Chu seok (추석) – Korean Thanksgiving Day!

Chu seok (추석) – Korean Thanksgiving Day!

Chu seok is the second biggest festival after Chinese New Year in Korea. It is celebrated on the 15th day of  August by the Chinese calendar which means it falls on the 22nd of September this year. In days gone by, it was to celebrate the great autumn harvest and thank the ancestors by offering newly harvested rice and fruits. Nowadays, as most people are living in the big cities, the tradition is to visit your family where ever they may be.

As Chu seok is approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to conduct a class based on the food that we cook and eat during this festival. Rice cakes called song pyeon (송편) are essential for the celebrations. It is a half moon shaped rice cake made from either bean paste or sesame seeds with honey.

Another type of food also we enjoy eating is mung bean pancake (녹두 빈대떡). First you need to soak the organic mung beans  over night  and then peel the shells by rubbing them between your hands. Boy, I must have spent at least half an hour peeling the mung bean shells and my hands were tired at the end of it. There must be a better way. I wonder if they sell pre-made mung bean pancake powder? 🙂

I put the mung beans through the blender with a bit of water until they were liquefied. Then I added some cooked bean sprouts and chopped kimchi mixed together with a few scoops of glutinous flour.

Finally I pan fried them in in medium heat with vegetable oil cooking for a few minutes on each side.

There is even a comedy song about mung bean pancakes. It’s about a gentlemen who went to  a fine dining restaurant and had his meal but didn’t have any money so he gets beaten up by the restaurant.  The moral of the song is to go and  buy mung bean pancakes at a pub rather than an up-scale restaurant.  Check out the song by clicking here!

If you want to learn about Korean Thanksgiving and cook some traditional Korean dishes, I have devised a special Thanksgiving class scheduled on the 18th September. Don’t forget to register early, seats are filling up already!

Korean BBQ class

Korean BBQ class

Korean BBQ must be one of the most loved dishes of visitors going to Korea. Korean BBQ dishes were high on the list of  food to eat everytime I went to Korea with work colleagues. Those a little more daring tried the live octopus. I will leave this topic for next time. 🙂

Last Saturday was Korean BBQ class. We cooked bul go gi (불고기 -beef marinated in soy sauce), spring onion salad and fried anchovies. I thought spring onion salad would be a suitable dish to learn as most of Korean BBQ restaurants will serve it with the BBQ in Korea.

  • Fried anchovies were extra crispy and crunchy like biscuits. Koreans have this side dish with every meal as our parents always told us the anchovies are full of calcium.
  • Spring onion salad to accompany bul go gi

I prepared some steamed rice, lettuce to wrap the beef and the spring onion salad with,. I also brought out some kimchi I made a few weeks ago. I guess everyone enjoyed all the dishes as there were no leftovers to take away.

Next Korean BBQ class is on 30th October. Don’t forget to register early!

Korean restaurant review #2 – Gaia (가야)

Korean restaurant review #2 – Gaia (가야)

I heard about a Korean restaurant called Gaia from a well known chef in Singapore. Apparently the owner is Korean and she is in the process of writing a Korean cook book. I though this might be the authentic Korean restaurant I have been looking for.  Previously, it was Dae Jang Keum in Shenton Way, but they have changed management and it’s no longer as authentic as it used to be.

Gaia is located at Suntec. There were some events on when we were there and it was very noisy outside. So we chose to sit inside.  Some of the wait staff were Korean, so that got my hopes up. We ordered yuk ge jang (육계장 – spicy chilli beef soup) and the sun du bu lunch sets. (순두부 – sun du bu + chilli chicken) There were six different side dishes which kept us very happy until the main dishes arrived. My favourite side dish was muk (acorn jelly in soy sauce) and my girlfriend’s was Lotus roots in soy sauce.

The main dishes arrived and the sun du bu was excellent. It was almost like having it back in Korea. However, my  yuk ge jang was different to what I remembered. So my girlfriend tried it as well and we weren’t quite sure what it was but it almost tasted like it was about to go off. We asked the waitress if we can change. The owner  came out and explained that they make a new batch every day and they add special wine to get rid of the beef smell but we weren’t convinced. She recommended another dish and was very apologetic. I ended up ordering grilled mackrel and finished the lunch with complementary watermelon slice.

Overall, I would give the food 7 out of 10 and 8 out of 10 for the service. Drop by the restaurant for lunch rather than dinner as it is a bit pricey. Lunch was around $15 per person.

  • Gaia restaurant – 3 Temasek Boulevard, #03-10/12, Suntech City Mall, Singapore. Tel: Tel: 65 6339 3313

All time favourite – gol beng yi muchim!

All time favourite – gol beng yi muchim!

Has anyone tried gol beng yi muchim (골뱅이 무침)? It’s a dish Koreans love eating when we are out at a pub drinking beer or soju.  It’s very spicy and sour and quite a heavy dish when you are drinking but you soon get used to it.

Other dishes we like eating when are drinking at the pubs include seafood pancake, dried squid with roasted peanuts and fried spicy chicken.  I should do a blog on the drinking culture next time I am in Korea, but suffice to say Koreans love their alcohol!!.

