Sunday, 29 January 2012

Korean Jjin Bang 찐빵 and Dumplings

Jjin Bang and Dumpling vendor, Korea

I was pleasantly surprised about a month ago when this vendor opened up in the building right near our academy. The little food hatch sells steamed meat dumplings and delicious red bean filled buns. The jjin bang breads are a fluffy, yeasty piping hot sweet bread filled with a soft red bean paste. They cost 1,000won which is about 70p and they are worth every penny.
Now I can't speak for the meat dumplings, but from appearances the soft steamed dough surrounding the fresh herby meat and vegetables, are dripping with moisture and warming a sa freezing cold post-teaching snack. Both are sensationally tempting and the family who run the place are generous with smiles and heating. They let us hide in the warmth of their kitchen instead of hundling around the steamers while we waited for ours to cook fresh.

Cinema scope jjin bang and dumpling vendor

Steaming pans filled with Korean snacks

The steam fills the air around the entrance of the vendors warm cave and the huge stacked metal steamers gush out plumes of sweet smelling savoury treats. The paper bags the breads are put into, crinkle around the fluffy bang (bread) and keep your hands warm as you walk home....delicious!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Fun Food Pics from 2011

I thought I would share a few of my favourite pictures from last year, from cake fights with chopsticks to feeding monkeys. 2011 was a good year for me and my tasty journey....

Kicking off the year in France - Coulommiers cheese

Tea Party Baby Shower

English Breakfast with my Besties in London

Feeding Monkeys in India

Epic Fast Food Lasagne

Daewoo Department Store Buffet

Pork at Cheonggye Stream Food Market

Takoyaki Stand in Osaka

Dinner with our Director - Teaching in Korea
4 tiered pancakes and 2 mugs of tea

Good friends.

Cooking Classes in Korean!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Coconut Flour Crust, Blueberry and Cardamon Tart.

Blueberry and cardamon tart.
As it is January, I have been looking for some low sugar and low carb recipes to curb our sweet tooth. So many of the snack foods in Korea have high sugar content, and Tom and I are both trying to take the sugar highroad which can be difficult.

So last week, I scoured the Internet and pieced together this low carb, coconut flour crust recipe based around a few different recipe ideas. The cardamon really comes through and makes up for the lack of sugar. This really has interesting flavour and a satisfying taste!

Coconut Flour Crust, Blueberry and Cardamon Tart

Ingredients make one large, or two small tarts. Serves about 8.

Crust Ingredients
55g (1/2 cup) coconut flour
55g (1/2 cup) almond flour
2 eggs
3tbsp honey
60ml (1/4 cup) coconut oil or 55g butter
pinch of salt

Filling Ingredients
700ml (3.5 cups) frozen blueberries
zest and juice of one lemon
1 tbsp plain flour
1tsp ginger
1tsp ground cardamon (make sure you grind seeds well to avoid big scented lumps)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1tbsp molasses sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
2. Mix the flour and salt, add the honey and then gradually combine with the whisked eggs and melted coconut oil or butter.
3. Roll out the dough between two pieces of baking paper. It may crack in places as you lift it off the floured board, but this is because coconut flour absorbs more moisture that ordinary flour. Line the greased baking tin with the pastry and mend any tears.
4. Pierce the base with a fork and bake for 12 mins and then allow to cool.
5. While this is cooking, combine the filling ingredients in a pan and simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until you are certain all the berries are warmed through.
6. Combine the berry mixture with the tart case and cool in the fridge for one hour. 
7. Serve with cream or ice cream or on it's own!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Yuletide Log Cake Decorating Class

Yuletide log cake decorating class - finished result!
 I have only just got round to sharing my pictures from our Christmas Eve Yuletide log cake decoration class. We had lots of fun making Yuletide cakes and certainly felt Christmassy afterwards. These things can look a little old fashioned and traditional. But it seems to me that Koreans have discovered this European tradition and made it their own. The light sponge is well suited to their tastes and many of the cakes in famous chain bakeries such as Paris Baguette, are similar in texture and taste. It was lots of fun watching the demonstration and I finally got to wear my Christmas apron in context! As with a lot of the classes, the tutor tried to save time by prepping some of the components. Unfortunately, this time it meant the cake itself was already baked, but we had to fill, roll and decorate the cakes which proved more difficult than it looked on first inspection. Rolling cake is a tricky business not to be sniffed at, and our table was not alone in some minor cake cracks and full on cream explosions!
With our limited Korean skills we learnt that you should add corn syrup to your chocolate ganache in order to make is stick and shine, and that you can create a tree-like effect using a fork.
It was good fun and another testimony to the classes at Shinsegae cooking school! Hope you enjoy the photos!

Amy at the start of the class! That chocolate is not going to last!

Monica and the cream.

Christmas team spirit.

Making the chocolate icing.

Rolling the cake was the hardest part!

The teacher dusted it for me. I wanted a little more snow. You can see the top of my freehand cake Christmas tree poking over the top of my Merry Christmas sign.

Steven taking pride in his cake decorating.

Festivities outside Shinsegae.

Merry Kimchi!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Spinach and Onion Quiche- Korean Christmas Lunch

Spinach and Onion Quiche

Right now, I have the January blues and with Korean Lunar New Year holidays upon us, I thought I would reminisce about our own little winter holiday in December... Christmas. We really wanted to go all out and cook a feast to remember this year as our first year in Korea had involved a two-hob mashed potato and vegetable stew and two lonely place settings. We had no friends, no tree and no oven and we had only been in Korea a month or so. We couldn't read any labels in the supermarket and it was difficult to find our way to any more adventurous food shopping locations. It was really hard to be away from home for the first time and so we spent most of the day waiting for family to come on skype. We cheered ourselves up with a flight to Shanghai on Boxing Day morning though, so we really shouldn't complain. But the truth is, it just didn't feel like Christmas.

