how to make handmade noodle soup -kalguksu-칼국수

how to make handmade noodle soup -kalguksu-칼국수

Another exciting class at Korean Tourism in Singapore last Friday! I was very ambitious and decided to prepare some dough for my students to hand cut noodles. We are making kal-guk-su(칼국수 – handmade noodle soup).

 

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Guess what happened when I took them to the class?

making Korean handmade noodle soup1
rolling the dough

 

All stuck together!!! 🙁

making Korean handmade noodle soup2

 

We didn’t have any rolling pins so we were creative with our noodles and it was so much fun~

making Korean handmade noodle soup3

 

making Korean handmade noodle soup4

 

At the end of the class, we had delicious noodle soup and everyone was happy!! handmade Korean noodle soup1

 

handmade Korean noodle soup2

 

handmade Korean noodle soup4

Korean handmade noodle soup
boiling…. waiting…

 

Korean handmade noodle soup
Finally!

 

This is actually one of my favourite dish to eat in Korea. Check out my previous post on kalguksu

Happy cooking everyone!

 

Gujung celebration

Gujung celebration

Hope everyone had a fantastic Chinese New Year celebration!

This year, I threw a big dinner party introducing  Gujung (Korean New Year) to friends  in Bangkok. I wasn’t sure what their reaction would be serving rice cake soup (dduk guk-click for the recipe) but most people seemed to enjoy it.

Here are some of the photos from the Gujung night…

 

ddukguk3

 

 

I have never made this much ddukguk in my life!!

ddukguk

 

Some of the essential dishes for Gujung!

  • Fried fish

photo

 

  • Fried Zucchinis

zucchinis

 

  • Japche

japche1

 

If you want to read more about Korean Gujung, check out the The Epoch Times Newspaper.  I am a regular contributor now.  It’s fun writing about Korean food and culture. Check out my first article, my best friend’s daughter’s my cute model here!

January article (click the link to open the file)

 

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 6.07.55 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe: Pollock Soup

Recipe: Pollock Soup

I promised to post dried pollock soup (북어국 – book e guk ) in this blog recently and one of my readers reminded me a few days ago…. Thanks for the reminder!!! I am still in Sydney and winter is approaching… I think it’s a perfect weather for soup!!  Let’s begin….

 

Dried Pollock soup

(serves 4 people)

  • 40g Dried Pollock pieces
  • ½ packet of tofu, sliced in 1cm thickness
  • 1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 5 cups of  Water
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • ¼ Korean radish, slice thinly
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • salt and white pepper to season

Before we begin, just a little note about the pollock. I never thought twice about this fish until I moved to Singapore and discovered just how difficult it is to source this type of fish. When my family first moved to Sydney we often had pollock dishes as there were many good quality Korean groceries. It was easy to get hold of various types of pollock either fresh or frozen. Koreans use fresh, frozen and dried pollock in various dishes. Fresh and frozen ones are usually used for stews (동태찌개) and dried ones are for soup or fried. For those who have never seen this fish, check this link.

 

황태채

자른 황태

 

  • Soak the dried pollock in water for 30minutes and then drain.
 I found another type of pollock  in my pantry and decide to use a few pieces of it in the soup (refer to the picture below). Extra pollock like these chunks really enhance the stock flavour. Soak these chunky ones in a bowl as well.     

    

ingredients

 

무

  •  On a medium heat, pour the sesame oil in a pot and fry the pollock and chopped garlic. Season them with soy sauce and fish sauce.
  • Add the radish and continue to fry all ingredients together.
  • Pour 5 cups of water and boil on medium to high heat for 10-15 minutes. You can also add Korean soy bean sprouts at this point.

  • Add the beaten egg and sliced tofu to the soup and cook for another 2 minutes. I am not a big fan of tofu so I skipped it this time.


 

북어국 in a pot

 

  •  As a final touch, season the soup with salt and pepper and add sliced spring onion
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  • Serve the soup either in individual bowls with hot cooked rice or simply place the whole pot on the table for everyone to share.
 


 

북어국

 

Doesn’t the soup look flavoursome and homely? I am heading out to a Korean grocery to grab ingredients for tonight’s dinner! Enjoy….

 

Recipe: happy birthday to me

Recipe: happy birthday to me

It was my birthday recently and my first one in Bangkok. Normally I would start with a lunch celebration followed by afternoon tea with friends in Singapore but I felt a bit alone. We moved here 3 months ago and my new friends here were all away. On top of that, my husband was having lunch with a work colleague. At least he was taking me out for dinner.

