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!

Jjim dak – Korean braised chicken

Jjim dak – Korean braised chicken

When one of my students asked me if I can teach  Jjim dak (찜닭), I had a sudden craving for the dish. I quickly called around my family to find a recipe. Jjim dak became very popular in Korea to a point where you can almost find a Jjim dak restaurant on every corner and each one insisted that they were the original. Apparently this dish originated from a city called Andong, Korea and was made with very spicy Korean green chillis. I always wondered why it was called Jjim dak as it translates to steamed chicken but it is actually braised in soy sauce.

How to make Jjim dak (serves 3-4 people)

  • Ingredients: 10 chicken drumsticks & 10 wings, 1 potato, 1/2 carrot, 1 onion, 6 dates soaked in water, 10 dried chillies, 1 birds eye chilli, 1 leek, 1 handful of dangmyun (sweet potato noodle), 5 cups of water
  • Sauce: 8 tbsp Korean soy sauce, 1 tbs oyster sauce, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp chopped garlic, 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger, 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, 3 tbsp soju (Korean rice wine), 1/4 sesame seeds, some salt & pepper

  • Soak the dang myun in hot water to soften

  • Marinate the chicken in 2 tbsp of soju, some salt and pepper for 30 minutes

 

  • Add the marinated chicken, 5 cups of water, dried chillies and red dates in a pot and boil on a high heat for about 15 minutes. This is to cook the chicken. Mix all the sauce ingredients listed above and add to the chicken while it’s boiling

 

  • Add all the vegetables except the leek in to the pot and boil for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

  • As a final step, add the dang myun, leeks, and sesame seeds. My original recipe required only dried chillies but they were not spicy enough so I added the bird eye chilli to give that extra spiciness.

  • Unfortunately, my camera was playing up and I lost most of the photos I took when I was plating the dish. I managed to save a few only…   🙁

  • It was so spicy that I drank about a jug water with the chicken but my husband and I still managed to eat most of it. Instead of calling this dish Jjim dak, I think they should call it firey chicken.

 

 

Try the recipe and let me me know how you like this dish. Enjoy! 🙂

Balcony Garden journal 2 – baby plants

Balcony Garden journal 2 – baby plants

There have been a lot of activities in the balcony garden last two weeks. More seeds arrived from Korea and I have been busy planting. Now I have baby chicory, broccoli, kale,  Chinese cabbage,  red cabbage, and raddish. It should only take 2-3weeks to grow and I can add them to my salad.

They are really simple to grow. All you need is a piece of kitchen towel, a bowl and some water.  In the instruction packet, it said to water them 2-3 times a day with water spray. I started off with baby radish first. Only a few more days to go and these little baby sprouts are going into my salad!

Next one is baby Chinese cabbage, like the ones used in kimchi. Instead of growing in a bowl, I am growing them in soil to see how big they get. I am curious to see how they will  look in 3 weeks.

Now some updates on the ones I planted in the beginning of February.

  • My Thai cucumbers are growing really well. It’s ready to be transplanted to bigger pots. I just need to find some space on my balcony.

  • The Korean perilla plants are looking really healthy. The outer leaves are almost ready to be picked  but I am going to resist and wait for them to grow a little taller. A little creepy crawly got to one of my leaves already which taught me to check the back of the leaves more frequently. I thought I was only one eying the perilla leaves…

  • The most exciting result this week is my cucumber. I harvested one cucumber  already a few days ago. When I cut it in half, the skin looked and felt really thick but they were sweet and refreshing. According to my research, you need to pick the first vegetable early, so there will be many more. The name tags keep falling off  so I not sure which cucumber this is exactly but from memory  I think  it’s the seeds I bought from Malaysia.

  • My information appears to be correct because after I picked my first cucumber, a few more started to appear.  In the past, I haven’t had a lot of success with cucumbers in Singapore. I thought it was just the weather but now I think I found the secret. Cucumbers need lots water and calcium.  I learnt that crushed egg shells are a great source of calcium. All you need to do wash and  dry them and put them through a  spice grinder to turn them into powders.

  • Cucumbers have both male and female flowers. The cucumbers grow from the female flowers. To help them along, I have artificially hand pollinated the female flowers by cutting back the surrounding petals of male flowers and dabbing it inside female flower.  The picture above is two days after the female flower has been hand pollinated. Today I had a look at  the cucumber and it’s now half the size of my hand.

  • Finally, I have been picking lots of cherry tomatoes from my garden. It’s not enough to have a salad with but it keep us smiling everytime we get to taste a real tomato straight off the vine.  🙂