January 29, 2021
Korean Cuisine at Home
It is a new year, and a good time to explore cooking a new (to us) cuisine. For some of us, Korean food has always existed in the realm of restaurants. And, we wanted to take a dive into preparing a few of these amazing dishes on our own. We hope you will join us for this adventure!

Of course, Korean food highlights fresh meats, veggies, and fruits—so don't hesitate to ask our produce department or meat counter if you have any questions. And, we carry all the varieties of tofu your recipes will call for.

At Piedmont Grocery, we also carry some great Korean products. But, we are definitely not a Korean grocer—and there are some fantastic ones here in Oakland. So, we will start by highlighting our favorite Korean products in the store and include some solid substitutions that will keep your dishes authentic-tasting.
Kimchi is a staple in the Korean kitchen. These picked veggies add depth of flavor to so many dishes. And, we carry several brands and varieties to choose from. It is generally made using Napa cabbage and daikon radish.

Mother-in-Law's Kimchi uses a hand-crafted process in small batches that upholds the tradition of Kimchi making. We carry both their House (original) and Vegan varieties.

We also carry two varieties of Wildbrine Kimchi (featured below). These vegan varieties do not contain the traditional fish sauce nor do they contain gluten. We carry their Korean Kimchi and their Japanese Kimchi which is made with the addition of horseradish, citrus, and ginger.
Chili Sauces and Chili Flakes
Gochujang is a savory, sweet, and spicy condiment which is a building block for Korean flavor. It is made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, and salt. It is used in bibimbap, salads, stews, and soups. Gochujang definitely adds spiciness—but also sweetness and a touch of smokiness to dishes. We recommend having a jar on hand!

Mother-in-Law's brand carries a variety of flavors. We have highlighted their Fermented Chili Paste Concentrate below. We also carry their Tangy sauce for dipping, Bibimbap Chile Sauce with Sesame, and their Korean Chile Flakes.

Seoul Kimchi Hot Sauce is made with Korean chili peppers, ginger, garlic and their secret spice blend. It comes in Spicy and Sweet & Spicy.
Other flavors
Korean dishes call for certain ingredients that are used across several cuisines. Fish Sauce is one, and our favorite is Viet Huon's Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce.

Korean Soy Sauce is made without wheat. We recommend using San-Ji Gluten-Free Tamari. It is made with 100% soy and therefore wheat-free.

If you are looking for sesame oil, Spectrum makes wonderful expeller-pressed oils. We carry both Sesame and Toasted Sesame.

And, although we don't carry soju (Korean rice alcohol), you can substitute saké or even vodka in recipes. We do carry a nice variety of Japanese saké to choose from. Ask our wine and spirits department for a recommendation.
Conveniences and Cross-Overs
Nongshim Bowl Noodle Soup in Spicy Kimchi Flavor is a convenient bowl of this classic noodle soup. It is perfect for days when you just can't.

If you are looking for a yummy dessert to cap off your Korean meal, Mitchell's Kangka Ice Cream (made with Jackfruit) perfectly balances the spicy flavors.

For snacking, Annie Chun's Baked Seaweed Crisps have a Korean Style BBQ Flavor. They are made from roasted seaweed combined with baked brown rice chips and flavors to remind you of a sweet and savory Korean BBQ.

And, Kettle Brand Potato Chips even has a Korean BBQ flavor. They're saucy and savory, with hints of sweet plum, garlic, hoisin and vinegar.
A Staff Favorite

What are mandarinquats?
They're a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin—and they are delicious!

Eat them whole, seeds and all. This fragrant orange fruit has a sweet-tart flavor. Like a kumquat, the rind is sweet and crunchy and the flesh tangy and soft creating a super-juicy sensory experience. Mandarinquats are only available for a short season in the winter. So, get them while we have them in the store.

Mandarinquats are part of the citrus family and were originally grown in California. They are delicious both raw and cooked. Rubbing the fruit between your palms will bring out the oils in the skin, which offsets the tartness of the flesh when eaten whole. The fruits will keep up to two days at room temperature and up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator.

Mandarinquats can be sliced into rounds and added to salads, cooked in a simple syrup and garnished over meats such as roasted duck, mixed into baked goods like muffins, tarts, cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and bread, or whole slices of the rind can be caramelized or candied for a sweet flavor. The juice and zest can be incorporated into marinades, syrups, cocktails, marmalades, jams, purees, and vinaigrettes. Mandarinquats pair well with mascarpone cheese, toasted almonds, fennel, chicory, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, vanilla, sesame oil, pork, and chicken.

