Here in Korea everyone’s telling me it’s a good time to introduce meat to Baby’s diet. I felt a little weird about that so I asked her doctor and she also recommended I start introducing meats to provide her with iron. I looked at some meat purée recipes but they look really gross. It kind of reminds me of cat food! I also have been trying out some baby-led weaning. I let Baby feed herself rice cakes and pieces of squash, but I don’t think she can handle big chunks of meat yet. So, I’ve decided to try out my Korean baby food book. The recipes look pretty appealing and resemble actual food so I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t count on it being so much work! There is a lot of slicing and dicing involved. Supposedly, Koreans don’t do any freezing of the baby food but I think I may slice and dice all the meats and veggies and freeze them to cut down on waste and prep work. I asked a couple of friends who say that they do all the prep work at once and freeze the chopped veggies and meats. I know the purists will say it’s not fresh but hey I have a six month old to take care of so I can’t be chopping veggies all day!
What I made today is called 죽 (chook) it’s a rice porridge with meat and veggies. I’ve also heard people call it “congee” before. It’s supposed to be easy to digest and Koreans eat chook when they are sick.
First I had to make a broth for the chook. I went to the supermarket and asked for meat for making broth. I’m not sure what cut it is in English. But it looks like flank meat. In Korean you can ask for “양지” (yangji). For my broth, I needed 100 grams of beef, 1/4 of an onion, and 8 cups of water. I brought the water to a boil with the meat and onion then skimmed off that nasty foamy stuff that floated up to the surface. I found a small strainer with a handle worked really well for that job!
After getting rid of all that foamy stuff, I simmered the broth for one hour. When that was done, I took out the meat and onions and put it in the fridge. When I woke up this morning there was some white fat that accumulated on the surface. I removed it and divided my broth into portions in milk storage bags. The bags work great for freezing!
Well, I have to say this was a lot of work! But I have a good amount and I shouldn’t run out for a week or so. Since babies shouldn’t have salt until their first year, I guess this is a good way to season her food. Most of the recipes call for 3/4 of a cup, so this should be about 8 portions or so. You don’t really need to do this but it is a little tastier. You can also use water though.
Here comes the tricky part! Making the chook! I tried once and messed up, so I had to adjust the recipe from the cook book I used.
First, I soaked about a tablespoon of uncooked rice. Another cookbook I have says you can use two tablespoons of cooked rice (depending on the consistency you are looking for I guess).
You’ll need some good minced beef. The beef we used was Korean and costs about eight bucks for 100 grams! In order not to create any waste, I froze my beef in ice cube trays. One cube should be more than enough for her porridge.
I cooked up the meat in a frying pan and put it in 3/4 of a cup of broth. Now the cookbook says 1/4 of a cup but this was not enough for me! Another cookbook says 3/4 of a cup so I will go with that. Next I cut up the broccoli. The recipe says not to cut the stem just use the “flower” part and to slice it into .3 centimeter pieces. You’ll need to put a tablespoon of this “broccoli flower” in the chook later.
Next I had to put the rice in the blender with 1/4 of a cup of water. I blended for a few seconds then transferred it to my broth. Next time I will use cooked rice from our rice cooker since my husband and I eat a lot of rice and always have some cooked rice ready. Soaking the rice and blending it is way too much fiddling for me and it is really difficult to get the little ground pieces out of the blender!
Now you’ll need to bring the rice and meat to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. While it’s cooking, keep stirring so it doesn’t scorch. Add the broccoli in last.
This is what my finished product looks like. This was pretty time-consuming for such a small amount and I’m a little dubious of mothers who claim to make this for three meals a day. I hear some Koreans do use a delivery service and I’ve also seen a baby menu at chook restaurants before. Hmmmm
Anyway this week I decided to give it a try in the rice cooker. My rice cooker has a setting to make chook! I just put the rice and veggies, some broth and water in the rice cooker and pushed a button. About two hours later and voila! Really good chook! Much better than my other attempt. I know the purists will say that it is not to be frozen but to heck with them! I’m freezing my chook! Here is my rice cooker chook.
The last pic is mom’s chook with soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and salt and pepper.