Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I want to be an astronaut

BBC news
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6202314.stm#map

Astronauts sample haute cuisine

Saying "the food was out of this world" has taken on a whole new meaning as the international space station crew has been sampling haute cuisine in space.

Last Sunday the ISS astronauts swapped their usual rations for quails roasted in Madrian wine and duck breast confit, European Space Agency officials said.

The gourmet menu was created by French master chef Alain Ducasse.

The ESA asked Mr Ducasse to come up with meals which could be used to mark celebrations on long space voyages.

The superior food would be dished up at New Year, on birthdays and to mark the arrival of a new crew.

It is hoped that in the future such meals will help men and women on long-term missions, for example to Mars, to survive for 1,000 days in space by raising their spirits as well as providing nourishment.

The meals which Mr Ducasse supplied to the Expedition 14 crew currently living on the ISS were developed in association with the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES).

Each meal was prepared using the usual rigorous hygiene standards applied to food being sent to the ISS and then packaged in tins.

The crew astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter were simply required to heat the tins up in the ISS oven.

"It was absolutely delicious. It was a really nice treat for a Sunday evening," said Reiter, who has been on board the ISS for almost five months.

"Food is really something which gives us a break. It is something where we find some joy and we are really trying to take some time for our meals," he added.

In fact Reiter and his fellow space crew could only find one flaw:
"We have no doubt that it would taste much better if we had some wine with it as well!"

Main dishes:
Effiloché de volaille en Parmentier (shredded chicken Parmentier)


Dos d'espadon façon Riviera (Riviera style swordfish)

Volaille épicée, sauté de légumes à la Thaï (spicy chicken with stir-fried Thai vegetables)

Cailles rôties au Madiran (quails roasted in Madrian wine)

Magret de canard confit, condiment aux câpres (duck breast confit with capers)

Side dishes:
Carottes de sable au goût d'orange et coriandre (sand carrots with a hint of orange and coriander)

Céleri rave en délicate purée à la noix de muscade (a light puree of celery with a hint of nutmeg)

Caponata (tomato, aubergine and olive dip)

Desserts:
Gâteau de semoule de blé fine aux abricots secs (semolina cake with dried apricots)

Morceaux de pommes fondantes (apple fondant pieces)

Far de l'espace Space (a Brittany 'far' tart)

Rice pudding aux fruits confits (rice pudding with candied fruit)


Cheese Platter


Cheese Platter
Originally uploaded by icecat_seoul.
Got any spare cash?
Splurge on some expensive European cheeses in Seoul! It is worth every single cent.

My cheese platter last Saturday: Bleu d'Auvergne, Brie and Baby Gouda.

Tips for cheese newbie:
- Best to start with the least strongest first - in this case, Gouda. Next Brie and then Blue Cheese.
- Serve cheese with Baguettes and a variety of other bread: walnut bread, sourdough bread.
- Cheese platter can be accompanied by walnuts, grapes, sliced apples. These helps to cleanse the palate between complement them.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Here is a gift for my chocolate lover!

Lemon Madeleines

Dark Chocolate Brownie Tower

Unlike the other lazy mornings, today I woke up with a list of baking tasks to complete. I seldom bake in Seoul. However today is a special day which I needed to make a gift with my hands.

I would make a sinful dark chocolate brownie with .12kg of the Nestle baking dark chocolate that I bought in France - I brought only 1 kg total to Seoul, I'm saving this chocolate up just for special occasions. This is a treasure in Seoul.

Not only did I make brownies, I baked 2 dozen of lemon madeleines for the gift.

The results were a tray of dense and moist brownies - which were very pleasing- and 2 dozen of deflated madeleines. The taste of the madeleines were really excellent but why wouldn't they rise? Wouldn't that be perfect? I guess the yeast didn't work. What a big disappointment.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

2 eggs

70g sugar

100g butter

125g bittersweet baking chocolate

50g flour

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200 degree celsius.

Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Mix egg, sugar and flour together until the mixture looks creamy.

Add chocolate butter mixture to the egg mixture and mix them together.

Pour it into a greased baking pan and bake it for 15 mins.

Place the pan on a cooling rack to cool. You can eat the brownie straight out from the oven too. It tastes good while warm.



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cafes and Bakeries in Seoul

Lord Stow Bakery

  • A chain bakery from Macao specializing in traditional Portuguese egg tarts with moist flaky crust with delicious creamy egg custard. Best eaten hot right out of the oven with a cup of milk tea or coffee.
  • Located in Apgujeong.
  • http://www.lordstow.com/

Kim Young Mo

  • Doggok station exit 4, next to Coffee Bean (orange line)
  • A French Bakery with lots of tasty samples, go there with empty stomach :) Mr Kim is a very famous baker in South Korea and has won many awards. You will see all this awards on the wall facing the front door. The staff working there are are extremely polite, greeting and saying goodbye to every customers. I always feel very welcome when I step into the store.
  • "All good things come with a price." So are Kim's products. I always leave Kim's with a hole in my pocket.

