This post is about two different things that were not meant to be together but ended up a perfect match. The first half of this mouth-watering meal was what you see above. Kohlrabi. Now, I have to admit. I have seen these guys at almost every market this summer and let’s just say it was not love at first sight. At first I associated kohlrabi with artichoke due to its shape and apparent layers. That immediately created a disconnect in my head because although I LOVE a steamed artichoke with lemon and butter, I don’t typically buy it or care for it outside of a rare occasion. So it was more of a “meh” than an “ew” if you will. The next few times, I talked to some vendors about it. “What is it?”, “What does it taste like”, “How do you eat it?”, “Are the greens edible?” and so on and so forth. Everything boiled down to a few weeks back at the Sunday Glenwood Market in Rogers Park (REPRESENT!) when a freak storm rolled through our city creating mass amounts of chaos for about 10 minutes. Gusts of wind picked up canopies and tents that housed many of the market’s options that day while sand and dirt from the nearby construction on Morse kicked up into our eyes. It wasn’t pretty, but kinda cool…just like kohlrabi. A few vendors remained through the mayhem including an organic farm selling mostly greens. We were in a bit of a rush with the impeding weather and the vendor informed us that the bunches I saw on the table were 3 for $7. I scooped up beets and spinach immediately and then …there it was…the infamous kohlrabi. I don’t know if it was the Wizard of Oz-esque winds that were quickly bringing in a cold front or the devilish kohlrabi staring me down again, but spontaneity took over and I snatched a bunch of these artichoke cabbage looking things and shoved them into my bag. We were off.
When we got home, I had three goals. Find out what kohlrabi is, how to prepare it, and how to cook it. Here is what I found out. Kohlrabi, from the cabbage family, is a vegetable that grows above ground (this is no root veg folks) and resembles the taste of radishes or brocoli. It is crisp, clean, with a slight sweetness. The outer layer is meant to be peeled and the bulbs can be eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, really however you like. From what I understand, the greens can be eaten but most people choose not to. It’s name? German for cabbage and turnip. Is it good for you? Oh yeah. Packed with Vitamin C and fiber. I was sold.
Now, I didn’t get into the kohlrabi too quickly. I was patient and the kohlrabi sat for a few days in the cooler. We both needed a break. It had gotten too intense too fast. But after a few days and some other veggies, I was ready. We were gonna give this a try. What inspired me? A need for greens in the meal I was already preparing. And here too is where the second half of this meal enters the scene: Bulgogi.
I am new to Korean food, like 5 years new, and unlike kohlrabi…Korean food had me at hello. Matt and I enjoy all kinds of Korean food these days. In fact, for our first date I recommended a Korean bbq place around the corner from where I grew up: Hae Woon Dae. These days some of our favorite Korean spots are Woo Chon for BBQ and Da Rae Jung for naengmyun. Because we love Korean food so much, I have been experimenting with recipes at home. I was very successful with seafood pancakes, not so successful with chop chae and super-duper successful with a bulgogi marinade I found here: http://savorysweetlife.com/2009/07/marinade-this-bulgogi-recipe-korean-barbequed-beef/. Thanks Alice! Alas, here is where kohlrabi was introduced to Bulgogi. In searching for something to accompany this dish, I figured the kohlrabi would be a nice pairing. I wanted to keep it raw and considered a slaw of some sort due to its texture and crispness. Then, I found Virgina! She has a blog too: http://www.harnessyourkimchi.com/. I used her recipe here as inspiration for the kohlrabi I prepared for dinner that night: http://www.harnessyourkimchi.com/2010/06/recipe-asian-kohlrabi-slaw.html. Thanks Virginia!
In the end, the two were a match made in heaven! Dinner was divine, and I felt accomplished! Thank you Virgina and Alice for helping me along the way!