Thursday, 12 December 2013

Napoli, Pompei, Sorrento, our Autumn break in Italy

Sorbillo Pizza in Napoli

Napoli's famous Pizza Margarita

Napoli's old town
 I always like to visit Napoli for not only for  the food ( pizza) also history of the city, bay of Napoli, Pompeii and Sorrento.
Arrived on Saturday morning , gloomy rainy Autumn cold day, not a good day for our much needed a short break. Taxi journey to our Hotel, Decumani, in the  middle of old town,
I felt we have arrived not only wrong city also wrong side of Globe, jut like one of unplanned city in Asia. wherever I look there were cars, people and street hawkers, selling fruits and kind of small bags.
Our taxi driver has to drive like a magician to negotiate curvy endless narrow street of old town.
I have not seen this tall apartment buildings with washing lines since I left Hong Kong

Arrived hotel, Decumani, in the middle of narrow street, took old small lift ,thinking we chose a terrible hotel.
When we arrived 2nd floor, this shabby small lift door was opened, beautiful and huge reception was greeting us, what a shocking sight and beautiful too!.
Great space with high ceiling ( at least 6m high) were in front of us.
It was most impressive hotel reception ever seen in my  travelling experience.
Hotel breakfast Room
I told to the manager and staff, whatever you do, do not change the old lift, every one would be shocked when they step out from the old lift .
It has a great shocking value!!
Hotel Reception

This hotel used to be the private residence of the Cardinal of church in olden days. Reminding a good olden days , specially in Breakfast room, a vast room and high ceiling and beautifully decorated walls with gold, all very tasteful, old fashioned charm is showing every corner. Wide corridor looks wider than street outside. Our room was equally impressive!
We armed with a few names of a good local restaurants in this area, arrived famous pizza place, Sorbillo, already a lot of people waiting to be called. One guy from Rome, informed us, Sorbillo is the best pizza place in Europe if not in the World, whenever he visit Napoli always have Pizza here, even he said I must have pizza Margarita, here.
We all patiently waited this rainy afternoon, after an hour, we were in. we had Margarita and four side meaty pizza, they are huge. plenty of cheese on the top with very, very thin base which was so light and all melt in my mouth . I think the best pizza I ever had and what a place to have. Love this kind of local eatery when I travel, not at all touristy.
Walking around old town was such a fun, mingling with locals, looking at little local pasta shop, butchers, they are all very friendly, I was warned by an Italian to be careful in Napoli specially at the Spanish quarter but it seemed all old wives tail.
Down to the bay, I had famous Napoli's sweet cake covered with sugar , too sweet for me.
Dinner at another local restaurant, had a good homely food. Pasta, grilled squid and prawns were excellent and not expensive at all. loved this restaurant , seemed very popular, again this  is an excellent , not pretentious very homely and efficient service. No wonder  every night we have to wait at least 20 minutes to be in, an old door man is friendly and good natured chain smoking talkative, all feel at home.
Pasta Shop

Grilled Squid & Prawns

Bay of Napoli

 We travelled to Pompei by train , a kind of regular commuting train, was so beautiful Autumn sunny day. only took 45minutes from Napoli.
Looking at the Ruin, just so orderly and clean, all the houses has number plates, everything preserved as it was. it was just so beautiful.
Knowing at still live mountain in a short distance , you can not help to thinking how long?  when will  it erupt  again?
Move on to Sorrento. arrived early afternoon. it looks just any kind of well to do city , very clean city but I fear no character , I felt I 've been here before, south France, or even La Jolla , in California.  
All rich tourist city seemed same. it was certainly not my kind of city or perhaps I am not rich enough to appreciate??
Our Short break in Italy was super. Certainly Napoli is  the very city of  human story and my favourite city with all failures and messiness but very friendly locals, loved it.
We bought pasta, herbs , a huge chunk of Parmesan cheese in our suitcase and fly home with a big smile!



