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Breakfast with Eun Hee An: tarak-juk (king’s congee) with crab | Australian food and drink

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“I don’t like the idea that good food is intimidating,” says Eun Hee An.

True to this approach, An tells me that her chosen breakfast of tarak-juk – a rice porridge, or congee, made with one part milk and two parts dashi, or broth – is “so simple.”

Topped with crabmeat, ginger and scallion, the dish is both tasty and light, especially when served with white kimchi, as An suggests. And if crab seems like a big demand for a dish “simple”, An says you can use “any type of crab, cooked or raw, leftover or fresh or prepackaged – anything you can easily get”.

Breakfast with Eun Hee An: tarak-juk (king’s congee) with crab |  Australian food and drink

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The chef and founder of Moon Mart Eun Hee An. Photography: Jun Chen

Making congee with milk is far from a new idea; in fact, it dates back several centuries. Originally, tarak-juk was a dish of the royal courts of Korea during the Joseon era that combined milk, ground glutinous rice, and honey or sugar to make a smooth, sweet and delicate porridge.

“It’s the only traditional Korean dish that contains milk,” she says. “There was a herd of dairy cows for the royal court and the doctors made tarak-juk for the king. “

“So this is the king’s congee, which seems pretty special. “

While her recipe has “nothing to do with the tarak-juk you get in Korea,” An says it’s the combination of rice and milk that is so heartwarming.

“When we were writing a menu for [restaurant] Moon Park, my weird boyfriend [Ben Sears] kept asking me questions about it. We did and it was surprisingly awesome.

An’s culinary career began when she moved to Australia to study French cuisine. Once, she says, she never imagined cooking Korean food for a living.

Over time, however, she found herself drawn to the cuisine of her childhood.

“I grew up cooking with my grandmothers … I guess the further you get away from it, the more you appreciate it.”

A Moon Park in Redfern and Paper Bird at Potts Point have already been operated alongside Sears. After the closure of Paper Bird, she launched Moon Mart, an online store selling a range of Asian condiments, pickles and snacks, in November of last year.

Everything from basics like kimchi to XO vegan sauce and limited edition items is made by An in an after-hours bakery. His more experimental products have included different types of cheong (fruit preserved in sugar, with a consistency similar to jam) or blood orange kosho, a fermented condiment with chili peppers.

His immediate hopes for Moon Mart are to expand the product offering, but “at some point in the future a brick and mortar space that could serve as a cafe would be good.”

As for the dream breakfast scenario, An describes one that will resonate with many people whose loved ones are in far away places: “I think my family might be there. I haven’t seen them for a few years because of the pandemic.

“And I can cook. They never really tried my cooking properly; I left for Australia right after high school. My dog ​​Bear is also there, but unfortunately for him he can’t eat, because Korean food is full of garlic and onion!

Eun Hee An tarak-juk with crab

Preperation 15 min
to cook 35-40 minutes
Serves 2

Breakfast with Eun Hee An: tarak-juk (king’s congee) with crab |  Australian food and drink

 |  Latest News Headlines
Eun Hee An’s point of view on the tarak-juk. Food styling: Ann Ding. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins / The Guardian

1 ⅓ cup cooked short grain rice
2 cups of whole milk (500 ml)
4 cups dashi or light chicken broth, or 4 cups water plus 70 ml shirodashi
(a concentrate of seasoning and soup broth available from Korean or Japanese grocers)
White soy sauce or additional shirodashi for seasoning
Ground white pepper
120g crab meat
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
3-4 thin slices of ginger, finely cut into julienne
Kimchi white
(a type of mild kimchi made without chili, available at Korean or Japanese grocery stores – or Moon Mart)

Place the cooked rice, milk and dashi in a 20 cm saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring to break up the sticky rice, if necessary. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot. The tarak-juk should have a thick consistency, similar to porridge.

Season the tarak-juk to taste with ground white pepper (a little goes a long way) and a little extra shirodashi, if needed.

Divide the tarak-juk between two bowls, then top each with half the crab meat, the ginger in fine julienne and the chopped spring onion. Serve with white kimchi on the side.

To note: If you want to make dashi from scratch: Soak a 12cm piece of kombu in five cups of water overnight, then in the morning, bring the kombu and water to a boil over medium heat. Remove the kombu from the pan and add a cup, or about 10 g of bonito flakes. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a boil for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Let the bonito flakes infuse for 10 minutes, then strain.

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