Focacino

  • Sadang Station Line 2. Foccacino is next to the station and Coffee Bean. See my review on the focaccias and desserts.

Indian Restaurants in Seoul

Chakraa at Itaewon

  • Itaewon Station, Exit 6, Behind Hamilton Hotel.
  • I love Chakraa weekend dinner buffets (w15,000). Beware, Saturday nights are always packed and the buffet never gets replenished fast enough. Chakraa has a few branches in Seoul. In my opinion, the one at Itaewon is the best. I went to the one at Cheong-dam and it was a ghost town with us as the only guests on a Saturday night and food was really terrible.
  • www.chakraa.co.kr

Middle Eastern Restaurants in Seoul

Petra at Itaewon

  • Noksapeyong Station, Line No. 6, Exit 2. Use the pedestrian overpass to cross the road, turn right and walk up the hill. Petra is about 20 meters along on the second floor of a red brick building on the left side of the road. Tel: 019 840-9630.

Marrakesh Night at Itaewon

  • Branch 1:1F 57-16 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-Gu. Tel: 010 5801 9444. At Itaewon Station, walk towards Pizza Hut. Marrakesh is up the hill next to the the antique shops.
  • Branch 2: get out at Exit 3 at Itaewon Station and walk straight for about 5 mins. You would pass the Fire station and the gas station. It would be on the right.


(updated on May 07)

Mexican restaurant in Seoul

Dos Tacos

  • Gangnam Station Line 2, Exit 6. Next to Kyobo building, behind Tour Les Jour Bakery.
  • Inexpensive non-greasy Mexican food and you can choose your level of spiciness. It is the best in town in my opinion. It is a rather small restaurant with less than 20 seats. So to avoid long wait, go in pairs or group of 4. Dos Tacos is very popular with the expats. One way to tell if the food is authentic, check the expat: Korean ratio in the restaurants.
  • Prices are around 4,000-5000 won for burrito, quesadilla and soft or hard shell taco.


Vietnamese/Thai Restaurants in Seoul

Little Saigon at Coex

  • Samsong Station Line 2, Close to City Air Terminal.
  • Fav dish: Chicken Pho Soup with extra cilantro & bean sprouts(W8, 000)
Pattaya
  • Serves spicy hot Thai cuisine with flavorful spices and herbs. Dishes on menu includes tom yum spoon, fried glass noodle, thai noodle soup, green curry.
  • Restaurant located at Apgujeong, not far from Lord Stow Bakery which sells delicious Portuguese egg tarts. Great for desserts after a Thai meal.


Looking for good foreign restaurants in Seoul?

For those expats who are interested in dining out, I have compiled a lists of foreign restaurants in Seoul that I personally adore. They are in my opinion authentic, not too adapted to local Korean taste.

Singaporean

Yakun Kaya Toast

  • Specialty: Coconut jam from Singapore on crispy toast with butter slices, coffee and tea with condensed milk.
  • Apkujung Outlet: 652-16 1F KMD BuildingShin-Sa Dong, KangNam-GuSeoul, South Korea 135-897Tel: (82-2) 516 9760
  • Mok-dong Outlet: Hyundai Department StoreMok-dong Branch, Floor B2916 Mok-dong Yangcheon-kuSeoul, South KoreaTel: (82-2) 2163 2184
  • Yeoksam Outlet(New) at Star Tower right at Yeoksam Station. It is located on B2, next to all the eateries.
  • http://www.yakun.com/korea.html

Crystal Jade Palace

  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Chinese

Ding Tai Fung

  • Myeong Dong, Euljiro 1-Ga Subway station, Line 2. Tel: 02-771-2778
  • Gangnam Station Exit 5. Walk straight for 2 blocks and take a right after Marche. It is located at the same block as Marche.
  • A Taiwanese restaurant franchaise, specialising in Shanghai Xiao Long Bao. Long queues on weekend. Fav Dish: Xiao Long Bao dipped in ginger vinegar, Stir-fried Spinach, crab soup.
Crystal Jade Palace
  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Yum China, Dim Sum

  • 1B, I'Park Tower, 160 Samsung Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 02-562-0779
  • A Chinese restaurant that has a very lounge feel to it. Contemporary furnishing with beautiful tableware and setting. Most important of all, the Dim Sum there is made by Chinese chefs, I heard some of the chefs speaking Cantonese. Probably the best authentic Dim Sum you can get in Seoul. Downside: Be expected to pay 7,000(7usd) for a basket of 3 Har Kow( steamed shrimp dumplings), plus tax and service. We paid 60,000won for 2, leaving with 3/4 full stomachs.
  • http://www.yumchina.co.kr/
Lord Stow Bakery
  • A chain bakery from Macao specializing in traditional Portuguese egg tarts with moist flaky crust with delicious creamy egg custard.
  • Located in Apgujeong.
  • http://www.lordstow.com/


chiu chow chinese cuinine, Dim Sum

Vietnamese/Thai

Little Saigon at Coex

  • Samsong Station Line 2, Close to City Air Terminal.
  • Fav dish: Chicken Pho Soup with extra cilantro & bean sprouts(W8, 000)
Pattaya
  • Serves spicy hot Thai cuisine with flavorful spices and herbs. Dishes on menu includes tom yum spoon, fried glass noodle, thai noodle soup, green curry.
  • Restaurant located at Apgujeong, not far from Lord Stow Bakery which sells delicious Portuguese egg tarts. Great for desserts after a Thai meal.


