Time for a face lift

Time for a face lift

I am excited to announce that the Nicky’s Kitchen blog site has received a new face lift. It’s been two and half years since I started blogging and having my home page decorated with all the beautiful photos I have taken during that time makes me proud.

Lots has happened since my last blog.  The year has been filled with classes, corporate events and being asked to judge the first Korean cooking competition in Singapore sponsored by Korean Tourism Oraganisation.

There is also another big change coming up in the next few months and I will be making an announcement soon!

In the mean time, check out some photos from my latest event at  Annyeong Seoul Festival two weeks ago. I demonstrate cooking seafood pancakes, chilli rice cakes, japche and bulgogi over two day. At the end the food was shared with the entire audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bellissimo!

bellissimo!

There’s been a good reason why I haven’t had the time to post recently. My husband’s friend was getting married in Italy and we decided to take the opportunity to travel around my favorite part of the world. We started from Florence, driving through different parts of Tuscany and flew out of Rome. It was just magnificent in every way!

 

 

 

 

 

The trip was amazing and revolved around one word – food!.  We drove from village to village tasting fresh Italian food everyday. I got a little obsessed with all the different delicatessens and fruit’n’vegie shops in each town to see what fresh produce were available.  Instead of buying souvenirs in each town, I bought different salamis. I think my husband was happy that I wasn’t buying shoes or handbags but our suitcase was slowly filling up with all the food.

Check out this big piece of prosciutto!  I almost bought this whole leg which weigh about 5kg.

 

My favorite Octopus served with fennel and fresh tomatoes. I was in heaven!! We found this amazing restaurant in Sienna where we ended up having 3 course lunch for 3 hours. They gave us a tasting of freshly made Spaghetti carbonara and I was speechless.

Grilled Osso Bucco(braised oxtail) for my main. Normally Osso Bucco is braised for several hours but this one was baked so I had to try. The black paste you see under the meat is a type of olive which gave this smoky flaour and it was a perfect match for the meat. I was looking for this olive all around Italy and finally find a bottle to bring back home.

My husband’s main dish was pigeon. You can see my husband impatiently waiting for me to take the photo so he can attack the dish.

 

And the dessert… Strawberries were in season so I decided to go with this dish. The strawberry puree was so sweet and fresh. My husband and I were fighting for the last drop.

Our new favourite dessert – you dunk the biscotti into the dessert wine for a few seconds and then bite off soggy part.

Have I mentioned that Italians are very similar to Koreans? They speak very passionately using both their hands in the air and they believe in close family relationships! By the way, we almost tried Korean food in Rome…

 

 

Enough about food, a few more shots around Cinque Terrra where we went for the wedding.

 

 

 

 

 

After suffering from a week of bad jetleg with sleepless nights, I am back and re-inspired to cook beautiful food and grow a  lot more tomatoes using all the seeds I bought in Italy. Watch this space!!! 🙂

My favourite restaurant in Singapore

My favourite restaurant in Singapore

A lot of people ask me my favourite Korean restaurant is in Singapore. My answer is not a Korean restaurant but a Korean/Chinese restaurant. I found a restaurant called “Dong bang Hong” by accident on Joo Chiat Road about two years ago when I moved to the East Coast Area. Whenever I have cravings for Korean food, I head  to this restaurant. Dishes that I order are not your typical Korean dishes but modified Chinese dishes such as Jja jang myung (짜장면-炸醬麵) and Jjan bbong (짬뽕)

Jja jang myun is served with a handmade noodle and black bean sauce. It’s believed to have originated from Chinese migrants living in Korea.

I made the sauce for the jja jang a few days ago and instead of serving it with noodles, I served it on a bed of rice.

How to make jja jang sauce:

Ingredients – 3 potatoes, 2 onions, 1 carrot, 1/2 zucchini, 1/6 cabbage, 1/2 cucumber sliced thinly, 200g pork mince,  200g prawns (meat only), 1 pack of Korean black bean sauce, 2 tbsp rice wine, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, sugar, pepper, ginger powder, dried prawn powder, 1/2 cup potato starch water, 2 cups of water.

  • Prepare all vegetables and prawns by chopping them into 1 cm cubes and put them in a separate bowls.

  • Mix the pork mince in the rice wine, add a pinch of salt, pepper and ginger powder then set aside. This is to reduce the smell of pork.

  • Add the vegetable oil to a wok on a medium heat. Once the oil is heated up, add the Korean black bean sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

  • In a separate frypan, cook the pork mince in vegetable oil for 5 minutes. Then add potatoes and onion and cook until they are almost done. Add the rest of vegetables and cook another 5 minutes.