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

I have never really been a New Year resolution kind of gal. Sure, there have been times where I have decided to make some changes in the year to come. But, I wouldn’t call that a resolution per se. That being said, I have a plan for the new year.

Obviously, I like to eat. There are plenty of dishes that I enjoy but have never thought to try to prepare myself. So, in the new year, I’ve decided to challenge myself to navigate uncharted waters.
During the month of December, I started collecting recipes and acquiring cookbooks related to cuisines and flavors that I liked but wasn’t totally familiar with. The first of these would be the flavors of Korea. Anyone who is interested in food and food trends would know that Korean food has exploded in popularity. Gochujang seems to be everywhere and in everything but is it more than just a spicy sauce? This is what I am looking forward to finding out.

My first foray into this world last week was a recipe that was not a traditional recipe but it was darn tasty none the less. The gochujang ribs recipe listed below is very approachable for those who aren’t ready for the deep dive into Korean cuisine. Full disclosure, I didn’t use baby back ribs as directed in the original recipe. I used regular pork spare ribs out of personal preference. I think they taste better and, because they have more fat content, they don’t dry out. Either choice works well.

My plan is to take all of you on this journey with me over the next few weeks. Hopefully, I can inspire you to take up a challenge of your own or at the very least, give something different to try for dinner.

A Staff Favorite

Gochujang is the most popular pantry staple in Korea and Mother-in-Laws is our favorite.
We use it in traditional Korean dishes—and also like tomato paste in cooking, dips, sauces, or sandwich spreads to impart spicy umami flavors.

Mother-in-Law’s signature gochujang paste is made using time-honored traditional methods. The unique, thick consistency comes from finely milled sweet rice flour and ground gochugaru chile, which blend together seamlessly in a surprising balance of hot and sweet. Add a spoonful to your marinades for meat, seafood, or vegetables, blend with other condiments such as mayo and ketchup, or mix with soups and stews.

Mother-in-Law’s grew out of a labor of love to share a delicious, artisanal kimchi. As an avid food and wine lover, founder, Lauryn Chun, was inspired to recreate the same recipes from her mother’s beloved restaurant in Southern California. Lauryn was inspired by the beauty of Korea's handcrafted tradition of kimchi as a fine food that belongs in the ranks of fine fermented foods like wine, cheese and beer.

And if all this isn't good enough, the natural fermentation process in making Gochujang means it a healthy probiotic food that is good for your digestion.

We also carry Mother-in-Law's Gochugjang Fermented Tangy Chile Sauce for dipping, Gochugjang Bibimbap Sesame Chile Sauce, and Gochugaru Korean Chile Pepper Flakes.

A Cookbook Recommendation

By Maanghci
A complete course on Korean cuisine for the home cook by the world's foremost authority on Korean cooking.

Her millions of fans compare her to Julia Child. An Internet sensation, Maangchi has won the admiration of home cooks and chefs alike with her trademark combination of good technique and good cheer as she demonstrates the vast and delicious cuisine of Korea. In Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking, she shows how to cook all the country’s best dishes, from few-ingredient dishes, to those made familiar by Korean restaurants, to homey one-pots like Bibimbap.

For beginners, there are dishes like Spicy Beef and Vegetable Soup and Seafood Scallion Pancake. Maangchi includes a whole chapter of quick, spicy, sour kimchis and quick pickles as well. Banchan, or side dishes, are mainstays of the Korean table and can comprise a meal.

With her step-by-step photos—800 in all—Maangchi makes every dish a snap. A full glossary, complete with photos, explains ingredients. Throughout, Maangchi suggests substitutions where appropriate and provides tips based on her readers’ questions.
News & Events

A recent addition to our produce aisle, Rainbow Carrots have serious appeal!

Organic rainbow carrots are as versatile as they come, and they are especially fun to cook with as each vibrant color offers a distinctly different flavor. These brightly-colored beauties support good health and a balanced diet.

Beyond flavor and color, each variety of carrot has a unique nutritional profile as well, including beta-carotene, anti-oxidants, vitamin C.

Eat your rainbow!