Main ingredients are top shells, chilli sauce and vinegar:

As for vegetables, slice cucumbers diagonally and chop some spring onions. Usually, you also add sliced onions, but I am not a big fan of eating them raw so I skipped it. The additional ingredient I added was dried squid which I soaked in the top shell liquid for about 20minutes to soften it up.

Sauce:

  • Mixing the sauce : 2 tbsp of chili sauce, 2 tbsp of chilli powder, 3 tbsp of vinegar(I used concentrated apple vinegar), 1 tbsp of sugar, 1/2 tbsp of minced garlic, some minced ginger, sesame oil and sesame seeds.
  • Add the sauce mix to the vegetables, top shells and dried squid

 

You can add noodles (somyun that I used in my previous blog) to make it a complete meal, but this time I used it as a side dish for dinner. Give it a try and let me know!

Soy bean noodle soup (kong guk su) for another hot Singapore day!

Soy bean noodle soup (kong guk su) for another hot Singapore day!

Since my young radish kimchi neng myun (refer to 2 August blog) was such a success, I was determined to try other dishes that Koreans enjoy eating in summer to cool down. I spoke  to my best friend in Seoul today and she told me it’s over 30’c, sounds not that much different to Singapore (other than the humidity, of course). If you have experienced a Korean  summer, you know what I mean. It’s suffocating!

I tried out a noodle dish called kong guk su (cold soybeen noodle soup) today. I cheated a bit by using soybean powder instead of soaking some beans overnight and boiling them. Blame my stomach for the short cut!!  I promise I will  do the  whole nine yards next time. I came across the powder in the Korean grocery store when I was in Sydney.  There was no instruction on the package on how to use this powder so I had figure it out on my own.

I thought “how hard can this be?” so I just added the soybean powder to some cold water in a blender and mixed with lots of ice.  Success! – another cold noodle soup! I couldn’t believe how easy it was. It tasted like the real deal once I threw in a pinch of salt.  Then, I boiled the noodles called “Somyun”  (thin noodle made of flour) in hot water for 4 minutes and rinsed in cold water 3 times. I tried these Japanese noodles to see the difference to the Korean noodles. It was exactly the same!

For the final step, add the noodles to the soup, chop some cucumbers and it’s ready to eat! I must admit it was almost too easy to make with this soybean powder so I think I am going to have to force myself to use the proper way next time. Anyway, I would give this pre-made soybean noodle powder 8 out of 10 for the taste!

Korean restaurant review – Kim’s family restaurant

Korean restaurant review – Kim’s family restaurant

I don’t usually eat out to have Korean food as I can cook most of the dishes myself. I also found Korean food in Singapore is mostly modified to suit the locals so it is generally sweeter. There are  a few dishes though that it’s difficult to replicate in my kitchen such as gam ja tang (aka potato stew) so when I saw a Razor TV episode showing a Korean restaurant specialising in gam ja tang, I was on a mission to try it out.

  • Kim’s Family Restaurant – 17 Lorong Kilat Singapore 598139. Tel: 65-6465 0535

I think due to the publicity on Razor TV, Kim’s Family restaurant has attracted a lot of customers. When we arrived on Sunday evening around 7pm, there were many customers waiting. It took us about 15mintues to get a table. I didn’t see any Korean customers dining so I thought  we weren’t off to a good start.

We specifically went to Kim’s Family restaurant to try gam ja tang but we were told  that it needs to be ordered one day in advance. What a disappointment! We ended up ordering sun du bu (my girlfriend’s favourite dish-chilli silken tofu soup), seafood pancake, chilli pork with rice, chilli octopus with rice and my favourite, yuk ge jang(chilli beef soup). We were dining with another couple so don’t worry, it wasn’t just the two of us ordering all that food……

Firstly, there were lots of side dishes but they were not very tasty. The sun du bu was  too oily ( you can see in the picture) as was the pancake. However the chilli pork and chilli octupus were both really, really good. The restaurant forgot about my yuk ge jang so we never got to try it. So, would I go back to this restaurant? perhaps not.

When you are looking for an authentic Korean restaurant (outside Korea of course), the first rule of thumb is to check out if there are a lot of Koreans dining there. It is usually a good indication of the food and service level. We Koreans are very very fussy with our food!! ^_^

Let me know what your favorite Korean restaurant is.

Spicy cold noodle(neng myun) with young radish kimchi!

Spicy cold noodle(neng myun) with young radish kimchi!

You may remember from my previous blog on the young radish kimchi I brought back from Sydney in June. I have literally been waiting by the fridge for it to turn sour so I can make radish kimchi neng myun(cold noodle).

I finally made the neng myun over the weekend. I used arrowroot noodles that my parents brought from Korea in May and neng myun stock I bought from the Korean Food Festival. Then all I did was mix it with young radish kimchi sauce (3:2 ratio). Very easy! As you can see  in the picture above, I added ice cubes in the stock to make it very cold so it was perfect for the hot Singapore weather. My husband gave me two thumbs up!!

I will post the full recipe and welcome everyone who tries the recipe to share their photos and stories. Here is the recipe link.