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