Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Our Family Fish & Chips On Fridays

Fish ( cod loin) & chips, onion ring and minty mushy peas.
With Rumbusco fizzy Red
Our family's Friday dinner is usually Fish & Chips,  this a kind of tradition has been going for nearly 20 years since we settled in here in England from Athens.
If cod loin is fresh I prefer cod but haddock is good too.
Most important ingredients are fresh meaty fish and batter , of course a good oil.
Frying thick loin of fish is not an easy task, when  it has done well, crispy thin batter skin, white
steamy fish is moist because protected by the batter, it is so delicious.
A very simple dish but hard to get it right, need a few practise as any simple food it has to be right.
Fresh ingredients and a good cooking skill are the most important!
My method;
A good loin of cod or haddock
Cut the size as you wish, if you have a sophisticated electric  frying machine you might be able to control oil temperature better but I seldom use electric machine, because too much work for cleaning, as we eat fried food only once a week.
My advice is make your own the frying pan, buy not too expensive pan, deep and wide enough for the frying fish and use this only for the frying fish or any frying.
As I found much easy to clean after I fry the fish, I drain oil through the sieve and stored in the glass jar, use again,  2-3 times and get rid of it .
If you like fry vegetables after frying fish, just fry a few raw onion ( thinly sliced) , it will take away smell of fish.
Batter; I use plain flour mix with a pinch of salt, pepper, a pinch of Korean chilli flakes, 1tsp of turmeric powder,
Add beer ( I prefer larger beer) and lid on , keep in the fridge until you need.
Batter should not be runny, like thick pancake mixture. Do not stir too much, a few times with fork, or chop sticks.
When oil is hot, take out batter and put smaller bowl with 3-4 ice cube and  rest batter bowl to keep cold.
Slit fish a few times to cook easily and coat in the batter, fry in the high temperature 1 minute and reduce heat slightly  and fry  for 2-3 minutes depends on size and thickness of fish.
Shake fried fish and put on a rack for a short time, and fry onion ring.
Serve with potato chips and mashed peas.
Italian sparkling Red ( Rumbusco) and Romagna region White ( Dry)
It was perfect with Italian dry white, Compadora ( Romagna region) and even Rumbusco sparkling red was a good match.
Unless weather is very hot, our ritual Fish & Chips dinner on Fridays stays on.
Cutting thin crispy batter and seeing meaty white fish, pour vinegar or soy and vinegar sauce ( for me) is a mouth watering sight.


Saturday, 25 May 2013

London Wine Fair 2013. May 22nd

Italian Emilia Romagna stall
Italian wine stall
Since I 've been to Italian Wine fair in Verona, I have started have a small wine bug , try to match Korean food ( mainly) for my book and my Korean cookery class.
London Wine fair seemed fit this bill, as a food writer they allow me have a pass, how nice!!
I am not going to visit well known wine stall, French, South America , Australia or Spain , I am looking for something new to me, revisiting Italian stall was a good idea, Romagna region had a dry white was so fresh, I had an excellent guide, Chiara, she did give me a good education for a half an hour.  I was very pleasantly surprised to find so many sparkling red and white in Italy in Verona, Rumbusco  is well known for this, sparkling Red is a new discovery for me but it is refreshing , I would like to try at my BBQ lunch with my Korean Cookery.
Conde Wine ( Italy)
Conde Italian was my new discovery, quality wine, mainly served in restaurants in U K I was told, shame! not in the wine shops, I liked a lot. Deep flavoured Red, it would be so nice with beef or best end of spring lamb
Alexakis White from Crete, Greece
Oenologist, Lazaros Alexakis
I found Crete, Alexakis wine stall , stopped to taste,  we used to live in Greece, Ekali ( near Athens) from 1984-1989, those days,  Greece was not known for the fine wines . I liked to find out how much improved these days. It was surprisingly good very drinkable indeed.
Dry white wine, Vidiano from Alexakis is light, dry, and soothing, If I drink this wine I'd know The Summer has arrived. 
I was told it won't be so expensive when this wine is available ( a good news ! under £10) in U K soon.
This wine is perfect for the Summer dinner in the garden with grilled fish, chicken or bulgogi and salad ( even with kimchi) .
I had a chance meet owner, Lazaros and talked about Greece and he pour me their sweet wine. Well! it was almost as good as Traminer which I fell in love in Verona. hint of lemon , not too sweet,  since Verona, I became a sweet wine lover, almost.
 He said, pieces of Granny Smith apple soaked in this sweet wine and eat after the meal will be nice to end a meal if you do not like to eat cake as a dessert.
This idea sounds like music to my ears,  I have to try as soon as I can get hold of Alexakis sweet wine in U k,  it would be perfect to end a Korean Meal.  
 As  Korean meal set has not dessert concept , just serve seasonal fruits. How cool it would be serving this wine soaked apple !!!!!!!
I passed through French ,Spain, South America , well famous country, and saw Russian Stall, do they have wine in Russia (?), surely too cold for it, I stopped , they grew in southern part of Russia, tastes OK not too memorable,
 As I leaving a men and women( from Slovenia wine blogger) and I talked about food, and they suddenly adopted me as a long lost old aunt, they seemed very interested  in Korean food and keen to show me 40 years old port to taste.
Like their elderly aunt, I slowly followed Portugal Port section, pack with port lovers it seemed.
The nice guy showed us, 10years old, 20 years old and finally , brought a tiny bottle of 40 years old.
 Wow !  It was amazingly smooth, even non port drinker will fall in love with this gold liquor instantly. It will be perfect to serve after a very good meal if you can afford!
40 years old Port
So smooth , melt in my mouth . I dare not to think about the price !! (£250)  


