Monday, 15 December 2014

Our family Christmas Count Down

Fresh cranberry with spices

My homemade cranberry sauce

Baked salmon with crispy skin 

My homemade cured salmon

My homemade spiced festive nuts
Now our Christmas foods count-down has started from late November, well, it is early but had to order free range goose  in late November.

Made my own cranberry sauce with port, cinnamon and clove all associate with Christmas. not too sweet. stored in the sterilized  jars to mature in time for the roast goose.

Cranberry sauce is a perfect match with cheese specially Stilton cheese, our family love with cheese. My homemade cranberry sauce  is tangy with festive spice and port , it will keep up to Christmas season 2015, I hope!

Made festive nuts, with egg white cumin, chilli , cinnamon. Perfect with wine .

My new recipe, baked half salmon was a success with family, baked with cooked onions and green chilli , olive oil, lemon, bake for 25-30 minutes 180c , and slide off skin, grill the skin, until skin is very crispy , cook streaky bacon . cut and put on the top . Serve with plain yogurt, lemon , dill sauce or just home made mayonnaise. delicious!

Tried cured salmon using Michael Caines recipe, it was rather salty to my taste, I will try less salt next time, but my family said it was Ok.
With a good rye bread, capers , lemon slice, wow, what can I say.
It will be our boxing day branch. I have to make  soon, nearer Christmas, 3 days before.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Prawn ball and courgette soup

Original recipe A ( steamed courgette stuffed with prawn and fish roe)

Prawn ball and courgette soup with quail egg 1

prawn ball 7 courgette soup 2

Prawn ball& courgette soup  3

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have trained traditional Korean cookery under Dr Yun Sukja for a week ( from 8:00am to 5:30 pm). it was quite full on and intensive at times, but manageable.

My first photo ( A) is from Dr Yun's Institute original recipe using fish roe with prawn mix stuffing
 but as I know that many western people are not too keen eat fish roe, when you bite makes popping  noise, I substitute with Scottish trout.
Made trendy a kind of clear soup as serving soup in the jug or small tea pot, separately, which makes more interesting and a talking point for host to the guest.
Adding soft boiled quail egg in the middle. when you cut egg bright egg yellow in the middle makes visually attractive and add rich taste.

As I mentioned ,cooking is a kind of creative process, try something from original recipes but not changing many ingredients, some times produces unexpected good result, if that happens, you love cooking all over again.

1 medium size courgette , cut 3mm thin.
4-5 medium prawns ( de-vein on the back)
20g Scottish trout fillet. small piece of red chilli ( not bird eye , long red)
Sauce : light soy , spring onion and chopped chilli
Clear Soup made from prawn skin.


1. Put thinly cut courgette on the wide plate sprinkle pinch of salt ( tiny pinch)
2. Skin off prawn and de-vein ( using tooth pick or simply cut on the back and take out )
3. Make sure no bones in the trout.
4. Make clear soup: Put 3cups of water in the pan, add half small onion, 1 small carrot, 1 garlic,
a  Small piece of kelp, dried shitake mushroom, and prawn skin , boil 30 minutes and sieve , make clear soup, season with light soy sauce
4. Washed off courgette and pat dry, set aside. boil quail eggs for one and half minutes and peel the skin , leave for later use.
5. In the food processor, put prawn, fish, chilli ( 2cmlong) , make ground prawn mix, season with salt, and white pepper. make as a kind of ground beef texture not paste.
6. Make small ( thumb size) prawn by hand , put, spread tiny amount of corn flour on the courgette
 and carefully place prawn ball on the top ( corn flour act like glue), steam until cooked.
7. Place 5 courgette & prawn balls in the wide soup plate and place quail soft boiled egg on the middle of courgette.
8.pour hot soup in the small tea pot.
9. Serve with sauce and a pot of soup. when guest is ready pour in the plate.

