How do you make that Cinnamon Ginger Drink?
This is called Soo Jung Ga. Typically, this dish has a dried persimmon and other dried fruits in it but persimmons are a sweetening agent and does not have a major role as a digestive aid.
The pine nut however is a great story. The Korean herbalists put the pine nut in the drink because it is a floating nut. Because the drink is consumed cold it should be enjoyed slowly. The pine nut will get caught on your lip and you will have the urge to stop drinking for a moment allowing your stomach temperature to catch up.
Soo Jung Ga is simple to make. Start with a stockpot filled with cold water. Put in 10 good cinnamon sticks and around 100 grams of peeled ginger. The ginger needs to be peeled because the peel and flesh of the ginger have opposite effects on the body. This recipe will vary according to the quality of cinnamon and ginger you are using.
Bring this to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat so a simmer for a while longer. We go for 4 hours but it tastes great without the simmer you don't have to.
Add a bit of brown sugar or any other sweeteners that you like to taste. Don't add too much because the cinnamon makes the sugars taste sweeter than it is.
Enjoy a hot cup of this as soon as it is made (great for colds) and put the rest in the fridge to enjoy later. If you want to make the dish fancy, drop a dried percimmon in the drink 1 hour before you serve it. Looks great served as a dessert dish.
WHAT IS THE STONE BOWL MADE OF AND HOW DO YOU HEAT IT?
Our stone bowl is made from a big chunk of soapstone. Hand carved and polished smooth. I don't know why our bowl stays hot longer than other bowls but I think it is because our bowl has a high iron content. Korean Grocery stores like Galleria and P.A.T. carry these bowls for a reasonable price. They won't stay hot as long as ours but they get just as hot and will still make your rice sizzle. Grab one if you want to enjoy a stonebowl rice at home.
Here are some tips.
You can heat the bowls on top of the stove. Even an electric stove top works (just takes a few minutes longer) Try soups stews or anything else you like eating hot.
There are two types of hot bowls that Koreans use. Stone bowls look like raw granite when you first get it and then there are ceramic bowls that look similar but with a glazed coating on them. The Stone bowls need seasoning as the stone surface is porus. The ceramic bowls are more for soups and stews.
Soak the bowls in salt water overnight. Dry the bowls and put on a light coating of oil on the surface. Heat the bowls on low heat until the oil dries. Let the bowl sit until cool. Repeat the oiling and heating process 4 times. Wash before use.
Don't put hot bowls in cold water. Allow the bowls to cool enough so you can touch it and then soak in hot tap water. Rapid changes in temperature will crack the bowls. Don't scrub the bowls with an abraisive unless absolutely necessary and don't worry if the bowls crack (stone bowls) as they will sometimes crack and heal with use but should not leak.
We don't mind selling you one of our bowls but our bowls cost $100 and you can get a similar one at the K-Grocery stores for around $25. Nothing wrong with the grocery store bowls, they cool down faster and/or the cut is not as good but these are minor points and your food will taste just as great.
WHAT BEEF AND CHICKEN DO YOU USE?
At Bi Bim Bap we don't have Pork or Seafood on our menu. We do use Anchovy paste in our KimChi and the kitchen is shellfish free. We use Canadian Chicken breast. They are smaller but they taste better and healthier. We use top grade Canadian beef. The Tofu we use is Pyung Hwa's Organic Extra Firm Tofu. Available in most Korean Gorcery stores. Costs a bit more but more than worth it for the taste. Besides, an organic pack of tofu only costs a few bucks extra so might as well use the nice stuff. Why am I tell you where I get my stuff? Because my suppliers take good care of me and I don't mind if they get more business!
DO PICKY CUSTOMERS BOTHER YOU?
Not at all. As long as you like the food that you are eating we don't mind catering to your needs. There are a few things that we can't avoid like garlic and onions but other than that we will do anything we can to make the food the way you want it.
WHAT GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS DO YOU HAVE?
We serve barley tea. Caffiene free but it is wheat based. Our egg Bi Bim Bap, chicken Bi Bim Bap, mushroom Bi Bim Bap, tofu Bi Bim Bap and seed Bi Bim Bap can be made gluten free. Our apple hot sauce is gluten free and we have a gluten free soy sauce that you can ask for. If you are Celiac, let us know and we will be extra careful with your meal.
