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**

 

 

 

 

 

 

A real veggie garden

A real veggie garden

I am in Australia this week visiting my family and friends. It was really nice to experience some cooler weather for a change. We spent yesterday having an typical Australian BBQ and now I am staying at my mother-in-law’s farm enjoying the country lifestyle. See the cows? We also saw kangaroos jumping around on the way here. Beautiful!

 

 

Here are some photos of my mother-in-law’s vegetable garden which I would like to show off. Living in Singapore and struggling to grow anything, this is my dream garden. We just harvested some parsnips and carrots which we are now cooking for dinner. I was over the moon harvesting with my bare hands.

 

 

 

Check out these cabbages… I will be taking one of these to my dad to try. He is an amateur farmer and might encourage him re-start his back yard veggie patch.

 

I tried this fresh broad beans off the stem and it was incredibly sweet.

 

 

This little lettuce was hiding between the Swede Turnips.

 

Harvesting parsnips.

 

Harvesting carrots. Look at these luscious green leaves.

 

 

Check out this little carrot.

 

How great are these!

 

I can’t wait for dinner. Freshly picked vegetables which are going straight on to our dinner plates.  🙂

 

Trip to Korea – Chilli Octopus

Trip to Korea – Chilli Octopus

As soon as I booked my ticket to Korea yesterday, I put together a list of Korean food I have been craving and emailed  my girlfriend in Korea to do some research. Yes, finally I am going to Korea again!!!

My food wishlist went like this:

  1. BBQ Chilli Octopus (Nak ji bok eum – 낙지볶음)
  2. Cold noodle (Neng myun – 냉면)
  3. Black bean noodle (Jja jang myn – 짜장면)
  4. Chilli rice cake (dduk bok yi – 떡뽁이)
  5. Braised Chicken (Jjim dak – 찜닭)
  6. BBQ chilli Pork (돼지 불고기)
  7. Handmade noodle (Kal guk su – 칼국수)
  8. Potatoes stew (gam ja ttang – 감자탕)

My craving was so bad, I decided to make Chilli octopus. I am salivating again just watching this photo, it must be the chilli…

 

 

Since it’s impossible to get live Octopus in Singapore, I bought frozen ones from a Korean store. They were actually not bad. Usually if you get poor quality ones, the octopus will be as tough as rubber.

 

Ingredients: 1/2 kg Octopus chopped  into 4cm length, 1/2 onion, 1/2 green & 1/2 red capsicums, a handful of white cabbage thinly sliced, 1/2 zucchini, some spring onion, 1 tsp vegetable oil

Sauce: 2 tbsp Korean chilli sauce (go chu jang), 2 tbsp Korean chilli powder, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp minced ginger, some sesame oil and sesame seeds

 

  • I mixed the sauce first(without the sesame oil and seeds) and set it aside while I was preparing the vegetables. Very spicy!!

 

 

 

 

  • To make sure you don’t over cook the octopus, I added some vegetable oil in the pan and cooked the vegetable first. Then I mixed in the octopus and the sauce with the vegetables and cooked it a few more minutes. It’s amazingly a quick dish.

 

 

  • I can’t believe how red it looks….

  • There are many ways of serving Chilli Octopus but tonight will be Chilli Octopus on rice for dinner.  Some sesame seeds on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Korean restaurants, Chilli Octopus is commonly served on a hot plate. They will cook the octopus in chilli sauce for you first. As you eat the octopus, they add rice or noodles with more chilli sauce for you to eat. Every time I go to Seoul, this dish is the first thing I must have. One of my best friend in Korea couldn’t eat this dish as she had allergies to Octopus but somehow her allergy is gone! So, we are off to Myung dong(명동) as soon as I arrive, where there is a street full of Chilli Octopus restaurants. Yum Yum!!

So, it’s been a while since I visited Korea. I am leaving next Monday for a week to catch up with some friends and family, lots of shopping(mainly food), stock up some Korean ingredients and eat until I drop. I promise to take lots and lots of photos of food and cool people in Seoul. Count down! 🙂

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!!! 🙂

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

Win a bag of CJ goodies

Win a bag of CJ goodies

Last month, I was invited to an event organised by CJ Korea one of the largest food companies in Korea.  They found me through Google (how did we ever survive without the internet?!)  and at the time it sounded like some kind of some product promotion.   CJ  Korea is also known as Cheil Jedang. When I was growing up, Cheil Jedang (제일 제당) was known for selling sugar, however over time they expanded to other types of Korean food.

When I realised CJ Korea was Cheil Jedang, I was very excited and honored to be invited by a such a reputable Korean company and be a part of the event. Different food bloggers were invited to experience Singapore food  made with Korean ingredients. I was so excited that when I got home I called my parents to tell them all about it!  🙂

All Fairprice stores are now carrying a lot of CJ products and Cold Storage also carry their frozen dumplings. I find these days that it is getting easier to access Korean ingredients and  it is much cheaper than buying from Korean grocery stores.  I have tried most of their products and  I highly recommend them – especially the dumplings!

To celebrate Chinese New year, I am giving away $50 worth of  their products. All you have to do is email me a photo and short description (1 sentence) of a Korean dish you cooked using one of CJ’s ingredients.  Please email to info@nickyskitchen.com.sg by 20 March 2011. The most mouth watering and delicious sounding entery will win the goodie bag. This giveaway is only available to Singapore residents.

My first sponsorship!

My first sponsorship!

