Saturday, October 27, 2007

So long my Seoul Kitchen

After spending 2 years in Seoul, I moved back to France with my husband. Not sure how long we might spend in France, I will definitely have enough time to catch up with my blogging. I had spent last 3-4 months sorting out some personal stuff. I miss the time posting my blog and being my own photographer.

I miss my minuscule kitchen in Seoul.

Adieu Seoul!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Where can you get Char Kway Teow in Seoul?

In my kitchen.

I don't think I have seen it in any restaurants in Seoul. Getting the ingredients - Dark soy sauce and sweet soy sauce and thick flat rice noodles (more than 1 cm width) can be rather tricky. But thankfully I brought the dark soy sauce from Singapore, bought some sweet soy sauce from the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon and found the thick rice noodles from Lotte Mart. Another important ingredient I almost forget to mention is the Chinese sweet preserved sausage, Lap Chiong. I got mine in vacuum packed from Bee Cheng Hiang which specialises in delicious Ba Gua(bbq pork slices).

Typical Char Kway Teow in Singapore also comes with scrambled egg, bean sprouts, cockles, lard and sambal chilli. It is usually very greasy. Usually it is served with fresh lime halves and sometimes on a banana leaf.

I'm not a big fan of cockles and lard. I hate greasy food. So my recipe is written in my own style which is non greasy and healthy. You can add seafood and chives to this dish if you like.

Homemade Char Kway Teow ( Singapore Famous Fried Rice Noodles )

Ingredients for 2-3 servings, you'll need:
200g of Rice Flat Noodle Stick, usually comes in a dried form
2 garlic cloves, minced
100g of Chicken skinless thigh meat, diced
4 cups of bean sprouts, roots removed
1/2 Chinese Sausage, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon of Kecap Manis, sweet black soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sambal chilli
3 tablespoons of olive oil
White pepper and Salt

First cook the rice noodles in salted boiling water for 2 mins, until slightly soft. Do not overcook. Under cooking is the key of this recipe. Then drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water for 1 min. Drain the noodles and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil

Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a wok under medium-high heat. Fry garlic and chicken dices for 1 min. Add sliced Chinese Sausage and stir the wok mixture for another 30 seconds. Now, add the noodles and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Stir in Kecap Mains, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sambal chilli and mix thoroughly. Stir in the bean sprouts and cook the noodles for another 1 min. Season with white pepper and salt.

Serve the noodles hot with fresh lime halves. Give a quick squeeze to the lime over the noodles before eating.

Taiwanese friend

When I was living in North Carolina, my Taiwanese friend, Julia, would always invite me to her place to eat and watch Chinese or Japanese drama. I miss Julia's mum's Taiwanese Cooking! One of her signature dish is San Bei Ji(San Bei Chicken). San Bei means 3 cups consisting of 1 cup each of soy sauce, sugar and wine. Another interesting dish she had made was braised pig's ear with fresh cilantro. It took me quite a while to enjoy it.

Living only 1 min drive away from her place, I always invited myself to their place. It was almost like a little Taiwan where everyone spoke Chinese and ate Taiwanese tidbits brought by Julia's mum all the way from Taipei, with the TV playing the recent Japanese drama.

I decided to make my own little Taipei at home with tonight dinner being Soy-Braised Eggplant with Steamed Rice. Soy-braised Eggplant is a Taiwanese local dish. It has both salty and sweet taste just like San Bei Ji. Well, given that my sugar tolerance is rather low, I modified the recipe to a low sugar one with a little hint of star anise.

That night when Ced came home, I went straight to the door, covered both his eyes and led him to the stove area. He sniffed and immediately guessed it was Taiwanese food. Wow, he indeed has the French nose. So sharp! I had never cooked Taiwanese food in my whole life until then. That was my first time making a shoot at Taiwanese food. I could tell my dish was a success immediately without having him taste it.



Taiwanese Stewed Eggplants

Ingredients:
4 Asian eggplants, cut into 4 x1 cm strips
1 large onion, sliced
5 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp sugar, depends on how sweet you like it
5 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 star anise
3 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1/3 cup of water to a smooth paste
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & white pepper

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wok. Fry onion and star anise for 2 mins. Add eggplant strips and saute until brown. Stir in soy sauce, sugar, rice wine and 1 cup of water. Let it simmer for 15 mins over low heat. When the eggplants are tender, pour the corn starch mixture over the eggplant while stirring the eggplants continuously. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with Steamed Rice.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Finally some cheap Dim Sum in Seoul that won't break the bank.

One day after a walk in Seolleung Park, we walked in the back streets to check out the shops and restaurants. There was one that caught my eye from far, right across the street.

This restaurant had towers of bamboo steamers at the glass windowed kitchen which is facing the road. The chef dressed in white uniforms were working without paying much attention to any passerby on the sidewalk. Hung at the front of the restaurant was a very modern bistro design signboard that reads 'chiu chow chinese cuisine'.

Since I had some pricey Dim Sum already at Yum Chinese Restaurant that very day, we skipped this restaurant and planned to come back to try it one day. I had a feeling that Chiu Chow wouldn't disappoint me like most Chinese( or rather Korean-Chinese) restaurants.