Sorrento's famous ice cream shop

Bay of Sorrento


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

How to make the best Crispy Seafood Pancake ( Pajeon)

Seafood pancake ( pajeon)
One of my favourite Korean dish is seafood pancake ( Pajeon). I was born South east Korea, sea town, we had plenty of seafood dishes and fish in our daily diet when I was growing up in 60th.
My mum used to make this for our afternoon snack , when we were back from school with hungry stomach. I loved crispy out side and plenty of seafood ( prawn , baby squid , baby clams) and thinly cut spring onion, dip in the dipping sauce.
I make this for my family often now, they just love this.

I had tried many Pajeon at Korean restaurants in London, still Bibigo in London is the one of  best so far for me. Crispy and soft inside, their spring onion is very thin, I think it is impossible to cut that thin in the domestic kitchen unless you have special gadget.
Originally we made with whole baby spring onion but it is impossible here in UK, because spring onion is too woody on the top to bite. Cutting thin is a best way to do it.

A good batter mix is the key! I use very fine strong bread flour mix ( if I do not have Korean Batter mix) add sweet rice flour( 7; 3 rate) and a good rapeseed oil . Still the very best one is using Korean ready made batter mix at Korean shops if you can. I always  buy 3-4 bags and store in freezer.

 The other day ,CJ's batter mix was sent to me by their PR company, it is very good, I am guessing Bibigo restaurant is using this Cj's mix, after all Bibigo is blong to Korean CJ company.
All my cookery members seem love seafood pancake. I usually advice them seafood pancake is a good starter, not only Korean dinner party and any kind of food ( western) with green salad.

Spring onion ( cut 5 cm long and cut again make very thin); 2 bunch
Batter mix ( Korean Cj's pancake batter mix.부침가루) or Strong bread flour plus sticky rice flour ( 7:3 rate)
Seafood: prawn, squid, mussel , clam.
Red and Green chilli ( 1 each)
Good rapeseed oil
Dipping sauce : dark soy, rice vinegar ( 7:3 rate)

Cut spring onion 5ch long and cut again make thin as possible. chopped all seafood very small and set aside. Chop chillies very small as well.
 In a big mixing bowl put 2 cups of batter mix and add 3 cups of water  mix well, just a little thicker than English pancake mix. ( if you're using bread flour, season with salt and white ground pepper)
Add spring onion and chilli in the batter mix .
Heat oil on the non stick small pan , when oil is hot put a ladle of pancake mix and scattered chopped seafood ( about 1tbs) and leave until pancake bottom is cooked and crispy and turn over cook until light brown. ( try not turn over before bottom is well cooked and crispy )
Cut 3cm square and serve with dipping sauce.
if you like more spicier add chopped chilli in the dipping sauce or in the pancake mix.

Our family love this specially as a late afternoon weekend snack with drinks.
I usually make this for drinks party ,it is a good with any drinks, wine or beer.

if you do not have prawn just use squid and mussel makes a perfect pancake.

Seafood pancake ingredients

Batter mix

Batter mix with all ingredients

Pancake in the hot pan cooking

Cooked pancake

Pancake with dipping sauce

Monday, 2 December 2013

Authentic Cabbage ( Baechu) Kimchi class

 On 8th of February 2014, I am having Kimchi class.
Venue is at my house south Bucks  takes 30 minutes from central London by Chiltern line or Tube.
It is requested by a few people to give as a Christmas gift.
I will teach you how to make authentic Korean kimchi, bulgogi
( Korean beef BBQ), cool cucumber salad.

From salting cabbages, making kimchi stuffing, and finally put stuffing into the cabbage leaves and fold . store in a jar.
Bugogi , cucumber salad will be added , you all can have Winter feast with new Kimchi salad. All recipes will be given.
If any one likes to give this class as a gift ( unusual but nice!) , do let me know by email.

