February & March Korean Cooking Classes

February & March Korean Cooking Classes

The last two months I’ve had great fun teaching at the Korean Tourism Organisation in Singapore. Here are some snap shots of the classes and a link to the recipe.

 

One of the February classes was a lesson in cooking a black bean rice dish called Jjajangbap.   Check out the recipe!

 

 

  • Happy students!! These are some of my regular students….

students cooking2

 

 

  •  Everyone looks so serious, don’t they? They needed to concentrate so they didn’t burn the sauce!

students cooking1

 

 

  • But the results was worth it…

Jja jang bap

 

 

 

One of the March classes was making Hodduck (Cinnamon sugar pancakes). This class always brings lots of smile while we are cooking!

 

  • This group  made the perfect shaped hodduk!

group1

 

student 4

 

student2

 

  • Melted sugar and cinnamon in the pancake is just scrumptious!

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I will be back in Singapore in May for more classes. Please contact Korean Tourism  on +65-6533-0441 to register for your spot -its FREE to attend!

As for classes in Bangkok, I am hoping to have the first class at end of April. Contact me for if you are interested in attending – spots will be limited!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korean food at Bangkok Farmers Market

Korean food at Bangkok Farmers Market

We finally did it. Two days of pure excitement, fun and most of all, hearing all the great comments from the customers who came to visit my stall. It made me forget how tired I was. Without my friends, this wouldn’t have happened(you know who you are – thanks you!!) and also to my husband for his encouragement.  Thank you all lovely people!

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If you were wondering what I was cooking and selling, here is our menu.

menu

 

 

First, Hot Cinnamon Pancake (aka. Hodduk). I must have tested this recipe 10 times until I was finally satisfied. My aunt in Los Angeles has a shop selling hodduk and she shared her secret recipe. I thought mine was actually better though. We also played around with fillings including jam and nutella  to see if we could sell other flavours. In the end we stayed with the traditional sugar and cinnamon filling. It was a great success!

photo 2

 

Next, Organic Kimchi – this was my best seller. I have never had  much success with Kimchi in Singapore but I found using fresh organic cabbage  in Bangkok made so much difference. Check out the labels that my creative friend designed!!  I sold out the whole batch I made on the first day of the market and stayed up all night making more for the next day.

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Seafood pancake and bibimbap.

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My dear friends who helped out both on Saturday and Sunday. Once again, thank you!!!

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sandra and Nicky

 

Enough about my stall, let me share some photos of the rest of the market. There were interesting and fun activities throughout the two days and even a live band to keep us bouncing.

 

My favourite bread stall – Urban Pantry, fantastic sourdough breads.

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Organic veggies!! I love these baby carrots. Check out the colours of the lettuce…

veggies

 

lettuce

 

 

I finally feel like I am being part of the community in Bangkok. I met some really interesting people who are working towards building a great community  here and I am proud to say that I am a part of it. Until next time….

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Hodduck class at Korean Tourism Singapore

Hodduck class at Korean Tourism Singapore

I was back in Singapore last week teaching at Korean tourism. It was really good to be back there meeting enthusiastic Korean food lovers.  This class was  all bout teaching Hodduk (호떡)! Check out my  previous blog on how to cook this.

 

about to start the class

 

KakaoTalk_Erica Pak_2 August, 2013

 

KakaoTalk_Erica Pak_2 August, 2013

 

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Next class back in Singapore is on 11 September  and I will teaching chilli rice cake (aka dduk bok yi -떡뽁이).   Contact Korean tourism to register!

Eating my way through the streets of Seoul III

Eating my way through the streets of Seoul III

You may remember my giant steam bun(hobbang) from my previous blog. The bun which was as big as my face?

 

hobbang

 

We arrived to have hobbang for lunch at this famous cafe near Gwanghwamun area in Seoul but realised they were only available from 2pm.  While we waited, we decided to try another famous dish, Chilli rice cake (dduk bok yi -떡뽁이).  The best part was that we get to cook it on our  table. This is called instant dduk bok yi(즉석 떡볶이). You can also add extra ingredients such as instant noodles, vermicelli, fish cake or chewy noodles . Instead of ordering our usual ddukbokyi, my friends suggested pizza dduk bok yi. What the??

menu

 

 

As you can see below, we ordered the extra chewy noodle on top, only S$1.70!

