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|May 14-20, 2009
• Keep bacteria off the menu
Practice safe cooking this summer
by Chris Macias
• The Dessert Diva
A local chef shares her sweet secrets
by Danette Randall
Healing Tea goes well beyond a soothing cup
by Clay Fong
When most people go out for Asian, they typically seek out Chinese or Japanese food, with occasional forays into Thai or Vietnamese restaurants. Korean cuisine is often neglected, which is a shame as this fare is both healthy and delicious, with winning combinations of spicy and sweet. Korean dining advocates argue that you can eat as much of this food as you want without having to worry about gaining weight or other ill effects. This claim springs from the balanced nature of this fare, which relies heavily on vegetables and healthy preparation methods; you don’t see a lot of deep-frying here.
At first glance, Boulder’s Healing Tea (although this nomenclature is a tad confusing as the name on this establishment’s receipts reads “A Cup of Peace”) simply appears to be a spot to enjoy a restorative beverage.
The setting is comfortably low-key, with an interior of light woods and a multitude of teas neatly arranged in the manner of an apothecary.
Restful music plays, and the attentive staff is more than happy to answer any questions, as well as offer a sample of their healing brews.
The menu includes such breakfast options as granola and waffles, as well as sandwiches and salad for later in the day. But more intriguing are the Korean specialties, which include sushi-like nori rolls and noodle soups including a gluten-free buckwheat variant.
Of course, there’s also a proverbial smorgasbord of teas. As we waited for our lunches, friend Shifu Solow and I sipped infusions ($3.95 for a medium) composed of honey, water and fruit. Shifu found his jujube beverage a bit sweet for his taste, but I found my iced honey-ginger concoction refreshing with smooth, soothing flavor.
Shifu selected a $9.99 bibimbob, which literally translates to “mixed meal.” This classic Korean dish consisted of cabbage, spinach, carrot and mild pickles piled atop a bowl of rice. A fried egg also adorned this dish, as did bits of marinated chicken emanating a pleasing perfume of salt and sesame. Beef is also a protein option, as is tofu for those who prefer a meatless experience. As with the best examples of this dish, Healing Tea’s preparation was a well-composed mélange of tastes and textures, with crunchy veggies playing off the creaminess of the egg yolk. A side of soy-based sauce garnished with cilantro added additional flavor, and a red pepper condiment provided ample opportunity to spice things up.
In addition to a mild miso soup, our lunches came with a side of kimchi, the famous pickled cabbage dish reputed to provide protection against cancer and heart disease. Those needing to interact with others after dining needn’t fear this kimchi. Happily, it lacked the overwhelming heat and garlicky qualities that make this a healthy — but somewhat antisocial — side dish.
I also chose a Korean standby, a plate of $10.99 spicy bulgogi, or barbecued beef. Morsels of boneless meat were appropriately tender, and crisp carrots and other vegetables rounded out this dish. Most important, the seasoning drove home the point that this cuisine excels in combining peppery heat with fruity sweetness without allowing one flavor to overpower the other. Given Healing Tea’s demonstrated mastery of flavor, both the newcomer to this dining style and the experienced old hand will find something to appreciate at this hospitable tea shop.
Photo: Charles Loughlin
Clay’s obscurity corner
Kimchi is the most famous of banchan (Korean side dishes). Napa cabbage often provides the base for this pungent pickle, although scallion and daikon radish versions are also common. Kimchi’s punch typically comes from red pepper paste, garlic and ginger, although some regional variations up the ante with the addition of anchovy or fermented shrimp. While kimchi’s flavor may overwhelm some, others attribute valuable health benefits to this dish. For example, Seoul National University researchers claimed 11 out of 13 chickens infected by avian flu were able to recover after consuming kimchi extract, although no one could explain why.
3216 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 720-565-5994
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