February Bangkok Farmers Market

February Bangkok Farmers Market

Yes, I finally started back at Bangkok Farmers Market in February. Unfortunately, my husband was away to help with the heavy lifting so it was hard work and I ended up with a minor back injury!!  Thank goodness for my friends who came to help out over the weekend and those that visited my stall. I don’t know what I would do without them…Hope my husband is reading this!! hint hint!!

Back in Sydney, I used to make necklaces and sell them at a market in Mosman. It was never about selling though, it was all about catching up with friends, eating and shopping. Except for the Thailand heat, it feels almost like that here at Bangkok Farmers market. Ah, the good old days…!

Busy packing before the market.

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I had a new item to sell at the February market and it was really exciting to hear all the great feedback! My new “Green papaya” kimchi! It’s a mix of the crunchiness of green papaya together with Kimchi sauce! A great combination!!

 

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My organic kimchi!

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My bibimbap stand which comes with organic brown rice! Very healthy…

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Making hodduk(cinnamon pancake) – a lot of people are often surprised to know that this is a popular Korean street snack food!

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The cooking classes are getting a lot of interest, especially Kimchi making class. I love meeting people who have the same passion as I do about cooking or are just curious about Korean food. I’ll be starting regular monthly classes soon so get in early to avoid disappointment!

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I will be back at the March Bangkok Farmer market (15th & 29th). If I have time, I will take my friends suggestion and try making green mango kimchi as well this time. That should be an interesting flavor mix. Be sure to come and visit if you are in Bangkok!

 

 

 

 

Bangkok Farmers Market food tasting

Bangkok Farmers Market food tasting

Six years ago I tagged along to see a fortune teller with my brother in Seoul. It was just for fun but it was quite amazing how the fortune teller told me so much about myself just by my name, date of birth and my face. One of the distinct points she mentioned was not to go into the food business. But my passion for food and sharing my skills with other people won over and I ignored her advice and started Nicky’s Kitchen cooking school.

My next mile stone is about to occur this weekend at the Bangkok Farmers market at K-Village. I will be cooking a variety of Korean dishes to sell. Before the real deal though, I decided to do a test run and invited a few friends for a tasting session.

We set up a pretend stall to see what it would be like. Below are my two lovely assistants who will be helping this weekend! 

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Seafood pancake and home made kimchi for tasting!

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Cooking two Seafood pancakes at once!

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Korean sweet pancake – aka hodduk was very popular!

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Tasting time… these are delicious!!

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If you are in Bangkok, we hope to see you this weekend!

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In Korean….

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Cooking competition

Cooking competition

I was asked by Korean Tourism to be a judge for a Korean cooking competition earlier in the year. The first prize was two return tickets to Korea!!  I wish I could enter.. 😉

The two day event involved a lot of preparation. There were many terms and conditions we had to consider and lots of questions from contestants regarding ingredients they could use. The first preliminary round involved making Korean pancake(파전) and Korean BBQ beef (불고기).

Despite all the hard preparation, it was really fun event. It was great watching all the contestants working so hard to cook delicious dishes. The best part was having to taste all the dishes!!

 

 

The aim of this competition was not only to cook authentic Korean dishes but also to be creative. I was proud to see a few male participants who were showing off their culinary skills.  Another competency that was judged was the cleanliness of each participants’ workstation.  Here is a photo of the judges walking around and assessing each workstation.

 

 

Each dish had to be created in one hour. It sounds like a lot of time, but when you are cooking in an unfamiliar environment, this can be quite scary and stressful.

 

  • 1st round – pancakes (파전)

 

 

 

  • 2nd round: Korean BBQ beef (불고기)

This contestant was one of my favourites. He was a young University student who had the creativity as well as culinary skills.

 

This contestant made chilli bulgogi. Not quite what the judges were expecting but tasty nonetheless.

 

Bulgogi in  wraps – very original!!

 

Nicely decorated… Bulgogi in capsicum cups

 

This contestant definitely knew what she was doing.

 

And the four finalists were….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The final round was any dish that included kimchi. And the winner is….

This winner went to a Korean restaurant the night before the final competition and tasted all the Korean kimchi dishes and came up with her own Korean pork dish.

Well done everyone!!

Korean Temple food

Korean Temple food

I can’t believe this will be my last blog for 2011. It’s been a busy last few months and I finally managed to squeeze in some time to write a blog I have been meaning to write for a while…. This is long overdue!