Today another Chiu Chow opened at Daechi-Dong, near Dunkin Donuts. I was extremely delighted. At lunch, I went there with 2 other guys and we had a really good time there.

The ambience was very modern Chinese, red with laquered black wood theme, with waiters and waitress dressed in chinese traditional black silk shirts with butterfly buttons. I saw a Buddha Bar CD among other CDs at the cashier counter. But I didn't hear any music in the background. Maybe they would play it one day?

Their ChiuChow style dim sum menu consists of the XiaolongBao, SiewMai, Steamed Pork Buns, Zambing( sounds like zian bing in Chinese, which is fried bread), fried eggrolls, Guotie( fried gyoza?) and more. There are 11 items in the Dim Sum section. A steamer basket usually comes in 3-4 pieces for 3,500won. Sounds very reasonable to me in Seoul.

They have other dishes on the menu, rather similar to a menu in a typical Chinese restaurant in Seoul: Jjamppong, JapchaeBap, Jajangmeon and Tangsukyuk(12,000). One thing that looked interesting was the Cripsy Egg Noodles in Seafood Gravy.

The crab fried rice(6,000won) was exceptional with Wok Hei, a smoky taste associated with high heat woking. I could taste the crab too.

JapChaeBap that Ced got was very good indeed. It was a medly of mushrooms, seafood and noodles served with white rice. What I got wasn't up to my expectations. It was called Chiu Chow sik meon, noodles with bok choy and fatty boiled pork in soup. Everything in the bowl was ok except the main ingredient - the broth. The broth tasted like some cheap Japanese instant stock that has a fishy taste.

As for the Xiaolongbao and SiewMai, I would give them both my thumbs up. I hadn't tried real Chiu Chow Dim Sum before, but the food at 'Chiu Chow' is as good as Ding Tai Fung in Seoul.

Will I come back to this restaurant? Definitely! I will try the Chiuchow-style coffee next time.


chiu chow chinese cuinine:
Daechi Branch is closed to Daechi subway station, next to Dunkin Donuts.
Their number is 02-567-6115 and their website is http://www.station4u.co.kr/

Monday, April 30, 2007

Kcal count: Bouillon Aux Celeri et Choux Chinois (Celery & Cabbage Soup)

A nutritious yet simple bouillon I had make tonight with 5 vegetables - celery, chinese cabbage(long-leafy kind), carrot, turnip and onion. With a little salt and pepper it was perfect to counter this chilly gloomy evening.

For this bouillon, the main ingredients were celery and cabbage. Carrot, onion and turnip would be the side kicks.

Celery and cabbage are very good diet food as they contain very little calories and 0 fat. A cup of celery diced has only 17 calories, 8% of daily values(D.V) for dietary fiber (based on a 2000-calories diet), lots of vitamin A and C. A cup of chinese cabbage has an unexpectly low calories of 9, and 63% and 53% D.V for vitamin A and vitamin C respectively. Kim Chi, the basis of all South Korean food, is made with cabbage, chilli pepper and vinegar. No wonder the Koreans never get fat from eating loads of Kim Chi everyday. The old people here are extremely healthy and sportive compared to those in Singapore. It must be the vitamin boost they derive from the daily Kim Chi intake.


Ingredients for 4 servings:
4 cups of celery, diced
4 cups of cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 cup of turnip, peeled and diced
salt and black pepper

Place celery, carrot, onion and turnip in a soup pot with 1.5 litres of water. Bring it a boil and season it salt and pepper. Let it simmer for 10 mins uncovered

Add cabbage and let it simmer uncovered for another 5 mins. Serve hot.


Bouillon Aux Celeri et Choux Chinois


Kcal Count: (68+36+30+46+33)/4= 213/4 = 53.25 calories per serving

Wow, this really comes at a big surprise. I didn't know this bouillon has so little calories until I did the calculations a minute ago. It is almost equivalent to 100 ml of low fat 2% milk, which is less than half a cup.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hi Seoul Festival: World Food court


Saw Royal Guards Ceremony at Deoksokgung


Just came back from the international food fair at City Hall, Seoul. It was really a treat for my stomach. I couldn't care less about my diet. This is an once a year event that I surely couldn't miss.

The first stall I hurried to was the Singapore Booth. There were only Yakun Kaya Toasts and Chicken Curry with French Baguette. I was rather disappointed since the Singapore Club said that the menu list include Hainanese Chicken Rice and Laksa. I couldn't complain.

Forget about the Laksa. Stop whining!

So, I bought the curry at 3,000 won. It was rather tasty despite the bad presentation - a bowl of curry together with 2 slices of baguette half-soaked in curry. I skipped Yakun since there are 2 branches in Seoul and I just wanted to try all the food unavailable in Seoul.

Next cuisine I tried was Malaysian. The Roti Canai there looked delicious. One cook preparing the Roti Canai was just a student on an exchange program in Seoul. He was flipping the dough and pulling it like a real Prata Man in Singapore. For only 1,500 won, I got myself a general serving of Roti Canai with egg and curry to dip.