A month ago, I visited Dubai for my best friend’s birthday.  During the party, I was introduced to her friend who works in a Kitchenware company. When I returned to Singapore, he introduced me to his Singapore office. I wasn’t sure which company I was being introduced to.  Well, guess where he works? Luminarc!!!

I was invited to their  showroom to check out the range of products and they decided to provide a range of kitchenware for my classes. I was over the moon! One of the products I was given, which I was very intrigued by, was their new casserole range.

To test drive them, I decided to cook Seafood silken tofu jji ge(해물 순두부 찌께). I knew I could put casserole dish in the oven but on the stove?  The casserole is made of vitro-ceramic and Luminarc claims that they cook just as good as pots made of stainless steel, cast iron or cast aluminum. Well, I will be the judge of that. 🙂

I must say it’s more appealing to the eyes using a pretty casserole dish than boring black stainless steel especially when you are taking photos for your blog.

How to cook Seafood silken tofu jji ge:

Ingredients

2 bags of silken tofu, different types of seafood (prawns, squid, clams), 1 tbsp minced garlic, 3 tbsp of chilli powder, 1 tsp of salt, 3 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 spring onions, 1 egg, 3 cups of seafood stock (boil prawn heads and shells in water to make the stock)

In a pot, add 3 spoonfuls of vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of Korean chilli powder. Cook on a low heat to make chilli oil. Be careful not to burn the chilli oil – if you do, your soup will be bitter and you are better off starting a new batch. I made the chilli oil before when I cooked seafood jjambong. So for those who wanted to see the photos of chilli oil, here you go!

Once you make the chilli oil, add the stock and clams and let it boil for a while.


Add the silken tofu and salt to season.

Finally, add the rest of the seafood and spring onions and cook for a few more minutes. When it is boiling furiously, you crack in an egg and serve straight away.

I made enough to serve an army! It was not too spicy and the soup had a good seafood flavour. I served it with steaming hot rice. I also made acorn jelly salad (도토리 묵) which was plated on a Luminarc dinner plate, adding extra colour to my salad.

So what’s the verdict on the casserole dish? I boiled the soup for over 40mintues and it didn’t get too hot to handle. The soup was just as good as cooking in a stainless steel pot. The biggest advantage of using this for me was that I didn’t have to plate the soup in another bowl.  I just took the casserole dish straight out to the table to serve. This made for less washing up afterwards! I might try cooking ginseng chicken next time to see how it handles being on the stove for 2 hours! Watch this space!  😉

Ginseng chicken soup

Ginseng chicken soup

A quick one tonight…

I prepared Ginseng Chicken soup (aka sam ge tang 삼계탕) for dinner to test out my recipe for this Saturday’s class. It’s been a while since I made this but it still tasted really good. My husband loved it especially because it was a perfect meal for his flu.

The white cloth you see in the pot above is cotton bag containing glutinous rice. I was cooking extra rice this way so I could make chicken porridge with the left over broth once we finished eating the chicken. Amazingly the ginseng was  not over powering the soup. My husband hates ginseng and was really worried that he have to skip dinner. Phew….

So far the chickens I have seen in the supermarket here in Singapore are too big for the ginseng chicken soup. Normally the chicken has to fit in a small clay pot to serve. I think I might have to wander down to Tekka market in search for  a kampong chicken.

My husband got to the chicken before I got a chance to take some photos, so the top of the chicken was gone. 🙂


Spicy cold noodle(neng myun) with young radish kimchi!

Spicy cold noodle(neng myun) with young radish kimchi!

You may remember from my previous blog on the young radish kimchi I brought back from Sydney in June. I have literally been waiting by the fridge for it to turn sour so I can make radish kimchi neng myun(cold noodle).

I finally made the neng myun over the weekend. I used arrowroot noodles that my parents brought from Korea in May and neng myun stock I bought from the Korean Food Festival. Then all I did was mix it with young radish kimchi sauce (3:2 ratio). Very easy! As you can see  in the picture above, I added ice cubes in the stock to make it very cold so it was perfect for the hot Singapore weather. My husband gave me two thumbs up!!

I will post the full recipe and welcome everyone who tries the recipe to share their photos and stories. Here is the recipe link.

Yummy spicy fried chicken!!

Yummy spicy fried chicken!!

Today’s dishes brought back childhood memories. When I was young, I used to eat a lot of spicy fried chicken (양념닭)and red bean ice (팥빙수) in Seoul.

It’s been a while since I last had spicy fried chicken so when a friend suggested this dish for my class, it took me on a trip down memory lane. I used to make this dish quite regularly when I was living in Sydney and  it goes great with a cold beer! Usually this chicken dish is sold by franchise delivery shops in Korea and  I’ve even seen it in Sydney. My favorite one is called Pelicana. Anyway, I thought I would have a crack at replicating it….

Result:  I played with the original recipe a little here and there to experiment and put my mark on it. I fried the chicken twice so it was nice and crunchy. I also added some cajun spices in the batter to add more zing. With an extra dash of chilli sauce it was just perfect!

The next dish was red bean ice. It’s similar to the ice kaching sold here in Singapore however I still prefer the simple Korean red ice bean. My parents brought me an electric ice shaver so that came in handy today. It’s a Hello Kitty brand though because my parents think that I have not grown up yet – but hey it works!

I cut some fruit, made some glutinous balls to add chewy texture and  added milk and redbean.

It was a perfect dish after the spicy fried chicken and an excellent way to cool you down from the hot Singapore weather! Anyone want some?  🙂