Monday, 20 May 2013

Korean Cookery in June.

Well, all my readers in UK are looking forward to have warm and reasonably hot Summer, I have decided my June Korean cookery will be Korean BBQ ( beef & chicken) with kind of a western twist . Like adding kimchi hollandaise sauce with beef steak but not expensive cut, such as Sir Loin or Fillet , it will be Skirt beef  or Hanger's Steak meat with chilli butter.
Also asparagus, quick boiled and grilled with poached egg and hollandaise, like expensive restaurant!!
I  have discovered skirt beef steak meat and hanger's steak  a while ( 5 years) ago by reading an article by famous butcher and now  widely available.
 As economy is not good, a few restaurants are serving along with hanger's steak. Skirt beef has fantastic flavour than others, rich and kind of sweet meat but cheap.
Hanger's steak has deep flavour, this is well known as the butcher's cut.

Skirt beef is traditionally put in the Cornish pie, but both these steaks are serve  as medium rare or rare , if you cook longer it will be chewy and stringy.
Our family love these beef steak , of course we all still love prime cut such as prime rib of beef. ( not eat often, 3 time a year ?)

I strongly recommend these two cuts of beef steak, they are not only economic but very delicious!!!
Skirt beef steak
As for chicken, alternative Sunday roast , marinated with spicy sauce, and roast in the oven , or chicken thigh marinated and half baked in the oven and BBQ on the fire.
Spicy Korean chicken roast
Oven baked Salmon with pesto, bean paste and chilli
Dates in June Korean cookery:
8th . 15th and 29th of June.
15th of June class menu: English asparagus with poached quail egg and kimchi hollandaise sauce
                                         BBQed skirt beef steak with chilli butter
                                          Mooli kimchi/ kakdugi

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Korean Food Event at Robinson College of Cambrige University