Malaysian traditional Costumes

Detecting some Satays nearby with my Singaporean antennae, I followed the scent and it led me to an Indonesian booth with a long queue. The satays smelled really meaty and smoky, just like those back in Singapore. I missed Southeast Asian food a lot but I would give these Satays a miss. The queue was simply too long.

There wasn't enough tables and chairs set up at the fair. Ced and I just had to stand in the shade, finish eating and move on to the next booth.

Sudanese food

We continued walking and bought some Austrian sausages and meat loaf with bread. Then we got some Sudanese food and Israeli's Couscous with vegetable and refreshing iced mint tea.



We saw another long queue at the Lebanon. The booth was selling Shawarmas with a professional chef showing off his slicing skill on the skewered meat.



Other cuisines include Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German, Australian, Mexican, Peruvian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Russia, America and so on. I think there were at least 40 over countries participating in this event.

So much to try in one afternoon. If only it can be like this everyday!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Time to start the herb seeds

It's almost the end of April, I finally manage to seed my herbs after weeks of procrastination. I have been busy with biking since I got back to it again beginning of this week.

This morning, I planted basil, parsley as well as cilantro. All these herbs are extremely useful for Southeast Asian and Mediteranean cuisine. Chives and spring onions are available cheaply at my local produce market.

Now, all the seeds are planted in recycled Denmark Yoghurt plastic containers, sitting on the window sills, facing the morning sun. Currently, the weather has been around 18 degree celcius and sunny. I wish it would get a little warmer to start the seeds.

It would probably take a week to see the seeds sprouting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kcal count:Tomato Egglant & Clam Linguine

Tomato Eggplant and Clam Linguine

Serves 4

4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
100g of clams
2 Korean eggplant, cut lengthwise and sliced
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano(add more if you like)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh pasley
4 servings of package linguine
Salt & Pepper



Heat oil in a large non-stick sauce pan. Fry Onion with eggplant for 5 mins. Add diced tomatoes, oregano and salt. Let it simmer for 10 mins until the sauce thickens.

Cook linguine according to package instructions.

Add clams to the eggplants and let it boil for another 2 mins. When the linguine is cooked, drain it and pour eggplants over it. Sprinkle some fresh parsley all over.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Seoul Event: 'Origin Art: From Africa to the Inca' at Olympic Park

It will be held at Seoul Olympic Museum at Olympic Park from Apr 24 2007 - Jun 20 2007. The closest subway station is Mongchontoseong Station on the pink line (Line 8).

The museum is hosting the “Origin Art” exhibition which consists of primitive art and artifacts from all over the world. Thoughtfully placed throughout the spacious airy rooms and halls of the museum are large collections of masks, statues, figurines and other relics from Africa, Asia, the Americans and Oceania.

In the Africa section, twelve African nations are represented. Many of the pieces such as the masks and statuettes are imbued with cultural significance and meaning which is still relevant today. A collection of masks from the Ivory Coast, for example, shows masks which are used to represent the souls of both gods and the deceased. Other treasures include ancient lambskin Bibles found in Ethiopia and primitive musical instruments made from wood and animal skin. There is video footage showing different tribes participating in ceremonial rights of passage, from birth to death. This is a rare chance to glimpse into the dark and mysterious world of the rituals of Africa’s tribes.

In addition to the artwork and relics, the exhibition has imported male artists from South Africa and Kenya to give performances of traditional Zulu and Masai tribal songs and dances everyday. Enjoy a quality latte from the outdoor organic café while being enthralled by the tribal pounding of the drums.

The performances are scheduled at these times:
Weekends 11.30 am 1.30 pm 3.00 pm 4.30 pm 5. 30pm
Weekdays: 11.30 am 2.00pm 3.30 pm 5.00 pm

There are also facilities where you can paint your own primitive mask and try your hand at printmaking.

For more information, visit the website http://www.seoulolympicmuseum.com/

Seoul Event: Hi Seoul Festival 2007!

It is opening this Saturday the 28th April and ending on the next Sunday 5th May. There will be lots of Korean cultural events, Korean traditional and Kpop music, dance and concert at different areas of Seoul. There will be a re-enactment of 'The Coronation Ceremony of King Sejong ' at GyeongbokGung. Sounds pretty interesting to his some Korean history.

I wanted to ride the hot- air balloon crossing the Hangang from Jamsil to Teuksom this weekend but the free tickets are already given out. There is a Seoul World DJ festival which is free. Lots of famous DJs will be performing.

Most important of all, the festival also features Seoul Friendship Fair on 29th April Sunday. There will be lots of traditional performances, food samples from many different countries including Singapore (yes!). I heard the Singaporean Club in Seoul will be selling Laksa, Hainanese Chicken rice and Ba kut Teh! Wa lao!(Singapore English, Singlish , for 'oh my god')


For more information about Hi Seoul, please visit their site http://www.hiseoulfest.org/eng/

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kcal count: Vegetable Sukiyaki

I made this during my diet. It is not a traditional Japanese Sukiyaki which comes with beef and some fat and eaten with rice. My Sukiyaki is purely veggies in soy mirin broth with enough Korean potato noodles (same noodles used in Korean Jap Chae) to fill up any empty stomach. It is very easy to prepare, it is an enjoyable healthy meal with no fat.