French

Le Petit Paris at Sinchon

  • 2F 52-18 Changcheon-Dong Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 010-6353-0901 Sinchon Station line 2 exit 2. From exit 2, walk straight. Restaurant is located in an alley on the left which is directly opposite the church.
  • Affordable simple french dining. Limited menu. Fav dish: Beef Tenderloin with Red wine shallot sauce, accompanied by sauteed potatoes with bacon and mushrooms (w12,000-15,000)

La Cigale at Itaewon

  • Itaewon Station at Exit 6. Walk about 2-3 mins. It's on the left, next to Kraze Burger. Tel:02-796-1244
  • Interesting menu with occasionally new dishes added every now and then.

Table 34

  • 34 Flr, Grand Inter-Continental Hotel, Samsung Station Line 2.
  • Upscale, expensive Southern French dining with a beautiful view of Seoul at night.

Mexican

Dos Tacos

  • Gangnam Station Line 2, Exit 6. Next to Kyobo building, behind Tour Les Jour Bakery.
  • Inexpensive non-greasy Mexican food and you can choose your level of spiciness. It is the best in town in my opinion. It is a rather small restaurant with less than 20 seats. So to avoid long wait, go in pairs or group of 4. Dos Tacos is very popular with the expats. One way to tell if the food is authentic, check the expat: Korean ratio in the restaurants.
  • Prices are around 4,000-5000 won for burrito, quesadilla and soft or hard shell taco.


Middle Eastern

Petra at Itaewon

  • Noksapeyong Station, Line No. 6, Exit 2. Use the pedestrian overpass to cross the road, turn right and walk up the hill. Petra is about 20 meters along on the second floor of a red brick building on the left side of the road. Tel: 019 840-9630.

Marrakesh Night at Itaewon

  • Branch 1:1F 57-16 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-Gu. Tel: 010 5801 9444. At Itaewon Station, walk towards Pizza Hut. Marrakesh is up the hill next to the the antique shops.
  • Branch 2: get out at Exit 3 at Itaewon Station and walk straight for about 5 mins. You would pass the Fire station and the gas station. It would be on the right.

Chakraa at Itaewon
  • Itaewon Station, Exit 6, Behind Hamilton Hotel.
  • I love Chakraa weekend dinner buffets (w15,000). Beware, Saturday nights are always packed and the buffet never gets replenished fast enough. Chakraa has a few branches in Seoul. In my opinion, the one at Itaewon is the best. I went to the one at Cheong-dam and it was a ghost town with us as the only guests on a Saturday night and food was really terrible.
  • www.chakraa.co.kr
Nepalese

Namaste

  • Dongmyo station line 6 exit 5. On the 2nd floor right above the exit.
  • Namaste has an extensive menu with Indian and Nepalese dishes. Tried Chicken Tikka which was very tender(W7,000). Saffron Rice was great for 3-4 person at W4,000, very light and buttery. Lamb curry was thick and contained lots of juicy lamb chunks w8,000, a little on the sweet side though. Aloo gobi( cauliflower and potato curry W7,000) was too sweet. Kheer was very thick and piquant with whole black peppers, rather surprising touch. Chai was excellent.

French Bakery

Kim Young Mo at Doggok, next to Coffee Bean (orange line)

  • Lots of tasty samples, go there with empty stomach :)

There are lots of foreign restaurants I have yet to try. Let me know if there is any good ones that I'm missing out.

French Restaurants in Seoul

Le Petit Paris at Sinchon

  • 2F 52-18 Changcheon-Dong Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 010-6353-0901 Sinchon Station line 2 exit 2. From exit 2, walk straight. Restaurant is located in an alley on the left which is directly opposite the church.
  • Affordable simple french dining. Limited menu. Fav dish: Beef Tenderloin with Red wine shallot sauce, accompanied by sauteed potatoes with bacon and mushrooms (w12,000-15,000)

La Cigale at Itaewon

  • Itaewon Station at Exit 6. Walk about 2-3 mins. It's on the left, next to Kraze Burger. Tel:02-796-1244
  • Interesting menu with occasionally new dishes added every now and then.