Chef, Sam and Stuart are cooking vegetables for the Korean food event

Chef, Stuart and me, preparing Bulgogi
In  March I had e-mail from Dr Michael Shin, a Korea Study lecturer at the Robinson College of  Cambridge university about Korean Food Event , he is planning  to organise  in a couple of month.
He was asking me whether I am interested in teaching college chef and cooking with them for 60 invited guests at Korean Food Event.
Well, well, I was delighted and very surprised same time, how did he find out my name? as I do not have a web site and not advertising in any form. Does he read my blog?
Any way one thing I have to tell him first. I e mailed him that I am not a qualified chef , I am teaching Korean home cooking not restaurant food, did he know about this?
He said still like to work with me even he did not taste my food or even met me.
I decided to have a go with a brave smile and a kind of encouragement by his a huge risk taking decision.
 I and head chef, college catering team met on 11th of April , and discussed on Menu. Dr Shin and I had prior talk through e mail and I made menu based on this discussion. we agreed to put 2 iconic Korean food, Bulgogi and Kimchi ( I offered that I will bring my own home made kimchi as a my contribution)
1st of May is the day!!
Head chef, Gary has been looking into the recipes of bulgogi on Internet but he said he could not understand some aspect of recipes, luckily I had prepared my own recipes, and we made a decision 3 cooked dishes and 2 salad, my own home made baechu  kimchi. 
 Of course I have to consider for the vegetarian menu as well.
College kitchen is huge, around 20 kitchen staffs are working , I had given a corner to work on, and a dedicated chef , Stewart with me all the time. He will learn from me and add  Korean dishes in their menu for the students and conference meal. 
The plan was I arrive 11:00 Am at the kitchen and cook with chef Stewart as a trial and taste with Dr Shin and prepare for the evening meal.
Korean Food Event 1st May 2013, Menu:
1. Bulgogi  with lettuce and ssamjang  /  slow cooked tofu and bean paste stew ( vegetarian) 
2. Spicy Squid with vegetables / Various vegetables, fried tofu with spicy sauce
3.Seafood pancake with dipping sauce/ spring onion and shitake mushroom pancake.
Salad: 1, My own home made kimchi. 2. Cucumber salad ( Korean style)
3. Red cabbage, pear, apple, mooli carrot salad ( lemon, sesame oil dressing) 4. Namul
Steamed Korean rice .
Dessert; fruits salad, cinnamon punch and sikhye( rice punch)
By 12:00 noon, we made all trial dish and Dr Shin seemed satisfied at the tasting , it was not easy to marinade 14kg of beef, I had to spread beef on a huge roasting tin and  pour over marinating sauce, I truly lost sense of quantity. I just hoped for the best. Chefs were shouting all the time to me, is it OK chef??? what to do next chef? Shall I add this and that chef?
I had to get use to this, call me CHEF! and answer quickly. Now I understand why they shout chef , chef! in the professional kitchen.   Really, I felt I am commanding a ship.
I must say that all college staffs and chefs were so welcoming me in their kitchen and all very appreciative  and willing to help. Chefs were so eager to learn new recipes.  It was such a joy work with them.  Most of all they loved the flavour of Korean food.
 Spicy squid with vegetables

Tofu Stew

Korean food buffet
Finally all hungry students and with professors arrived, I had to give 3 minutes speech about food I and chefs made, it was a scary moment.
All day I carried with my nervous energy and excitement , but could not eat or drink.
Korean professors and students loved my kimchi and bulgogi specially, I made new kimchi and slightly fermented one, which is my favourite. when a good kimchi is fermented you have sparkling taste ( like fizzy drink)to it.
True Korean fashion, I made a few box of food ( kimchi, and bulgogi( uncooked) to take home for the professor and students. 

It was a successful event, I was hugely relived I have done this and so satisfying to hear all chefs are impressed by Korean flavour and how different than other.  Most of all they loved the food!! 
I suppose to spend night at the college but came home, took late train to London and home for unwind, put feet up with a long drink in hand.
Dr Shin and I talked about Globalisation of Korean food, which Korean government's movement , but they seemed promoting so called Lee dynasty Royal court recipes, we agreed,  this is a wrong decision, first of all nobody make this kind of showy food at home or at restaurant, so how ordinary foreign country people would appreciate this old fashioned stuffy food in this modern fast moving world?  We failed comprehend the decision, Who knows???????
Dr Shin thinks for the effective Korean Globalisation movement, it has to start at the university, I totally agree with this, because the students are the our future.
Thinking back I could have done better,  I now know how could be able to do better next time ( if there is next time) .  I was very emotional , but learnt a lot , certainly it was one of the greatest experience I ever had in my cooking career. (if I can call it as career, than hobby)
I do feel so proud that knowing, Dr Shin & I made a small history , the very first time I made Korean food ( my own recipe! nothing can be better than this) at Cambridge and they will put in the menu, feel so good !!
 I came truly a long way from Masan ( my home town, south east Korea) to
Cambridge !!