Vegetable Sukiyaki

Ingredients for 2 servings:

2 cups Korean King Oyster Mushrooms, sliced and cut into bit sizes.
1 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick-size strips
5 leaves of nappa cabbage, cut into bit sizes
1 small onion, sliced thinly
100g of Korean Potato noodles or glass noodles(enough for 2 servings)
4 tablespoons of sauce soy
2 tablespoons of mirin
Some salt

Boil 4 cups of water with sauce soy, mirin and mushroom and onion. Let it simmer for 5 mins. Add carrot, nappa cabbage and noodles. Let it simmer again until the noodles is soft and add broccoli. Season with some salt. Cook for another 1 min and remove from heat.

Divide the Sukiyaki into 2 large bowls. And eat till your heart's content without any calorie guilt!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Scrumptious Saturday lunch at Focacino

Maybe I broke my diet. Not sure about that.

After a whole week of dining in, Ced and I decided to spoil ourselves. Not that the meals that I prepared was unsavory, but staying home was boring and dining out is a fun experience. Imagine dining in 7 days a week. I really needed to get out!

Eating out during a diet is rather painful. But I would rather practise some self-control than to be bored.

So that Saturday afternoon, we went to our newly discovered cafe, Focaccino. The very first time, we ordered 2 focaccias (one Cherry Tomatoes and one Potatoes); for dessert, I got myself a Tiramisu and Ced got an Opera. The Tiramisu was indeed to die for and surely I would help myself to another serving if my stomach would allow. It is probably the best I had in Seoul.


I almost forget to mention the focaccias which are the bases of this cafe.
Focaccino has the best selection of focaccias, ranging from Bacon, Onion, Peppers to Chocolate, Fig and Tropica. I have only tried 5 out of 12 so far. My favourite being the Cherry Tomatoes with Herbs de Provence.



On that second visit, I treated myself to a plate of Tomato Seafood Spaghetti, that came with complimentary warm focaccia and a dip which tasted pretty much like Ranch Dressing. The spaghetti was healthy and light compared to regular Italian cooking that uses tonnes of olive oil. I was so glad that I ordered that. I skipped the Ranch dressing entirely.

While seated close to the service counter, I saw plates of Tiramisu flying past me. Too bad I wasn't one of customers ordering it. I can understand the reason behind its popularity. IT IS SIMPLY HUGE, with thick layers of mascapone cream, genoise, coffee and chocolate. It is more than enough for 2 people. For someone on diet, it was just too tormenting to look at it.

Til then, I resisted all high calories loaded food . Until...

Ced ordered a small Chocolate Dome. I took a few spoonfuls and left the rest for him to finish. How dietic!

I was getting frantic about the calories I had consumed until I saw a sticker on the gold plastic plate on which the dessert was served. It had the nutritional values of the cake and the manufacturer info which turned out to be Shilla Bakery (probably Focaccino doesn't have inhouse dessert production). Most importantly, it had only 400 calories.

Phew! I always thought a piece of mousse cake had 800 kcal or more.

Big lunch meant light dinner. So that Saturday night, we had Vegetable Sukiyaki, made with soy sauce-mirin broth and Korean Potato Noodles (Glass Noodles used in Jap Chae). Will be posting the recipe later.

Focacino is located at Sadang Station next to Coffee Bean.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Kcal count: Vegetable Udon Soup and BlueberryYoghurt


Today's lunch: Homemade Vegetable Udon Soup(350 kcal) and Swibell Blueberry Yoghurt(80 kcal).

Udon Soup for 2:
4 cups of vegetable broth(I used leftover soup made with onion, potatos, carrots, cabbage and a bunch of parsley)
4 chicken tenderloins/strips, skinless
1/3 of medium carrot
5 leaves of cabbage
4 cups of fresh spinach
200g of fresh Japanese udon
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
salt & pepper


Boil the broth in a pot. Peel the carrot and cut it into 3cm matchstick size. Cut cabbage into bite size piece, 3-cm squares. Cut stems off spinach leaves and rinse well.
When the broth is boiling, add chicken and carrot. After 2 mins, add Japanese udon and stir well with chopsticks, making sure the noodles are not sticking to each other. Let the broth boil again. Season with soysauce, salt and pepper. Add cabbage and spinach and cook the vegetables until soft, about 1 minute.
Divide the udon soup into 2 bowls and serve warm.

Calorie count:
1 serving of udon = (160*+160+26+21+28+300+16)/2 = 695/2 =350 kcal
*160kcal is rather high for broth. So it might be better to use a low calories broth such as pure vegetable broth without potatoes. 4 cups of chicken bouillon is only 90 kcals.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

74 calories of fresh strawberries







Fresh strawberries ready to be blended







A glass of refreshing strawberry juice.

