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NPR Arts & Life

Cook Your Cupboard Korean-American Style

This is an installment of NPR's , an ongoing food series about working with what you have on hand. Have a food that has you stumped? and we'll ask chefs about our favorites. The current submission category: Freezer Finds!

Korean-American chef Edward Lee gives suggestions for how to use canned olives and noodles — ingredients that have eluded David Hobson of Frisco, Texas. Hobson submitted his dilemma to Cook Your Cupboard. Lee wouldn't touch Hobson's third find, canned mackerels, but he does give a tip on how to use Korean spices.

On his website, chef Edward Lee <a href="http://chefedwardlee.com/bio/">is described</a> as "one part Southern soul, one part Asian spice, and one part New York attitude."
/ Courtesy of Dan Dry
On his website, chef Edward Lee <a href="http://chefedwardlee.com/bio/">is described</a> as "one part Southern soul, one part Asian spice, and one part New York attitude."

The Food: Olives

Hobson once bought a can of chopped olives, he says, thinking he might someday incorporate them into a dish — to no avail.

The Fix: Dip!

Lee suggests making a dip by pairing the olives with ricotta cheese.

Pulse the olives and the ricotta in a blender and add some other herbs — like dill, parsley or chives — or add roasted red peppers until you get a chunky, textured dip.

If it needs a little bit more salt, just add some of the juice that came with the olives and pulse again until it's well-mixed.

Serve it with Melba toast, crostini or vegetables.

The Food: Mystery Noodles

Hobson seems to have no idea where they came from — nor where they should go.

The Fix: A Dish Best Served Cold

Make a refreshing summer entree by soaking the noodles in cold water first, then blanching until soft.

Then put them back into ice water and serve cold.

Korean spice blends bought to make <a href="http://momofuku.com/new-york/ssam-bar/bo-ssam/">Momofuku's bo ssam</a> roast pork.
Rachel Rottersman / Cook Your Cupboard
Korean spice blends bought to make <a href="http://momofuku.com/new-york/ssam-bar/bo-ssam/">Momofuku's bo ssam</a> roast pork.

You can always make a pad thai sauce by mixing peanut butter, coconut milk, spices and fish sauce together and adding the mix to the noodles.

The Food: Fried Mackerels

The Fix:Actually, Lee passed on this one, but did have some ideas for another submission: some surplus Korean spices posted by Rachel Rottersman.

Bonus Tips: Spice Things Up

Korean spice blends can also be used in dips or seasoning for meat.

Roasted-hot-pepper paste can be mixed with any sort of vinegar at a 2-to-1 ratio — with a bit of lemon juice, sugar and sesame oil — to make a fantastic sauce for hamburgers, noodles and anything else.

Seasoned soybean paste is similar to the Japanese miso, Lee explains.

He recommends miso-smothered chicken: Pan-fry some chicken, mix in a big, thick spoonful of soy bean paste, some chicken stock and butter until it smoothes out to a gravy consistency.

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