Tuesday 22 February 2011

Some Tastes of Korea

To tell you the truth, when I woke up this morning, I felt tired and not at all like cooking at all.  Hugh, the partner, who was rather anti this blog, as he felt, somewhat strongly that I should be putting my time and effort into earning more money working, rather than hopelessly blogging, has had a bit of a change of heart.  He has realised that he is getting to eat some really exciting new food and that the more I blog, the more he gets.  So, even he said, "Are you working on your blog today?  What's for Dinner?"  But I wasn't in the mood.
However my lovely neighbour, Anna, dropped round later for a chat and she was the very same, who first told me about Hoo Hing.  So I asked her about Korea Foods, which I had been planning to go to for ages and it turns out that she knew all about it and into the car got, and off we went.
In the middle of a nasty roundabout, in between Halfords and B&Q, is Korea Foods, New Malden, one of six stores in England.  And, wow! What a shop!  Really fantastic.  Lovely fresh produce, from their vegetables to their fish and meat, everything really spanking and clean and beautifully displayed.  And not a dog in sight!  Obviously, not everything is strictly Korean but an amazing collection of Chinese, Japanese and Thai products as well.  Two isles alone just for seaweed!  Fantastic range of everything from noodles to rice, Sake to Soy sauce.  It was like a wonderful holiday, to wake up all your senses and I came out feeling revived and refreshed and excited about life once again.
I don't know a huge amount about Korean food.  In fact, this morning I could probably only name Kimchee as something that was specifically Korean, that I had previously eaten.  But by this afternoon I am bursting with recipes which I am really excited about sharing with you.  I am going to give Kimchee a miss.  For two reasons.  First of all it is quite an effort.  Proper Kimchee is fermented cabbage and quite complicated to make and secondly, because I think unless you are Korean, you are not quite sure what all the fuss is about.  Like the English and Marmite!  I think it is something you have to grow up with, to bother longing for it when you haven't had it for a while.  It is very nice but, after all, it is only a spicy, cabbage pickle.  Anyway, Korea Foods sells a really good one and a version with cucumber instead of cabbage which is possibly even nicer. But Kimchee aside, I am really pleased to say that I have found a number of new, really exciting Korean dishes which I can't wait to share with you. 
It turns out, The Koreans are very keen about Barbecuing, which is called Galbi, and so am I.  I have noticed numerous "Korean Barbecue Restaurants" popping up all round my way, but so far I haven't ventured into any of them but I am looking forwards to. My first recipe is Bulgogi  which is basically a particular cut of (very cheap) beef, featherblade, cut incredibly thin.  You can buy this, ready cut at Korean Foods, or indeed, ready marinated, although I wished to make my own. This can then be served as a stew or barbequed. The marinade (recipe follows) is delicious and can be used for chicken or pork as well.  I actually pan fried the beef today instead of putting it on the barbeque because it was raining and it was really good so don't write it off if you don't have any outside space. The sauce sort of caramelises as the meat cooks.  The traditional way of eating Bulgogi is really cool. 
You take a Perilla leaf or a lettuce leaf and a dollop of Ssamjang, which is a spicy mix of chilli and fermented soy beans and add rice, if you like, and wrap it all up before eating.  "Ssam" means wrap and "jang" is sauce and Migi's Kitchen has a good recipe if you want to make your own or but you can just buy it ready made.  I also bought some delicious Jabche or Jabchea.  Amazingly, there is even more variation on spellings for this dish than there is recipes! And there are quite a few of those!  I was really impressed by this noodle dish, especially because of its inclusion of spinach, which worked really well.  My Jabchea recipe today is adapted from Maangchi, who is Korean and really seems to know her stuff, so thank you to her.   I actually made the noodles without beef and they were still really delicious.

Bulgogi Marinade

This is the basic marinade recipe for Korean barbecued meats. This marinade makes enough for 1 pound of meat. It is great with beef, chicken or pork. You can also add chilli to make the marinade more spicy. I have to admit that I did not have an Asian pear to hand, but it still worked out very delicious, even without.
3 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed juice from an Asian pear
1 Tbsp Mirin
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp pepper

Mix marinade together until sugar and honey are dissolved/distributed.
Can be stored in refrigerator or freezer for use on beef, pork, and chicken.

Jabchea (Korean mixed vegetable and noodle stir fry)

Korean Vermicelli (“dangmyun”)
150 grams of beef
1 bunch of spinach
1 medium size carrot
1 medium size onion
Mushrooms (handful of shitake and some dried Black Fungus)
3 cloves of garlic
7-8 green onions
Soy sauce (Korean if possible)
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds

First prepare your vegetables for stir-frying.
Soak the mushrooms in warm water for a few hours until they become soft. Squeeze the water out of them and slice thinly.
Cut a carrot into thin matchstick-shaped pieces 5 cm long.
Cut 7 -8 green onions into 7 cm long pieces.
Slice one onion thinly.
Slice 150 grams of beef into thin strips.
Boil 2 bunches of noodles in boiling water in a big pot for about 3-6 minutes. When the noodles are soft, drain them and put in a large bowl.  Keep the water and return it to your pan to cook your spinach. Cut the noodles several times using scissors and add 1 tbs of soy sauce and 1 tbs of sesame oil. Mix it up and set aside. In the boiling water, add a bunch of spinach and stir it gently for 1 minute. Then take it out and rinse it in cold water 3 times. Remove any grit or dead leaves thoroughly while rinsing. Squeeze it gently to get the water out, and then cut it into 5 cm pieces. Add ½ tbs soy sauce and ½ tbs sesame oil and mix it and place it onto the large bowl. In a Wok or large saucepan put a few drops of oil and your carrot strips and stir for a few minutes. Remove to a large bowl. Add a few more drops of oil to your wok and add your sliced onion. Stir it until the onion looks translucent. Put it into the large bowl with your carrots. Add a little more oil into the wok and add the sliced white mushrooms. Stir it for a bit and then put it in the large bowl. Next a little more oil and add your green onions. Stir for 1 minute and put it into the large bowl. Finally a little more oil and then your beef strips and your sliced shitake mushrooms. Stir it until it’s cooked well, then add 3 cloves of minced garlic, (ginger if you like), ½ tbs soy sauce and ½ tbs sugar. Stir for another 30 seconds and then put it into the large bowl.  Add 2 tbs of soy sauce, 3 tbs of sugar, 2 tbs of sesame oil, and 1 tsp of ground pepper to the large bowl. Mix all ingredients, and then sprinkle 1 tbs of toasted sesame seeds on the top.

Serve with rice and Kimchi, or as a side dish.



  1. I don't know a lot about Korean food but these recipes look delicious. I live not far from New Malden too so I really should try the supermarkets out one day.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. It is my first! You really should get down and check out Korea Foods, it is worth the trip. I checked out your blog. Really cool! Keep on cooking!

  3. This is an area i have not really tried, looking at the food i shall be adding it to the list of things to do soon.



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