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Fry It Up In A Pan
So, I have been continuing my Korean cuisine adventure. It’s been fun and certainly informative. The food has been great. But, I think I now know the reason it’s better to go out and get Korean food. Of course, home made is better, but if yours is not a daily Korean kitchen you will find that having the correct ingredients and the variety of ingredients can be overwhelming. My pantry is not set up to handle this. For example, I wanted to make my favorite tofu stew and it called for kimchi. The kimchi recipe made eight pounds! I like kimchi but with pounds is a bit much. And, my sister will only take so much off my hands. In a nutshell, this quest has made me tired.

As much as I wanted to make truly authentic Korean food (and I am still working on it) my interest has wandered to the dishes that are a little easier to make—and that don’t require a multitude of ingredients that I may only use once.

My main focus has been the pancakes. I love the pancakes. For me, no Korean dinner is complete without at least one pancake and one is usually not enough.

I love these anytime. They’re great for lunch and even better in the middle of your table as a side along with your Galbi or Bulgogi. My favorite are the seafood pancakes but I won’t say no to a kimchi pancake or even just a plain scallion pancake. I’ve also just discovered zucchini pancakes that are served with a pine nut sauce. YUM! I am the only person in my house that would even think about eating zucchini. So, those will be reserved for the nights when it’s just me…whenever that may be.

From our blog, The Cocktail Post

This recipe makes a surprising and delicious variation on mulled wine. It will warm you up on a winter night and is delicious served with dessert cheeses. An added benefit is that it fills your home with an amazing aroma while it is mulling.

Mulled wine is fairly easy to prepare, it just takes a little time on the stove. And, you can keep any leftovers in a sealed jar in fridge to reheat tomorrow.

News & Events

The new streaming service features both innovative and multicultural concerts.

The San Francisco Symphony has announced its new on-demand streaming platform, SFSymphony+. The service is subscription-based, and does offer some free content.

The service features new CURRENTS episodes that explore Indian classical, Native American, Zimbabwean, Persian, and Klezmer musical cultures. And, their SOUNDBOX series features innovative music for the adventurous listener.

You can check out their offerings of free digital concerts including a Chinese New Year Celebration.

Not only is this a great way to access relevant, curated concerts, but also you can feel good about supporting a cultural institution during a time when they are having so many challenges staying afloat.

Korean Recipes from our Archive
From our blog, The Kitchen Table

We have two more Korean and Korean-inspired recipes in our archives we want to be certain to highlight in this issue. Our repertoire of Korean recipes is small but growing!

This counts as a fusion recipe because the flavors are Korean but the roasting technique is Western. It is amazing what Gochujang does to the humble chicken. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Fried Chicken, or chicin, became popular in Korea because of American cultural influence around the Korean War. In South Korea, fried chicken is consumed as a meal, an appetizer, or as an after-meal snack.
A Staff Favorite

Delicious straight out of the jar or in your favorite recipes.
A gluten-free and completely vegan version of the classic Korean kimchi. Fermented for days in all the traditional spice, flavor, and richness that Korean peppers, sea veggies, and ginger can offer—yet without any of the fish sauce, MSG or sugar. And, the natural fermentation process is full of probiotics and fantastic for your digestion.

Wildbrine is located in Windsor, CA about 60 miles to the north. This small, specialty food company has been making kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles since 2011. All of their products are naturally fermented, without vinegar. Wildbrine uses Nappa cabbage in their kimchi products.

We also carry Wildbrine's Japanese Kimchi and sauerkraut.

News & Events

Oakland is celebrating MLK Day in 2021 as 40 Days of Service from January 15 to February 28, 2021.

Pitch in in your local neighborhood to clean up and pledge to be Oaktown PROUD!

How you can get involved
Volunteer actions you can do from your home include virtual volunteering and education.
Learn more on this page.

You can also register as a public works volunteer and be matched to projects throughout the year.

Adopt a Spot supports volunteers in upkeep of parks, creeks, shorelines, storm drains, streets, trails, and other public spaces. Volunteers have adopted hundreds of sites around Oakland. Public Works can provide tool loans, debris collection services, and technical assistance. Learn more here.

Oakland Adopt a Drain program seeks volunteers to help keep storm drains clear of debris. Keeping storm drain inlets clear helps maintain water quality and prevent flooding during storms.

Visit the City of Oakland website for more resources.
From our blog, The Cocktail Post

This is a recipe for a Negroni with the simple supplementation of fresh lemon juice and a splash of sweet. The result is a bright and fresh version of the classic drink that is simple to prepare and a bit lighter on the alcohol.

