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.


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“.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

I came across a hot cross bun recipe from the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago and decided to give it ago.  I was rushing around to get myself ready for my cooking class and I foolishly didn’t let the dough rise enough. I should never bake in hurry! Anyway, my first attempt ended in disaster. 🙁

After researching a number of different magazines I bought in Sydney, I decided to use an Apricot & Almond Chelsea bun recipe and then modify it to make my own Hot Cross bun creations. You should have seen my husband’s face when he had his first mouthful. It was a Kodak moment… 🙂

Almost like the ones you buy from a bakery but better, don’t you think?

My version of Hot Cross Buns:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 14g dried yeast
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 50 mil warm water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g unsalted butter softened, 1 extra tbsp of melted butter to brush
  • a handful of sultanas
  • 1 tsp mixed spice

For piping crosses over the dough balls:

  • 50ml water
  • 50ml milk
  • 90g self raising flour

Let’s get started!

  • I put plain flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and mixed well. (If you have a bread machine or electric mixer/food processor, you can almost let the machine do all the work.) I used my bread machine.
  • I added the flour mix into my bread machine bowl and poured in warm milk, water, egg and butter and pressed the dough function on the machine and let it mix for 30 minutes.
  • Once the mixing was done, I left the dough in the machine for one hour (or until it doubles in size).
  • I set my oven to 200’C (or 180’C fan). I used one of  baking trays lined with baking paper.
  • I knocked back the dough and cut into 8 pieces. I rolled them into balls and placed the balls so they just touched. I let it to rise for another 30 minutes.


  • Now the final touch! I brushed melted butter over the dough. Then I mixed the water, milk, self raising flour and piped over the dough balls to form crosses except two balls which I made heart shaped for my husband. ♥


  • I baked it for 10 minutes and then reduced the oven temperature to 180’C(or 160’c fan) and then cooked for another 10 minutes (or until golden brown).


  • It looked like I didn’t brush the butter evenly so I put another coating and put it back in the oven for a few more minutes.


Ready for steaming hot cross buns? My husband gave me an evil eye when I asked him to wait for a few more minutes while I was taking some photos. Sorry! 🙂

It was perfect for our Easter Friday afternoon snack. We cut the bun in half and spread a bit of butter while it was still hot and had it with our caffe latte! Happy Easter everyone!








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

CJ Korea competition winner

CJ Korea competition winner

In February, I announced a little contest sponsored by CJ Korea. I asked my Korean food lovers to send in photos of their Korean cooking using CJ’s ingredients.

Thank you everyone for sending all your photos! It was difficult to pick just one winner as they all looked so good!. The winner is Evelyn Y who sent in a photo of Japche(잡채) using CJ’s noodle (dang myun- 당면). I will be in touch with Evelyn to follow up on the prize. Congratulations!




Fire Chicken – Kuala Lumpur Korean restaurant review

Fire Chicken – Kuala Lumpur Korean restaurant review

Sorry for the recent radio silence. I have been in Kuala Lumpur(KL) and then Sydney. Now my in-laws are in town!!

I was in KL to visit some friends and while I was there my Korean friend took me to a Korean restaurant she had been bragging about called Uncle Jang.  The  owner looks just like the logo! My Malaysian friends who are also big fans of Korean food decided to come along and help me with tasting.

Can you see a guy in green t-shirt in the picture below? That’s Uncle Jang!

Uncle Jang specialises in chilli chicken (bul dak -불닭).  Bul means fire and dak means chicken. You might have guessed that the name of the dish is related to the spiciness! The menu is posted on the wall and is easy to understand. There are plenty of pictures and its written in both English and Korean.

We ordered two servings of normal and one serving of spicy bul dak for 4 people as well as my favorite  brand of soju (Korean rice wine) called Cham yi sul. Just like the name- it is pure like the morning dew. I think we could have done with just the normal sauce as even one serving of spicy bul dak mixed with two servings of two normal was a little too spicy.

We started with side dishes as they were preparing the bul dak. Ice cold kimchi was served to prepare your palette for the spicy chicken.

Can you see the ice in the bowl? Extra cold! The kimchi is called water kimchi and has no chilli in it. It’s slightly sour and very cold. Perfect for hot weather and spicy food.

Every table was equipped with this hot plate. I think this may be the restaurant’s secret to their great food.

Check out the chilli sauce – looks scary! You can also see lots of cabbage with the chicken.

We also ordered some noodles as an extra dish as this was one of their specialties.

It was very addictive. The chicken was great but I just couldn’t stop eating the noodles that was mixed with the sauce. They are just like Japanese udon noodles – thick and chewy.