My email:
Korean Home food cookery dates in 2014:  25th January, 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd February

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Rice, Kimchi and Soup, Simply the Best

Kimchi, rice and  Korean bean paste soup

We had 4 day break in Naples in Italy, it was the food heaven , not pretentious, homely food.
We had world best ( I was told by guy from Rome) pizza, waiting for an hour to be called and authentic home food restaurants in the middle of old town, back street, also can not book, just wait until to be called.
Had best pizza, pasta, Pama Ham with melon and with mozzarella cheese, Ragu, anchovy so on.
As soon as we were back home, I only wanted eat kimchi ( well fermented from my fridge), white steamy rice and simple bean paste soup. Just simple but well made 3 dishes, no meat or fish just rice, kimchi and soup.

Luckily I always make my kimchi ( 3 kind at least) keep in the fridge all the time, I love well fermented mature kimchi,has to be made by myself!! and has to be white rice ( Korean) not healthy conscious brown rice!!
Wrap steamy rice with kimchi ( leave side of cabbage) with chopstick, it is most delicious thing when you had not had Korean food for 4 days. this humble food is better than fillet steak or any most expensive food on earth. This is my soul food, truly!!
Well, well !! you can take a girl from  Korea but you can not take out Korea from a girl, Who said this wise comment, I wonder. But it is true. my husband was so happy to have Lancashire hot pot made by my son, John!   He is a Lacastarian after all.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Kimchi ( Making Authentic easy, instant Cabbage Kimchi)

I am so annoyed by famous celebrity chef's recipe on kimchi. I am going to write  how to make real easy kimchi like in Korea and at home in UK.

Ingredients: 2 cabbages. 1/2 mooli. 1 cups of sea salt.
1 tbsp crushed garlic, 2 tsp grated ginger, 3tbsp Korean chilli flakes ( buy at Korean Shop), 2 tbsp. Korean anchovy fish sauce, 1 tsp Korean salted baby shrimp. 1tbsp sugar, 1 bunch of spring onion.

Choose cabbage with plenty of green out layer of leaves on, which gives more nutty taste. Cut the head in half and pull by hand then cut again head first and pull again make 4 sides, If you like to have instant kimchi cut again 2cm , put in the big bowl, add 2cups of water and makes wet leaves.
Sprinkle sea salt and mix well . If you do not have sea salt ( you can buy at Korean shop) use table salt ( 3/4 cup) and leave 40 minutes to an hour. This process is very important, if cabbage salted too long, moist has taken out , cabbage can be too chewy, White part is still crunch, leaves are slightly wilted, this makes a good kimchi.

Rinse the salted cabbage twice and  drain well. cut mooli like matsh stick ( 5cm long) and spring onion as well.
Put all ingredients except. cabbage, sugar, fish sauce and salted shrimps, mix well , add cabbage, shrimps( this is optional, if you do not have, it will be fine), and slowly pour fish sauce little and taste, add again, add sugar mix and store the air tight jar to ferment ,  the best way to ferment, is keep in the fridge to slowly ferment, if you like to ferment quickly, put in the cool place for 2 days and keep in the fridge, it will last at least 2 weeks-4 weeks

If you like to eat strait away like kimchi salad, you have to dress a bit because newly made kimhi tastes too raw with garlic and fish sauce, add 1tsp sesame oil, 1tsp sugar and mix, add toasted sesame seed( 2tsp) and serve.

If you like to have as a part of bossam, cut kimchi thinly and serve with ssamjang ( ready made ssamjang at Korean shop)

I read kimchi recipe from celebrity chef, using chilli paste ( gochujang) instead of Korean chilli flakes, but I never heard , seen or taste this. I do not know where chef got this recipe , it is certainly not real Korean kimchi recipe, gochujang is fermented very thick paste, it will be too sticky to my liking.  But I never heard of, seen or tasted, using chilli paste in Kimchi!!
It may taste  nearly same, salty, sweet ( gochujang has hint of sweet taste), but I strongly recommend use chilli flakes ( Korean).
kimchi stuffing ( can be use as bossam sauce)

my instant kimchi

If you do not have Korean anchovy sauce, Thai fish sauce is best one. Specially oyster Thai fish sauce is very good for kimchi. My family in South East of Korea ( near Busan), use fresh oyster in kimchi stuffing as oyster is not too expensive in Korea, which makes best kimchi, specially matured( fermented) oyster stuffed kimchi is my all time favourite. so delicious.