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Doesn’t this look spicy and delicious?   It was starting to get chilli outside and this was just perfect dish to warm us up. And then final ingredient arrived…

rice cake cooking

 

 

Mozzarella cheese was sprinkled on top as our final step.  We now have pizza dduk bok yi!

cheese piza

 

 

Cheese on top of  dduk bok yi wasn’t my thing. It just didn’t seemed to go together, but my friends loved it. I picked around the cheese as you can see below.

rice cake

 

 

As I am writing this I have a sudden craving for dduk bok yi right now… I might have to head out to Korea Town to see if I can find decent cafe or restaurant.  Hungry!!! 🙁   I tend to gain 2-3 kg while I am in Seoul for a week. The reason is there is breakfast, morning tea, lunch, snack and then dinner and supper and repeat for a week!

 

While we were waiting for hobbang to be ready, we stopped by a Coco Bruni cafe nearby and had some lovely cakes and teas… The cafe is a chain so you will be able to find it in many locations in Seoul.

Coco Bruni

 

 

The cakes were so delicately made and melted in our mouth so smoothly. Such a different texture and taste to what we just had…

cakes

 

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Now back to hobbang. This is the man behind this wonderful hobbang. He was making them earlier and waiting for them to rise and now he is steaming them.

 

hobbang man

 

 

Finally, they are ready. I have been waiting for these for 3 hours!!

hobbang

 

 

We ordered 3 buns with 3 different fillings. I think the owner thought we were 3 little piggies….  The first one is with red bean paste filling. This is my favourite but today it seemed too much red bean paste. The second one is with cooked sweet potato filling and this was new, not bad at all. The third one is mixed vegetable with pork. A bit like Chinese dumpling except it’s a giant bun. Out of 3, the one with vegetables and pork was the best. I noticed a lot of people of taking them back to the office or home.

red bean hobbang

 

hobbang with sweet potatoe

 

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This cafe is not hard to find but if you are not familiar with the area, it might not be easy. I would recommend your hotel to call the cafe and write down the direction.  Remember, the buns are not ready before  2-3pm in the afternoon. Have ddukbokyi as your main and hobbang to take away to your hotel. One side of the cafe is called Bbang Hana palgu and the other side is called Sanhane cafe. Strange…

 

Cafe name: Bbang Hana pal gu  (translation –  selling one bun)  Tel: +82-2-756-0189

빵하나 팔구

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: first full moon

Recipe: first full moon

Today is the first full moon on the Lunar calendar (Daeboreum) and Koreans celebrate this occassion in many ways. One of them is of course eating specific food such as steamed rice with five multi grains (오곡밥) and rice cake called Yak sik (약식) which literally translated means “medicinal food” (Yaksik was first written about it in the 13th century)

Rice cake is one of  my favourite Korean foods. My uncle used to own a rice cake shop when I was young and it was like I was in a candy shop. It’s the combination of the taste, chewiness and colour that I really like about all the rice cakes.  There is one Korean rice cake shop in Novena Square II in Singapore but I have not found a rice cake shop here in Bangkok yet.

Yaksik is really easy to make and Thailand has high quality glutinous rice so here we go! It’s a short cut version today as I didn’t have all the ingredients and instead of steaming in a traditional way, I used my rice cooker which has a steaming mode with pressure cooking options.

 

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Yaksik

Serves 10 people

  • 2 cups of glutinous rice
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil and some for brushing
  • 3 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Muscovado sugar (can be substituted with molasses)
  • 1/4 tsp of cinemon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200g of dry cranberries*
  • 200 g of uncooked and peeled chestnuts**
  • 1 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of saltanas
  • Molds to shape your rice cooker, (could be a glass container or small baking tray).

*Chinese red dates should be used in the recipe normally but I used cranberries as I couldn’t find Chinese dates anywhere in the supermarket!

**Only cooked and peeled chestnuts were available.

 

dry cranberries

chestnutIMG_3379

 

 

 

 

 

  • Soak the glutinous rice for 1-2 hours and strain the water. If you soak for a longer time, remember to reduce the amount of liquid when cooking or it gets really sticky. The ratio of rice to water should be 1:1.5 but if you soak the rice over night, it should be 1:1. I wanted mine a little less sticky.
  • In a pot, add brown sugar, muscovado sugar, cinamon, salt,  sesame oil and stir until all the sugar is desolved. Leave it cool down for 10 minutes.
  • Mix the rice and chestnuts, cranberries, saltanas and pinenuts and then add the sugar syrup. Mix it well.

 

cooking yaksik

 

 

cooking rice with syrup

 

  • Set the rice cooker for 30 minutes and go! My rice cooker talks… It says in Korean “Hello, it’s ready to steam!”. How cool is that?!

 

rice cooker

 

  • Once it’s completed, stir the Yaksik.  Brush the mold with sesame oil and add the yaksik in the mold.  Leave them for 30 minutes to cool down and it will take a shape of the mold.

 

yaksik in the mold

 

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  • It’s ready for tasting!

