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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korean Thanksgiving – Chuseok food

Korean Thanksgiving – Chuseok food

When a friend mentioned how much she missed a Korean dessert drink called Sikhe (식혜), it took me back to childhood. I remember my mum making this drink when I was growing up and she seemed to take forever making it.  It was Chuseok(Thanksgiving) in Korea recently so I thought I would make it to celebrate the occasion.

Sikhe is served mostly during Korean celebrations(Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving,etc). Apparently, Sikhe helps to clean your palate after all the rich and greasy food you have been pigging out on during the celebration.

 

After a bit of research and consulting my mum, I started the two days sikhe making journey. You can buy pre-made ones in a can but you can’t beat the home made ones!! Aynway, that would be cheating, right?

How to make Sikhe (식혜)

Ingredients: Korean powdered malt (400g), 3/4 cup brown sugar,  5L of water, 1 cup cooked short grain rice

  • The good thing about making this dish is that there are only a few ingredients. The Korean powdered malt was around S$5 at a Korean supermarket and you can use any left over rice!

 

  • Soak the powered malt in 2L water in a bowl for one hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Using your hand, rub the malt to squeeze all the goodness out for about 10 minutes.

 

 

  • Strain the malt using a fine cheesecloth. Squeeze the cheesecloth until the malt is almost dry.

 

  • Leave the liquid from the malt in a bowl for another two hours. This is to separate the starch from the liquid.  Carefully pour the liquid without the starch into a rice cooker. Then add 3 L of water and a bowl of cooked rice.

 

 

  • Press the warming function of the rice cooker and leave it for 4-8 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Once there are a few grains of rice floating on top, it’s ready for the next step. Almost there!!

 

 

 

  • Transfer the liquid into a pot and add 3/4 cup of brown sugar and boil for 10 minutes.

 

 

  • Scoop off all the brown bubbles on top.

 

  • Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool down. Put it in a container in the fridge to be chilled. It’s best to be served cold.

 

 

Well, it took two days to make and I ran out patient waiting to try it so I added a few ice cubes to cool it down.  It was almost as good as my mum’s but it needed to be a lot colder. Back to the fridge!

 

 

 

Once it was ready, I couldn’t wait for my girlfriend to try. She said it was as good as her mum’s. What a relief!!

 

 

My husband and I have been enjoying this drink all last week and it really took me back to my childhood. How funny that some food brings out stronger memory than others. What dish reminds you of your childhood? 🙂

 

Doongji Korean restaurant Singapore

Doongji Korean restaurant Singapore

A lot of people ask me which is my favorite and most authentic Korean restaurant in Singapore. Out of all the ones I have tried, there is one that I brag about to everyone but it’s actually a Korean Chinese Restaurant. I am usually too busy gobbling up their black bean noodle(짜장면) and spicy seafood noodle soup(짬봉), so I haven’t had a chance to do a review on the restaurant. I promise to soon!

Anyway, there is one restaurant near where I live and the dishes I have tried have been so disappointing I had decided not to add it in my blog in the past. Rice cake soup(dduk guk-떡국) tasted like it had too much msg, and so did dumpling soup (mandu guk-만두국).  Jja jang bap (rice with black bean sauce-짜장밥) had a fried egg on top which made me wonder just how authentic can it be?!

Out of desperation and convenience, I went back the other day with a girlfriend and tried their lunch special kimchi stew (kimchi jjige-김치 찌게) and this time they hit a home run!!  It was a perfect kimchi stew!

 

 

I am not a big fan of tofu so I have asked the restaurant not to add any. It’s served on a clay pot and very spicy. I usually make my kimchi stew at home with canned tuna but this restaurant makes it with pork. Also, they add my favourite dangmyun (Korean vermicelli noodles) so I was over the moon!

 

 

The kimchi stew is served with a bowl of rice and 4-5 side dishes and it’s only $8.90+ for lunch special. What a bargain!! My husband always order kimchi fried rice but I find it a bit too oily.

Here are the details of Doongji Korean restaurant. By the way, Doongji means “nest” in Korean and the restaurant owner are Koreans.

 

If you are nearby, drop by for my favourite Kimchi stew!  Kimchi power! 🙂

 

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!

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! 🙂

Korean cooking class – teaching 45 ladies!

Korean cooking class – teaching 45 ladies!

For the second year in a row, I shared a joy of Korean cooking with 45 Singaporean ladies. Due to the size of the class, there was lots and lots of preparation required beforehand. Trying to buy ingredients for 45 students is not easy!

I taught two dishes – Seafood pancake (해물 파전) and Japche (잡채). Seafood pancake is an all time favorite for any Korean food lover. Jap che is considered a special dish in Korea as it is mostly served only on a special occasion, eg: birthday parties, house warming, etc.

I’m not sure what I would have done without my staff who organised everything behind the scenes. Special thanks to Christina!

Registration for the class starting…

 

Waiting for the class to start.

I always share how I became a teacher of Korean cooking with my students. Also, it’s all about having fun!

Today’s menu- Seafood pancake(해물 파전) & Jap che (잡채). I am holding  a bottle of Korean sesame seeds by CJ Korea. It’s really top quality. Luckily these are all available throughout Singapore Fairprice supermarkets and it’s really good stuff!

Time to show everyone how it is done. With a big class like this, I always start with a demo first then assist everyone with the hands on.

One of the most exciting section for the students – lucky door prize. Thanks to my sponsors, Luminarc and CJ Korea!

First, Korean ingredients as lucky door prizes by CK Korea.

Winners are….

. . . .

. . .

. .

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.

Then, glassware and dinner sets by Luminarc. Second lot of winners are….

Time for the real fun – first dish, seafood pancake!

To make a nice thin and round pancake – you have to press it down!

How beautiful is this pancake!!

Next dish is japche – Korean sweet potato noodles with various vegetables.

Finally….

It was a big day for me but seeing all the students smiling and enjoying their food they cooked make me forget how tired I was!

Thank you everyone for having a great time!  As my staff described the day, it wasn’t working, it was pure fun!

Check out the July schedule for regular classes and if you are interested in a team building or cooking party, drop me an email!

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! 🙂

Korean cooking class – bibimbap

Korean cooking class – bibimbap

I really enjoy cooking and eating like all food bloggers but most of all  I really enjoy teaching cooking. Every time I see my students enjoying their creation at the end of the class, it makes me even happier.

Here is short clip of  my Korean cooking class at Korean Tourism Singapore yesterday teaching bibimbap (비빔밥). Enjoy!

 

 

 

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! 🙂