When I was about 10 years old, my family forgot that it was my birthday. I was still in Korea at the time and I was supposed to have seaweed soup (미역국 -mi yeok guk) with my breakfast. It’s a Korean tradition. But this time….no seaweed soup…I remember it was quite traumatic. Now I make sure to make my own seaweed soup every year.

It’s a tradition to have seaweed soup on birthdays in Korea. When women give birth, they are given the seaweed soup with mussels to encourage fast recovery. Apparently the best seaweed is meant to be purchased and you must never ask for a discount as this can bring bad luck. Interesting…

You can either have beef or mussel seaweed soup. I like mussel better than beef seaweed soup but today all I could find was frozen mussels in Bangkok. My future mission is to find a fresh mussel supplier in Bangkok!

Unlike other Korean soup which can take hours to braise, this soup only takes about 30 minutes.

 

미역국 - seaweed soup

Beef Seaweed Soup – 미역국

Serves 2 people

  • 10g dried seaweed (different to tossed seaweed – see picture below) or 100g dried mussels(100g)
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 100 g beef for soup (I used chuck steak)
  • some salt for seasoning
  • 5 cups of water

 

Dry seaweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dried mussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soak the seaweed in warm water for 10 minutes.

soaking the seaweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wash the seaweed in cold water and cut them to around 5cm lengths. Drain all the water from the seaweed and set aside.

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Chop the peeled garlic and mince it finely. Trim the fat from the beef and slice into 2 cm lengths.

Beef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a medium pot, add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and fry the garlic on medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the seaweed to the pot and fry for about 5 minutes. Finally, add the beef and fry until it is cooked.

seaweed with beef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add 4 cups of water and boil for a few minutes and then simmer for a further 20 minutes. Add another cup of water to enhance the flavour. Season with salt and soy sauce to your taste.

soup boiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serve it with steamed rice and any of your favourite side dishes.

미역국 - seaweed soup

Korean Radish two ways

Korean Radish two ways

I found this amazing company in Bangkok that home delivers fresh organic vegetables and fruits. It is called CSA Munching Box by Raitong Organics Farm.

After reading through weeks of their facebook posts, I couldn’t help myself but to subscribe to their munching box.  A 4kg box full of organic vegetables and fruits gets delivered to your door step every week. The exciting thing is that it’s contents is based on what’s produced seasonally and locally in Thailand.  Apparently, you are supposed to consume vegetables and fruits 4 hours after it’s been picked in order to enjoy the optimal taste and nutrients. I think this box is as close I am going to get unless I have my little farm growing vegetables and fruit myself.

I was like a kid opening my first box of goodies when our first box arrived. Who wouldn’t you when you see them…?? They were so fresh and crisp!

CSA munching box

 

My favourite of all were the fresh carrots. We munched away on them raw and they were delicious! We then moved on to passion fruit and rose apples. So sweet!

carrots

 

Since the box’s arrival, our meals have been based on all the vegetables from the box. Last night’s dinner was radish done two ways in Korean style. Koreans use a lot of radish in our dishes, mostly stews and soups!  I prepared dried Pollack soup and hair tail fish with radish in soy sauce  to help cure my cold. I will post the recipes in the next few weeks, I promise! 

 

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The box included Amaranth which I have never used before. Luckily the CSA guys provided a recipe and my first attempt trying these colourful leaves was a success.

amaranth

 

I will write more on CSA Munching Box by Raitong Organics Farm in few weeks. I can’t wait to see what is in my box next week!!  Stay tuned! 🙂

Eating my way through Seoul II

Eating my way through Seoul II

If I have to pick one restaurant from my childhood memory in Korea, there is only one that pops up in my mind. Every time I visit Korea I always go.  The restaurant has been around since 1966 and it’s renowned for their handmade noodle soup (kal guk su-칼국수).  Why do I like this restaurant so much?  Firstly, there aren’t many non-chain restaurants that make their own noodles and their authentic stock like this one. Any guesses??  Drum roll please….. Myundong Gyoja (명동 교자) restaurant!

My last visit to Korea was going to be a slightly different to my usual trip. Instead of going to all my usual favourite places, I decided I was only  going to try new places,  but Myundong Gyoja had to be an exception. I just couldn’t go back home without having my fix from Myungdong Gyoja restaurant.

My girlfriend and I arrived at the restaurant exactly at noon and luckily there were only a few people waiting for a table. Usually, there is a long queue with a mix of locals and tourists.  By the time we finished our lunch, there were at least 50 people waiting outside for tables.  The staff  were very efficient and friendly despite the high turn over of the customers and all the food was served really fast. Don’t expect to sit and chit chat however. It’s one of those restaurants where you eat and run…

 

 

kal guk su(칼국수), aka handmade noodle soup is the star dish here. The free flow Kimchi is also very famous and has an incredible amount of  garlic.  It’s so strong they give you chewing gum when you ask for the bill to ease the smell of garlic. Besides the kimchi, a bowl of rice mixed with millets is served free of charge with  the noodle soup. It’s a lot of food for only S$10.

