Monday, November 26, 2007

almost korean.

I have a whole lot of entries to catch up on but I wanted to post this entry while it's still fresh in my head. This year has been a more fruitful year for me in terms of spending time in the kitchen. I've done the dinner party thing for friends (which I have yet to write about) and I've also done my share of potlucks but last night's was the most memorable for the year so far.

DY had very graciously invited us over to her new place yesterday for a little housewarming cum get-together party. We've been doing quite a bit of refreshing things lately; bowling, "go-stopping" etc. Yesterday was the first time we got into the kitchen to whip up a meal and since we all got together because of Korean classes, the main food theme turned out to be, need I say more? Korean of course!

Everyone did their little part yesterday. Those who could cook, cooked. Those who couldn't, bought. In fact, I would say we were a bit over zealous cos we really ended up with a lot of food on the table. Check out what we had below.

This is one of my favourite Korean side dishes or rather, panchan (반찬). For those who have visited Ju Shin Jung located in either the West or East Coast, you probably would have tried this already. According to my trusty recipe book, it's known as YangNyeumJang Sundubu (양념장 순두부). It's really easy to whip this up and I'll probably share this recipe at a later time.

Regardless of whatever you think this looks like, it IS and TRULY IS a Kimchi Pancake otherwise also known as Kimchi Jeon (김치전). It was quite funny when we were cooking this in the kitchen. There was a whole lot of laughter, 4 gals standing around and a guy who "nicely" came over to ask if I was cooking noodles!! For the record, I just want to say that although it may not have looked all that appetising and came off looking a little burnt, it tasted pretty good with the sauce and all. Must make special mention here cos JL specially bought the Kimchi from Ju Shin Jung so we could make this. *slurp*

This photo doesn't seem to tell much cos of all the egg garnishings but I whipped up a dish of JapChae (잡채) also known as Sweet Potato Noodles with Beef & Vegetables. Most thought the dish was pretty tasty but my "judge" for the evening told me that it wasn't native Korean enough as there was still something lacking in it. Since he couldn't pinpoint it out, I guess I still have try the real deal in Korea before I exactly understand what is lacking in my version. Although tedious, it was loads of fun making this at home.

This was my first attempt at making BoSsam (보쌈); Pork Belly boiled with Bean Paste. You would usually eat this with Kimchi or Lettuce with a spicy bean paste. I thought it tasted pretty ok but I guess the let down was when the meat turned cold. Also, because the meat was sliced so early on, it became a little dry and tough. Bugger...

How often is it that you have a teacher cook something for you? Or rather, how rare is it for a Korean male teacher to cook for you? Forget the stereotypes here cos despite the many times he claimed that he wouldn't be stepping into the kitchen, SK eventually appeared at DY's door with a whole lot of pork belly, meant for making DY's favourite Korean dish, SamGyeopSal (삼겹살); BBQ Pork Belly. I didn't know until yesterday that you could get readily sliced pork belly at Korean supermarkets. Now that I know this, it looks like it'd be making an appearance in my own home very soon.

Honestly, this was delicious. I would have loved to say that it was cos of SK's cooking but who was I kidding, all he needed to make sure was that the meat didn't get burnt! (미안해요 승규오빠~) OK fine, if credit must be given, he did bbq the meat nicely and put in a lot of effort in bbqing each tiny thin slice of pork. However, I think what really made it taste so good was that it was hot and fresh out of the grill when we ate it nicely wrapped in a lettuce leaf together with the spicy bean paste and raw garlic. *drool*

SF, who kept exclaiming before the housewarming that she couldn't cook Korean made a tasty chicken stew. If there weren't that many other dishes, I probably would have had more of it. The meat was soft, practically falling off the bone. The carrots were tender and sweet; just the way I liked them. VW also bought along quite an amount of vegetarian food which I didn't get to take a clear picture of.