Table 34

  • 34 Flr, Grand Inter-Continental Hotel, Samsung Station Line 2.
  • Upscale, expensive Southern French dining with a beautiful view of Seoul at night.
  • www.seoul.intercontinental.com

Pierre Gagnaire Seoul
  • 35th floor of Lotte Hotel, Seoul, Korea, 1 Sogong-dong, Chung-gu Seoul Tel:02-317-7181-2
  • Subway station: Myeung Dong.
  • Tel:02-317-7181-2
  • 3 Michellin stars restaurant with a stunning view of Seoul. Menu created by reowned French Chef Pierre Gagnaire with restaurants in chic cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, Hongkong and Dubai.
  • Menu price: Set Lunch at 120,000won and above (excluding taxes and drinks). Set Dinner at 300,000won.

Chinese Restaurants in Seoul

Ding Tai Fung

  • Myeong Dong, Euljiro 1-Ga Subway station, Line 2. Tel: 02-771-2778
  • Gangnam Station Exit 5. Walk straight for 2 blocks and take a right after Marche. It is located at the same block as Marche.
  • A Taiwanese restaurant franchaise, specialising in Shanghai Xiao Long Bao. Long queues on weekend. Fav Dish: Xiao Long Bao dipped in ginger vinegar, Stir-fried Spinach, crab soup.
  • www.dintaifung.co.kr

Crystal Jade Palace

  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Yum China, Authentic Hong Kong Dim Sum

  • 1B, I'Park Tower, 160 Samsung Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. Tel: 02-562-0779
  • A Chinese restaurant that has a very lounge feel to it. Contemporary furnishing with beautiful tableware and setting. Most important of all, the Dim Sum there is made by Chinese chefs, I heard some of the chefs speaking Cantonese. Probably the best authentic Dim Sum you can get in Seoul. Downside: Be expected to pay 7,000(7usd) for a basket of 3 Har Kow( steamed shrimp dumplings), plus tax and service. We paid 60,000won for 2, leaving with 3/4 full stomachs.
  • http://www.tani.co.kr/kan/index.asp
Lord Stow Bakery
  • A chain bakery from Macao specializing in traditional Portuguese egg tarts with moist flaky crust with delicious creamy egg custard.
  • Located in Apgujeong.
  • http://www.lordstow.com/

chiu chow chinese cuinine, Dim Sum

  • Daechi Branch is closed to Daechi subway station, orange line. Next to Dunkin Donuts. Tel: 02-567-6115.
  • http://www.station4u.co.kr/ (22/04/09: website not working anymore, perhaps the restaurant closed down?)

Chon Il Bang, Dim Sum & Chinese

  • Gangnam subway station, exit 5. Walk straight for 2 blocks and take a right after Marche. Walk for another 2 mins. It's above the dessert factory place, on the 4th floor. There is a glass exterior lift for access. Tel:02-536-3955.
  • Over 10 different Dim Sum on the menu. My Recommendations: Pork bun and Glutinous Rice in lotus leaves.

Singapore Restaurants in Seoul

Yakun Kaya Toast

  • Specialty: Coconut jam from Singapore on crispy toast with butter slices, coffee and tea with condensed milk.
  • Apkujung Outlet: 652-16 1F KMD BuildingShin-Sa Dong, KangNam-GuSeoul, South Korea 135-897Tel: (82-2) 516 9760
  • Mok-dong Outlet: Hyundai Department StoreMok-dong Branch, Floor B2916 Mok-dong Yangcheon-kuSeoul, South KoreaTel: (82-2) 2163 2184
  • Yeoksam Outlet(New) at Star Tower right at Yeoksam Station. It is located on B2, next to all the eateries.
  • http://www.yakun.com/korea.html

Crystal Jade Palace

  • A Singaporean restaurant Chain serving Cantonese cuisine. Menu: HongKong-style Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Chinese Roast Pork, Dim Sum, XO Beef Fried Rice Noodles
  • First Floor, Grand Inter-Continental Seoul, 521 Teheranno, Gangnam-Gu( Samsong Station Line2)
  • W10,000 for a basket of 4 Har kow( Steam Shrimp dumplings)
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm
Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight restaurant
  • From the Singaporean chain of Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghainese specialities like Xiao Long Bao and Stewed Pork Belly and the typical Singaporean dessert like Almond Jelly.
  • 5th Floor Hyundai Department Main Store 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea 135-900
  • Dishes from 5,000won. Competitive with Jacky's Kitchen or Din Tai Fung.
  • http://www.crystaljade.com/southkorea.htm

Street food in Seoul


Last week my family visited me in Seoul. Just when the temperature took a dive. On their very first night, I brought them to a place buzzling with young people, bars, loud korean music and street food vendors. People were seen surrounding the madeshift food store tent, standing and eating and chatting among friends.


Out of curiosity, we ordered a plate of the white cyclinders simmering in crimson red sauce sold by some ladies in aprons on the street. It was huge serving on a styrofoam plate with bamboo skewers for picking up the cyclinders. I wondered if it tasted delicious.

I took a bite of the red saucy cyclinder which turned out to be rice cake. Hot, sweet, spicy and chewy were the only few words that could simply describe the dish. In such cold weather, it became a cheap luxury food for the Koreans - just 2 USD.
I later came to know the name of these spicy rice cake: Tteokbokki.


