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!
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!!! 🙂
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! 🙂
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:
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!
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. 🙂
One of my students sent me this beautiful heart shape kimchi pancake. Looks beautiful and delicious. Dipping sauce added even better flavour with the kimchi pancake. Thanks Eileen for sharing this picture!
I started a two month culinary school last week which has kept me really busy. I can’t wait for the weekend to show off what I learnt from the school.
Meanwhile, my garden is doing really well. Lots of new family members to introduce today and I will be ready to give away some chilli plants in the next few weeks.
My cherry tomatoes are doing really well. We’ve had a few ripe ones already and they were amazingly sweet.
There is a melon growing on the vine which is now the size of my hand. I have never grown melon before so I am very proud!
Finally, my favourite – Thai basil and mint – which both come in useful when I am cooking different dishes! Its great to walk out to the garden, pick the fresh herbs and add them straight into my cooking!
Chu seok is the second biggest festival after Chinese New Year in Korea. It is celebrated on the 15th day of August by the Chinese calendar which means it falls on the 22nd of September this year. In days gone by, it was to celebrate the great autumn harvest and thank the ancestors by offering newly harvested rice and fruits. Nowadays, as most people are living in the big cities, the tradition is to visit your family where ever they may be.
As Chu seok is approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to conduct a class based on the food that we cook and eat during this festival. Rice cakes called song pyeon (송편) are essential for the celebrations. It is a half moon shaped rice cake made from either bean paste or sesame seeds with honey.
Another type of food also we enjoy eating is mung bean pancake (녹두 빈대떡). First you need to soak the organic mung beans over night and then peel the shells by rubbing them between your hands. Boy, I must have spent at least half an hour peeling the mung bean shells and my hands were tired at the end of it. There must be a better way. I wonder if they sell pre-made mung bean pancake powder? 🙂
I put the mung beans through the blender with a bit of water until they were liquefied. Then I added some cooked bean sprouts and chopped kimchi mixed together with a few scoops of glutinous flour.
Finally I pan fried them in in medium heat with vegetable oil cooking for a few minutes on each side.
There is even a comedy song about mung bean pancakes. It’s about a gentlemen who went to a fine dining restaurant and had his meal but didn’t have any money so he gets beaten up by the restaurant. The moral of the song is to go and buy mung bean pancakes at a pub rather than an up-scale restaurant. Check out the song by clicking here!
If you want to learn about Korean Thanksgiving and cook some traditional Korean dishes, I have devised a special Thanksgiving class scheduled on the 18th September. Don’t forget to register early, seats are filling up already!