We of course, couldn't go without Korean alcohol at a Korean themed dinner. There were actually 3 types we bought but didn't end up drinking much cos most of them were driving (Yes, we are good citizens). I wanted to try the Rice Wine also known as MakGeolLi (막걸리) having heard from a friend that it is a pretty enjoyable drink. I didn't get to this time but I'd make sure I get myself some when next time comes around.

Honestly, I'm not much of a drinker. My face turns beet red just after a few sips and my friends laugh at me cos I look like I'm blushing perpetually. Despite that, I enjoy a little sip of alcohol here and there when having Korean food cos it reminds me a lot of the time when I was holidaying in Korea.

So the night followed with a Korean card game (I swear we're not gamblers!), a heartfelt speech that I will always remember, unravelling of presents, folk song singing (erm...) and piano playing in the dark (long story). Needless to say, we had our usual female vs male banters too.

DY, thanks again for having us over. It was fun last night. I will remember this for a long time to come. I really will.

좋은 친구들아... 고마워요. 진짜 고마워...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

a pocky-ish obsession.

This is hardly the entry a real food lover would post but....

Did I fail to mention that I'm obsessed with Pocky?

More accurately, I should say Glico products; Pretz and so on. Actually it's not that I love eating them. I'm not big on snacking or anything. It's just that I am fascinated by all the different bizarre flavours that they come in. The interesting thing is, different countries make their own special flavours. How cool is that?!

Check out my recent findings.

Honestly, taste-wise there was nothing to shout about. The Shark-Fin and Bacon Vegetable flavoured Pretz were just boxes full of MSG and the Lychee and Oolong Tea Pockys were just odd. The only ones which I think were worthy taste-wise were the Mango Pudding and Egg Tart Collons. They were delicious. I have to give credit to the Lychee Pocky though cos I did a smell and taste test on my parents and the only flavour that was recognised was the Lychee.

Besides the Glico stuff, there was also a whole big variety of potato chips I found in Shanghai on my recent trip. I tried the Lay's Cucumber flavour and found it to be really light and refreshing. Definitely worth the try if you're curious how cucumbers and potato chips can taste good put together.

Before I left Shanghai, I spotted some other interesting Pretz flavours such as Peking Duck, Hairy Crab, Sichuan Mala etc. Interesting as they were, I couldn't bear to buy another 60 packets of junk (Each flavour comes in a packet of 12).

Guess those will just have to wait.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

comfort food . 떡볶이

The parents have gone out of town again for a break. Unfortunately, I didn't get to join them this time otherwise I won't be sitting at my computer typing away but busy savouring all the delicious food in Hong Kong or Shenzhen. The parents being away this time suddenly reminded me of a meal I made when they were away the last time. Makes me hungry now that I'm thinking about it and I haven't had lunch!

Hands up those who have tried Korean spicy rice cake!

Those who know me already know I love all things Korean. OK, maybe not EVERY single thing but food I definitely love and this is one dish I really like and is easily available all over Korea. You probably would have tried it if you've visited before.

This dish of course, is like most Korean food, very spicy. Besides the rice cake, the dish had loads of fish cakes and usually a hard boiled egg in it. Locally, I love the version at Togi located on Mosque Street because they mix instant noodles into it as well.

So while the parents were away the last time, I visited a Korean supermarket and picked up a packet of frozen rice cakes. In my haste to get down to throwing everything into the pan, I forgot to take a picture of it but there aren't that many brands so it should be easy to find in case you want to try this at home too. It's easy peasy to put it all together. All I did was to boil the instant noodles, eggs and rice cakes first then mix it altogether with the chilli paste and VOILA! Home-made Korean spicy rice cake!

Now.. I seriously need to think about what I'm having for lunch today.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

this made my day.

This is a totally non-food related entry but I had to post this cos it really made my day.

DC came to work without realising the 'boo boo' he made!

That's just one of those funny things that happen around the office daily. I hate waking up early but spending most of my waking hours with these "crazy" people in the office makes getting out of bed a little less painful.