This tteokbokki store didn't just specialise in tteokbokki. It carried on the menu Twigim and Takkochi. Twigim is like the Korean version of vegetable, seafood and dumpling tempura; Takkochi is grilled chicken with red spicy sauce on skewer.

If you want to experience the Korean culture, you got to eat like the Koreans. Give the street food a try!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bitter winter cravings

This winter has brought November to a very cold and windy start. I stopped my regular morning 1- hr walk in the park close to my apartment. I dread the cold wind slicing through my skin and bones like a knife. Neither can I conceive the arrival of glacial December, not to mention January till May. Oh yes, it snowed in last May!

There is something peculiar about me in every winter: I have a tremendous appetite. I have cravings for anything hot, rich and sweet - Dark Chocolates, Nutella, Hot Chocolate, Crepes, Roasted Chestnuts, Sweet Chestnut Puree, Candied Chestnuts, Sweet Black Rice Soup( Singaporean dessert, aka Pulut Hitam, it's like a hot glutinous black rice pudding served with coconut milk ), Sweet Red Bean Soup and Bobo Cha Cha(Sweet potato cubes cooked in coconut milk and palm sugar, with or without tapioca pearls). I cannot resist Bungol Pang - a Korean pancake filled with sweet red bean paste, shaped in a fish - sold in every corner and street in Seoul. I guess in winter, walking in penguin-like motion, struggling with the icy wind, my nose has learnt to detect the aroma of piping hot, freshly made Bungol Pang.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Singapore Vacation Part 2: Mid Autumn Festival

I was extremely lucky to be back in Singapore during the Mid Autumn Festival. Why? Because this is the only time you can find mooncakes. Traditional Cantonese mooncakes are usually made with sweet lotus paste, salted egg yolks and sometimes with melon seeds or other nuts. It has a rich golden brown baked crust with Chinese characters imprinted on the top of the mooncake. Nowadays, recipes of mooncakes are so diverse: Cantonese, Teochew, Taiwanese, Suzhou and Modern Snow Skin. Some recipes even come with a Singaporean touch - Durian mooncakes and Pandan mooncakes.


Durian .. is the most loved or hated fruit by people. It's like the cheese affair. It is yellow, stinky and smells almost rotten. Despite the smell, the taste is pretty sweet and creamy. It melts like chocolate in the mouth.




By chance, I was at the Mooncake Festival Far at Takashimaya. There were lots of vendors offering free samples to everyone. I couldn't resist but gave in to the mooncakes samples. It surprised me to see every vendors' creativity in mooncakes had gone over the top. Durian mooncakes were no longer a novelty. Any flavours you could possibly imagine were there: Strawberry, blueberry, white and milk chocolate, champagne, walnut, hazelnut,cuppucino, green tea, tiramisu and bird's nest. How about some Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate Coated Ice cream Mooncakes? Raffles Hotel came up with the Champagne Truffles & Ganache, Rum & Raisins, Baileys as well as Ginseng & Wolfberries Mooncakes. Not something that I had expected from traditional Chinese mooncakes. 3 days before the event ended, these mooncakes from Raffles were all sold out! I guess originality sells.


Given all the flavours I could choose from, I love only traditional Cantonese mooncakes. Especially accompanied by freshly brewed Earl Grey or Japanese Green Tea. Now the Mid Autumn Festival is over, only the reminiscence of the festive taste is left of me: the chewiness of the
crust, the sweetness of the lotus paste and the saltiness of the salted egg yolks.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Singapore Vacation Part 1: Singaporeans live to eat

I have taken a full month of vacation in Singapore. The whole month has been pretty exciting: Eating, shopping, window shopping, visiting touristic places, taking a trip to nearby island Batam to swim with dolphins, etc.
Local Singaporean food is awfully cheap compared to Seoul. The normal prices at a food court is around 3-4 usd for a meal including a cup of freshly squeezed tropical fruit juice. The variety of food is simply enough to impress any guests studying photo displays of each vendors at the food court. There are usually 10-15 food stores in the food court, each selling at least 5 -10 different items. I really sympathize those tourists coming to Singapore for the very first time. For those people who haven't been to Singapore before, a note to keep in mind is Singaporeans live to eat.

All pictures below were taken in Takashimaya food court:


This is a Yong Tau Foo store. It always has a huge display with veggies like Bok Choy, cabbage, Kang Kong, eggplant, bitter gourd stuffed with fish paste, red & green chilli stuffed with fish paste. Also in the display you would probably find Stuffed Tofu, Deep fried Tofu, Crabstick, Fish Balls( like meat ball, it's made with minced fish), different kinds of fried fish cakes. You may pick any item(toppings) as you usually. Probably around 6 toppings. You can choose the kind of noodles - mee (thick yellow noodles), mee hoon (rice vermicelli), kuay teow (flat rice noodles) or a combination of 2 noodles - to be serve in a soup or sauce with all the toppings you have choosen.