Sauce : simply mix light soy, chopped spring onion and finely chopped chilli

I am very pleased my invention , pouring soup makes break conversation. gentle flavour and pretty look at, I am so proud my  dish , same ingredients but yet very different with original.
Even looks very French! ( shall I dare to say, Korean with a touch of French )


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Trainning of Korean restaurant Personnel Abroad 2014, London

Lecturer, Lim Mija

lecturer, Nam Gungok


Course lecturers and Prof. Ph.D  Yoon

Prof. Ph. D Yoon & Mr Park ( owner of Asadal, London)

All my readers may wonder how I was at this course, even I do not own a restaurant or work for any Korean restaurant as this course was designed for the Korean restaurant personnel, and its owner.

I enquired this course to the UK chairman of Korean food foundation Mr Hyungyoung Oh. My plan was  to write about this course in my blog and other media as a column, but I was persuaded to take the course and have an experience under most well known and an expert in Korean Traditional food writer, Dr Yoon Sukja.
Dr  Yoon wrote numerous books on Korean traditional foods, including fermented foods in Korean cuisine and she runs Korean institute of traditional Korean food in Seoul .

Well it is an excellent opportunity  for me to learn from the best. As all my readers and my class attenders know I am not a trained chef,   I took the chance.

Course runs 2 weeks ( from 27th,Oct to 10th, Nov), 1 week for the cooking and 1 week for practical matter how to run Korean restaurants in London.

All recipes from the Institute, including fermented bean paste and even cocktails made with Korean traditional wine like makguli, soju and chungju.

Lecturers are all from Institute in Seoul, from basic to more complicated dishes, along with health benefit and its story behind.

All attenders are mostly restaurant owners and some chefs, managers and wannabe restaurant owners and a few are planning to teach Korean cookery.

As lecturer demonstrate 4 dishes and we have to make 2 dishes ourselves as a team ( 4 people)
This cookery course is more towards Royal court cuisine than ordinary home cooking. sometimes they can be too ornate but I think when you know basic recipes you can create something your own.

My love of cooking is mostly its process to create something new. Hope all attenders are using this skill and make their unique dish in their restaurant.

Practical theory were covered from basic health & safety, employment law and lecture from the management consultant firm in Seoul, specializing in  Korean Restaurants all  over the world including in Korea.

Mr Park Hyung-Hee , CEO and founder of Consultant firm, Korea Food Service Information,  his lecture was electrifying so charismatic and mostly well researched lecture I've ever attend, and so funny at times ( it helps to the audience to relax)
Captivated audience were fixed their attention to his every word.
If he is lecturing next year, I might  pop in  only just  for his lecture.

Most of them were given certificates under the name of Dr Yoon, even I managed get a 3 Certificates even I missed 3 days due to my hospital appointments. ( cooking and management)
I must admit I've learned  new recipes from the course but I certainly will not follow their recipe exactly, try to be different without loosing element of ingredients.

Well, from now on I could say I had a Korean Cookery course from Institute of Traditional Korean food under Dr Yoon Sukja.  ( haaa!!!)

Personally I never look into the chef's any culinary institute certificate or any kind of exam result as long as I like their food that's all.
I wonder how many well known Michelin stared chef are boasting about their culinary school certificates, but Korean society has different attitude , any academic credential has a big influence in all corners of works, even cooking.
In London ( UK) well known chefs are mostly let customers know where they trained, like best restaurant in the world, el Bulli, Norma, or from Roux brothers in London, Bray.

Often chefs are self taught ( like me,( haaa) and then trained under famous chef like, Ferran Adria, Michele Roux, Marco Pierre so on.

Hope all chefs are recognise they have to be creative in their dishes, something make them stand out from this cookery course.
London needs a big star Korean chef or chefs, like David Jang in New York , many in LA or like Mr Baek in Las Vegas.
I am sure soon I can hear about very creative and arty Korean food by Korean chef with full of passion.

One thing I think they missed out in this course;
1. Talking about local trend, how London food scene and how London foodies like to follow , what is the most popular food in London now!
2. Encourage chefs,  try  to taste some popular restaurant and do understand what is the reason behind certain restaurants are popular and got Michelin stars, even western restaurants and like Nobu, HKK , Bo, Ho Tong ( for the oriental food)

I do think Kimchi is global food now, as many young chefs are put in their menu specially Japanese and other young arty chefs, from non oriental restaurants.

