Iam neither a chef nor a resourceful home cook. I think that, of all the restaurateurs in the world, I probably have the least cooking experience.
But what I lack in experience is superseded by my curiosity and passion for how food fuels happiness in people. Therefore, my approach to food has always been purposeful, a medium to pass along best intentions and goodwill. I will share three significant events in my life that have happened because of food.
My curiosity about food and how it fuels happiness landed me in one of my significant encounters: when I wandered into chef Reggie Aspiras’ cooking class. Together with so many wonderful people I’ve met there, we learned that the only way to cook is to cook from the heart, in order to make the people you are cooking for happy.
My curiosity and passion for food led me to my second significant event. Through the highs and lows of running an ice cream restaurant, Mad Mark’s Creamery, what stands out are the people. Here I met some of the best people in my life, best friends and family, all connected through the purpose of making other people happy through food.
It is crazy to think how a scoop of ice cream can alter people’s lives forever. Passion for making people happy through food led to me meeting my wife, and this is my third significant event.
During one of my audits, I chanced upon a friend in one of our stores. He invited me to a party, and there I met Nikki. She did not like me at first, but she enjoyed the ice cream and its purpose for being made, and from there it melted her heart and she warmed up to me.
Today I will be sharing a recipe from one of the kindest and most clever cooks I’ve ever met, Helen Girvin, who’s now my mother-in-law. Most of the best dishes in my memory were prepared in her home kitchen. This dish is my favorite and can give comfort equal to any of our ice cream varieties. It is a mishmash of Korean and other Asian influences, great for brunch and even dinner. It is a very flexible dish that is comforting no matter the season.
Helen’s Lucky Stew
1 Tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ yellow or white onion, small diced (approximately 1¼ c)
2 green onions, divided white and green parts, chopped
3 anchovy fillets in olive oil
100 g beef chuck, cut into ½-inch cubes
100-150 g Manila clams, cleaned
½ c fermented kimchi, chopped
1¼ c beef stock or
Korean ultimate stock
1 tsp salt
250 g hard tofu
Salt and pepper to taste
In a thick-bottom stock pot, combine gochugaru, sesame oil, garlic, onion, white part of green onion and anchovy. Place over medium low heat and let it infuse for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally.
When oil starts bubbling and the anchovy melts into the oil, increase heat to high. Stir in beef and cook for 3 to 5 minutes and add kimchi. Stir everything together and cook until kimchi is soft, about 3 minutes.
Pour beef stock and bring it to rolling boil.
Add the clams and boil until shells are opened. Taste and add salt.
Add hard tofu carefully and break down tofu a little. Bring it to rolling boil for 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle chopped green part of green onion and crack 1 egg in the middle of soup. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top of egg to taste. Let it keep boiling for 1 minute and serve immediately. —CONTRIBUTED INQ
The author is the restaurateur behind Mad Mark’s Creamery. He spends most of his time walking through his stores and looking for things to tweak.
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