 

 

I was reading through a few reviews on the restaurant in Korean and one of the reviews suggested to order only one bowl of kal guk su and one serving of dumplings so you can have best of the both.  We were silly enough to order a bowl of noodle soup each and ended up staring at other customers with dumplings!!

 

 

 

Other dishes served in this restaurant include cold soy bean noodle (kong guk su) and chilli noodles (bibim guksu). I have never tried these dishes simply because the kal gul su is the best and leave no room for anything else. According to the restaurant website, you can  buy their home made kimchi and take it away.

 

How to get to Myung dong Gyoja:

 

Address:

Seoul-si Jung-gu Myeongdong 10-gil 29
(Myeongdong 2-ga)

There are two Myungdong Gyoja restaurants in Myungdong, They are not too far from each other.  If you are heading to Seoul next time, don’t forget to check this out!

Food glorious Korean food!

Food glorious Korean food!

I have reached rock bottom this week.  It’s been a month since I came back from Korea and my craving for all the wonderful Korean food I had  in Seoul is uncontrollable. Maybe too much of a good thing in one week wasn’t such a good idea?

Here are some of the dishes that I enjoyed during my trip. I think I had about 4-5 meals a day so I could get through my wish list.

 

  • Seafood stew – literal translation is steamed seafood (hemul jjim-해물찜) but it seemed like everything is called steamed and followed by fried rice with the left overs. Looks spicy, right? Well, it was damn spicy!!  Believe it or not, I had this for lunch and a few shots of soju (Korean rice wine)… yes, drinking during lunch time.  Nap time!!

 

 

 

 

  • I had oyster omelets for supper… and more drinking! I caught up with my primary school teacher and had a feast of BBQ pork. That was followed by supper with my relatives at 11pm. Yet more soju… bring it on!!  This was the best oyster omelet I had in my life…. Lightly fried with egg batter and a soy sauce dip. Yummy!

 

 

 

 

  • The next two dishes were interesting. Pork belly and pork ribs on a hot plate. This was a tiny restaurant near my parents place and it was packed. It was a rainy and miserable evening and the BBQ was perfect for the night.  Check out the fat on this pork belly….

 

 

  • Yes we grill everything including kimchi!

 

  • These pork ribs were so lean and tender. Hardly any spice on them yet still a wonderful aroma.

 

 

 

  • The next dish was from a restaurant next door. My aunt loves this dish so much she always order it while eating the BBQ pork belly and ribs. Chicken feet in chilly sauce. All the bones are removed. They were very crunchy.

 

 

  • What I crave the most on a day like this (rainy and cool) is kal guk su (handmade noodle soup). This particular one was made with ox tail stock. Normally the stock is made with either anchovies or clams. I think what made this special was their homemade kimchi and the soy sauce they added to the noodle.

 

 

After looking at these photos again, I think I will have to do something about my cravings… What to cook, what to cook….??

Trip to Korea – Korean breakfast

Trip to Korea – Korean breakfast

While I was in Korea last week, I ate as if it was my last meal and my family fed me like I was never going to eat again. Here are some of the pictures of my breakfast prepared for me.

So you can see what real Koreans usually eat for breakfast. Rice, Korean miso soup, lotus root in soy sauce, stir fried oyster mushroom, stir fried eggplant, steamed broccoli and pickled green chillis. Some of the side dishes you will see in every Korean household. Yes, I forgot to mention the centre plate is chilli crab. Yes, chilli crab for breakfast!! I must admit I love crab a lot so I could eat it everyday for dinner but not for breakfast at 8am.  There is a dish missing in this picture. Can you guess?  KIMCHI!    I just couldn’t bring myself to eat kimchi for breakfast.

Yes, you are looking at blue swimmer crab cooked in chilli sauce. I had this for two days in a row for breakfast because there was so much of it. I thought I was going to get sick eating such heavy food but I was fine, just very uncomfortable….  I had sleepless nights from too much food in my stomach! Seriously…

Korean miso soup (den jang jji ge). Commonly served for  breakfast or lunch or dinner.

Lotus roots cooked in soy sauce

Stir fried eggplants

Stir fried oyster mushroom

You might wonder how these Korean family have this type of meals every day. Well, the trick is to make a lot on the weekend and eat during the week.  By cooking one or tw0 dishes only for the meal, it still feels like you have an amazing meal.