Everyone's having the weight issue at some point of their lives

Current situation
The winter had provided me a few good excuses to eat like a glutton. But let's go back to reality: I have gained 2-3 kilos that I am frantically anxious to shed them off. I am bloated like what the chinese would describe - rice dumpling wrapped in lotus leaf, tied up tightly with a kitchen string. Or you can picture it this way: A big piece of beef tenderloin, tied up tightly in several rounds of string. My eyes look like they are swallowed up by my chubby cheeks. I can still fit into my pants but they look tight on me.

Choco Addict
I'm done with dark chocolate for the time being. I used to joke with a close friend of mine that ' Everyday is Easter', meaning I have chocolate every single day. It lifts my spirit up instantaneously. Now I have to kick that strong addiction out of my daily diet. Think about all the nice swim suit I can wear! Maybe I should photoshop a picture with my full body, add 20 kg to it, print the picture and paste the poster on the wall to remind me every day I could look like that.

More veggies, fish and seafood
My daily menu(lunch and dinner) would change to a more vegetarian diet and less beef since meat has lots of calories, beef being the highest of all. Seafood and fish would probably be the best substitute for meat. I shall include them in my grocery shopping list.

Olive Oil
As for fat for cooking, I always use olive oil for sauteeing, soup and salad. So I won't have to change that.

Cooking methods
I almost never used deepfry method of cooking. I hate greasy food deepfried battered food. So I don't have to worry about getting greasy food out of my meals. However, my main style of cooking is sauteeing which requires at least 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil. I'm considering steaming food, proaching and baking as an alternative.

Breakfast (at home)
2 slices of Toast bread with jam, half a grapefruit, a yoghurt and an Earl Grey. No Lu Petit Ecolier 45% dark Chocolate biscuits (Something that I snack on every morning. It is going to be a hard habit to kick.)

Weekday Lunch outside
Usually Korean food at a food court. The food is rather healthy. Lots of rice, veggies and grain. Very little meat. The portion at the food court is usually big. What I need to do is to share my food with someone or eat only half the amount of food on the tray.

Weekend Lunch and Most Dinner
This is when I cook. I'll cook according to my diet menu. It is easier to count the calories when preparing food on my own. I frequent this site called Calorie Count which provides nutritional information of food. It has a very comprehensive list of food, including supermarket premade frozen meals and ready made sauces.

Dessert at dinner
Unlimited amount of fruits, no banana and sometimes low-fat yoghurt(about 60-80 calories)

Snack
Fruits basically but no banana, no walnut or almond, no chocolate bar!

Drink
Unlimited amount of tea(occassionally with honey for a small treat) and water. No more daily cuppuccino I swear! I bought a 1 usd electric frother from Singapore, it is simply too tempting to make a cappucino at home with the automatic espresso machine I have.

Exercise?
I haven't got time to think about it yet. I really hate sweat.

Blog posts for the next few weeks
Well, I will document my diet, write about all the healthy food or dishes and take lots of pretty pictures. In order for a diet to work well, the diet menu has to be fanciful. Imagine the 'joy' of eating a plain salad with low fat dressing from the supermarket everyday. I would use my creativity to make appetising meals without jeopardising the diet. Sounds like a big challenge.

This blog will serve the biggest motivation for me to keep up with the diet. My goal is simple: lose that 4 kg.

Related posts:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guess what are the green pods?

Mystery of the day

I love grocery shopping. I love checking out new things. In the case of supermarket, it's the vegetable section to see what is in season.

My last trip to the local supermarket Emart, I saw these green pods bagged in a small net bag. They looked like Edamamee at first. On second thoughts, they looked rather like sugar snaps.

I had never used sugar snaps in my cooking before. Wouldn't it be fun to cook with something different for a change?

Thus, I bought a bag of "sugar snaps" home and cooked them in a pot of boiling salted water. 3 or 4 minutes later, I heard loud popping sound coming from the pot. Could it be that the sugar snaps are ready?

I took a one out of the boiling water to try and chewed the whole pod. Realising how strange it tasted, I immediately spat it out in the sink. I splitted a second pod open and ate only the seeds. They are very delicious! A little crunchy and very starchy to taste.

Oh yes! Green peas!
They are usually sold in their seed form, canned or frozen. But never in pods like this. My experience reminds of Kevin Spacey in K-Pax, an alien eating banana together with its skin. Yuck! I wonder if he really chewed the skin.

I made a salad for dinner that night. It was a potato salad with salad greens and caramelized onions. I added a few tablespoons of shelled green peas to the salad. And the salad was extremely pleasant with the subtlety of green peas and caramelized onions.

Potato Salad with Caramelized Onions and Green Peas

For 4 servings

A few handful of mixed Salad Greens, rinsed and spun dry

A cup of fresh green peas, cooked in salted boiling water about 3-5 minutes until soft

8 small potatoes or 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cooked in salted boiling water until soft

Prepare vinaigrette and caramlized onions (recipes follow). Tear salad greens into bite-sized pieces. Arrange equal portions of greens on 4 plates. Place 1 or 2 potatoes on each. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of green peas over the potatoes. Top the potatos with caramelized onions. Drizzle 2 tablespoon of vinaigrette on the salad.

