Monday, February 23, 2009

Nam Kang - Maryland Ave, Baltimore

Yesterday I was desperately craving some Korean food and the type of love in my gut that only kimchee can provide. Initially I had wanted to put together a full scale Korean BBQ trip, but since no one was really available to commit to the gastronomic undertakings of eating Korean table-top BBQ with me (I have a slight tendency to try to order everything on the menu.) So with the desire to fill my cravings but the need to eat a sensible meal, Kim and I decided to take a seat at Nam Kang, which has become our go-to eatery of choice for Korean food in Baltimore.

If you have never been to Nam Kang, the restaurant is open until 4am every night except for Mondays. Almost every experience I have had eating here has come after a full night out in Federal Hill or Canton, so this was a nice time to try out the food without any liquid fueled hunger advising my order.

The Banchan (side dish) assortment brought to the table with every Korean meal was especially delicious on this particular night, and the liberal use of spices made for a very nice warm-up on a chilly February night.

I ordered a variation of Bi Bim Bap that featured short ribs. For the uninitiated, Bi Bim Bap is a a rice dish that comes out to your table sizzling and spattering in a hot stone pot. The rice is topped with various veggies and meat which all get mixed together, topped with a chili sauce, and gormandized down my gullet. This is one of my favorite dishes to eat when it is cold outside and Nam Kang did not dissapoint. If I had any type of gripe it would be that the chili sauce provided was a little on the mild side and didnt give the dish the total amount of kick I might have wanted.

Kim decided to order a pork and tofu dish thats name totally escapes me. The dish was served with a miriad of veggies and even some parts that I couldn't identify. The use of spice and and seasoning in the dish was fantastic and it is certainly something I would try again.

All of our food was washed down with some Korean OB Beer, and of course, a nice robustly flavored bottle of Soju; the omnipresent dinner table accompaniment of Korean meals. It has a slightly sweeter taste than vodka, and is only about half as strong. It is tradition for diners to pour small cups of this for each other throughout the meal.

Our server on this particular visit seemed fairly indifferent with the fact that we were even there, but the food and drink were delivered promptly, and the overall experience was assistive enough for us. I don't think that there are too many diners at this type of resturaunt that go in expecting a 5 star service experience anyway. I can only imagine what some of these poor waitresses must have to endure at times when the drunk crowd rolls in at 2am.

Nam Kang is one of my favorite places to eat in Baltimore. There are certainly better places to get Korean in the area, but this makes a great introduction to the world of Korean cuisine if you would like to introduce those not familiar with this type of fare.

World of Eats Rating - 7/10

Nam Kang on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cooking: Roast Pork w/ Crispy Skin

I love pork. Anything to do with the pig is usually going to end up tasting great. I borrowed most of this recipe from Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch cookbook. I was extremely pleased with the end results and my dinner guests seemed to enjoy it as well.

Ingredients for the Pork:
3-5 Pound Pork Rib Roast
Zest of one Lemon
3-5 Cloves of Garlic (I always prefer more garlic in anything I cook)
Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
3-4 Sage Leaves ( I chopped them)
Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

3-5 Whole Carrots
Half a bag of Red Potatoes
Olive Oil
1/4 Knob of Butter
Plum Sauce
Salt and Pepper

I decided to use a rib roast rather than a loin for two different reasons. Firstly, I think when roasting any cut of meat, having the bone in will always provide a superior flavor than without it. Second, the ribs make packing in the seasoning into each individual pocket nice and easy.

To start, chop up the fresh herbs and garlic, and combine them with the lemon zest.

Pack this mixture into the cavities of the rib roast and rub into the pork liberally. I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the roast with the herbs rubbed into it, but this was for a dinner party, schedules are tight!

Scour the skin side of the roast in a checkered pattern, then pat it dry with paper towel, rub with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the whole roast up tight with kitchen twine. I happened to be out of kitchen twine on this night so I just used some thick sewing thread. I have even read accounts of people using dental floss to tie their meat, just so long as it was unflavored.

Lay out the roast in a large roasting pan skin side up.

Crank up the oven to 500 F and let the skin get nice and crispy on the outside. I let mine go for about 17 minutes at this temp.

Take the oven heat down to 350F and continue to roast. I highly recommend using a remote cooking thermometer as it gives a great deal of insight on both the internal temperature of your meat and how to balance the timing of your side dishes. I set my thermometer to have the pork at an internal temp of about 160F as i didn't want it to dry out. I worked out the total cooking time to about 72 minutes, as the pork needed about 15-20 minutes per pound.

Quarter the red potatoes and cover them with salt, pepper, and another nice drizzle of olive oil. Add the potatoes to the pork's roasting pan when the meat has about 45 minutes left to cook.

When the pork has reached it's ideal temperature, remove it from the oven, cover it in foil, and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

While the pork is resting, get to work on your veggies. I left my potatoes in for a little longer than originally anticipated just to get them a little crisper all over.

Boil the carrots until they are soft to the fork. Once they are ready add them along with the butter to a sautee pan. Continously ladle the melted butter over the carrots while they are in the pan. At the last second, add a healthy squeeze of the plum sauce and give them a final toss.

Plate and enjoy!