 I often hearing about the best Kimchi is from not Korean restaurants ,from Japanese, fusion , its chef is not a Korean.
I do hope Korean up market restaurants serve fantastic Kimchi as a centre piece or paid side dish like pretty  Gaesung Bossam Kimchi. it could be noticed by all foodies in London.

I think we need Nobu kind of Korean restaurant in London now.
I am optimistic in this regard since I met chef and owner, Kang Unyoung, Gaon in Kensington.
Chef / Owner was trained at the institute of Korean traditional food and she opened Gaon recently, looking at her menu and talking to her, she might be able to.
Gaon is located in the most wealthiest part of west  London and  the clients do not mind the price as long as the dish served with style, like all Michelin stared restaurants.
Certainly I will visit Gaon soon.

Korean food in London needs 2 kind of restaurants as any , one is cheap and cheerful with good home food  ( I think plenty of this kind restaurants in London now) and another is more modern and well presented, up market restaurants for the wealthy clients.

Finally I like to advice who like to open Korean cookery course, has to know who are the clients, if mostly Westerners, do read about their own cuisine, it will be much easy to teach and appreciate other culture of culinary , after all foods in the world are not all different as anyone might think.
We try to make best foods from the available ingredients in any corner of the world.

I would not boast about too much on how much Korean Foods have health benefit or philosophy behind.
All foods has health benefit if you cook properly.
All western nutritionist and doctors are telling us for more  strong coloured vegetables and more  oily  fish in our diet.
Chefs are in UK telling us have meat free meal at least once a week.
We all know what is good food, it is a just common sense

Remember Old saying, There is no such a thing, bad food only  a bad cook !!

I am so glad that I took this a golden opportunity and talked to many chefs and its owner. I am sure all had a hard think about their restaurant and gave them a big motivation from this useful course to do better!!

NOTE: Institute of Traditional Korea Food is in Seoul , Jongro 3 .
You can visit any time, Tteok cafĂ© run by the institute is worth to visit, taste tea with tteok ( Korean rice cake).
If you like to take courses visit their website.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Food trip to Lisbon

Salt cod & potato cake

Garlic prawn

Clams with parsley

Grilled tiger prawn

Mosaic on the road

Cabbage & potato soup

Lisbon city


beef filet steak sandwich
Arriving Lisbon , rainy dark miserable evening was not an ideal for our short break but friendly, chatty , football loving ( Porto ) taxi driver made us very optimistic mood.
Hotel is small and minimalistic Hilton, beautique  hotel, Double Tree, near the metro and central of city, great location.
Very nice with black and white only colour scheme, very modern but too modern for us as an old couple, specially dim lighting of bath room ( ha---)

Next day still drizzling with rain ,took Metro to the centre of River side, busy with tourist and locals, went up the hill see old church, along the narrow hilly road, had shops, small wine bars , snack bars, all very quiet as it is out of tourist season.
Pop in the wine bar, surprised the price 2 euro for the wine and beer, it seems cheapest ( one of ) price we paid in Europe, Still Portugal seemed cheaper than any other capitol in Europe unless you are in Algarve.

Wherever you walk on the road, always typical mosaic pavement, which is quite pretty, I think  Lisbon has a kind of shabby chic beauty with old tile decorated buildings but they are left empty.

Tasted the most famous cabbage, potato soup but rather bland for me, more like our potato & leek soup, had potato& salt cod cake, very filling , tasty and good for a hungry lunch customers, I guess.

Finally we went to Ramiro seafood restaurant, it is in rather edge of the city, looks more like Chinese town. It is well known to the foodies and tourist and do not take reservation ( this is a good sign) .
We joined the queue, still rainy but has good atmosphere , we talked with locals and tourist.
We had to wait an hour but one tourist from USA, behind us were not amused by this queue, complaining to his poor wife, why has to be here, well, hope he enjoyed as we are and apologized to his wife.

We started with Garlic prawn, you can not imagine how many garlic pieces in this, quickly cooked in olive oil and chilli, and sweet Clams and parsley were equally tasty.
Followed by grilled 2 huge Tiger prawns, with butter sauce, wow ! what can I say!!
All washed down with mild  local beer. cost: 60 Euro !

