Korean celebrity chef-Edward Kwon

Korean celebrity chef-Edward Kwon

I have a confession to make. At home we don’t have a TV. Sometimes, I feel like I am living in isolation without it but then we manage by watching various programs and  the news online. I overload on TV programs when I am traveling as its the only time I get to watch it. I am just like a child in a candy store. 🙂

Last year I came across a Korean program(on Singapore airlines) called “Yes Chef!” and I got hooked on it. It’s Korean version of Master chef. The main chef is Edward Kwon and he has an extensive culinary experience all over the world including Burj Al Arab Hotel.

Watching him was very inspirational. He brings Korean food to a whole new level. When I stumbled across him conducting a cooking event in Singapore, I was over the moon!

The three dishes taught were:

  • Chilled sam ge tang (aka ginseng chicken)- Chicken balootine, white cabbage kimchi & apple, cripsy garlic sesame oil
  • Gal bi jjim (Korean short ribs)- soy braised wayu short rib, potato gnocchi, puffed rice, kimchi bacon ragout
  • Su jung gwa shooter – cinamon & ginger drink shooter

A Singapore culinary celebrity, Christopher Tan was our Master of Ceremonies.

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I was very impressed as well as a bit shocked by the first dish. Instead of boiling the whole chicken for 1 hour, he rolled the chicken and wrapped it in cling wrap. Then he boiled it for 10 minutes. Due to the limited time frame, we didn’t get to see the whole process but after boiling the chicken he was supposed to plunge it in an ice water bath for 30 minutes.

Now Edward is making ginseng foam to add a Korean kick to the dish. As ginseng could overpower the dish, he told us to use sparingly. Also, if you can’t find fresh ginseng, he advised us to use ginseng tea powder. What a great idea!!

The first dish was ready and it didn’t resemble the traditional ginseng chicken whatsoever! I really liked how Edward used different micro greens (baby vegetables) and red dates to style the dish.

The next dish is called “gal bi jjim” in Korean. It is usually cooked in soy sauce and braised short ribs for 3 hours. As you can see in the picture below, he used wagyu beef which didn’t require braising.

He cut carrots and onions in chunks and added a slice of Korean pear to soften the meat. A lot of people in the audience haven’t even tasted Korean pear before and didn’t realise Koreans use various fruits to soften meat before cooking it.

 

The second dish was ready! It is served with gnocchi and puffed rice. What you see on top of the beef is kimchi!

We ran out of time so he didn’t manage to demonstrate the third dish, su jung gwa. Normally su jung gwa is made of cinamon, ginger and sugar and is served as a dessert tea to finsh your meal.

Out of the three dishes, I loved the beef the best. It was so tender, it just melted in my mouth. The sujugwa shooter was great except it was hard to drink out of the glass. The least I liked was the chicken as I didn’t taste enough ginseng and it wasn’t Korean enough. As for the presentation though, the chicken dish was the prettiest.

Su jung gwa shooter


 

After the tasting, I waited around to meet Edward Kwon. When I explained about Nicky’s Kitchen and how I admire how he is changing Korean food, his advice was “to think simple”. The autograph says “be happy” in Korean.

I might frame this program booklet. 🙂

Say kimchi!

If you are ever in Seoul,  check out Edward Kwon’s restaurant, “Spice“.

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

Not another rice cake soup please

Not another rice cake soup please

Without family, Chinese New Year (gu jeong – 구정) seems like just another public holiday.

When I was living in Sydney, I began to forget the importance of Chinese New Year, because being in a western city the focus was always on the calendar New Year (January 1). It wasn’t until I moved to Singapore 7 years ago, I rediscovered how important this holiday is. It is a time when the whole family comes together to celebrate.

One of the most fun customs during gu jeong is receiving money from the parents and relatives who are older than you.  Everyone dresses in Korean traditional costume (han bok -한복) and  the children bow to their parents. In return, the parents give the children money in white envelopes -Se be don -세배돈.

When I was living in Seoul, we used to go to my grandparents on gu jeong. I had 12 cousins at the time and I was the oldest child (and only girl) in the family. We all lined up as if we were in an army and had to bow to our grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts. Afterwards, we used to wonder what we were going to do with all that money.

In terms of traditional food, one dish you must have on gu jeong is rice cake soup (dduk guk – 떡국). In the olden days before we celebrated birthdays eating dduk guk marked the time when you became one year older. It’s funny, when we were young, we wanted to have 2 or 3 bowls of dduk guk at a time so we could get older really fast. These days I try to avoid eating it so I can stay young!