Any idea what curry puffs are? They are horn-shaped crusty pastry, stuffed with curried potatoes, eggs and somethings chicken, fried in boiling hot oil. They are Singaporeans' favorite snack which can be eaten any time of the day.

Over the past decades, with the influx of western(purely American pop culture) influences, Singaporeans are becoming connoisseurs of American desserts such as brownies, cheesecakes, mudpies... I don't remember myself growing up with brownies or cheesecakes. My first brownie was probably in mid 90s. I confess my love for brownie, not to mention the dripping hot fudge and huge scoop of good vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans coming with it. My favorite place to have such sensational brownie would be Coffee Club at Holland Village Singapore.


*About Singlish*
Sometimes we(Singaporeans) don't even greet each other with a Hello. Singaporeans usually start a conversation with "Have you eaten?" in Singlish, Chinese, Hokkien, Malay or even Tamil, other dialects or a mix of some of the languages I just mentioned. Thanks to the multi-racial society, here in Singapore. We simply don't speak English anymore. No doubt it is the first language in Singapore. We tweaked it to our own flavours and called it: Singlish.

If you are baffled, let me give an example to explain Singlish is. It is just plain English with Singaporean slangs. Singlish is a very colourful language. Every sentence ends with a la, lor or leh.
Just try to solve the riddle in the dialogue below:

Fifi: Hey Jen, makan already? Want to go makan?
Jen: Ai-yo, cannot la! Stuck at work leh!

Makan means eat. Aiyo means Oh or simply an exclaimation to show excitment or disappointment, depending how you say it. La and Leh both words don't mean a thing, just an add-on.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Please give me some lamb

Couscous with Lamb Stew is a very famous dish in France. My husband's grandma can make it really well. She is a French born in Algeria and lived there for many years.
I never got a chance to steal some cooking secrets from her.

So, Moroccan-style Couscous with Chicken in this picture on the right, is the fruit of my trial and errors.

Why chicken?
Frozen Lamb is only available at Itaewon at an Indian supermarket, 1 hour away from my place. That translates into no lamb in my couscous dish. But I miss lamb. I can never understand why anyone would not like it. In fact, lots of people find the smell offensive. I simply love the taste AND the smell. Just give me lamb-anything: mutton satays, grilled lamb chops, Taiwanese style lamb-stew with herbs and best of all, lamb curry.

Back to Moroccan-style couscous with any meat stew. The main ingredient is Ras el Hanout. In arabic, it means "top of the shop" or in other words, "best of the shop". The shop usually creates their own blend. It is a complex blend with as few as 12 and up to 100 different ingredients. The composition for any Ras el Hanout varies.

You can also make your own Ras el Hanout. However, given the numberous ingredients involved, it would be best to leave this to the spice maker to source them. Some of the ingredients are cumin,coriander, cinnamon, anise, cloves, rose buds, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne, peppercorns, mace, cardamom, nigella and turmeric.

I got my Ras el Hanout from a supermarket in France in the spice section. If you need to get some, it is probably available in middle eastern grocery stores.

I'll post the recipe of my dish next time. A bientot!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Marinated Peppers in Olive oil and Herbs

This is a Mediterranean dish that is very versatile. It can be served with crusty baguette, roast meat, in salads or simply as an appetizer by itself. The colours of the peppers are beautiful - Orange and red peppers coated in a golden glaze of extra virgin oil and speckles of green herbs.

Marinated Peppers in Olive oil and Herbs
Ingredients( for 3 jars):
6 large peppers( I use 3 Orange and 3 Red peppers)
i cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbps dried parsley
I tbps dried basil
Juice of half lemon
Salt to season

Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celsius. Arrange the peppers on a baking pan, stem-side up. Leave enough space so that they don't touch. Roast them at 220 degree Celsius for about 15-25 mins, until the skin chars completely and blisters.

Remove them from the oven and place them in a big air-tight container or a sealed zipbloc bag. Let them sweat for around 15-20 mins.

Peel the skin. It should come off easily. Collect any juice that drips. Halve the peppers and remove all the seeds and stalks. Slice the peppers in 1inch strips.

Mix pepper strips, pepper juice, olive oil, lemon juice, herbs and salt in a bowl. Keep refrigerated overnight in 3 jars. It can be kept up to 2 weeks.

To serve: Let it sit at room temperature for 10 mins before serving.

Bon Appetito!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Beef Hor Fun with Shitake, Just any Chinese would love it

I missed Ipoh Hor fun from Singaporean hawkers. Ipoh is a city in the state of Perak in Malaysia, Singapore's neighbour country. As for Hor Fun, it is a flat rice noodle. In Singapore, Fresh Hor Fun can be bought from the local wet markets where most people shop for fresh produce. Wet markets are extremely crowded in the morning, not to mention the noise. It's not the place for the fainthearted.

