At their downtown restaurant, Swish by Han, the Han brothers—Leemo (who’s usually in the kitchen) and Leeto (who’s usually out front)—serve some of the city’s finest Korean. Their $10 silken tofu and kimchi sounds simple. As Leeto explains, it’s anything but.
Swish goes through 10 pounds of kimchi a week, all of it made by Leeto and Leemo’s mom, Kim. First, she soaks napa cabbage in brine for three days, rinses it, then layers it, leaf-by-leaf, in a mixture
of rice paste, shrimp paste, dried chilies, garlic and baby shrimp. For two months, it’s stowed in a special refrigerator, which allows the brothers to control the humidity during different stages of the fermentation. Finally, the kimchi is sautéed in butter and soy sauce.
A block of tofu is coated in a tempura batter of cornstarch, flour, cold water and club soda, then deep-fried and sliced into square pieces.
Lemon rind, ginger, sugar, chili flakes, sesame oil and mirin (a Japanese cooking wine) are added to soy sauce. The mixture is drizzled over the fried tofu. “Korean food takes a lot of time to prepare, but putting it together is a lot simpler,” says Leeto. “The actual components of the dish are more complicated than the dish itself.”
Dried nori, chopped green onions and fresh red chili are sprinkled on top.
The brothers make their tofu from scratch every Sunday (it’s ready the next day), but if they’re too busy, Kim comes in to help. To do it, they boil their homemade soymilk for 15 minutes until curds are formed. A squeeze of lime helps bind the curds, which are then put into a rectangular mold and pressed tightly together by placing a brick on top. “I think our tofu tastes better than others,” says Leeto. “There’s a super-subtle hint of lime that complements the dishes really well.”
38 Wellington St. E., 647-343-0268, #DTN