Recipes for the Lunar New Year from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table

We often refer to the Lunar New Year as Chinese New Year. But, let's not forget the other countries who celebrate the new year at this time including Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet (among others). We have combed through our recipe archive to come up with some great dishes so you can create your own home Lunar New Year celebration.
Chinese Cuisine

This dish is perfect over a mound of steamed rice. This classic dish originated in the Sichuan Province of China and it is so great to be able to make it at home.

Adapted from the cookbook Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok by Jennie Low. You can make this recipe with pan fried noodles (Hong Kong Style) or fresh cooked Chow Mein noodles. The crispy version is listed here but it’s easy to swap for the softer version.

Making the filling for the dumplings is fairly uncomplicated. All you are doing is just mixing the ingredients together. The difficult part of making dumplings is in the folding of the wrapper. They can be tricky and it takes some practice to get it right.

Stir-fried lettuce is an auspicious dish to serve for Chinese New Year, birthdays, and graduations. The Cantonese word for lettuce, saang choi, is a homonym for “growing money.” Romaine lettuce is well suited for stir-frying because the quick, intense cooking accentuates its natural sweetness.
Vietnamese Cuisine

This dish has been on the menu of the Slanted Door in San Francisco since it opened in 1995. It is an upgrade from the classic dish using a more tender cut of meat. It’s easy, and very tasty, and definitely worth a try… 

This marinated Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. If we don't have the weather for grilling, try roasting it in the oven. It is also delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber Salad.

This salad is so delicious that you may make it part of your regular rotation. It is important to use the Persian or Japanese cucumbers because the skin is thin and mild-flavored.

The combination of meat and pickled veggies with the cilantro and chilies on fresh French bread is rhapsodic, and worthy of enthusiastic discussion. This basic recipe is for Grilled Chicken Ban Mi. See below for variations for Black Pepper Pork and vegetarian Lemongrass Tofu. 

This is our go-to recipe for a quick Pho dinner. Yes, you can make your own stock…and it is delicious. But, there are days when we don't have the time. Just ask our guys in the meat department will slice you some extra-thin meat to cook in the boiling broth.
Some of our recipes have been developed by Westerners using Asian flavors, but are nonetheless delicious.

A quick and easy, no-churn ice cream, inspired by Vietnamese Iced Coffee. It’s creamy, sweet and uses sweetened condensed milk.

Velveting the shrimp—that is, marinating it in egg white and cornstarch, then poaching it in water—takes a little bit of time, but the payoff is plump, juicy shrimp that won't overcook.

This dish is really good and, we bet it would be delicious even without the shrimp. You could easily substitute some browned chicken thighs.

This recipe includes instruction on how to make Japanese Togarashi Spice Blend. It is often used as a finishing spice and is delicious in many dishes.

This dish of steamed pork bun on a bed of stir-fried vegetables with crispy won tons is delicious!
And, if you would like to learn more about Japan's national beverage read our article on Demystifying Saké. Not unlike with wine, there is a whole world of saké, and it can be daunting for the uninitiated. At Piedmont Grocery we stock a good selection, and encourage you to explore its flavors.

Saké, a traditional Japanese rice wine, has four basic ingredients: polished rice, water, koji, and yeast. Koji is the magical mold that converts the starch in the rice into sugars. The saké-making process involves brewing, in two steps, where the starches in the rice are converted to alcohol. Sake is not carbonated, like beer, and is not at all distilled like spirits. Its taste profile is closer to wine, but also uniquely different.

Vendor of the Month

What could be more delicious than a crusty piece of bread with a warming bowl of soup? This is the time of year when simple comforts bring a lot of happiness.

Acme Bread is phenomenal. It is always fresh, made from delicious, top-quality ingredients, and affordably priced. Plus, everything they make is good…so good, we sometimes find it hard to stop.

Acme Bread Company is a Berkeley culinary legend. And, they have proven themselves once again by filling our shelves with fresh bread daily—every day during this pandemic.

Piedmont Grocery carries many of their breads including their Sourdough and Rustic Sweet Baguettes, Sourdough and Rustic Sweet Batard, Pain au Levain, Ciabatta, Upstairs Bread, Cranberry Walnut Loaf, and Olive Bread.

Temporary Store Hours During Shelter-in-Place

Daily from
10 AM to 8 PM

Special shopping hour for seniors
9 AM to 10 AM

We will update you with any new hours as the shelter-in-place situation unfolds.

Free Parking 

4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611

(510) 653-8181

Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and droppable-1611878406464resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.