 

Yaksik 1

 

Am I getting nostalgic as I am getting older? I seem to be cooking food that I used to enjoy when I was younger in Korea. I hope you enjoy this recipe and get to try it out for yourselves. Except the part of soaking the rice, it barely took anytime to get this  done.  Hope you get to see the full tonight, wherever you are… Have a great week!

Eating my way through the streets of Seoul.

Eating my way through the streets of Seoul.

I just spent 6 days in Seoul with one objective in mind. Eat my way through the city! The dreadful sticky hot summer is gone and I was welcomed by a beautiful autumn breeze when I landed. What a difference…. It was so pleasant to walk around and enjoy the change of the season.

I must have taken at least 500 photos of all the food but I will start with my favorite street food that you can too enjoy when you visit Korea next time.

 

  • Top left hand box: An old time favourite – chilli rice cakes (dduk bok yi -떡복이)  was on every street corner. You can buy USD$1 worth and eat as you stand right in front of the stall.  There were a few other sticks in chilli sauce but everyone seemed to enjoying the chilli rice cakes.
  • Top right hand box: you can only find these in autumn and winter – roasted chestnuts! The silver device you see in the background is the roasting machine. Personally, I prefer the old fashion style using a roasting pan over hot charcoal.
  • Bottom box: these sticks were new and were everywhere in Myungdong(명동). There were ladies on the side of the stall just peeling potato skins and putting potatoes through an unusual device that turned them into long spiral potatoes. Inside the potato, there is a sausage. These get dunked into hot oil and deep fried.  Nice and crunchy potatoes with a bit of protein!

 

 

 

 

  • For those of you who have attended some of my cooking classes you will recognise one of the photos above. Hodduck (호떡) is a great snack while you are wondering the streets of busy Seoul. Even better when the weather is nice and cool…
  • The white fluffy buns above are the best thing I have found in Seoul. I will write more on these buns in a later blog but for now all you need to know is that these buns are called hobbang (호빵). They are  filled with either red bean paste or sweet potato or a mixture of minced pork with vegetables.  The buns with two green chives on top are the meat/vegetable filling ones. Each bun was as big as my face. Seriously…..

 

 

You didn’t believe me, did you??

 

If you are visiting Korea soon, pack warm clothes. It dropped to 6 degrees one evening and it was so cold I thought my ears and nose were going to fall off.

Have a great week everyone!  😉

Weekend cooking-chocolate tart

Weekend cooking-chocolate tart

Besides cooking Korean food, I love making dessert! I used to make many different kinds of desserts but my husband started to complained that his waistline was expanding, so I only indulge now and then.

I had a dinner party over the weekend and decided to try a new recipe from one of my favourite dessert cookbook “Bourke Street Bakery“. The bakery is a tiny shop in Surry Hills, Sydney that has become very famous. They now have queues of people down the road waiting in line to buy their cakes and bread.

Attempting to make sweet short crust pastry in this Singapore weather was a big challenge as the dough just kept melting as I rolling it out but I managed to pull it all together at the end. As soon as it started to fall apart, I put the dough back in the fridge. I kept doing this several times. It took much longer than normal, but the pastry turned out perfect.

 

Have a great week!

Happy Chu Seok everyone!

Happy Chu Seok everyone!

Days like today makes you really miss your family.  A friend in Korea shared these photos of her family celebrating Chu Seok. They remind me of when I was living in Korea. When my grand parents were alive, the entire family (my dad has 5 brothers and 1 sister) got together to celebrate Chu seok.

For those who don’t know what Chu seok is, it’s Korean Thanksgiving. We buy the best season produce and serve it on a table like in below picture to show respects to our ancestors. Looks a bit like a ghost month, right?

 

 

 

We also serve Korean rice wine to the ancestors.

 

 

Then we bow on the floors to the ancestors. The two kids in the middle are wearing hangbok (Korean traditional costume). So cute!

 

Now time to eat…  I can see various kimchi, stir fried vegetables and Korean soy bean paste soup. The most important dish for Chu seok is Song pyun rice cake.

 

 

This table is an indication of the hard work by the Korean house wives. Grandmothers, Aunts, daughters and daughter-in-laws would have slaved away over the last few days to put all this food together. Hmmm, now I have a big craving for all this food…. ^_^

Happy Chu seok everyone!

 

**Photos provided by Erin Kim in Korea**

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korean Thanksgiving – Chuseok food

Korean Thanksgiving – Chuseok food

When a friend mentioned how much she missed a Korean dessert drink called Sikhe (식혜), it took me back to childhood. I remember my mum making this drink when I was growing up and she seemed to take forever making it.  It was Chuseok(Thanksgiving) in Korea recently so I thought I would make it to celebrate the occasion.

