Singapore has a perfect weather for growing bean sprouts. It’s hot and humid, day and night. My parents brought some seeds from Korea and indeed they grew like weeds, or as we say in Korean “they grow like bean sprouts!!”
My parents used to say if I eat lots of bean sprouts, I would grow tall. Always being one of the shortest at school, I really believed this was the cure. Boy, was I wrong… False hope!!
Bean sprouts are used a lot in Korean cooking and available in supermarkets all year around. But in Singapore you can’t really find a good supply. The ones at Fair price and Cold Storage look really tired and miserable. After a long search, I finally found a few stalls at Tekka market that sells fresh bean sprouts. The best solution though which I highly recommend to everyone is to try growing bean sprouts at home. All they need is a dark place and frequent watering and it only takes a few days!!
Kimchi is most probably the national dish of Korea. Every household would have some in the their fridge. Some even have dedicated Kimchi fridges. I never appreciated eating kimchi when I was growing up but ever since I moved to Singapore, I crave the good homemade stuff. Once I bought a small packet of kimchi from Cold Storage supermarket and nearly fainted when i saw fungus growing inside. Kimchi naturally ferments and becomes sour over time. I’ve never known it to go off.
A number of people have asked me if I could run a kimchi class. It’s been a while since I made kimchi . Since it takes so long to make, most Korean families buy it from a supermarket. However, if you are lucky enough to live close to your parents or even your in-laws, you will always receive a constant supply.
My parents arrived last weekend with boxes and boxes of authentic Korean ingredients ready for my cooking classes. I decided to take advantage of mum being here and refresh my kimchi making skills. As I was pounding a bulb of garlic, childhood memories came flooding back. I remembered times when all the Korean aunties(a-jum-ma) got together and would spend the Autumn days making kimchi. Everyone would make enough to last the cold Korean winter. Back in the olden days, the kimchi would be placed in a brown clay pot and buried in the frosty ground to keep it cool. With a modern technology, most Korean families own a kimchi fridge which keeps it at just the right temperature to stop it fermenting.
To make kimchi, the secret is to soak the cabbage in salty water until it becomes soft, but not too soggy. It normally takes around 6-8hours. After waiting patiently, I was ready to smear the cabbage with the kimchi sauce consisting of garlic, ginger, spring onions, white raddish and carrot. I was a little too enthusiastic with the fresh chilli powder though so it ended up extra spicy! Whilst you can eat it straight away, its best if you leave it in the fridge for a few days so that all the exotic tastes can permeate through the cabbage.
Making kimchi is a group activity and is lots of fun. It normally takes a full day (including all the Auntie gossip!) but I’m happy to show people the basics in a three hour session.
Have you ever woken up after a big night out feeling a little under the weather and prepared to sell your kidney for a cure? I remember going to a chemist(when I was back in Sydney) one afternoon in search for a cure for the worlds biggest hangover. I was hoping I’d be told to “take one of these and you will be fine in 5minutes!” Instead, I was pointed to a nearest McDonald for a greasy hamburger. Just thinking of it made me sick.
After years of experimenting, I discovered my own cure – a Korean beef chilli soup called Yukgejang. I used to drop by a Korean stall (Mana) at the food court of Takashimaya after a big night when I first moved here. The soup was not the greatest, but after a bowl or two, I was human again! Yukgejang takes at least an hour to make at home so after a big night out at friends engagement party last weekend, I needed something quick. As I hadn’t thought to prepare something the day before I just threw what I had in fridge into a soup stock. A handful of noodles completed the concoction and another hangover cure was born – it’s called Sujebi!
>How to make Sujebi:
Make some dough with some flour, a pinch of salt, a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and some water. Kneed for a few minutes and then leave it to rest in the fridge. I usually make a stock with Korean dried anchovies and whatever vegies I can find, but preferably use potatoes and zucchini at a minimum. Add some carrots if you have them for colour.
Take the dough from the fridge and tear off thin pieces (it gets better with practice) and throw them in the boiling stock. The dough is cooked when it floats to the surface.Garnish with some chillis and spring onion and voila! – instant reprieve from the pain! If you are so inclined, create a quick sauce to add, using soy sauce garlic, chilli and sesame oil.
This soup became very popular in the last 4 or 5 years. There are kimchi, seafood and even miso paste versions. My father told me it used to be a poor man’s dish especially during the Korean war. It’s also great on a rainy day with seafood pancake.
I will be teaching this soup in June and July. Come and join in and say goodbye to hangovers forever!
Growing tomatoes has been a big passion of mine since I arrived in Singapore 6 years ago. Some soil, planter boxes and few other little gadgets cost me over $200.
Tomatoes you buy in Singapore are either from Malaysia or Thailand and not quite like the ones that I used to buy in Sydney. Roma tomatoes and Vine ripened tomatoes are just amazingly delicious and cheap. Here in Singapore, it costs a bomb to buy a small punnet. So I decided to have a go at growing my own. What was I thinking!! After nurturing day and night, finally I had my first harvest…. 4 little tomatoes were dangling from the plants and I sat and waited for them to ripen so I could collect my first harvest. It was like watching paint dry…. zzzz
I wasn’t the only who were eyeing the tomatoes. One afternoon, I walked by my balcony and there was a little bird munching away one of my tomatoes! GET LOST!!!!!!!! Gosh, was I angry and upset – I even went and bought a slingshot to chase them away!! My initial investment of $200 divided by 3 tomatoes…. hmm… thats more than $60 per tomato!! It might have been cheaper to buy them from the supermarkets in the first place. But of course not as much fun!!
Now, I have a wide variety of tomatoes flourishing on my balcony all safely protected from those nasty birds! Its great to taste all the different types and reminds me of being back in Australia. My next harvest is due soon, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Bring it on birdies – I dare you!! 🙂
I have 3 little baby tomato plants to give away. Anyone want to adopt one? It takes 3-4 months to get nice red juicy tomatoes. All they need is a small sunny patch, and regular water. Occassional conversations with them also seem to help!
There are a few dishes that I could eat everyday and one of them is sweet potato. I had a craving over the weekend for some Korean street food so I whipped up a dish called “Mat-tang”. It’s basically deep fried sweet potatoes coated in toffee and only takes 15 minutes to make. Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle…. Yum….
You can use either sweet potatoes or normal potatoes but I think sweet potato adds more flavour. I have seen some people making it with apples as well… Fried apples?? hmm, not sure…
I wonder who thought of this amazing dish. In Korea, they even have sweet potato cakes!! There is a store in the middle of Myung-dong in Seoul that has the best Mat-tang ever!! I must remember to take a picture of the store next time I am in Korea to share with everyone. I don’t think there is any store selling Mat-tang in Singapore… What’s your favourite Korean street food?
I’ve just planted two sweet potatoes in my little veggie patch a few days ago, hopefully they will produce enough sweet potatoes to feed my cravings! Any tips on growing sweet potatoes in Singapore? I heard that they grow like weeds…