  • Add the vegetables to the black bean sauce and season with salt and sugar. I kept adding sugar until the sauce was no longer bitter. (I must have put at least 5 tablespoons of sugar). Pour 2 cups of water and boil for 10 minutes. If you prefer, you can use stock instead of water. (I didn’t have time to prepare the stock so I added a tablespoon of dried prawn powder to enhance the flavour). Add the potato starch water to thicken the sauce.

  • Serve the jja jjang sauce on top of cooked rice and add some sliced cucumbers to garnish. Hmmmm, now I am hungry again!!

If you haven’t tried jja jang myun, definitely head to the Dong Bang Hong restaurant first before cooking the dish so you get a sense of what the finished dish looks and tastes like. Whilst you are there, check out their jjan bbong – it’s another favorite of mine.

In Korea, someone invented a bowl that has a divider in the middle of the bowl. This is so you can eat both jja jang myun and jjan bong at the same time. That’s because they are both so good tit’s hard to just order one without the other.

Dong bang hong restaurant

Address: 92/94 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01 Far East Square, Singapore
Tel: 6327 9036 (close Sundays)

family tree of Gold fish bun

family tree of Gold fish bun

For my birthday present, I received an interesting book which illustrates how some Korean and western food originated. Translated, the tittle of the book is: “Even the golf fish bun has a family tree”. It basically means, there is a story behind all types of food and dishes.

I’ll translate and share some of the stories on Korean dishes with you over next few months beginning with a Korean dessert called ho dduk (호떡-胡餠).  It’s a round, flat pancake filled with sugar and peanut. You can find ho dduk being sold by street vendors in Korea during autumn and winter.

Apparently, ho dduk originated from countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. Traders brought the snack via the Silk Road through China before finally reaching Korea. Back in  those days, ho dduk was only for the rich or king’s family as wheat flour was rare and the technique of using yeast was new to Koreans.

There is a proverb in Korea: “There is a fire at the ho dduk store” which is used to describe when something is very noisy. According  to 1920’s newspapers articles there were lots of reports of fires starting in the ho dduk shops. Back then ho dduck was fried on an open fire. In addition, many of the owners were Chinese. So the saying came about because no-one knew what the Chinese were saying (perhaps “fire fire!”). To the Koreans it was just a lot of noise. Funny, huh?

My aunt sells both gold fish bun and ho dduk in LA so I asked her for the recipe. Its usually a 3 hour process as you have to wait for the flour to rise but I will show you a short cut version. By the way, the recipe my aunt gave me has a cup of Korean rice wine (so ju).

All you need is a packet of ho dduk pre-mix from a Korean grocery shop. The best thing about this is you don’t need wait for the flour to rise.

Inside the box, there is one packet of yeast(red packet), flour mix(orange packet) and sugar mix(brown).  All you need to add is 250ml of water and some vegetable oil.

How to make it ho dduk:

  • Take the yeast from the ho dduk pre-mix packet and place in a medium size bowl. Add 250ml of warm water and mix well.

  • Pour the ho dduk flour mix into the bowl and kneed for 5-10 minutes.
  • Prepare the sugar mix in a bowl.

  • Grease your hand with the vegetable oil and divide the dough into 10-12 small balls.
  • Flatten the ball and make a dimple in the middle. Then add 1-2 teaspoons of the sugar mix. Seal the sugar mix in the dough by folding the dough over the dimple.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable of oil on medium heat to a frypan, then place the ball into the frypan and let it cook for about 30 seconds.

  • Flip the ball and flatten it with a spatula until it’s round and flat.

  • Allow it to cook for a minute on one side and then flip to the other side to cook another minute.

  • Remove from the frypan and let it cool on a paper towel.

Here are some pictures from my ho dduk class I conducted last week. Happy cooking!

PS: Thank you for all your emails and comments. If you post questions/comments on my blog, everyone can join in and share their experiences.  For the next two weeks, I am giving away a mystery Korean ingredient for the two most interesting questions/comments on each blog. This applies to replies from Singapore and Malaysia. I look forward to reading your questions and comments! 🙂

Lazy weekend meal

Lazy weekend meal

When I am too lazy to cook and I don’t to want eat out, this is what I put together – Noodle salad with wasabi sauce.

I chop up some lettuce, capsicums, cucumbers and sesame leaves and cook some buckwheat noodles. You can also use any other left over vegetables in your fridge. 🙂

Add some prawns on top!

Mix together some rice vinegar, wasabi paste, sesame oil, sesame seeds and sugar to make a quick and tasty wasabi sauce.

It makes a very healthy and delicious meal, and best of all it’s all done in 10 minutes!