moisture from the slices, then rinse off all the salt, and squeeze again.

In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut vinegar, honey, coconut aminos, sea salt, and sesame seed (if using). Set aside.

Going back to the octopus, strain, rinse with cool water, and chop into large, rough chunks. Add to a medium bowl. Slice the cucumber slices into halves and add to the bowl. Strain the wakame, rinse with cold water, strain again, and add to the bowl. Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and toss well. Chill for 15-20 minutes and serve.

PS: Years later, my group of friends was still grossed out by the tentacles in my salad. And yes, I still chomped away for dramatic effect!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beef Tongue & Onion Soup (AIP)

In honor of this year's #MostOffalWeekEver, I created this delicious beef & onion soup. I scoured the web for an AIP-friendly beef tongue recipe. At the time, I could only find one. So I took it upon myself to change that. It was a simple and basic and bland recipe, and I needed this one to have some oomph!

I'm proud of my #MostOffalWeekEver this year. I got a lot more daring than last. I did fall off the wayside a little bit towards the end. I've had way too much on my plate, as usual. I finally realized that it's so empowering to recognize that you can handle so much more than you ever used to before. But then it's so easy to pile everything on until you have become overwhelmed. So I took the last few weeks off and gave myself some breathing room. We had our huge grand opening at the new salon that I work at. I went out with some friends and enjoyed the holiday at the beach. And I've also been making some changes. Mostly mental ones, but I'm going to start incorporating them into reality as soon as I'm able.

I have two photography jobs that are either in the works or pending. As soon as I finish with them, I will be putting my photography on hold until further notice. I love being behind the camera, but I don't like being in front of the computer for hours on end, editing photos until my eyes cross. I don't have the patience for it anymore. I have so much more energy on my good days, and regardless of good day or bad, I'd rather be socializing or in the kitchen. I am officially over feeling guilty because I can't be in the kitchen enough because I'm too busy editing photos, and I'm officially over feeling guilty because I'm in the kitchen when I should be editing photos. I'm tired of playing tug of war. I do enjoy photography. But I enjoy cooking more. And it serves to improve my health. So win, win. Something has to take a back seat, and photography's going to have to be it.

I also have a part time cashier job that I've been working to finish paying off a scholarship. I've dropped down to one night a week; it was still too much, but not very negotiable. My boss picked up on some of my frustration, and she's offered a different position that will allow me more flexibility and will be less stress. It's only one night a week. I've said yes. And at the end of October, my commitment should be met with the company, and I'll officially be free to do strictly hair and blogging!

It's still a lot of works in progress. But mentally, I feel a little more relieved. I've also been seeing a holistic chiropractor. I've only had two visits, but I already am starting to feel some improvements. Mainly, the adjustments have helped with a lot of pain and tension issues. But it's also been very reassuring to find someone in person, in real life, in the flesh, who knows more about nutrition and healing than I do. AND who doesn't think I'm crazy for eating beef tongue and homemade bone broths to feel better.

Beef Tongue & Onion Soup
1-1¼ lb beef tongue
1 large carrot, cut into chunks
6-8 whole cloves
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp fat (coconut oil, beef tallow, etc)
4 large onions, sliced
4 cups beef broth
¼ cup red wine vinegar
⅛ cup sherry
¼ cup coconut aminos
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1½ tbsp onion powder
1½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)

Rinse the tongue well and place in the crockpot. Add carrots, cloves, garlic, bay leaf, and salt to the pot. Fill with water until tongue is just submerged. Cook on low for 8 hours. Allow to cool and peel the outer layer off the tongue. Slice thinly or into small bite-sized chunks. Set aside. In a dutch oven, melt cooking fat. Add onions and saute over medium heat until they start to turn translucent and reduce. Add 1-2 cups of the remaining strained liquid from cooking to the tongue and 2 cups of beef broth or use all 4 cups homemade beef broth. Add red wine vinegar, sherry, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, and spices and herbs. Cook on medium high for 15-20 minutes or until soup reduces by at least a third to one half and thickens slightly.