I don’t usually cook dduk guk as normally I would be spending gu jeong with my parents who would make it, but this year I made a nice batch of the soup to start the year of rabbit off with lots of good luck.

How to make dduk guk (떡국):

Ingredients: 1/2 bag rice cakes, 1.5 L beef stock,  a handful of finely chopped spring onions, 2 eggs, 1 tsp seaweed, 1 tsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce, salt, white pepper

  • I prepared 1.5L beef stock (or anchovy stock is just as good) by boiling beef bones in a pot for one hour.  I strained the stock and skimed the fat off the top. Nice thick beef stock!

    • Once the stock started to boil, I added the rice cakes and boiled for another 5 minutes. You can buy the rice cake from any Fairprice supermarket in Singapore.

  • While the soup was boiling, I separated one of the egg whites and yolk and fried both separately on low heat and cut them julienne style.
  • I seasoned the soup with 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp of fish sauce and some salt. I then cracked the other egg into the soup.
  • I served the soup in a bowl garnished with the fried eggs (both yolk and white), diced spring onions and seaweed.

Isn’t the soup pretty? The egg whites and yolk definitely brings out the colours and makes the boring gu jeong rice cake soup sumptuous!  As we say in Korean “Se-he bok man yi bak u se yo! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!” (Happy New Year!)

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.

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 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!  😉

Kids love vegetables!

Kids love vegetables!

When I received an email from the girlscouts leader at North View High School about conducting a cooking lesson, I was over the moon. Firstly, I was surprised the school was so creative on offering different activities and secondly, a chance to teach at a local Singapore school for the first time.

When I arrived, I was amazed at how well equipped the school was and how great they were in helping me to set up.

Most of the students had never tried Korean food and I was curious to see if they were going to eat any of the food they cooked.  The majority of the students admitted that they eat McDonald 2-3 times a week so I squeezed some healthy eating tips into my lesson as well.

We cooked two dishes. First we started off with soybean sprout salad and then we cooked bibimbap. The objective of the session was for the students to learn stir frying and boiling. I also stressed the importance of food presentation  as this was going to be one of the key points for picking a winner. I was surprised to learn that some of the students had never seen soybean sprouts or tasted them before.

Check out the soybean sprout salad that the students made – they were so proud!

Next was bibimbap with lots of cutting and stir frying of vegetables!!


Then came the time to pick the winner! The judges were the home economics teacher, the girls scout teacher and myself. As we couldn’t try all their food, we based the winner on presentation. It was so hard to choose just one so we ended up picking two instead!


First winner: We chose this plate as they showed initiative in creativity and colours.

2nd winner: This winner was picked as it had the best cut and plated vegetables and was very clean.

Seeing all the students eating what they cooked was the most enjoyable part for me. Thanks to North View Secondary School for an opportunity to spread healthy eating life style to the kids! 🙂

Korean miso soup – den jang jjige

Korean miso soup – den jang jjige

Due to the recent bad weather in Korea its been difficult getting fresh Korean vegetables in Singapore. In Sydney there is a big Korean community and a lot of vegetables are freshly grown locally. I have been taking it for granted thinking that I could get fresh vegetables anytime.

In order to overcome my frustrations, I decided to grow one of the vegetables that has been hard to come by lately – Korean young zucchini. After a month of babysitting, I had my first harvest!

To celebrate, I decided to cook Korean miso soup (den jan jji ge – 된장 찌게) as it is one of the vital ingredients. Denjang jji ge is one of the most common dishes you find on the Korean dinner table. (with Kimchi jji ge being the first, of course!)

To cook Seafood den jang jji ge, you need:

Ingredients

3 cups of anchovies stock, 1 potato, 1 Korean zuchini, 1 onion, 1 red & 1 green chillies, 1 & 1/2 tbsp soy bean paste, 1/2 tbsp Korean chilli sauce, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, spring onion, and any  type of seafood  you like (except fish).

  • Put the anchovy stock in a pot and add the soy bean paste, chilli sauce and garlic and boil for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the potato, onion, zucchini and clams, mussels and cook until potato is almost done.
  • Add prawns, tofu, red & green chilli, spring onion and cook another 3 minutes.
  • Transfer the soup into a bowl and serve with a bowl of rice.

I made some soybean sprout salad the other day  so I served it with the soup along with multi grain rice… Very healthy dinner!

Tonight’s menu is Seafood Jjam bbong(해물 짬뽕)!

