WHAT AM I COOKING UP IN WEST OAKLAND?
My name is Sunhui Chang, chef and owner of soon to be open FuseBOX, a small 20-seat restaurant located in the West Oakland compound called O2 (the site of a former oxygen plant). O2 is the “home” of Outsider Art Wood Sculptor, John Abduljaami (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYaFUTqazH0), Joinery Structures, and other craftsman. Joinery Structures (joinerystructures.com/) is the Design-Build Team for FuseBOX. I’m excited to open FuseBOX, a restaurant that will be serving Korean and some non-Korean cuisine in an Izakaya* format. (Please read the sample menu below.) I’m passionate about this because I feel it’s the perfect platform to showcase Korean cuisine, as it will offer a friendlier atmosphere and allow customers to indulge in more variety of the menu items. We’ll have a well-informed staff that can explain away any mysteries. What I’m going for is quality food in an atmosphere that is fun, lively, relaxed and affordable. *An izakaya is a type of Japanese drinking establishment, which also serves food to accompany the drinks. They are popular, casual places for after-work drinking also known as salary-man’s food.
For the past year, I have been furthering my education in the traditional techniques of Korean cuisine with a focus on food preservation (kimchi, pickles and dried fish), and the making of small batch tofu. I, also, have learned how to make and age Go Chu Jang, a traditional Korean chili paste that is fundamental to Korean cuisine. Today, most Koreans, including restaurants, purchase their Go Chu Jang off the shelf. It is becoming a bit of a lost art, especially since it takes at least 60 days of aging. The Go Chu Jang is stored in a traditional Korean ceramic pot with a lid: The pot opening is covered with cheesecloth and stored outdoors. Each day the lid is removed in the morning and covered at night. True “slow food”. Go Chu Jang, if stored properly, can last years. Kimchi** making is a traditional Korean fermented pickling technique, the most classic being the napa cabbage “Kimchi”, along with Korean radish/daikon “Ggakdugi” and cucumber “Oi” being the other favorites. But, it can be made with a variety of other ingredients; I am now successfully making kimchi with what I refer to as the “offal” of vegetables, such as the green tops of radishes. I see so many people just cut off and throw away the tops of radishes, when in actuality; these tops are the real prize. Radishes are great, but these greens are more nutritious, more complex, more versatile, and as a kimchi, a taste to die for. At FuseBOX we say, “I bleed kimchi”.
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