This breakfast table is not as heavy as previous one. After much complaining, my family started preparing smaller breakfasts. Check out the two fish – both of which I had to finish!! 🙁

Despite all my complaints about the breakfast, it was great to have a hot meal prepared by my mum. Thank you!!!  ❤

Dear readers, what do you usually have for breakfast? I know some readers in Singapore  eat noodles or pork buns for breakfast but still not as heavy a meal like Koreans.  Do you also have breakfast as interesting as this?  I would love to hear from you! 🙂

Not another rice cake soup please

Not another rice cake soup please

Without family, Chinese New Year (gu jeong – 구정) seems like just another public holiday.

When I was living in Sydney, I began to forget the importance of Chinese New Year, because being in a western city the focus was always on the calendar New Year (January 1). It wasn’t until I moved to Singapore 7 years ago, I rediscovered how important this holiday is. It is a time when the whole family comes together to celebrate.

One of the most fun customs during gu jeong is receiving money from the parents and relatives who are older than you.  Everyone dresses in Korean traditional costume (han bok -한복) and  the children bow to their parents. In return, the parents give the children money in white envelopes -Se be don -세배돈.

When I was living in Seoul, we used to go to my grandparents on gu jeong. I had 12 cousins at the time and I was the oldest child (and only girl) in the family. We all lined up as if we were in an army and had to bow to our grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts. Afterwards, we used to wonder what we were going to do with all that money.

In terms of traditional food, one dish you must have on gu jeong is rice cake soup (dduk guk – 떡국). In the olden days before we celebrated birthdays eating dduk guk marked the time when you became one year older. It’s funny, when we were young, we wanted to have 2 or 3 bowls of dduk guk at a time so we could get older really fast. These days I try to avoid eating it so I can stay young!

I don’t usually cook dduk guk as normally I would be spending gu jeong with my parents who would make it, but this year I made a nice batch of the soup to start the year of rabbit off with lots of good luck.

How to make dduk guk (떡국):

Ingredients: 1/2 bag rice cakes, 1.5 L beef stock,  a handful of finely chopped spring onions, 2 eggs, 1 tsp seaweed, 1 tsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce, salt, white pepper

  • I prepared 1.5L beef stock (or anchovy stock is just as good) by boiling beef bones in a pot for one hour.  I strained the stock and skimed the fat off the top. Nice thick beef stock!

    • Once the stock started to boil, I added the rice cakes and boiled for another 5 minutes. You can buy the rice cake from any Fairprice supermarket in Singapore.

  • While the soup was boiling, I separated one of the egg whites and yolk and fried both separately on low heat and cut them julienne style.
  • I seasoned the soup with 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp of fish sauce and some salt. I then cracked the other egg into the soup.
  • I served the soup in a bowl garnished with the fried eggs (both yolk and white), diced spring onions and seaweed.

Isn’t the soup pretty? The egg whites and yolk definitely brings out the colours and makes the boring gu jeong rice cake soup sumptuous!  As we say in Korean “Se-he bok man yi bak u se yo! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!” (Happy New Year!)

My husband’s birthday dinner

My husband’s birthday dinner

Apologies for posting this one so late. My husband’s birthday was in November and I am only now posting photos of his birthday dinner.

I decided to cook  only traditional Korean birthday dishes for my husband, without even asking him what he wanted for his party. We invited a group of our friends and it was interesting to see the different responses from all the dishes I cooked.

The first dish is called “hwang-te gui” (황태 구이). I tried to find an English name for this dish but no luck. Hwang-te is a dried fish and is normally cooked in a chilli sauce with garlic. Koreans eat this on special occasions and it’s also served with beers at pubs.

The second dish which turned out great is sweet and sour chicken (kkan-pung-gi-깐풍기). It’s a chinese dish but its also very popular in Korea. It’s fried crispy and mixed with sweet and sour sauce.

The next photo has 3 different types of dishes in one. The first one on the left is mung bean pancake(빈대떡). The one in the middle is fried fish(생선전) and the last one on the right is fried zucchinis(호박전). You will find these at a birthday dinner all the time. I remember cooking these whenever it was my father’s birthday or some other festive occasion (New Year, Thanksgiving, etc).

The most important dish out of all for a birthday is seaweed soup – mi yek guk (미역국). This soup can be cooked with beef or mussels although personally I prefer it with mussels. The shop is normally given to new mother for about a month after giving birth. It is supposed to aid with breast feeding. So to symbolise your birth and your mother’s hard work, it’s a must dish that you eat it on your birthday.

The other dishes I cooked were sweet poato glass noodles(jap che -잡채) and acorn jelly salad (도토리묵). Out of all the dishes I cooked, sweet and sour chicken was the most popular dish then followed by  the noodles.  It’s always great to see my friends enjoying my food!