Caramelized Onions:

A large onion, sliced

2 tablespoon of Olive oil

Salt

Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion slices and stir to coat evenly. Cook gently for 10 mins until brown, stirring the onions frequently. Season with salt.

French Red Wine Vinaigrette:

I tablespoon of French Dijon Mustard( Maille is the best in my opinion)

2 tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar

5 tablespoon of Olive Oil

a pinch of salt

Icecat's quick method: Put all ingredients in a small zipbloc container( a cup size). Cover the container tightly with its lid, and shake it vigorously until the vinaigrette thickens into an emulsion. It should only take 5-10 seconds.

Traditional method: you can mix the mustard with red wine vinegar until a smooth paste. Pour olive oil slowly into the paste while stirring continously it with a small whisk/spoon. Season with salt. It takes around 2-3 mins to prepare.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Meat in Korea

Meat is priceless in Seoul. You would be lucky if you find some in your bowl!

I learnt it the painful way after going to a Chinese restaurant near my house for a casual dinner last year. It was my third time there. The last 2 times I got noodle soups less than 6-8 usd each. The seafood noodle soup(Jampong) had plenty of toppings; however, the chicken noodle soup had basically noodle and broth only.

That rainy evening in winter, I craved so badly for big chunky meat. I could eat a cow! So I told myself to splurge and I ordered the cheapest meat dish I can see in the Chinese menu. That was Stir fried Beef with vegetable at a price of 22,000(22 usd). All right!

When the waiter brought a plate of,what seems like to me, stir-fried noodles with shredded veggies. I explained to him in a mixture of very broken one-word Korean, some body language and English, that this wasn't the dish I ordered.

To my dismay, he insisted that it was what I ordered. To prove that he was wrong, I picked up my chopsticks and raked the noodles in search for beef. With no evidence of chunky beef in the dish at all, I smiled at him and asked him, " Solgogi, Odi-yo?", which translated into "Beef, where is it?

He took my pair of chopsticks and picked up a few strands of something which I realised was beef. My jaws dropped to the ground immediately, too numbed to response.

From then onward, I would go straight to the supermarket to get meat whenever I have meat cravings. Indeed there is some meat in regular meals in food courts or restaurants - they are very thinly sliced meat, very minced meat(as in meat dumplings), processed meat(Spam, ham, hotdogs) and canned tuna.

In response to this incident, I would like to share with everyone my interpretation of Ginger Beef Stir-fry, remade in my kitchen.


Icecat's Ginger Beef Stir-fry

Annyeong! Pikachu Im-ni- da!( Hello! My name is Pikachu!)

"Would you like to eat me?"

These lovely Pikachus were found in Seoul, stuffed with vanilla cream and strawberries in their mouths.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Preparing Crepes in Seoul

High fruit concentration jam!


Some European Jams found in Emart Yangjae, Seoul. I like St Dalfour Four Fruit Jam which doesn't contain any sugar. It's purely fruits and it is sweetened with grape juice. Extremely high quality jam. However, St Dalfour costs 5,500won( 6 usd) for a 284g jar.

Prima fruit jam from Italy contains 55% fruit and you can see lots of chunky fruits in the jam. You can choose from a variety of fruits: cherry, raspberry, apricot, strawberry and peach. The price is only 2,500won. A real value of money!

Forget about Nutella!
I found Nutella spread to be insanely priced in Seoul. A 400g jar has a hefty price tag at 6,000won(6.5 usd) at Emart. Ouch!


A shot of espresso with some hot crepes. That's how breakfast should be everyday!

French Crepe Recipe:
4 eggs
2 cups of flour
2 cups of milk
1 tbp of oil
3 sachets of vanilla sugar (20g total)
1 tbp orange flower water
pinch of salt
Butter to cook


Mix all the ingredients together and let it rest for 30 mins before cooking it.

Melt a teaspoon of butter on a crepe pan on medium heat. Add a ladle of crepe mixture to cover the pan thinly. It should sizzle or else the pan is not hot enough. Cook each side for about 1 min until light brown.

Serve immediately with some fruit jam or Nutella.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mad about Cla-fou-tis

Clafoutis aux Abricots


I first saw it in a French bakery in centre ville in Toulouse where I was studying French. It was a baked custard covered with lots of dark red cherries with a shiny clear glaze in a pretty white porcelain ware. Looked like a tart without crust. No doubt my French was pretty poor back then, I was able to get the pronunciation right!


"Cla-foo-ti."


Such a beautiful name! I decided to research online for the recipes. That was the start of my unfounded love of Clafoutis.


Clafoutis is traditionally made with unpitted cherries. So if you happen to eat some Clafoutis Aux Cerises, keep that in mind!


Clafoutis aux Abricots

For 4-6 servings:
400 g of canned apricot halves
3 eggs
300ml of milk
3 round heap tbsp all-purpose flour
60g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp rum



Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease a 10in x 8in cake pan.

Beat eggs with sugar until the mixture becomes creamy yellow. Add flour and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth. Add milk, vanilla essence and rum. Mix well.