This year, Korea was our old friend and had actually thrown us a few unexpected treats which included a small chunk of 17,000won stilton (a bargain at 9GB Pounds)! We had also found all manner of things in Costco and I had received an amazing Christmas box from my sister which included three different kinds of British waxed cheese and some homemade tomato and apple chutney. The label suggested it was made from apples out of my mum's orchard which was later confirmed! What a taste of home and such a thoughtful gift. So Tom and I really went to town and made everything from scratch including eggnog, Ellory style stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, cranberry sauce and Tom prepped a turkey which he had to brine in the bin it was so big! When we got to thinking about starters, I realised it had been a while since I made a quiche, so I made one for Christmas morning as the vegetarian option. Tom made some mighty good looking Scotch eggs and they were a real success!

Tom's homemade scotch eggs

Tom prepping the bird
Some homemade Yorkshire puddings, good enough for a couple of Yorkshires in Korea!
Back to reality with a bump, Christmas is long gone but the food memories live on! So right now, I will share with you my recipe for spinach and onion quiche. It is simple to make and definitely tasty. Quiche is for life, not just Korean Christmas.

Spinach and Onion Quiche

Ingredients for one large or two small quiches.

Shortcrust pastry
225 g (8 oz) plain flour  
pinch salt  
100 g (4 oz) butter  
cold water to mix

Quiche filling
one large onion
2 large hand fulls of washed spinach
75 g (3 oz) cheese, grated  
2 medium eggs  
150 ml (¼ pint) milk  
salt and pepper

1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl, rub in the butter using your thumbs and finger tips lightly. 
2. Using a knife to cut and stir, mix with cold water to form a dough.  
3. Turn dough on to a floured surface and lightly form into a dough using floured hands. 
4. Roll out to the size of your baking dish or quiche dish.
5. Prick the pastry with a fork so as to prevent it rising too much on the base. Bake the pastry blind for 12    mins on 170C.
6. Fry the onions in a little oil until browned and the add the washed spinach. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Put this vegetable filling in the baked pastry base.
8. Cover with two cracked eggs and then top with grated cheese.
9. Grind some black pepper to season before placing in the oven at 190C for 25-30 mins or until browned and firm.

Shortcrust pastry

Shortcrust pastry case

Spinach and onion quiche ready for the egg...

Ready for the oven - Spinach and onion quiche

Baked Spinach and Onion Quiche
 I almost forgot to mention my matured Christmas pudding! Ben and Mark should take credit for fashioning some holly from coloured paper! It seems the holly still managed to evade us, even with our best Korean skills! I think the paper holly is better anyway!

Christmas Pud

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ulsan Grand Park and the 'Hot Temple'

Ashley and I on our tandem
Last weekend we took a trip over to Ulsan to visit our friends from home who are also living and working in Korea. It was lovely to get out of Masan after a few quiet weekends at home and it was nice to get some fresh air in Ulsan Grand Park which is quite frankly, the nicest park area I have been to in the whole of Korea. It was a little crisp to be out on bikes, but for 3,000won each (around one pound fifty) we were able to rent them for an hour. We soon warmed up when we faced 'the hill'. Ash and I shared a tandem and seemed to pick up a lot more speed than the boys! It was so much fun. They even had a miniature road with a viaduct bridge and traffic signs, plus a rare Korean roundabout! It was strange cycling around it the wrong way. It would be a great place to take kids and Ash said she has taken her kindergarten kids on day trips there numerous times. They have a petting zoo with cows and sheep (not so exotic for us English folk) and a huge butterfly greenhouse. There is also a massive play area and space age permanent inflatable white trampoline. It was a great place to spend an afternoon, but we chose to sit in the afternoon sun sipping some rice wine from our mitten clad paws!

After the cycling, we decided to get a quick bite to eat at the 'Hot Temple'. I haven't seen one of these places before but it looked somewhat like a snack food chain restaurant. The branding, as usual in Korea, was a little strange and there were some quirky misspelled quotes on the red walls: a stark reminder of the spicy food to come!
There were various set menu options to share so we chose the mid range selection which included a spicy pot of ttokboekki- a rice cake dish in a spicy red pepper sauce which came in a reassuring large teddy bear mug.
Second on our set menu was a bowl of mixed 튀김 (TwiGim, deep-fried food). This included some potato wedges, dumplings and fish cakes. You dipped these fried treats into the ttoekbokki  hot sauce and relished in the heat. Perfect for a cold day.


튀김 (TwiGim, deep-fried food)

I love how in Korea, they seem to put the most random collection of things together and they love anything with English writing on, whether it is relevant or not. This is why it was so sweet to see these 'World of Peter Rabbit'  serving plates in a restaurant branded for spicy food.

Once we had all sufficiently warmed our cockles eating this truly spicy treat, we were served the final dish: a huge bowl of patbingsu (팥빙수)- a mixed bowl of ice shavings topped with all manner of sweetness. Here there was a bunch of tinned fruit cocktail, condensed milk and sweet red beans. The sweet and cool flavours are fantastic in the summer, but used to cool your mouth after eating Hot Temple's finest, that was also a great time to eat this traditional Korean dessert. It is certainly healthier eating a bowl of ice shavings with beans mixed in that sharing a huge bowl of ice cream. Koreans love sugar, but they also love anything they can attach a health label to. 
This little corner of Ulsan showed us the best bits of Korea; social eating, cheap outside fun and interesting foods. It was a good day.

팥빙수 Patbinsu