Thai fish sauce is widely available in every supermarket, easier to use than anchovy in the jar in olive oil.
When Kimchi is stored in the jar, always press down because if Kimchi has too much air in between, it makes funny, unpleasant taste kimchi, when it is fermented, we call this kind of kimchi, crazy kimchi or kimchi has gone mad. it can be used in stew only after washed off all stuffing.

Golden Rules for kimchi:
1.  Use Korean chilli flakes ( from Korean Shops, London or New Malden,  Gochu Garu ( in Korean))
Not use Chilli paste as celebrity UK chef wrote in the paper , Do not use Thai or Mexican chilli too hot for the Kimchi.
2. Use good sea salt, not UK's expensive, use Korean Sea salt , it is much less expensive than Uk sea salt.
if using table salt, use less!!

Authentic Kimchi class : 8th of February 2014 11:00 AM


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Korean Food at Robison college, Cambridge

Robinson College

Head chef, Gary and chef, Stuart

My instant kimchi

 marinating beef with chef, Stuart
Before  the Summer I had email from head chef, Gary at Robinson College , Cambridge University , planning to do Special Korean Evening for the students on 30th October.
As a social event and selling ticket for the Korean dinner.
Well, this event is very special, as far as I know there were never British university catering team provide Korean food for the Students, Yes there were a few Korean Food events but they were all funded and for the invited ( free) guests like Dr shin and I did on May.
As I  already had shown them  how to cook my 5 recipes on May,
Gary seemed confident doing themselves but I was a little concerned . also they did not learn how to make kimchi,  the Korean food event without kimchi seemed so odd.
I decided to help them on the night and show them how to make instant kimchi, so they can make next time.
Cooking needs a lots of practise specially when you are making foreign food, even you got recipe for it, still you need to see and get use to the taste ( right taste).

Arrived just before 2 pm, and went in kitchen to see chefs first, as usual they were delighted see me and so welcoming. some staff offered me lunch from students canteen.
Gary showed me the menu for the Korean night, surprised by not cooked rice on the menu. Gary said as they did not have Korean rice, they will serve potatoes and bread, I said without rice and kimchi Korean food can not be eaten, all Korean dishes are meant to be eaten with rice. Asked cook any kind of rice ( long grain or Thai) . I was so glad I came to help, after all they are cooking with my recipes and my name on the leaflet.
Chef, Stuart prepared so nicely, thinly cut beef for bulgogi, spring onion for pajeon (seafood pancake) so on, 2 Chinese cabbage were delivered for my instant kimchi. as kitchen is closed from 2 pm to 4 pm I asked them to take out cabbage, sea salt, I can start before 4 pm.
Dr Shin kindly booked a room for me for the night.

Making kimchi is a long slow process if I like to make proper one. This recipe will be the easiest one, I call it Instant kimchi, like kimchi salad. it is much easier to work in this huge professional kitchen with a walk in cold room, all kind of wonder machines around .

 Cooking for 50 paying students is not easy, Stuart is working so nicely and efficiently with me is a big advantage.
Marinating 50 potion of bulgogi and plus extra helping needs some beef. I just put my robber gloves on and took in charge with Stuart's help. Move on to pajeon batter as same way, make Ssamjang as they did not buy ready made Korean ssamjang, I just made with bean paste, chilli flakes, sesame oil, sesame seed, garlic and honey, too salty, asked them quick boil sweet potatoes and mashed in to dilute saltiness as I do at home.
Made dipping sauce, all kitchen staff remembered all things which was so pleasing.
Stuart loves my special red cabbage , apple, molli, red onion salad, he informed me, he using my recipe a lot at home and at college kitchen, it is very good to hear that from professional chef !

By 6 pm all hungry students arrived at once, we cooked as fast as we could. the feed back from serving staff was so positive. I did not feel tired at all, I know it will hit me later.
My instant kimchi has gone with no time, I should have made 4 cabbages rather than 2.