Arrange the apricot halves on the greased pan, with the cut sides facing down. Pour the egg mixture over the apriocot halves and bake the Clafoutis in the oven for 30-40 mins until the top is golden brown.

Serve it hot or cold. If you have luxury of having some raspberry coulis in your fridge, you can drizzle some on the side of the Clafoutis when you serve it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pot au Feu au poulet ( healthy version)

Pot au Feu au Poulet Recipe:

1 whole chicken(about 1.2 kg, with all or most skin removed)
3 stalk leeks, only the white part
3 stalk of celery
2 carrots
equal amount of turnip as carrot
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 medium onion
1 clove pricked in just 1 onion
salt, pepper
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard

Peel carrots and turnip. Cut all veggies(carrots, turnips, celeri and leeks) into large chunks.

Put the chicken in a pot filled with 3 litres of water and bring it to a boil. Skim the floating white foam before you add all the chopped vegetables, onions and garlic in the pot.

Place bayleaf, thyme, parsley and black peppercorn in a cheesecloth bag and seal the bag.

Add the herb bag to the soup.

Simmer the soup for another 90 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the herb bag from the soup.

Served the soup hot with a small portion of Dijon Mustard to dip the chicken and veggies. This is how we eat Pot au Feu the French way!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Coquille St Jacque


Coquille St Jacque
Originally uploaded by icecat_seoul.
Shopping
I found some really nice looking scallops in Lotte Mart last Tuesday. I bought only 2 of them since they were pretty expensive. 1.5 USD each. The shells were the size of my palm but the scallops themselves were of the size of cherry tomatoes, seen in this picture.

The job
Prepping the scallops were not easy. I had to slide a knife inside the shell and scrape the scallops and pry open the shell. Holding the scallop meat with my fingers, I removed all the yucky looking black stomach. Then I had to remove all the white membrane carefully without breaking the orange coral attached to the scallop meat.
Since I was going to use just 2 shells, I got them scrubbed and rinsed.

Cooking
Cooking the scallops was a breeze. I covered the interior of shells with a layer of boiled spinach. Then I placed a prepped scallop on each shell, followed by some salt and pepper seasoning. Next I covered the scallop with sauce bearnaise, sprinked a layer of grated emmental cheese and another layer of breadcrumbs.
The Coquilles St Jacques were then put into the oven for 30 mins at 200 degree celsius.

Et voila!
The result was 2 beautiful crusted scallop shells and slightly overcooked scallops. So cooking time needs to be cut down to 20 mins at 180 degree celsius. Maybe I will add some mushrooms next time.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Best Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup in Seoul

The Korean name for Ginseng Chicken Soup is Samgyetang.
The best ginseng soup is found at Exit 2 of Gyeungbokgung station, take a left after GS( about 3-5 mins walk). The name of the restaurant is Tosokchon.

There is no english menu available but it's not a big problem for foreigners. Everyone goes there for Samgyetang. So just point at the soup stone pot at the next table. Make sure it's a white chicken because they have Black Chicken Ginseng soup too!

A ginseng chicken soup costs around 11,000 won. The chicken is stuffed with rice, chestnut, ginseng and jujube. The soup is rather bland, so you would have to add your own salt at the table.

The restaurant also provides a few side dishes - kim chee, pickled radish, raw garlic and chilli paste - and small metal bucket at the side of the table. I didn't know what the bucket was for until the kind waitress explained to us to discard the chicken bones in it.

Also, everyone at the table gets a small cup of cold ginseng wine for free too!

Bo Lo Bao aka Pineapple Bun


A typical afternoon snack in Hong Kong to go with milk tea or coffee. It is a sweet bread with crusty top, usually served with a slice of butter.

When I was back in Singapore for Chinese New Year, I realized lots of HongKong style cafes have spruced up all over the island. I actually went to one cafe for some quick lunch. The name of the restaurant is WanChai.

What I ordered was a Bo Lo Bao and a Hong Kong milk tea. Rather delightful.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Food bloggist doing her part to save the earth

I watched the Inconvenient Truth By Al Gore and was deeply disturbed by the facts he mentioned about global warming.





As a citizen of planet earth, I have a responsibility to spread the words to fight global warming. During the last few days, I immersed myself in all the global warming sites. I wanted to find out as much as I could to make up for my ignorance for my past 20 years. Global warming has been mentioned over and over again for decades, not a new term coined over the last few years. Yet no one really listens or cares. I care now. I hope it is not too late to start changing my habits and to inspire anyone I know to change their view about global warming.
Steps I have taken:

I have joined the march to stop global warming. You can join too!

Stop Global Warming

I have emailed everyone I know to take actions against global warming and I posted banners on my blog. Everyone living on planet Earth needs to be educated about global warming and it is true.

Cut down on electricity, water and heating: It's winter in Seoul now, my appartment is usually around 19 degrees celsius. I would put on more sweater and thicker socks or cover myself in blanket. I would stop heating my apartment unless it gets unbearably cold.

I am using less water to brush my teeth.

