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Archive for January, 2012

Grain of Salt: Seoul Food

I don’t know about you, and maybe this is silly of me, but every time I go to an East Asian Restaurant, I always feel like their food is worlds away from my ability level. Especially since I’d never even tried Korean before coming to New York, I felt like that was just something I was going to have to splurge on every once in a while, or else rely on my Korean friends to make it for me. It just tastes like a cleverly guarded secret – the kind that you couldn’t figure out, even if you were lucky enough to find a recipe for it. But luckily enough, I happen to be living with one of those Korean friends, and using my expert espionage skills (asking for her recipe) I’ve discovered, much to my embarrassment, that I just wasn’t asking the right people.

 Serve with white rice (or brown if you're boring like us) and the meal is perfect and complete. I swear you'll feel like you've come home.


Like most cuisines, Korean food is based mainly on a few different base flavors. Most of these you can find at your average supermarket – soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic. And if you can only find these, and you use them in the right proportions, your food will still taste pretty Korean, and very delicious. But my favorite ingredient is this stuff called gochujang. This spicy red pepper paste, which you can buy at Asian supermarkets, is like a powerhouse of concentrated flavor, and this is what really makes Korean food taste Korean. When I give a recipe here that calls for it, that’s just an approximation of what a person with decent spicy tolerance can take. But if your spicy tolerance is better than mine (or if you don’t mind suffering for the sake of taste) feel free to go above and beyond. It’s so good.


Magic ingredient – cost us only $4.99 and lasts forever... and your Asian store is probably a lot cheaper than mine.


Julia’s given me a couple of different recipes, but I’m going to start with this addictive comfort stew called Tak Toritang, which is the first meal she made for us. It’s a classic meat and potatoes dish, that’s boiled in a highly flavored broth so that the chicken gets addictively fall-off-the-bone tender. The flavor profile of this dish really transcends nationality. It reminds me so much of the all-appealing dishes mommy used to make when I was younger – and this, too, is really a perfect winter weeknight dinner food as long as everybody involved enjoys spicy (tone down the pepper paste if they don’t). It all cooks in one pot, it’s super flavorful, it warms you up, and it has that inexplicable “home” taste that you can’t describe… but you know it when you taste it. It’s basically the Asian equivalent of soul food (hence the unbearable title of this post).


This is what it looks like as it's cooking. it's even kind of photogenic, as stew goes.


More addictive Korean recipes, including some awesome sides, are forthcoming. But make this one-dish dinner sometime very, very soon. If you’ve got the winter blues (or if you don’t) it will make your week, I promise.

(adapted from )

Our Triumphant Return!

Hello, adoring fans!

A trillion apologies for our unannounced hiatus, but I am happy to report that as of today, the Fig Test Kitchen is once again active. Last semester was a whole lot more insane than any of us intended, and so as we were forced to abandon many other luxuries in our lives (free time, exercise, sleep) we were forced to abandon blogging as well. But we are happy to report that Gabrielle’s Architecture Studio all-nighters are behind her, and she is no longer taking comp sci. And mommy… is as busy as ever, but she promises to blog anyway.

Look forward to a million new recipes (at least), a billion new pictures (at least) and a trillion new features (at least) including desktop backgrounds and restaurant reviews. And if we don’t deliver on our promises, you have our permission to bother us until we do.

For now, take a look at some pictures taken in a rare moment of Holiday Downtime. You’ll be hearing from us again very soon. We’ve missed you.

Much love,

Heide and Gabrielle


Spices and Teas(e) has EVERYTHING. They're the best.

Jasmine Tea at Union Square

This stand makes Truffle Cheddar Pretzels. That's right pretzels with Truffles and Cheddar.

Beautiful Lights at the Thai Stand. They're made out of real leaf skelatons.


Lamps at the Turkish Stand

The prettiest stand you ever did see

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