Once the chicken and the noodles  were finished, we asked for some rice. With the left over sauce, they made fried rice on the hot plate.

I think we ended up paying around RM20 per person. What a bargain!

The restaurant ran out of their business cards so I didn’t get their exact address but they have 2 branches in KL. You can also find them on their facebook page.  I think the one I went was at Mount Kiara but the original one is at Ampang. Give them a call for their exact address if you are visiting KL. Tel: +60-380512208  I hope you get to try this delicious dish when you are in KL.

My favourite restaurant in Singapore

My favourite restaurant in Singapore

A lot of people ask me my favourite Korean restaurant is in Singapore. My answer is not a Korean restaurant but a Korean/Chinese restaurant. I found a restaurant called “Dong bang Hong” by accident on Joo Chiat Road about two years ago when I moved to the East Coast Area. Whenever I have cravings for Korean food, I head  to this restaurant. Dishes that I order are not your typical Korean dishes but modified Chinese dishes such as Jja jang myung (짜장면-炸醬麵) and Jjan bbong (짬뽕)

Jja jang myun is served with a handmade noodle and black bean sauce. It’s believed to have originated from Chinese migrants living in Korea.

I made the sauce for the jja jang a few days ago and instead of serving it with noodles, I served it on a bed of rice.

How to make jja jang sauce:

Ingredients – 3 potatoes, 2 onions, 1 carrot, 1/2 zucchini, 1/6 cabbage, 1/2 cucumber sliced thinly, 200g pork mince,  200g prawns (meat only), 1 pack of Korean black bean sauce, 2 tbsp rice wine, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, sugar, pepper, ginger powder, dried prawn powder, 1/2 cup potato starch water, 2 cups of water.

  • Prepare all vegetables and prawns by chopping them into 1 cm cubes and put them in a separate bowls.

  • Mix the pork mince in the rice wine, add a pinch of salt, pepper and ginger powder then set aside. This is to reduce the smell of pork.

  • Add the vegetable oil to a wok on a medium heat. Once the oil is heated up, add the Korean black bean sauce and cook for 5 minutes.

  • In a separate frypan, cook the pork mince in vegetable oil for 5 minutes. Then add potatoes and onion and cook until they are almost done. Add the rest of vegetables and cook another 5 minutes.

  • Add the vegetables to the black bean sauce and season with salt and sugar. I kept adding sugar until the sauce was no longer bitter. (I must have put at least 5 tablespoons of sugar). Pour 2 cups of water and boil for 10 minutes. If you prefer, you can use stock instead of water. (I didn’t have time to prepare the stock so I added a tablespoon of dried prawn powder to enhance the flavour). Add the potato starch water to thicken the sauce.

  • Serve the jja jjang sauce on top of cooked rice and add some sliced cucumbers to garnish. Hmmmm, now I am hungry again!!

If you haven’t tried jja jang myun, definitely head to the Dong Bang Hong restaurant first before cooking the dish so you get a sense of what the finished dish looks and tastes like. Whilst you are there, check out their jjan bbong – it’s another favorite of mine.

In Korea, someone invented a bowl that has a divider in the middle of the bowl. This is so you can eat both jja jang myun and jjan bong at the same time. That’s because they are both so good tit’s hard to just order one without the other.

Dong bang hong restaurant

Address: 92/94 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01 Far East Square, Singapore
Tel: 6327 9036 (close Sundays)

Balcony Garden journal 2 – baby plants

Balcony Garden journal 2 – baby plants

There have been a lot of activities in the balcony garden last two weeks. More seeds arrived from Korea and I have been busy planting. Now I have baby chicory, broccoli, kale,  Chinese cabbage,  red cabbage, and raddish. It should only take 2-3weeks to grow and I can add them to my salad.

They are really simple to grow. All you need is a piece of kitchen towel, a bowl and some water.  In the instruction packet, it said to water them 2-3 times a day with water spray. I started off with baby radish first. Only a few more days to go and these little baby sprouts are going into my salad!

Next one is baby Chinese cabbage, like the ones used in kimchi. Instead of growing in a bowl, I am growing them in soil to see how big they get. I am curious to see how they will  look in 3 weeks.

Now some updates on the ones I planted in the beginning of February.

  • My Thai cucumbers are growing really well. It’s ready to be transplanted to bigger pots. I just need to find some space on my balcony.