Combing every parts of Seoul, I couldn't find any Chinese grocery store. Sadly to say, I was able to find just thin Thai Ricesticks in Walmart, Shinsegae and Lotte Mart. Call that lucky. Even though it's not the thick as Hor Fun, well, it's better than nothing!

With that Ipoh Hor Fun images floating all over my mind - the shredded chicken, the Chinese mustard greens, the dark Shitake mushroom gravy sauce over the Hor Fun - I was determined to make some something close to it to appease my desire.

Here is what I made:


























Top: Beef Hor Fun with Shitake;
Bottom: Chinese Bok Choy with Fresh Garlic Oil

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Peppers and thoughts


Last Friday, I went on a pepper craze. I snapped up 8 red and orange peppers from my local food market because they were only 4 for 2,000 won.

The following Sunday, I roasted all of them in the oven and prepared my favorite pepper dish: Marinated Peppers in Olive oil and Herbs. It was kept overnight in the refrigerator.

The following Monday, I brought my Marinated Peppers in a plastic zipbloc lunchbox to a lunch picnic. On my way I went to Paris Croissant and bought a baguette with a prejudice that it would never be as good as the baguettes in France, that it would be soft and rubbery, that I was buying a substitute.

I was utterly wrong. When I sunk first my teeth into the slice of baguette I was eating, I could hear the crackling noise. The baguette was croustillant, just as any French would say.

Feeling excited as I anticipated how the baguette and my marinated peppers would complement each other, I topped my slice of baguette with a slice of red pepper. The juicy pepper melted away in my mouth as I took my first bite. The mélange was heavenly!

In the empty park, my subconsciousness told me that I wasn't in Seoul anymore.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Making Caviar d'Aubergine with Korean eggplants

It's summer time in Seoul, eggplants are plentiful at the local food market in Seoul. These eggplants are different from the European eggplants. The Korean eggplants has no bitterness, they are very slender and long with less flesh than the big fat monstrous European ones.
I decided that I would make Caviar d'aubergine, often called Poor Man's Caviar. I'm not a big fan of Russian Caviar or any kind of Caviar. But I love eggplants.

The making...

... My first attempt was distrastrous. The making of Caviar D'aubergine usually involves grilling the eggplant at high heat, charring the skin and removing the flesh.
So, I grilled eggplants and charred the skin. The catastrophe arrived when I tried to scoop out the flesh from halved eggplant. I couldn't. Because there wasn't much flesh left after grilling. The flesh was adhering to the skin. I attempted to skin it with a sharp knife. That worked but it took me a whole 30 mins, leaving the muscles in my arm aching. The result was a microscopic amount of flesh from 3 Korean eggplants. Not worth the effort, considering the time and the pain.

A few days after, I bought 4 eggplants from the local market again. This time, I peeled them first, cut them into 2 cm cubes and put it into a microwavable casserole(covered) which was set in my microwave oven on Hi-heat for 7 minutes. I then added a few more ingredients to the cooked eggplant and pureed them. Well, the end results was spectacular: 2 Jars of Caviar d'Aubergine, lasted for a week.

Anyway if you happen to live in Seoul, AND you want to make Caviar d'Aubergine, AND you can only find Korean eggplants, my advice to you is microwave the peeled eggplants!

The downside of microwaving is the slight compromise in taste. Give me the European eggplants juseyo!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Vermicelli Kheer


Vermicelli Kheer ( aka Payasam)
Originally uploaded by
icecat_seoul.

An Indian dessert made with Vermicelli, milk, butter, cardamon, sugar and sliced almonds. I usually make it for Breakfast. Eaten warm or cold.
If you are interested to make some Kheer, here is the recipe.

Cooking time: 10 min
Ingredients:

500ml of milk
1 tbsp of butter
1/2 cup of chopped yellow vermicelli, available in Indian grocer.
2 tbsp of white sugar
Seeds from 3 cardamon pods, ground using mortar & pestle
6 almonds, sliced or chopped
handful of raisins

Heat butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add vermicelli and coat with with the butter. When the vermicelli turns golden brown ( Be careful not to burn it), add milk, cardomon and sugar to it. Bring the kheer to a boil. Simmer it in low heat until it thickens (around 5 mins).
Serve it warm or cold. Garnish with sliced or crushed almonds and raisins.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Plumz art


Plumz art
Originally uploaded by icecat_seoul.
3 Plums in a white bowl, with a spearmint plant in the center & Chess horseman of a DVD-R box .

Click on Plumz Art to get a clearer picture

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I love Marmiton!!!


Fondants au Chocolat has become weekly treat for 2 consecutive weeks.

Thanks to Valerie Paysan who posted the recipe on Marmiton.org. For those who don't know Marmiton, it's a French recipes website where food enthusiasts post recipes and also review them.

Approx. 1000 people have tested this recipe and given 5 out of 5 rating.
Worth a try! Wait till you sink your teeth into the warm hot chocolate interior.