WHAT KIND OF BROWN RICE DO YOU USE?
We use a Pan-Asia brand rice. It is made in California. We wash all our rice many times and rinse until the water becomes clear. We soak the Brown Rice for 2 days until soft and cook it in a regular rice cooker. Pan-Asia White rice has a lower glycemic index than most other short grain rice.
WHAT MAKES YOUR FOOD HEALTHY?
We use as many local products as possible. We use only sea salts. Instead of sugar we use fruits, dark brown sugar, organic honey, agave syrup as substitutes. We use different ones for different foods and little of it as possible. In our food we use 3/4 cup of rice, 1.5 cup of vegetables and 100g of meat is our single serving. All our sauces are made in house to minimize sodium, sugar and keep out MSG. Our Kimchi is also made in house. I'm hoping that what we serve is healthy because my family eats here.
WHAT MAKES YOUR KIMCHI UNIQUE?
Our Kimchi is vegan. We have been struggling to make Kimchi without fish sauce or shrimp paste. It turned out nice. Not too spicy, crunchy with the right amount of Umami. We offer take-home jars.
Why does your Bi Bim Bap come without an egg?
There are many types of Bi Bim Bap. Not all of them comes with an egg. Some come with raw beef, some with only the egg yolk and the good ones without the egg. There are eight different vegetables on the rice, each prepared to it’s maximum flavor. Egg yolk tends to tone down the flavor of any food that it comes in contact with (good info the next time you eat something too spicy) I feel that it diminishes the quality of the dish. Mind you, the egg has it’s own charisma and once in awhile I add an egg to my dish too.
Why can’t I have a raw egg on my Bi Bim Bap?
Remember where the egg comes out of the chicken. Most of the time it’s safe but once in awhile that nasty germ gets onto the shell and then into the raw egg. It’s a small chance but we don’t want anyone to get sick. We only cook the egg white and not the yolk so you still get the flavor advantage of the egg. It’s delicious either way.
MSG is not poison. It’s just high in Sodium and has certain effects on your body. Just think of it like Salt. The flavor gets enhanced and everything tastes better but it’s not always good for you. It’s easy to make food taste good if you use lots of Sugar, lots of Salt, Extreme Hot Sauce and MSG. We do our best to flavor our foods naturally minimizing the use of Salts, Sugars or Heat. MSG is one ingredient we don’t allow in our kitchen.
How is your Soy and Apple Hot Sauce Gluten Free?
We have a secret supply of Kikkoman Gluten Free Soy Sauce. It’s freakin expensive but our Celiac Clients are worth it. We keep a secret stash of Gluten Free Soy Mixture for Bi Bim Bap and we also keep a Gluten Free Soy Glaze for our Chicken and Kimchi Fries. Most Chili Paste contains wheat, so we make our own Chili paste using only Chili Flakes. We use this for our Apple Hot Sauce. We also reduce the sugar content by replacing some of the sugar with Apples. It doesn’t make a difference to most people but if you are diabetic, it makes a difference.
Why so many Vegan options?
Over the years we have had many Vegan customers coming in and teaching us about what it is to be Vegan. Did you know most Vegans don’t like Vegan restaurants? They prefer restaurants that have good Vegan options. Somewhere to come with friends that aren’t all Vegan. Korean Cuisine has many dishes that is very close to being Vegan on it’s own. The most basic korean liquid stock contains Seaweed and Dried Fish. This creates Umami. We replace the fish with other vegetables to retain our own Umami. This stock is used for our sauces and our Miso Soup. Our Miso soup may taste a bit bland at first because we don’t add fish and sugar, but as long as you don’t compare it to other Miso soups, it’s quite nice when you enjoy it with Bi Bim Bap. We also make our own mayo. No egg but rather our non GMO Organic Tofu. Mayo is usually 90% oil but our many is 50% Tofu, 40% Oil and 10% spices. My original intentions were to make a healthier Mayo but it ended up being Vegan. It’s always good to have more Vegan options. Our Kimchi is also Vegan. We don’t use fish sauce. It’s a difficult process but worth the results.