  • The Korean perilla plants are looking really healthy. The outer leaves are almost ready to be picked  but I am going to resist and wait for them to grow a little taller. A little creepy crawly got to one of my leaves already which taught me to check the back of the leaves more frequently. I thought I was only one eying the perilla leaves…

  • The most exciting result this week is my cucumber. I harvested one cucumber  already a few days ago. When I cut it in half, the skin looked and felt really thick but they were sweet and refreshing. According to my research, you need to pick the first vegetable early, so there will be many more. The name tags keep falling off  so I not sure which cucumber this is exactly but from memory  I think  it’s the seeds I bought from Malaysia.

  • My information appears to be correct because after I picked my first cucumber, a few more started to appear.  In the past, I haven’t had a lot of success with cucumbers in Singapore. I thought it was just the weather but now I think I found the secret. Cucumbers need lots water and calcium.  I learnt that crushed egg shells are a great source of calcium. All you need to do wash and  dry them and put them through a  spice grinder to turn them into powders.

  • Cucumbers have both male and female flowers. The cucumbers grow from the female flowers. To help them along, I have artificially hand pollinated the female flowers by cutting back the surrounding petals of male flowers and dabbing it inside female flower.  The picture above is two days after the female flower has been hand pollinated. Today I had a look at  the cucumber and it’s now half the size of my hand.

  • Finally, I have been picking lots of cherry tomatoes from my garden. It’s not enough to have a salad with but it keep us smiling everytime we get to taste a real tomato straight off the vine.  🙂

Sun du bu class

Sun du bu class

Yesterday’s seafood silken tofu stew (he mul sun du bu jji ge – 해물 순두부) class was all about perfecting Korean stock and home made chilli oil.

When the stock is made with fresh ingredients such as seafood, meat, vegetables or any combination, I find the food is  much more tastier than just using ready made stock cubes.

We also made radish salad to go with the stew. It’s a refreshing salad which is perfect for hot summer weather like Singapore. It requires great skills in cutting radish in julienne shape, so I provided a peeler which cuts in strips (a little bit of cheating I know but it saves a lot of time). The peelers are available at Daiso and its worth investing the princely sum of $2.00.

The best part is putting it all togeher and tasting what everyone cooked.  The jji ge was better than ones you taste in Korean restaurants in Singapore! We made so much that  there was enough left over to take home to the family.

Thanks everyone for joining me yesterday, I hope your families enjoyed the left overs! 🙂

PS: I love to read your comments/question on each post. Instead of sending me an individual email, please leave a comment so we can share with other readers. Thanks!

Garden Journal – new baby plants

Garden Journal – new baby plants

Since my last blog on  balcony gardening 101, the number of my baby plants has doubled. My new year resolution for 2011 was to grow more vegetables for my husband and I.

I have been recycling all the plastic bottles and planting new seeds every time I get a new bottle or container. In two or three months time I should be able to harvest a whole variety of  fruit and vegetables including Korean melons! 🙂

I am so proud of my baby coriander below. I never had success before but with coriander seeds I bought in Thailand, they germinate like weeds. I thought that I could harvest them after a few months, but they are growing much slower than I thought. Two months and only 10cm tall.

The next picture is of perilla plants. I haven’t had much luck finding these in Korean grocery stores so I am hoping I can be self sufficient.  We use the leaves to wrap around bbq meat. It’s funny how some grow  faster than others. I have transplanted 3  little ones into a bigger pot.

The radish is also growing very well. It is a root vegetable so it shouldn’t grow too tall. I read in my gardening book that I can add more soil around the lower stem for stronger roots.

Additional family members that I have recently planted include Korean berry king tomatoes and Thai cucumbers. As the weather is still nice and cool(for Singapore standards anyway), everything is germinating well!! I am still figuring out how to perfect tomatoes by trying different types of tomato seeds. Now I have ones from Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Korea… Let’s see which one survive the Singapore weather the best.

Korean berry king tomatoes

Thai cucumbers

Lastly, I have only one cucumber on my cucumber plant. It’s growing in a funny shape (not sure why) but I don’t care, I am just waiting for it to be a little bigger so I can have a bite! 🙂

Point and Click

Point and Click

My husband arranged a private photo lesson as my birthday present. I have a little point and click digital camera. I couldn’t believe how wonderful the food looked when you know  the tricks of the trade. Can you believe that food magazines and books use hair spray on food to make it look amazing? Very disappointing… I promise all my photos are genuine.

My teacher and I started using a white plate with strawberries and blueberries.  It was a lesson in colour contrast and lighting to create a 3D effects.

Next was a plate called Jap che (잡채), Korean vermicelli noodles with vegetables. This was interesting because it was not like the strawberries and blueberries. It was hard to capture  the textures and colours.

If you are interested in photography, check out Mark Stennett Photography at www.markstennett.com.  Thanks to Mark for being patient with me!  By the way, I need a new camera, don’t tell my husband!! 🙂