Check my link for the recipe!
http://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette.cfm?num_recette=15816


Fondants au Chocolat, tested on 1st July 2006

40 Mins to Prepare a 3-Course Mediterranean Dinner

Oui, C'est possible!
I did it yesterday. I made an own version of my Potato & Leek soup. My Potato & Leek soup is unblended. Meaning, not mashed up. Anyway this soup only contains 5 ingredients other than olive oil, salt and pepper. So it should very easy to cook. Another motivation to cook this is it is very light. I read that leek soup is good for weight loss from the book, French Women Don't Get Fat by French author Mireille Guiliano. Well, mine contains potatoes....??

That was just my appetizer. My entree was quick to prepare. Al dente Tri-Colour Fuscili with Fresh Tomatoes, Garlic and Parsley. It only took the time to cook the fuscili. Perhaps, 15min at the most.

POTATO & LEEK SOUP (aka Soupe Aux Poireaux et Pommes De Terre)

Ingredients
5 Leeks, only the white part, chopped into 2 cm
5 potatoes, peeled and diced into 2 cm cubes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped into 1cm pieces
1 large onion, diced
3-4 tablespoons of dried parsley
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat Olive Oil in a large pot in high heat. Fry onion and leeks until transparent. Then add potatoes and fry for 2-3 mins before adding carrots and celery. When the vegetables become a little brown, add 2 litres of water to it. Bring it to boil and add parsley. Simmer it for another 10-15 mins until the potatoes are soft. Season it with salt and pepper.







Quick Tri-Colour Fusili with Fresh Tomatoes( aka Pâtes aux tomates fraîches)

Ingredients
Tri- Colour Fusili, enough for 3-4 person.
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 Garlic
3 Tablespoons of fresh parsley
5 tablespoon of olive oil
Coarse salt & fresh ground pepper

1. Cook fusili according to package instructions. ( Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the water used for cooking pasta. Personally I like pasta al dente)

2. Don't stand and watch, waiting for the pasta to get cooked. In order to cook this dish within12-15 mins, dice the tomatoes, chop the parsley leaves, crush the garlic and mix them in a bowl. This preparation should only take 1 min. Then I went to prepare my next dish: Stir-fried Mushroom with Tomatoes ( A side dish for my pasta. Don't get me wrong. The pasta is delicious by itself. I just made a side dish since I have lots of tomatoes and mushrooms in the fridge)

3. Strain fusili when it is cooked. And add it immediately with chopped ingredients. Season with more salt and fresh pepper. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil. Mix all together. Serve hot.


A note: The heat from the fusilli will gently cook the tomatoes. This is why this pasta tastes so refreshing. Nothing is overcooked or raw. Best of all, only 3 simple steps to prepare it. Just follow the highlighted green instructions :)

Stir-fried Mushrooms with tomatoes (aka Champignons Aux Tomates)
It's really just sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes stir-fried in olive oil, garlic and dried parsley. Season with salt and pepper. That simple. Just use your own imagination to cook but it it should only take 5 mins.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Toulousains' Paradise

This is a Marche Victor Hugo, a market in Toulouse, France. This is a paradise for all chefs and food lovers. Fromage, Jambon, saucisson, fresh foie gras, fresh seafood(including huge scallops), french pastries and espresso can be found here. YES!

A fromagerie. All kinds of French cheese are available here. The variety here is more than regular french supermarket. Shopping here is very fun as free samples are always drawing the crowds.

French Pastries. My favourite is Opera. It contains a crispy biscuit at the bottom, 3 layers of cream(Chocolate, Coffee and Butter), alternating with cream and genoise. It is finally topped with a dark chocolate ganache and some gold dust.

Handmade Chocolate by a Chocolatier. A lot of times, a patissier is also a chocolatier. So it won't be a surprise to see a impressive number of pastries and cakes as well as fine chocolates in a same store.

Makrout aux dates, a Tunisian delight made with semolina, butter and dates dipped in honey. It's my family favourite.

Tender and Juicy Lamb with Pan-Seared Foie Gras with crispy potatoes and steamed carrots. A plate I ordered in a restaurant that served only lamb. (outside Marche Victor Hugo, France)

Minty Cucumber Yoghurt Dip for Summer!!

This is my favourite dip. It is not only refreshing, it simply goes well with anything. Anything: Oven-Roasted Garlic Potatoes with Parsley, Taboule, Chinese Fried Rice, etc.

Minty Cucumber Yoghurt Dip:

Ingredients

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2- cups of low-fat plain yoghurt
  • 10 leaves of fresh mint
  • salt & pepper
  • a sprig of mint for decoration
  1. Peel the cucumber and slice it lengthwise into 8 strips. Remove
    seeds. Sprinkle some salt all over the cucumber and leave it on a
    colander for 15 mins. Then Rinse the cucumber and dry it with paper towels. Chop the cucumber into tiny pieces.
  2. Chop the mint
  3. Mix mint, cucumber and yoghurt together. Season with salt and pepper. Decorate it with mint. Serve cold only.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Surprise?

I finally got my own blog, here in my apartment in Seoul.