Tag Archives: Grilled Cheese Invitational

April 25, 2010 – Recipe for Korean Grilled Cheese With Braised Short Ribs

25 Apr

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Here’s my recipe for my entry from last year’s Grilled Cheese Invitational. For some reason, no one took an actual picture of the sandwich. It’s a time-consuming recipe that’ll take at least two days to make. There is no way I’m making this again unless there’s a cash prize to be won. Instead, here’s a stock photo of Abondance cheese. I found a photo of a grilled cheese I made the next day with leftover Abondance cheese and bread. This is the closest photo evidence I have of my sandwich.

For galbi jjim

4 pounds of beef short ribs

1 1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup sugar (I prefer brown)

1/2 cup plum wine

2 1/2 cup water

1/2 yellow onion, sliced

1 carrot, cut into large slices

1/4 cup gingko nuts (optional)

8 cloves garlic

1 scallion diced

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

1/2 Asian pear, peeled and grated

tbsp of toasted sesame seeds

ground pepper to taste

1. Score the short ribs cross-wise, so it’s divided into 4 pieces on the bone. Bring water to a boil in a large pot to a simmer. Parboil the ribs for 30 minutes (Parboiling for a braise is normally not the way to go. But the braising liquid in a galbi jjim is strong, and Koreans don’t like their ribs as greasy as a traditional pot roast. But if you want a more tender cut of meat, you can skip this part and add more water to the braising liquid)

2. Combine all the other ingredients and stir to taste. You can adjust the sugar depending on how sweet you like the dish. I actually use 2/3 cup brown sugar, because I like a more sweeter dish.

3. Place meat in the braising liquid. Simmer on low heat for at least 1 1/2 hours.

4. Once it’s fork tender, take ribs out and let it cool.

This galbi jjim recipe is only for the grilled cheese. I usually make a slightly more complex version if serving this as the main course. That’s for another time.

For pickled shallots (white kimchi shallots)

4 shallot bulbs, sliced into thin strips

2 cups water

1/4 cup sea salt

2 tbsp. sugar

3-4 cloves garlic, diced

1 red chile, seeded and diced

1 Asian pear, sliced into thin strips

1. Bring water, salt and sugar to a near boil to make a brine. Let cool

2. Sterilize a pickling jar in boiling water.

3. Stuff shallots, chiles, garlic and Asian pear in the jar. Top to the brim with brine.

4. Seal the jar (make sure it’s airtight by not leaving any space at the top) and cool in the refrigerator for at least a day, and up to a week.

For the grilled cheese

2 pounds galbi jjim short ribs, pulled into pieces (I used my hands, which leaves bigger morsels than pulling with a fork)

pickled shallots

8 slices sesame bread (I got mine from La Brea Bakery)

3 cups Abondance cheese, shredded

unsalted butter, softened

1 clove garlic, sliced

black sesame seed

1. Either grill the slices of bread or toast in a 500-degrees oven for 2-3 minutes.

2. Take the garlic clove and slice it in half. Rub both sides of the bread slices with the cut side of the garlic.

3. Butter one side of two slices of bread. Layer one slice with a handful of shredded cheese, some galbi jjim, another handful of cheese, a few slices of shallots and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Top with the other slice.

4. Grill on one side for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Flip sandwich and grill the other side for another 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. Weigh down the sandwich with a brick wrapped in foil or a heavy pan (greased) to meld all the ingredients together.

5. Eat and/or enter in a grilled cheese competition.

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April 24, 2010 – My Time In Last Year’s Grilled Cheese Invitational

24 Apr

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Hilary (red head) delivers grilled cheese sandwiches (Source: LAist)

“Are you going to enter the Grilled Cheese Invitational this year?”

I got asked this question numerous times over the last month as the Grilled Cheese Invitational, which took place on April 24th,¬†approached. Every single time, I answered with an emphatic “no.” Then I had to go into an explanation as to why I thought the event was a travesty. Last year, it too over two hours to get into the venue. Then there was another line to get into the beer garden. And yet another like to get a quarter grilled cheese sandwich made with Kraft individually-wrapped slices. The only thing that didn’t have a line was samples from the contestants. That involved an anarchic scrum that you fought through. Then you had to yell really obnoxiously or show boobies to get the attention of whoever was handing out grilled cheese samples. Needless to say, it was not fun.

It wasn’t that fun as a competitor either. Last year, I signed myself up to see how I’d do. I decided to sign up for the “Kama Sutra” division, which is the toughest one. Basically, anything goes. Meat, bread, accompaniments, whatever your imagination can come up with, it can go in the sandwich. The defending champion was Eric Greenspan, head chef at the Foundry and a competitor on The Next Iron Chef. He was the judge this time, but I entered the same competition as several professional chefs. I am not a professional, not even close. I did have three lovely assistants, Abigail, Ella and Hilary, and $200 with which to spend.

After a few weeks of deliberations, I decided on a Korean grilled cheese. It was when the Kogi BBQ trucks just got big, and I’m Korean, so I thought I had a decent chance to do well. After several test sandwiches at a dinner party hosted by my friends Mike and Becca, I decided on a sandwich based around galbi jjim, or braised Korean short ribs, Abondance cheese, a semi-hard raw cow’s milk cheese from France that tastes like a slightly more pungent Cheddar, and sesame bread. I actually stole the basic concept from Greenspan’s winning grilled cheese the previous year, which was braised short ribs and taleggio. Galbi jjim is a very traditional Korean dish, but it’s not too popular outside of Korean homes. Since the braising liquid is almost the same as a Korean BBQ marinade, I thought it’d be accessible enough. As for the cheese, Abigail got me in touch with Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Santa Monica and after several tastings, Abondance was the best choice. At the last moment, I decided to add pickled shallots, made to taste like white kimchi or the Japanese tsukemono, for some crunch and a sharp flavor to cut the richness of fatty meat and fatty cheese.

The sandwich turned out pretty good. I brought my own pan for the competition, but the gas burner was too weak to heat it in time, so I used the smaller, cheaper griddle the competition provided. Because of heat issues, I also undercooked quite a bit of sandwiches, and my friend Katie said she got one where the cheese was still shredded. It was chaotic in the beginning, but as the 30-minute time limit elapsed, we all settled into a rhythm. Abigail did prep work in back, Ella was a one-woman assembly line, Hilary worked the crowd and won votes, and I cooked and flipped. The last sandwich was for the judges, and for Mr. Greenspan himself. Despite the undercooked sandwiches beforehand, this was the one that mattered. I cooked it carefully to a crisp, golden finish, and the cheese properly fused the bread and meat together. I delivered it to Eric, who asked what it was. “It’s a Korean grilled cheese, with short ribs,” I answered. He looked at it, took a bite, and then proclaimed it “awesome.”

The sandwich was awesome, but not awesome enough to win. I lost to a sandwich that had rabbit confit slow-cooked in duck fat. There was another sandwich that used foie gras. It seems that bigger was better, and the more luxurious ingredients, the better the result. Even though I spent a little over $200, I could not and would not keep up with the grilled cheese arms race. Our sandwich was well received, and at the end we only had a one word compliment from Greenspan as a reward for all our time, money and effort we put in. Awesome indeed.

The recipe for my Korean grilled cheese will run tomorrow.

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