I was invited to attend a Korean cooking demonstration conducted by a Korean Buddhist Seonjae nun a few months ago. Being reasonably ignorant of Buddism, it was a good opportunity to educate myself.  I noticed a lot of Temple food cooking books were very popular during my last trip to Korea.

The cooking demonstration was organised by the Singapore Korean Women’s Association and was held at the Korean International School. The turn out was fantastic. There must have been at least 200 people filling the school hall. I guess everyone was curious to see the difference in the Korean temple food. Seonjae nun was going to show us how to make a few different types of kimchi in the Buddhist way.

I learnt that Buddhists don’t eat garlic, spring onion/leek and onion. This was hard to believe when Koreans use so much of these ingredients. I was really looking forward to taste Kimchi which has no garlic!

 

Seonjae nun is a cancer survivor. When she found out that she had cancer, she decided to focus more on the Korean temple food and treat her illness with food that she cooked. All her vegetables were grown in the temple organically and she treated the vegetable like any precious lives. She explained that what you eat is what you are. So you need to eat good and healthy food or your body will get sick.  How true…

 

Check out the different variety of kimchi that she made and we tasted.

Lotus root white kimchi

 

Cabbage Kimchi

 

Eggplant kimchi

 

 

Cucumber kimchi

 

All the different variety of kimchi that I tried tasted much less salty but still very fresh. I still couldn’t believe she didn’t use any garlic in any of the cooking. One more thing to note is that she makes her own soy sauce and substituted that with fish sauce.

Well, thank you all for following my blog this year and I hope I can bring more instresting stories for you next year! Happy New Year everyone and all the best in 2012!

Korea town – Sydney Australia

Korea town – Sydney Australia

I was back in Sydney visiting family and friends a few weeks ago and took some snap shots of an area that I grew up called Strathfield. My family moved to this area when we first moved from Korea. Strathfield has a lot of Koreans and therefore a lot of the shops cater to the Korean community. Sometimes, I felt I was in Korea rather than Australia.

I went to my favorite Korean restaurant at Strathfiled Plaza called Tomoya (Korean/Japanese) and had a lovely lunch with my family. The silken tofu soup wasn’t up to the usual standard according my father but my hot stone bibimbap with fish row was amazing!

While we were in Sydney, the weather was amazing. It was not too hot and we had an amazing clear blue sky every day except our final day. The weather turned completely and it was like being in winter so I was craving for a hot and spicy soup to warm me up. My brother recommended a restaurant tucked away in a sports club called “Red Pepper @ Strathfield”. They had an incredible kimchi jjige cooked with pork ribs and I also highly recommend the chilli fried chicken (yang nyum chicken). It was so crunch and spicy. I loved it…Drop by if you are around the area! 🙂

Red Pepper @ Strathfield restaurant

Address: 45 The Boulevard  Strathfield Sydney, Australia   Tel: +61-9746 7500

Korea town in Kuala Lumpur

Korea town in Kuala Lumpur

I really enjoy  discovering “Korea towns” in different cities when I travel and sharing my little discoveries with everyone through my blog. As I travel quite frequently, I am starting to see a big difference in various cities.

My last exploration was in Kuala Lumpur(KL), Malaysia. I used to live in KL 7 years ago and never noticed how many Korean restaurants or grocery store there were. According to my research, there are more than 20,000 Koreans living in KL so its only natural that a “Korea town” would pop up.

My adventure started with a 20 minute taxi ride from KL city  to an area called “Sri Hartamas”. If you only spoke Korean then you could survive in this suburb :-). There were at least two Korean supermarkets in the area, many Korean restaurants and countless hair dressers (Why are there so many hairdressers?? – Are we that vain that we need to look our best when we are grocery shopping?!).

My first pit stop was Seoul Mart. What I really liked about this Korean supermarket was that they had fresh vegetables and fruit directly from Korea.

You can see Korean zucchinis, mandarins and apples as well as Korean squid and frozen fish .

I was curious to find out what else this supermarket had so I tested them by asking if they had a cold medicine called “contact 600”. (This is a famous brand and works wonders  for a cold) To my surprise,  the grocer had some for sale on the counter. So with only a 1 hour flight or 5 hour coach ride from Singapore I can now get my Korea fix! They had everything except the Korean weather…..

