I have been following your blog a long time and used a lot of your recipes. Korean food is my favorite cuisine and I have been cooking it myself for nearly 25 years. I've gotten pretty good at it, if I do say so myself, and since I rarely live near Korean restaurants, I have to fend for myself a lot on that front. :-)
I have a question for you about Red Pepper Paste. This has always concerned me, and maybe I just have an unreasonable expectation of standards for grocery stores. I find a lot of the time that many Asian grocery stores keep things on their shelves WAY past their expiration date, and don't seem to pay as close of attention to these details as say a big chain American style grocery store. This is where my question about Red Pepper Pastes come in.
These never seem to be refrigerated, and I know they don't need to be, but I can't tell you how many times I've gotten home and the seals have been broken, or they're close to expired, or a variety of other problems. The other thing is that almost EVERY jar or container I buy, the top 1/2 inch of the paste seems to be a much darker color than the rest of the container, once you dig down into it a bit. I find myself scraping off this top layer a lot and also being very careful about how long I keep a particular jar around.
So tell me...am I being paranoid? LOL
It just seems odd to me that this has been the case for YEARS...it's not just isolated to one particular store or vendor. They're all like this. It may seem like a picky question, but since this is my favorite Korean ingredient, I'd like to hear what you have to say about this. Is it just me? Or does this happen for you as well? What should I be looking for and is there a particular brand to buy.
Also, I'd love a recommendation from you for an online buying source for non-perishable items. Maybe I can find a bit more consistency this way as well. My current store, Lee Lee's in Phoenix, no longer carries my favorite soy sauce, Yamasa, so I need to find another place to get it.
Thanks in advance for your reply, and sorry this was so wordy. LOVE your blog! Keep up the great work. :-)