Sikhe is served mostly during Korean celebrations(Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving,etc). Apparently, Sikhe helps to clean your palate after all the rich and greasy food you have been pigging out on during the celebration.

 

After a bit of research and consulting my mum, I started the two days sikhe making journey. You can buy pre-made ones in a can but you can’t beat the home made ones!! Aynway, that would be cheating, right?

How to make Sikhe (식혜)

Ingredients: Korean powdered malt (400g), 3/4 cup brown sugar,  5L of water, 1 cup cooked short grain rice

  • The good thing about making this dish is that there are only a few ingredients. The Korean powdered malt was around S$5 at a Korean supermarket and you can use any left over rice!

 

  • Soak the powered malt in 2L water in a bowl for one hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Using your hand, rub the malt to squeeze all the goodness out for about 10 minutes.

 

 

  • Strain the malt using a fine cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth until the malt is almost dry.

 

  • Leave the liquid from the malt in a bowl for another two hours. This is to separate the starch from the liquid.  Carefully pour the liquid without the starch into a rice cooker. Then add 3 L of water and a bowl of cooked rice.

 

 

  • Press the warming function of the rice cooker and leave it for 4-8 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Once there are a few grains of rice floating on top, it’s ready for the next step. Almost there!!

 

 

 

  • Transfer the liquid into a pot and add 3/4 cup of brown sugar and boil for 10 minutes.

 

 

  • Scoop off all the brown bubbles on top.

 

  • Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down. Put it in a container in the fridge to be chilled. It’s best to be served cold.

 

 

Well, it took two days to make and I ran out patient waiting to try it so I added a few ice cubes to cool it down.  It was almost as good as my mum’s but it needed to be a lot colder. Back to the fridge!

 

 

 

Once it was ready, I couldn’t wait for my girlfriend to try. She said it was as good as her mum’s. What a relief!!

 

 

My husband and I have been enjoying this drink all last week and it really took me back to my childhood. How funny that some food brings out stronger memory than others. What dish reminds you of your childhood? 🙂

 

Korean traditional tea – Su Jung Gwa

Korean traditional tea – Su Jung Gwa

I had some friends over who had a major craving for Korean food. We had a lovely Korean BBQ pork and wagyu beef on my hot grill and to finish off the dinner, I served a traditional Korean tea called Su Jung Gwa (수정과).  I normally cook a western dessert when I have dinner parties but this time I decided to give this dish a go as I always thought this tea seemed hard to make. The good thing about this is you can make it in advance so you have more time to prepare other dishes on  the day of the party.

Su Jung Gwa is made with cinnamon and ginger and  served with dried persimmon (곶감). If you are lucky, some restaurants will serve this tea at the end of your meal only without the dried persimmon(too expensive).  Depending on the season it can be served hot or cold. My mum gave me a bag of dried persimmon when I was in Korea and it’s been sitting in the fridge for a month. It’s too dry to eat so it was perfect for my Su Jung Gwa.

 

 

 

Just a quick note on dried persimmon for those of you have never seen or tasted.  As you can see in the picture below, it’s not easily recognizable. I also always thought the fruit is just air dried but the skin of the fruit has actually been peeled before being air dried for a least a couple of weeks.  Persimmons are in season in Autumn in Korea. In order to enjoy the fruit for throughout winter we dry them in this manner. I also prefer the dried ones instead of fresh because they are sweeter.

I am tempted to dry the persimmon and make them myself but according to my research, it might be too humid in this Singapore weather.

 

 

Well, this is a dish I have never even tempted to make as the flavor seems so complex but believe it or not, this is  the easiest Korean dessert ever!

How to make Su Jung Gwa:

Ingredients – 12 cups of water, 50g cinnamon sticks, 50g fresh ginger, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of honey, dried persimmon and some pine nuts

  • Wash and clean the cinnamon sticks and ginger.

 

  • Peel the skin of the ginger and slice them thinly.
  • Add 6 cups of water with the cinnamon sticks in a pot and boil on a high heat for 10 minutes and then reduce to low for another 20 minutes
  • Repeat for ginger
  • Strain both ginger and cinnamon separately

 

 

  • Mix the strained water in a pot. Add the sugar and honey and boil on a high heat for another 5 minutes before letting it cool down
  • While the tea is cooling down, cut the dried persimmon into bite sizes and soak them in the tea over night in the fridge

 

 

 

  • Serve the tea in a cup or bowl with the dried persimmon and garnish with a few pine nuts

 

How easy was that??   I LOOOVE dried persimmon so mine had a whole fruit while everyone else had a half the fruit. 🙂

 

 

Check out my persimmon! It’s glossy and soft…. It was so delicious.

 

One more dish I have conquered! Have a great week everyone!