Monday, 27 June 2011

Typhoon dinner

Well the rainy season is officially upon us. We had a weekend of hiking and relaxation planned in Masan with our visitors Ruth and David but then typhoon Meari took over and we were pretty much housebound for the weekend. So Tom had the excellent idea of cooking a special three course dinner. We planned to get in some wine and play a spot of poker after dinner. Turned into a fab weekend!

Tom was in charge of dinner. All I did was puree some peas, make my own veggie option and cut some potato discs so I can't really take any of the credit! This is all Tom and it took some preparation! He had to really think about what things we could cook  in Korea where the usual ingredients are all a little difficult to find.

For starters Tom decided on a deconstructed fish pie. We had baked cod with prawns and a cream and parsley sauce. Each element was cooked and served separately. I cut out some potato disks and we fried them in butter before simmering in a pan with a little water to soften. I then pureed some peas and added some yoghurt and seasoning. It was delicious!

The main was pretty much a meat fest, pork loin stuffed with peaches and wrapped in bacon. We were pretty lucky that Lotte Mart has started to sell this American bacon as it is hard to come by, so a real treat. Not for me obviously but those guys seemed to enjoy it.

It was served with buttered carrots and some creamed leeks and mushrooms.

I made a rough puff pastry parcel for the veggie option and filled it with home grown cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and olives. It was scrummy!

Then for desert we had frozen banana parfait with caramelized bananas and praline. This recipe came directly from Gordon Ramsey, but Tom did a grand job! Tom's version is in the picture below!

I am very proud of Tom and his fantastic cooking skills! Well done you! Who needs to go out in the typhoon when you have everything you need inside!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Old Friends and New Places

My friends Catherine and Faye recently came over to Korea and we had a wonderful time visiting a couple of places together. In the evenings while they were staying with us here in Masan, I loved helping them plan where they were going on their next day of adventure. Needless to say they did have lots of fun running around islands and hitching rides on golf buggies, helping my friend Hazel cook green tea cakes with Korean 5 year olds in her EnglishArt hag-won (school) and generally exhausting themselves.

We enjoyed a visit to a temple in Miryang on Buddha's birthday and I spent a while looking for somewhere good to eat. I ended up watching this man making noodles and making myself more and more hungry! We were waiting for Catherine and Faye to get to the train station before we could eat.

We also had a really nice weekend in Busan and we had planned to watch the latest show in Korea, 'JUMP' a mixture of martial arts and dance choreographed into a full length show. Unfortunately it was cancelled (without notification oh Korea) and so we had to find something else to do to entertain ourselves for the evening.

We headed down to Centum City, the world's largest department store and we explored the building with curiosity and excitement. The architecture was amazing, but the best bit was the international food court. There were foods from all over the world and many things I have been unable to find in other stores.

There were also glass displays of cakes, ice creams, sushi, baked goods and much more. There was a wine bar and a water bar!! I would recommend a visit!

I was so pleased to have some friendly faces around and hope the girls had as much fun as me!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Chamchi jjigae and peanut nutter.

My Korean culinary skills are always open to improvement, but I feel I have one recipe in the bag! I have been frequenting a tuna and kimchi soup lunch named Chamchi (tuna) jjigae (soup).

The basic ingredients are kimchi, tuna and water and it is seriously easy to make! I add fried onions, diced tomato or green veggies like broccoli or leek to make it a little more wholesome.

Kimchi  or 김치 is an absolute staple in Korean food.
It's made from fermented vegetables, namely napa cabbage and is served as a side dish to accompany just about everything. It is also used as the main ingredient in many soups and stews.
So here is the recipe:
I fry the onions in a little oil until brown.
I then add the chopped up kimchi and tomatoes or other veggies and fry for a further minute.
I don't measure any of the ingredients I just add them depending on what I have in the fridge. I have to say the more kimchi I add the tastier the soup is so I suggest at least half a cup per person.
I then add one can of drained tuna and cover with cold water.
I bring this whole thing to the boil and add some black pepper. You don't need to add salt or garlic or spice as this is found in the kimchi paste.

Boil this for around 3-5mins. It is best served boiling, as it is in the many local restaurants, but you need to wait for it to cool a little before trying to taste. I used to drink the soup with a portion of rice but the jjigae is so healthy and wholesome, I find you don't need it to feel satisfied. :) The taste has a little spice but the fermented cabbage adds a zingy tartness.

As we ave had a very quiet and understated weekend, I have had a bit of time to try out another new recipe. I want to share with you a peanut butter nut bar I made this weekend.
Tom and I are on a health kick and this is a high protein, low sugar and gluten free tasty treat if ever there was one! I found the recipe online, but decided to add some blueberries for a purple kick!

450g peanut butter.
1 cup honey
1 cup blueberries
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs.

bake for 15-20mins at 180degrees.

NO flour! Yummy! I used Tom's homemade peanut butter too so no sugar or preservatives! It came out a bit underdone though so you might want to leave it in a little longer depending on the size of your tray.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lettuce patch kid

So my little vegetable experiment is proving fruitful. I thought I would share the results thus far. As yet there are still no basil, oregano and thyme seeds sprouting! Surely only a matter of time.




Pumpkin plants

More lettuce

Monday, 6 June 2011

Wando Island trip and a green tea plantation

We finally had a much deserved three day  weekend for Memorial Day (No idea what we should be remembering should probably google that....) and we decided to take ourselves off camping for some fun, sea, sandcastles and green tea.

We headed south west to Wando and then drove over to Sinji island where we set up camp and enjoyed a bbq by the beach and a good deal of makkoli.

Sinji Myeongsasimni Beach- view from our tent.

Getting ready for breakfast

It was really strange to see that the local farmers were laying out seaweed in the fields over big sheets of black plastic. They must have had a good catch, as they started to lay it out onto the road almost blocking our car in. I don't think I would like my next bibimbap to be served with a sprinkle of road seaweed. This seaweed must have been the same stuff we saw down at Wando fish market. Drying seaweed was everywhere we went, all weekend! Little men with tractors piled with seaweed trundled up and down the winding country roads. Drying seaweed was also draped along the walls in a small fishing village we stopped at to admire Admiral Yi's former resting place (apparently Historical site No. 114).

Laying the seaweed out to dry.

Instead of eating the seaweed we used it to make an awesome lawn for our much admired sandcastle!
But, seaweed was not the only dried food I spied out and about this weekend. We took a short car ferry north of Sinji-do and on the deck there looked to be the captain's lunch drying out in the sunshine. A delicious squid...:) very common site in Korea.

The highlight of my tasty journey this weekend however was the Boseong Green Tea Plantation. The rolling hills were a fantastic sight and although the steps up and through the farm were a little strenuous in the warm sun, it was really a lovely place to spend the afternoon. The green tea didn't pack much of an aroma though. I thought the air would be filled with the sweet smell of infused leaves but no such luck. The short hike did mean we earned a delicious green tea ice cream! I cannot recommend this treat enough!!

Boseong Green tea Plantation

Where's Wally?
view from the top

green tea ice cream for me!