We had to visit again to Ramiro, on the day we were leaving.
We went for very early lunch, got in without queuing, lucky!

Start with oyster, very fresh and clean ocean taste, loved it. Iberico ham , very good again garlic prawn ( I will try at home soon), and 2 beef filet steak sandwich, again perfectly cooked as medium rare and a few garlic pieces, it is a custom to finish with beef sandwich after seafood for the locals, who can ague with this?? and beer. cost ; 45euro, how good is it????

All very quick and served by efficient but friendly stuff. no wonder all foodies love this restaurant.

All I can say I had memorable food break in Lisbon  specially at Ramiro.
Had to have the most famous sweet pie, Custard pie , it is too sweet for me, I'd rather have our custard pie , specially from Marcus Wearing's recipe.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Meat Free Dinner

Baked whole cauliflower


Red lentil& squash dal

Tofu stew

Veggie pancake

All well known chefs seemed campaigning to have Meat Free Monday, but for me it is not all practical,  reason, I always seemed to have left over meat from Sunday roast.
I've decided have meat free Wednesday .
Meat& fish free meal needs  more work unless you have Vegetable stir frying, which is too often use by all. I needs something more to impress to my family.
It is a good idea to mix with Indian and Korean dishes as they are all eaten with rice.

Resent our family favourite is baked cauliflower, boiled as whole for 3 minutes and transfer in a oven proof dish , season with salt,pepper, curry powder, sprinkle over with cheese and bake until topping is cooked , make crispy crust.
They are so pretty to look at.
Dal is another , red lentil cooked with onion and cumin, chilli , so simple but tasty , and provide protein. Adding butternut squash was my idea.

Tofu stew with chilli & bean paste , courgette and chive, shiso leave Korean pancake , I use as a sort of starter as they needs to be eaten when they are hot.

Being Korean food writer meat free meal is not one street menu, I can make many kind of Korean side meat free dishes and they are delicious. Mix up with Indian, Chinese makes more interesting.

Do not make single meat free dish, just mix and match, your family won't notice they are meat free meal.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My vist to Seoul & Jeju island Korea

Slow cooked pork in Jeju

Jeju beach with volcano stones

Dogani tang
Makguli ( rice wine)

Mung bean & kimci pancake

Changduk Palace

Changduk Palace

Pork &Squid Bossam

Stuffed squid

Seafood pancake

Grilled Silver fish in Jeju

Raw fish hoe in Jeju

Spicy belly pork stew in jeju

Pork stew with side dishes

My visit Seoul and Jeju island was mainly talking and eating Korean foods with family and friends, mainly with family. Foods were great as I remember, soft spring onion with seafood pancake, mung- bean pancake with makguli reminds me my youth .  When you bite spring onion pancake, soft and tenderness of spring onion was just so great, somehow  I could not get in here in here in England , looks same but so hard like almost woody.
Stuffed squid with seasoned rice , squid and belly pork stew cooked on the table was my new discovery, can not wait to try here, it will be my recipes, I am sure.
Walking around more understated Changduk palace under late Summer heat , admiring real Korean charm , talking with my elder sister, it was  a sheer joy.
Visit Jeju, I have not been to Jeju since 1968!  with 3 sisters and 2 sister in laws, we hired a car with driver/guide, I enjoyed family gathering but too many theme park around island, wish left as it was. well times are changing in every corner or Korea, even Jeju .
Loved Sea side in Jeju, still the same as I remember with black volcano stones.
Foods in Jeju were quite something, fresh fish, sea foods, black pig, sea vegetables and mountain veggies are all just delicious!
Found exceptionally good Korean BBQ in North Seoul, their slowly cooked Beef rib soup was best I had for a long time.

One thing bothered me greatly since my last visit in 2012, most of family does not make kimchi  at home even they have a helper in the house. 
A good kimchi ( like home made ) is available at posh food shop but sadly taste are all same. I was very happy to see my family is making kimchi at home still.

These home made kimchi will be rare thing soon I fear , desperately sad but it will be.