Ginseng chicken soup

Ginseng chicken soup

A quick one tonight…

I prepared Ginseng Chicken soup (aka sam ge tang 삼계탕) for dinner to test out my recipe for this Saturday’s class. It’s been a while since I made this but it still tasted really good. My husband loved it especially because it was a perfect meal for his flu.

The white cloth you see in the pot above is cotton bag containing glutinous rice. I was cooking extra rice this way so I could make chicken porridge with the left over broth once we finished eating the chicken. Amazingly the ginseng was  not over powering the soup. My husband hates ginseng and was really worried that he have to skip dinner. Phew….

So far the chickens I have seen in the supermarket here in Singapore are too big for the ginseng chicken soup. Normally the chicken has to fit in a small clay pot to serve. I think I might have to wander down to Tekka market in search for  a kampong chicken.

My husband got to the chicken before I got a chance to take some photos, so the top of the chicken was gone. 🙂

Tonight’s menu is Seafood Jjam bbong(해물 짬뽕)!

Tonight’s menu is Seafood Jjam bbong(해물 짬뽕)!

I think the last time I made this dish was when I was at high school in Sydney. This was one of my regular dishes for the family. Back then I used to crave it, especially during winter, but it was hard to find a good Korean Chinese restaurant that had it on the menu. So I took to making it myself.

Jjambbong(짬뽕) is a noodle soup that was modified by the Chinese population who were living in Korea. The Koreans have adopted it as one of their national dishes. It is as well known amongst locals as jja jang myun (black bean noodles – 짜장면). Koreans love both jjambbong and jja jang myun and always find it hard to choose between the two, so restaurants now have a bowl that is divided into half so you can enjoy both dishes. What a brilliant idea!

I haven’t cooked many Korean dishes since I finished my culinary school and when I feel lazy I usually go to Dong bang hong Korean Chinese restaurant to get my jjam bong fix. Tonight it’s time to see what my husband thinks of my homemade reciepe.

Seafood Jjambbong:

Ingredients: (Serves 4 people)

Vegetables: 1/2 carrot, 1/4 cabbage, 1/2 zucchini, 1/2 onion, 1/4 green capsicum, 1/4 red capsicum, 1 long red chilli, 2 cloves of garlic minced, some spring onions for garnish. (The cabbage brings out the sweetness to the soup so it’s essential ingredient.)

Seafood: 1 squid, 20 clams, 10 prawns peeled and de-veined, 8 mussels.

Chilli oil: 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil & 2 tablespoon of Korean chilli powder

Stock: 15 dried anchovies, a handful of dried prawns, 5 dried kelps, a handful of dried fish and prawn heads and shells, 2L of water

Seasoning: 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of Korean chilli powder, some salt and white peppers

One of the most important steps is making the stock. I added dried anchovies, prawns, kelps, and  the fish to a pot with cold water and brought it to boil for about 10minutes.

I read it somewhere that if you boil kelp too long, the stock becomes slightly bitter, so make sure to remove the kelp after 10 minutes. Then boil the stock minus the kelp for another 10 minutes.

I also added prawn heads and shells to improve the seafood flavour.  Now time to strain the stock.

While the stock is boiling, I prepared the seafood

Apologies for not having any photos for this next step. I was concentrating so hard that I forgot to take any pictures. Cooking and taking pictures at the same time is not easy!  In a pot, add 3 spoonfuls of vegetable oil and add 2 teaspoon of Korean chilli powder. Cook on a low heat to make chilli oil. Be careful not to burn the chilli oil. If you do, your soup will be bitter and you are better off starting a new batch.

Once you make the chilli oil,  add the vegetables and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Then add the light soy sauce, minced garlic, and oyster sauce. I added one more teaspoonful of Korean chilli powder because I like some zing!. If you want it even more spicy, I recommend to add those very small chillies that have extra heat. It will be deadly!  Now stir fry a little more and add all the seafood except the prawns. (If you cook prawns too long, they become chewy!) Add the stock and boil on high heat for about 10minutes to get a nice seafood flavour.

While the soup is boiling, I cooked some fresh handmade noodles that I buy at Fairprice supermarket. Finally, add the prawns and spring onions to the soup, keep boiling for a few minutes more and it’s ready.

Looking good!!

Season with salt and white pepper and finally add the noodles to the soup.

Mine could have been a little more spicy but it turned out fantastic for a dish that I haven’t cooked for such a long long time. If you have any left over, you can eat it again with a nice bowl of rice. I can’t wait to have some more for lunch.  Thumbs up from my husband!  🙂

15 minutes of fame

15 minutes of fame

I thought I had already had my 15 minutes of fame with an article published in U-Weekly(优1周) this week, so I was surprised to be contacted by another journalist interested in interviewing me. She was writing an article for a magazine which is distributed to high school students across Singapore.

To my surprise, when the journalist turned up, she brought along a 14 year old student to enjoy the experience of learning to cook with me. Since Korean movies and pop stars are very popular among students thesedays, it stands to reason that Korean food  has been riding a wave of popularity as well. We chose to make bibimbap which requires quite a bit of chopping and stir frying. My student confessed that he doesn’t normally cook at home but once I showed him some simple techniques he picked it up really quickly.

  • Ingredients for bibimbap prepared for the interview
  • Teaching how to cut a carrot in fine julienne style
  • Now showing off his mushroom cutting skill…
  • Tasting time!
  • I think he really liked it….
  • A photo with my new junior chef! What a star!

What was especially nice was he emailed me next day to find out where he can buy all the Korean sauces as he wanted to try out his new culinary skills on his family. That really put a big smile on my face!  🙂

Where is Nicky??

Where is Nicky??

Apologies for the radio silence. It has been a very, very busy 7 weeks. My culinary course that I have been attending has been very interesting but also very exhausting. I promise I will share a lot more stories soon once I get my life back!

Last Friday, we learnt all about fruit and fruit carving…. Check it out.

  • Watermelon cut in a way so it is easy to eat
  • Slight twist to the design
  • My new cheeky watermelon shark for the fruit platter

Chu seok class – yummy song pyun

Chu seok class – yummy song pyun

Check out the dishes my students created during the Chu seok class last Saturday.

  • Iris put a lot of effort in decorating each “jeon” with mugwort leaves….
  • A few more photos from the class, believe it or not, everyone finished the plate clean, yum yum!!  🙂
  • Song pyun was a team effort… so proud! Aren’t they so pretty?
  • To celebrate Chu seok tomorrow, I whipped up some more song pyun so I can share with some of my friends. Can you believe the colour comes from adding cooked pumpkin?

Nearly harvest time!

Nearly harvest time!

I started a two month culinary school last week which has kept me really busy. I can’t wait for the weekend to show off what I learnt from the school.

Meanwhile, my garden is doing really well. Lots of new family members to introduce today and  I will be ready to give away some chilli plants in the next few weeks.

  • My cherry tomatoes are doing really well. We’ve had a few ripe ones already and they were amazingly sweet.
  • There is a melon growing on the vine which is now the size of my hand. I have never grown melon before so I am very proud!
  • Finally, my favourite – Thai basil and mint – which both come in useful when I am cooking different dishes! Its great to walk out to the garden, pick the fresh herbs and add them straight into my cooking!

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