I was getting a little hungry so the owner of the Seoul Mart pointed me to a restaurant upstairs from the grocery store called Daore. The name of the restaurant in Korean means “Come everyone”. Strange name for a restaurant but I guess it makes sense, right? 🙂

I ordered a hot stone bowl bibimbap (dol sot bibimbap – 돌솥 비빔밥) which is a perfect lunch dish when you need a lot of energy for exploring a city. Koreans usually have dol sot bibimbap in winter,. It’s normally too hot to have in Malaysia or Singapore but the aircon in the restaurant was strong enough to make me wish I had brought a scarf.

The meal was served with many delicious side dishes. I had to resist not to eat too much of these before the dol sot bibimbap arrived. The kimchi tasted and looked authentic, and the cabbage salad was amazingly refreshing.

After a nice lunch, I went further down the street and found a Korean rice cake shop. Yum – My favourite! But unfortunately they  had moved and no matter what  way I looked at the directions , I couldn’t find the new shop. Later I found out they have not yet opened at the new address.. 🙁  If you ever around the area and find it, drop by to check it out and let me know.

Around the block from the Seoul Mart, is another grocery stored called “Lotte Mart” and a number of other Korean run stores.

I will be back in KL again soon to do more shopping. I am also organising Korean cooking class in KL soon, so I will keep you posted. Hope to see you there soon! ^_^

My favourite kimchi – chong gak kimchi!

My favourite kimchi – chong gak kimchi!

On my recent trip to Sydney, I picked up a bag of chong gak kimchi. I don’t like buying kimchi in Singapore since my last purchase (it was covered in fungus – see my previous post on this) so I  buy it now either from Korea or Sydney. A well known brand in Sydney is called “Paldo” and it tastes just like the homemade type.

I tried to do some research to find out why this particular kimchi is called chong gak kimchi but didn’t get very far. The direct translation is “bachelor kimchi”. Perhaps, it’s ideal for bachelors to have it as a side dish on those lonely nights at home? 🙂  It can also be referred to as  열무 김치 or young raddish kimchi.

Anyway, I am waiting for my chong gak kimchi to become sour so I can make neng myun (cold noodles-냉면). This type of kimchi is perfect for neng myun and neng myun is perfect for the hot weather in Singapore. In Korea, neng myun sells like hot cakes in summer.

Unfortunately, I have not seen this chong gak kimchi anywhere in Singapore so I am going to have to ration this lot very carefully to make it last for next few weeks! 🙂

Anyone for kimchi?

Anyone for kimchi?

Kimchi is most probably the national dish of Korea. Every household would have some in the their fridge. Some even have dedicated Kimchi fridges.  I never appreciated eating kimchi when I was growing up but ever since I moved to Singapore, I crave the good homemade stuff. Once I bought a small packet of kimchi from Cold Storage supermarket and nearly fainted when i saw fungus growing inside. Kimchi naturally ferments and becomes sour over time. I’ve never known it to go off.

A number of people have asked me if I could run a kimchi class. It’s been a while since I made kimchi . Since it takes so long to make, most Korean families buy it from a supermarket. However, if you are lucky enough to live close to your parents or even your in-laws, you will  always receive a constant supply.

My parents arrived last weekend with boxes and boxes of authentic Korean ingredients ready for my cooking classes. I decided to take advantage of mum being here and refresh my kimchi making skills.  As I was pounding a bulb of garlic, childhood memories came flooding back. I remembered times when all the Korean aunties(a-jum-ma) got together and would spend the Autumn days making kimchi. Everyone would make enough to last the cold Korean winter. Back in the olden days, the kimchi would be placed in a brown clay pot and buried in the frosty ground to keep it cool. With a modern technology, most Korean families own a kimchi fridge which keeps it at just the right temperature to stop it fermenting.

To make kimchi, the secret is to soak the cabbage in salty water until it becomes soft, but not too soggy. It normally takes around 6-8hours. After waiting patiently, I was ready to smear the cabbage with the kimchi sauce consisting of garlic, ginger, spring onions, white raddish and carrot. I was a little too enthusiastic with the fresh chilli powder though so it ended up extra spicy! Whilst you can eat it straight away, its best if you leave it in the fridge for a few days so that all the exotic tastes can permeate through the cabbage.

Making kimchi is a group activity and is lots of fun. It normally takes a full day (including all the Auntie gossip!) but I’m happy to show people the basics in a three hour session.

Kimchi power!!