Cucumber Quick-Kimchi


The month of May was pretty busy.  Tons of paperwork, and a lot of insurance companies seemed to change what medications they were willing to pay for without warning.  So there were a lot of forms to fill out, to either change the medications or to beg (pleasepleaseprettyplease keep paying for my patient’s insulin) that an exception be made.

The busy-ness made for a lot of mediocre purchased lunches.  By Memorial Day weekend, though, I had had it with crappy lunches, and I had a huge craving for Korean food.  So I made some quick cucumber “kimchi.”  It’s not really kimchi because it doesn’t ferment, but it has the spiciness and saltiness of any good kimchi.

This is my mother’s recipe – she used to make this for me a lot when I lived at home during medical school.  Mixed in with some leftover rice and leftover flank steak (and a good dousing of sesame oil), it hit the spot.

Quick Cucumber “Kimchi” [my mother’s recipe, although very similar to the one found here]

2 small cucumbers (Kirby or “seedless” cucumbers)

1 teaspoon salt, to taste

scant teaspoon gochugaru (= Korean chili flakes.  They are NOT like American chili powder or crushed red pepper flakes)

small clove of garlic,  minced (if it doesn’t have garlic in it, it’s not Korean food)

1 scallion, thinly sliced (the white and the light green parts only)

1 teaspoon vinegar (plain vinegar or rice wine, not balsamic or red wine)

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon crushed sesame seeds

Wash the cucumbers and slice thinly.  Mix in all the ingredients thoroughly, using your hands if needed.  Taste for seasoning.

TIME: 10-15 minutes.  Super quick, super easy.

COST: All in all, not bad.  The biggest expense will be the gochukaru.  It’s easy to find at most Asian food shops, but the problem is is that you end up buying a fairly hefty bag for it, just to use a few teaspoons at a time.  :-/

WANDERING EYE FACTOR: i.e. how likely am I to go out and buy something else instead.  Low – when my coworkers took me out for lunch, I was actually disappointed that I wasn’t eating this instead!

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Work Day Lunch

Why lunch?

Because it’s one of the best parts of the work day, but instead of getting something that tasted good, I was running out for mediocre, expensive food.  

Who are you?

I’m a family doctor, who recently moved to the Tampa Bay Area to work.  I see patients for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  At lunch time, you’ll usually find me at my desk, eating while I catch up on charts, review lab results, go through refill requests, do paperwork, and (sometimes) reading food blogs.

What’s wrong with buying lunch every day?

  • It’s expensive.
  • A lot of times, it’s not all that tasty.
  • I don’t work in a place with a lot of restaurants nearby, so there isn’t a lot of variety.
  • It was taking up too much of my lunch hour to go out and buy something, so I’d end up having to scarf it down in order to make it back to the office in time to see the afternoon patients.
  • I’ve treated one too many patients who have worked in restaurants that I’ve eaten at, that have come in with mysterious, possibly infectious skin diseases or GI bugs….and have kept working despite their symptoms.  I understand not being able to take time off of work, but it does sort of take the shine off of eating at these particular restaurants.  

Where’d you get this idea?

Shutterbean’s posts on photographing what she’d brought for lunch, as well as lunch at the Canal House.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m jealous of the fact that they can accompany their lunch with Prosecco if they choose.  I don’t think that’d go over well with my patients, though.)

So what’s the goal?

Bring lunch to work as often as I can, using this blog to remember winners, losers, keep track of recipes, and keep myself on track with this project.  

What does that boil down to?

  1. MAKE LUNCH SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: No purpose in packing a lunch that is so boring or so bland that that corner deli sandwich starts looking really good.  
  2. MAKE SOMETHING THAT IS AFFORDABLE: Doesn’t save any money to brown bag it if you end up spending a lot on exotic ingredients.
  3. PREP/REHEAT TIME MUST BE REASONABLE: Might as well drive and go out to a restaurant if it takes a long time to assemble a salad or a sandwich.  

Wish me luck!

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