I was so relived when they are having dessert and went out talk to the students. they all said they really loved and even asking more often and not well known Korean dishes they'd love to try.
Perhaps I will make Kimchi jjigae.

As Dr Shin recognised, I need to be there to supervise this Korean night as still chefs are unfamiliar with taste and process in Korean dishes.

I dragged my tired body with a bottle of white wine to my room and had a long drink.

Menu:  Cooked rice.
Bulgogi and lettuce with ssamjang.
Pajeon and dipping sauce
Instant kimchi
Red cabbage, apple red onion salad.
Dessert: Fruits salad

After all we, Dr Shin, Robison college kitchen team and I made a small history on Korean food!!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Our Short break at Scotland ( Isle of Eriska)

Isle of Eriska Hotel

Grilled Turbot

Venison fillet

Steak Tar tare

smoked salmon and black pudding

I was invited by my daughter, Cat to accompany to Isle of Eriska hotel review trip in near Oban , Scotland.
we arrived Glasgow on the grey, rainy day and take train to Oban has to  wait for 2 hours.
Tried to find some decent coffee shop or tea room and thanks for her friend's advice, we found a pretty Willow tea room,  charmingly decorated and with tall reproduction of the famous Mackintosh chair, a good place to wait for the train. 
Finally we got on the train to Oban, our station is just before Oban, I was informed to take 2 and half hours. Looking out window, after city scene, we faced beautiful folding hills ( ups! Glen!) and Loch has appeared, it was so beautiful , truly  a Scotland scenic view.  Such a relaxing journey.

we were picked up by the owner of the hotel and this a pretty looking hotel, Not too big, felt visiting a manor house as a house guest. This handsome house, hotel is in island,Eriska, connected by  a tiny bridge.

Our room was spacious and nice chairs, a sofa, writing desk, looking out garden, I felt I ought to produce a nice novella or something like beautiful essay. All hotel feels so cosy and relaxing atmosphere.

3 course dinner were deliciously made by head chef with local ingredients.  I had Roast grouse breast meat with micro salad, red wine reduction, venison fillet , all were perfectly cooked and presented, they were just very Scotland fare, I have not much experience in cooking Game meat, they were so good, no wonder this  Hotel restaurant food is known as one of best Scottish food and ingredients.
Steak tar tare was exceptional without egg, its intense well hanged beef flavour with green herb, tangy sauce was  die for, best one I've had, even better than Korean style.
Chef made smoked salmon was not salty mildly smoked, meaty with creamy Conoway black pudding and egg, they were so good for the cold winter morning breakfast.
9 hole golf course, a long walk to the peer , fishing , shooting are all offered along with Spa treatment.
 After a long walk having a tea with mini cakes were sheer pleasure with a book in my hand. I had a most relaxed short break in years  .

What a shame it 's too far from us to come for a week end break as all Guests seemed live around Scotland.

Isle of Eriska hotel. spa & golf

Web: www. 

Sitting room with Log fire

Tea room looking at the garden

Sunday, 27 October 2013

My Pop up Korean Lunch on 26th, October

3 Namul ( seasoned 3 vegetables)
Korean style Sausage roll

Pajeon ( Seafood pancake)

My first pop up Korean Lunch was a successful event and all my guest loved my menu and the food.
It was a not easy because having paying guests for the 3 course meal, serving at he same time in my kitchen was a hard work but loved the process of planning and cooking.

They all brought wine for their meal.


  Korean style sausage roll with sage leave.

Starter:  Pajeon - seafood pancake - with dipping sauce
Main:  Hansik Set ( Korean Meal set)
           Bulgogi steak with lettuce & Ssamjang, Japchae, 3 colour namul ( seasoned 3 vegetables),  kkakduki kimchi. Rice.
Dessert; Spicy Korean fruit Salad.

It was my valuable experience and I am thinking my next pop up already.
4 course meal with more western style dessert with Korean twist perhaps. the lunch finished after 5:00 PM ,later than I expected. As they knew each other,  all had a lively conversation.
They loved food, and saying I cooked too much as usual.

lunch guest

Kimchi jjigae