The Simple Things

It’s the simple things that make things work.


Gin: The drink of Jiwon

When I can, I make dishes to bring up to my Old Ladies who live in the Bronx (that’s like upstate for someone coming from Brooklyn).  It’s the simple dishes my mom used to make for me, like mackerel braised in soy sauce and spinach seasoned with sesame oil and garlic.

Cut your mackerel

Cut your mackerel

I brought them up to the Old Ladies this past Memorial Day weekend.  Ironic as this is on the weekend you’re tasked to remember.    But that’s okay, I have enough remembering for all of us.

Heads in

Heads in

I got the mackerel from the farmer’s market and they were particularly fine with their mesmerizingly bright eyes and iridescent skin.

What brais-en fish!

What brais-en fish!

Back in the day (think seventies & eighties), my mom would have mostly used canned mackerel for this dish as that is what was affordable.  She would simmer the mackerel in soy sauce to cut whatever tinny residue lingered in the flesh.   This dish is definitely an homage to her.

Savory mackerel

Savory mackerel

The spinach is a good complement to the fish (and too beautiful to pass up at my favorite vendor at the farmer’s market.)  Just make sure you wash all the grit out of it.



You want to wilt the spinach, drain, and season with sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  And just like the spinach is wilted, so are my Old Ladies.

Spinach 2

Spinach 2

Will my cooking this food keep my Old Ladies from crossing the bridge out of this world? It’s hard for me to say.

To Go

To Go

I just keep trying.

Mackerel braised in soy sauce

The ingredients

2 small mackerel, cleaned and chopped into pieces

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

ginger, grated and juiced

1 tbls honey

soy sauce, about 1/2 cup

chili flakes

water, about 1/8 cup

rice vinegar, about 1/8 cup

1/4 cup chopped scallions

salt & pepper

sesame seeds

The steps

1. In a sauce pan combine all the ingredients except sesame seeds and let boil.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the mackerel is done.

2. Sprinke with sesame seeds before serving. Best as a side with rice and kimchi.


2 thoughts on “The Simple Things

  1. I just made myself some lettuce kimchi using your recipe and it was so good. I didn’t have some ingredients [no ginger, no white or rice wine vinegar – I used red wine vinegar instead and some shady cheap Indian soy sauce] and I added some Naga fish pickle. I like that you use such simple ingredients, its terribly expensive to get “authentic” ingredients in India [where I live]. I tried to get some gochujang off my friendly Korean restaurant owner but he was reluctant to give me any since apparently its a huuuge hassle to import it to India.

    I was content to be a lurker until I read this post, but I lost my most beloved Old Lady a month ago and I want to give my month’s worth of unrequited love [I don’t know, do they feel love when they go over the bridge?] to your Old Ladies. May they live long.

    • How great that you used what you had in your pantry to make the lettuce kimchi. Really that is the best thing to do. I use Mexican chile peppers to make my kimchi because I don’t get a chance to go to the Korean market (not anywhere near me) that often. I am going to try to make my own gochujang this fall. Will post my findings and then maybe you can just make your own too.

      Thanks for extending your warm thoughts to my Old Ladies who will most likely outlast me.


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