Bugeoguk: Korean Pollack Soup

bugeoguk

My mother-in-law introduced me to dried pollock, a type of dried fish used commonly in Korean cooking. She initially told me that I could just cook the fish along with some carrots and onions. I tried doing that but the soup wasn’t as flavorful as she described. I decided to make something the Koreans would make. Bugeoguk is known as a “hangover soup” in Korea.

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pasta with fennel, sardines, and currants

pasta with fennel, sardines, and currants

I love the flavor of anchovies, sardines and other small fish. The hubs on the other hand detests those flavors and smells. As such, I can only enjoy these dishes on my own and usually cook them when the hubs is away at work. I usually don’t make an extra effort to gather ingredients to make dishes like this pasta. I only cook them when I happen to have the ingredients around.

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fish en papillote

tied up package

Wrapping food up in small packages using foil or parchment is one of my favorite cooking methods. For one, it requires very little cleanup as you can eat from the package. Depending on what you are cooking, preparation can also be relatively simple. I love cooking fish using this method because it’s also quick. Fish takes about 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the fish. You also don’t have to let the fish sit in the marinade.

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fish tacos

fish taco flat

Ever since moving to the West Coast I’ve been introduced to real Mexican fare. Previously living on the East Coast, I ate mostly Tex-Mex food and never knew that taco shells were actually soft and not hard and crisp. Thanks to the hubs and Yelp! I’ve had fantabulous Mexican food in SoCal. We haven’t yet found any good places in the Bay Area but I’m sure they exist.

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thai red curry with fish

thai red curry with fish

I had originally planned to make this curry with chicken but then realised I needed more chicken for my garlic chicken. The hubs and I usually buy our fish frozen (because it is expensive fresh) and we love Target’s Swai fillets. They are firm, meaty and not bland. Personally, I prefer green curries but I only had red curry paste in the fridge so had no choice. We had this curry with leftover rice and some naan bread from Trader Joe’s (we usually keep a stash in our fridge for last minute emergency meals).

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crispy fish with chinese style soy sauce mixture

crispy fried fish with chinese style soy sauce mixture

This is a common way fish is served in the Singapore Chinese culture. I can’t say Chinese culture because I’m not from China and having met and worked with many people from China (as well as visit the country a couple of times), I know that food in China can be very different from the Chinese food in Singapore. That being said, I’m sure in every culture there’s a fried food with some gravy or sauce poured over it. And it usually means one thing – delicious goodness. The most tricky part of this dish is getting the fish to sauce ratio right. You don’t want too much or too little sauce. You should also taste the sauce and see if it’s to your liking. Some people like things saltier. The sauce recipe I found is for a steamed fish, but you can also use it for fried fish.

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sherried sardines on toast

On my weight loss quest, I came across Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode about dieting. He shared this recipe – high in omega-3s (due to the fish), with the goodness and creaminess of avocados (which also has a host of benefits). I decided to try it out since my impression of sardines was basically fishy fish with tiny bones drenched in some ketchupy sauce with onions. I bought a can of brisling sardines in olive oil and was hooked. I loved the clean flavor – not too fishy in my opinion (though the HTB might beg to differ) and the tenderness of the fish. I discovered though sardines are cheaper than brisling sardines. But the sardines taste just as good.

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