Tonight’s menu is Seafood Jjam bbong(해물 짬뽕)!

I think the last time I made this dish was when I was at high school in Sydney. This was one of my regular dishes for the family. Back then I used to crave it, especially during winter, but it was hard to find a good Korean Chinese restaurant that had it on the menu. So I took to making it myself.

Jjambbong(짬뽕) is a noodle soup that was modified by the Chinese population who were living in Korea. The Koreans have adopted it as one of their national dishes. It is as well known amongst locals as jja jang myun (black bean noodles – 짜장면). Koreans love both jjambbong and jja jang myun and always find it hard to choose between the two, so restaurants now have a bowl that is divided into half so you can enjoy both dishes. What a brilliant idea!

I haven’t cooked many Korean dishes since I finished my culinary school and when I feel lazy I usually go to Dong bang hong Korean Chinese restaurant to get my jjam bong fix. Tonight it’s time to see what my husband thinks of my homemade reciepe.


Seafood Jjambbong:

Ingredients: (Serves 4 people)

Vegetables: 1/2 carrot, 1/4 cabbage, 1/2 zucchini, 1/2 onion, 1/4 green capsicum, 1/4 red capsicum, 1 long red chilli, 2 cloves of garlic minced, some spring onions for garnish. (The cabbage brings out the sweetness to the soup so it’s essential ingredient.)

Seafood: 1 squid, 20 clams, 10 prawns peeled and de-veined, 8 mussels.

Chilli oil: 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil & 2 tablespoon of Korean chilli powder

Stock: 15 dried anchovies, a handful of dried prawns, 5 dried kelps, a handful of dried fish and prawn heads and shells, 2L of water

Seasoning: 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of Korean chilli powder, some salt and white peppers

One of the most important steps is making the stock. I added dried anchovies, prawns, kelps, and  the fish to a pot with cold water and brought it to boil for about 10minutes.

I read it somewhere that if you boil kelp too long, the stock becomes slightly bitter, so make sure to remove the kelp after 10 minutes. Then boil the stock minus the kelp for another 10 minutes.

I also added prawn heads and shells to improve the seafood flavour.  Now time to strain the stock.

While the stock is boiling, I prepared the seafood

Apologies for not having any photos for this next step. I was concentrating so hard that I forgot to take any pictures. Cooking and taking pictures at the same time is not easy!  In a pot, add 3 spoonfuls of vegetable oil and add 2 teaspoon 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.

Once you make the chilli oil,  add the vegetables and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Then add the light soy sauce, minced garlic, and oyster sauce. I added one more teaspoonful of Korean chilli powder because I like some zing!. If you want it even more spicy, I recommend to add those very small chillies that have extra heat. It will be deadly!  Now stir fry a little more and add all the seafood except the prawns. (If you cook prawns too long, they become chewy!) Add the stock and boil on high heat for about 10minutes to get a nice seafood flavour.

While the soup is boiling, I cooked some fresh handmade noodles that I buy at Fairprice supermarket. Finally, add the prawns and spring onions to the soup, keep boiling for a few minutes more and it’s ready.

Looking good!!

Season with salt and white pepper and finally add the noodles to the soup.

Mine could have been a little more spicy but it turned out fantastic for a dish that I haven’t cooked for such a long long time. If you have any left over, you can eat it again with a nice bowl of rice. I can’t wait to have some more for lunch.  Thumbs up from my husband!  🙂

15 minutes of fame

15 minutes of fame

I thought I had already had my 15 minutes of fame with an article published in U-Weekly(优1周) this week, so I was surprised to be contacted by another journalist interested in interviewing me. She was writing an article for a magazine which is distributed to high school students across Singapore.

To my surprise, when the journalist turned up, she brought along a 14 year old student to enjoy the experience of learning to cook with me. Since Korean movies and pop stars are very popular among students thesedays, it stands to reason that Korean food  has been riding a wave of popularity as well. We chose to make bibimbap which requires quite a bit of chopping and stir frying. My student confessed that he doesn’t normally cook at home but once I showed him some simple techniques he picked it up really quickly.

  • Ingredients for bibimbap prepared for the interview
  • Teaching how to cut a carrot in fine julienne style
  • Now showing off his mushroom cutting skill…
  • Tasting time!
  • I think he really liked it….
  • A photo with my new junior chef! What a star!

What was especially nice was he emailed me next day to find out where he can buy all the Korean sauces as he wanted to try out his new culinary skills on his family. That really put a big smile on my face!  🙂