I am trying to cut down on kitchen paper towels, instead I am using a dish sponge and kitchen cloth towels to wipe up spills or to mess.

I am already recycling most of my garbage given that South Korea is very strict on recycling, all garbage needs to be separated: food trash, paper, plastic, glass, glass. How spoilt and selfish I was to complain about how the Korean government is making lives more difficult for its residents. I am willing to suffer a little for a good cause.

I turn off my computer when I am not using it. I am already using a energy efficient PC. My phone charger and hair dryer are unplugged when not in use.

I turn off the lights when not in use.

I am using a drying rack to dry my clothes even though clothes dry slower in winter. I shall not be attempted to use the electric dryer unless I have bulky items like bed comforter.

I bring reusable bags when I go shopping. Sometimes I forget, but I will try harder to remember it.

I am taking public transport - bus and subway.

I am going to have meat only once a week. I will go green on my diet - more veggies. ( Do you know cows are one of the greatest methane emitters, methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas?)

I shall plant more herbs and even bigger houseplants in my apartment.

I hope to change the view of many Americans regarding global warming. We must pressure George Bush and his adminstation to sign the Kyoto Protocol. I hope all countries can speed up their actions to reduce emission carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. Economy is not everything. Climatic change will continue to do irreversible damages at an accelerating rate. Glaciers are disappearing, some wildlives will be driven into extinction, eg polar bears, birds, fishes. Global warming is man-made and we must undo it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New Year's Eve Dinner


New Year's Eve
Originally uploaded by icecat_seoul.
A great 7-course dinner at The Bistro, Novotel, at 88,000won each. Best of all, it was a quiet night for a New Year's Eve. We were the only ones there, obviously with all the other 10-20 tables, all candles lit, clean and empty at 9pm.
I wondered what happened to all those food prepped for this mega event: mushroom and leek mousse, roasted chestnut soup, trios surprise(a raw oyster topped with goat cheese mousse, foie gras terrine, minced fresh crab cakes), white wine peach granita, the steamed veggies for the main course beef medallion topped with grilled squab and pan seared foie gras and lastly, the dessert and petits fours- all of which prepared in advance to cope the big audience expected to come and dine on this special day.
Sitting there at a table decorated artistically with salt-like confetti, just like snow flakes on the background, white plates and silver ware scattered on the snow, I thought what was the food cost of an even like this. I couldn't help thinking about it since I was taught to reduce food cost at the French bakery I used to work in. It's one of the first thing you learnt in the food industry.
No doubt it seemed like an unexciting night for a New Year's Eve, it was a surprise haven for us to get away from the usual crowdedness of Seoul.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Enter The Meatrix



Check this out: http://www.themeatrix.com/ .

I won't divulge any details of the movies but they are rather fun, educational and enlightening. Ooommm.....

There are 2 1/2 videos. Make sure you check all out.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chinese dessert soup from Singapore

Last winter when my relatives visited me in Seoul, I prepared Pulut Hitam- also known as Orbeebay in Singapore- to welcome them. It was a treat as well for me. I miss the aroma and texture of the sweet black gluey-looking soup. On the contrary, during my childhood, I hated it. Too bland, too heavy. I would rather have some icecream back then. Or even an Ice KaChang, an ice shaving dessert with red, green and brown syrup, topped with red sweetened beans and condensed milk. Great for the 360 days of hot weather in Singapore.

Everyone changes their taste every now and then. So have I. Possibly being homesick plays a major role in my change of taste. I can't think of any other reasons.

Pulut Hitam is actually a piping hot sweet soupy dessert, made with black glutinous rice, water, palm sugar and coconut milk. It is sold in the food market in Singapore usually for less than 1 usd a bowl enough to keep your stomach full for an hour or 2 since it is extremely filling. It can be eaten any time of the day.

Pulut Hitam Recipe ( Sweet black glutinous rice soup)

  • 1 cup of black glutinous rice( rinse and soak overnight with enough water to cover completely);
  • 1 litre of water.
  • 2 pandan leaves, knotted (Optional- it is not easily found outside SE Asia) ;
  • 100g Palm sugar( usually comes in compact form, available in asian supermarket). If it is not available, use white sugar as substitute;
  • 4 tablespoon Corn flour, mixed with 4 tablespoon of water to a smooth consisitency;
  • 1 can of Coconut milk.

Put the black glutinous rice and 10 cups of water into a pot big enough to hold twice the volume of the content. Bring the pot into a boil and simmer it uncovered for 40 mins or until the rice is soft. (Note: Check on the soup during this period of time to make sure the soup doesn't get dry, add more water to the rice if necessary.)

Break the palm sugar into smaller pieces and add it in the soup. Add pandan leaves. Stir the soup and let it simmer for another 10 mins.

Remove the pandan leaves.

Add the corn flour mixture to the soup and stir. Bring the mixture to a boil. It will be ready.( If the soup is too liquid, more corn flour-water mixture can be added to it to make it thicker. )

To serve, spoon the soup into bowls and drizzle 1-2 tablespoon of coconut milk on the soup. Serve hot.

Enjoy!