Category Archives: Recipes

Adventures in Korean cuisine

When I dived Ishigaki (Japan) in January, the shop owner let us sample some 10 year old liqueur, stored in huge 5l plastic jars. The content looked pretty vile: rotten fruit and brown juice but boy oh boy, was it tasty!

During the hot summer months you can see large bags of green plums being sold everywhere in Korea. Curious, I asked my co-teacher about it and she explained that this plum variety, maesil, is used to make liqueur, maesil ju! Home made booze??! It was a challenge that simply had to be accepted.

I found a good recipe online for short-cut maesil ju- use equal amounts of plums and sugar and add 1 or 2 bottles of soju (I left out the honey). I filled 5 sterilized jars back in June, popped them in the back of my food cupboard and forgot about it until last week. You should let the concoction brew for at least 3 months.

Maesil has a few health benefits: it fights fatigue and aids digestion (good for a dickey tummy). It’s not just used to make booze though! You can also leave out the soju and just use sugar and plums, layered alternately and left for 1-3 months- maesil cheong.

On a recent cycling trip to Gyeongju I stopped off for lunch at a quaint Indian restaurant, Hawa Dhaba. The owner, ayoung Korean woman who spent some time in India, made me an amazing side salad, simple but punchy: shredded cabbage mixed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, with a drizzle of citron syrup. It blew my mind. The next weekend, this citron syrup came my way again, this time in Busan. Our host made us citron tea in the morning and it was a sign that couldn’t be ignored any longer. I had to make citron syrup myself.

It’s the same idea: equal amounts of sugar and chopped lemon alternately layered in a jar and leave it for at least a month. You can also add honey to this mix. And hell, if you don’t like cooking and shit, just go to any supermarket in Korea and buy a jar, pre-made.

With winter soon approaching, this tea is a really tasty, hearty way of making sure you get a vitamin C boost your immune system.

I made my batch today so it will be ready just before winter really starts biting.

And since my inner ajumma took over today I also made ginger beer, because, why not?! 😉

I love these autumn days, getting everything ready for winter! I love the Korean traditions I’ve learnt about that I have been able to incorporate into my own life. Heck, I might even make good kimchi one day!

Eat this!

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Teachers’ Day in Korea. A lovely day where your students give you kitsch presents and cute notes about how much they love you. Teachers also got treated to 수박 (watermelon). I asked my co-teachers if Koreans ever use the rind for anything since the culture is very efficient at preserving and utilising food. They told me that some old-school grannies make watermelon kimchi but none of them have actually ever tried it.

I grew up eating watermelon jam in South Africa so I asked if it was popular in Korea. They were stunned to hear that such a thing existed. My mind was made up. I was going to have to introduce them to the syrupy gingery goodness of subak jam. I collected the left- over rinds and they just looked at me a little bit strangely.

I found a great recipe online. If you’re going to make this jam, you need time. Time to soak the rind in bicarb of soda and time for it to soak in water- basically a day’s pre-prep. I reduced the amount of sugar to 1kg, although I personally think after making it that next time I’d cut it to 500-750g. Make sure you don’t overcook the syrup at the end!

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Here’s my end result:

jam

I took a jar into school for taste testing during my “Friday Fun English” adult conversation class.  Everyone was brave enough to try at least one bite and two people had seconds. Not quite the revolution I was hoping for but I’m glad that they got to try something new.

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I plan to introduce them to South African melktert, Bulgarian Tarator soup and I want something British but I don’t know what to choose. They’ve all had apple pie before so I’m thinking Eton mess, Bakewell tart or mince pies. Or spotted dick. I’d quite like to work that into English class conversation.

What is your idea of a classic English dessert?

 

 

Lunch at my co- teacher’s house

I was very fortunate to be invited to my co-teacher Eun Joo’s apartment for lunch yesterday. At school we always chatted about cooking and crafting. She gave me homemade kimchi (fermented cabbage) and I gave her homemade hummous! She crochets too but her projects tend to be cotton based and slightly larger than mine: bed spreads as opposed to berets! 🙂

I met her daughter, who is about to start her second year at university as well as one of her best friends. I found it quite amusing hearing my co lament the fact that her daughter is fat and that she should take more care with her appearance. If the poor girl had been in the room at the time I probably would have high fived her for being down to earth instead of self obsessed! I asked Eun Joo where the Korean obsession with looks came from since it’s not really compatible with Buddhist or Confusionist principles. She told me it started with the first K-pop bands in the 80’s (the start of the Korean Wave) , specifically with a band called H.O.T. According to wikipedia they only started up in 1995… So basically, we have mass media to blame for people’s self-obsession/ loathing  in Korea (just like in the West).

Here’s H.O.T- great hair lads!

Eun Joo showed me how to cook a couple of dishes and they’re both super simple and tasty.  They can both be adapted to suit vegetarians.

1. Hoanghatang (Dalgyalguk) 황하탕 [달걀국]

Beat 2 eggs. Slice some green onion. Boil 300ml water and add a pinch of salt (you can also use broth/ stock cube). Add the egg and let it do its thing for 1 minute, add the green onion and boil for another 30s. DONE! Easy, delicious and healthy.

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2.  Kimchi Deop Bap (Bap means rice)  김치덮밥

If you have a food processor, chuck a handful of kimchi in it and blend. If you don’t have one, finely chop a handful of kimchi 😛

Fry 300g of pork/ minced TVP with the kimchi and serve with rice. You could fry up some minced garlic and ginger before adding the pork/ TVP but kimchi already contains both those ingredients so you don’t want those two flavours to become too overpowering. Apparently, if you can taste ginger, the chef has failed…

Eun Joo sent me on my way with some pickled onions and told me that the ratio for pickling is 1 soy sauce: 1 vinegar :1 sugar: 2 water (you can reduce the amount of sugar if you want more tartness).

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All in all, I had a great day yesterday learning more about the culture, history and traditions of Korea.

Try out the recipes and let me know if you like them x 

Pancake day!

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My friend gave me some dried whole coconut last night so I decided that since today is pretty wet here in Pohang, I’d make pancakes!

I grated up some coconut, made a cinnamon & sugar mix  and then had a spark of genius! I grated some Jeju Orange chocolate squares onto my pancakes too. I cycled about 10km in the rain this morning, which is enough justification for winter calorific indulgence.  We all know that 10km winter cycling is equivalent to at least 15km summer cycling, right?!

I haven’t had much luck with the store bought pancake mix (although the brownie mix is the bomb), so here is the super simple recipe I used:

Ingredients:

  • 225g / 8 oz plain flour or all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 large, fresh eggs
  • 600ml / 2½ cups milk

If you’re a patient soul, you should rest the mix for 15 minutes before using, but I didn’t actually read that bit and it still turned out fine.  I got about 6  or 7 pancakes out of the mix and not a single flop. Yay me! 😉

맛있게 드세요 (Masigae deuseyo) aka bon appetit!

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