Category: Food

How To Make Korean Side Dishes

banchan

Growing up in a Korean household, I never went hungry. There was always some kind of banchan (side dishes) and bab (rice) in the fridge. Some days we would find an assortment of banchan’s that included my favourite, Jangjorim – braised beef soaked in sweet & salty soy sauce and other days it was just kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage) and kim (roasted seaweed). As long as there was fresh cooked rice available, the banchans were in the fridge for us to whip out whenever we were hungry. The rice cooker was always on as we had rice with our meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Find it odd to have rice and side dishes for breakfast? In Korea, this is the norm as Koreans like to have a hearty breakfast with their rice, soup and side dishes. Apparently having a cup of coffee and a donut is not as satisfying. Despite growing up abroad, my parents were very traditional and raised us very Korean. (Later on, they loosened up a bit but by then I was over 21!) This meant sending us to the dreaded Korean school every Saturday morning, stressing the importance of the mother tongue and banned the use of English at home. Now that I am older  and “wiser”, I am so grateful that they “forced” us to go. Although my Korean is not perfect, I appreciate that i can somewhat understand, read and write my language. Funny how i am applying the same principle to my kids now. When they are old enough, straight to Korean school they will go! (They will hate me for it, but Im sure they will thank me later as i did with my parents…hehe). Anyway, I wanted to start practicing my banchan skills so that later on my kids (including my husband, the other kid), can also grab banchan from the fridge and feed themselves when they can’t wait for meal times. Less work for this mom, yay!

Unfortunately, my mom is continents away to physically teach me so i had to katalk (korean messenger) to get her recipe instructions as well as google some resources to assist me in this challenge. My moms recipe was catered more for toddler/baby taste buds hence omitting a lot of the msg, sugar, etc.. Since the side dishes will be eaten by myself and hubs and i wanted more flavour, I looked into other cooking websites. There were several that i checked out but I liked the layout and detail oriented instructions at crazykoreancooking the most. You can check out their website here – http://crazykoreancooking.com as I used them for reference.

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Keeping her occupied as i cook in peace

Initially, i wanted to make four to five banchans but after cooking up a storm all day, i only produced three. The most time consuming dish was the jangjorim. This seriously took all day just to make one lb of beef flank that will probably be gobbled up by my husband in 15 minutes. —.—; At least it was well appreciated. 🙂

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Jangjorim

I wont go into too much detail on the recipe and instructions of how to make the three banchans as you can refer to http://crazykoreancooking.com for a step by step breakdown. I must say that I really applaud recipe bloggers! Not only do you have to cook the food that you are blogging about but you have to take pictures of everything – from the ingredients to the step by step process and after you’ve finished cooking, cleaning and placing your dish to look visually appealing, you have to write about the whole process and finally edit your draft! That is a LOT of work. I couldn’t even blog about the banchans i made the day of as i was too exhausted from cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids! Anyway, this is my first attempt at trying these recipes and i am proud to say that they all turned out quite good! Eh-hem, superstar housewife right here. ^.^ (Thank you to my mom and crazykoreancooking for the help as well!)

So the first banchan i made is called Jangjorim – braised beef boiled in sweet & salty soy sauce. My favourite and a popular side dish for many koreans as we love our meat! If you find this side dish at a Korean restaurant then you’ve hit the Lotto because most restaurants don’t usually offer it as it is very time consuming to make.

I bought beef flank for this but you can also use beef brisket. I soaked it in water for about 5 minutes to get some of the red blood out but you can leave it in for longer if you want to completely strip the blood out.

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Then i combined green onion, onion, radish, garlic, mirin and beef in a pot of water bringing it to a full boil for about 30 minutes.

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In another pot, i combined soy sauce, brown sugar, green chili and garlic and added about 5 cups of the broth from the other pot. Dump the beef in the soy sauce pot and boil in low heat for another 30 minutes.

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You can also separately hard boil some eggs and add it to sauce. Shred the beef in small strips and add it back to the sauce. I let the peeled eggs and beef sit in the sauce until it has cooled down.

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Tada ~ Your finally product! I put it in a jar and sealed it so i can store it in my fridge for about a week (Either the jar is too big or i should have bought two lbs instead of one).

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For more details, you can find the full recipe here – http://crazykoreancooking.com/recipe/braised-beef-jangjorim.

The next banchan i made is called Myulchi Bbokgeum (anchovy stirfry). You will often find this side dish at most Korean restaurants as it is easy and quick to make and rich in calcium. I bought the “jan” myulchi which are tiny anchovies as it is easier for my toddler to eat. You can find the recipe here – http://crazykoreancooking.com/recipe/panfried-anchovies.

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finished product!

The last banchan i made is called Gajinamul (steamed eggplant) but i improvised and added cauldiflower for more veggie options so that i can feed my toddler more vegetables in her diet. You can find the recipe here – http://crazykoreancooking.com/recipe/eggplant-gaji-namul.

banchan
This is just side dishes…Now, off to cook the main dish! >.<

Making these banchan’s was a lot of work! I don’t know how Korean moms do it. It is definitely easier to just buy premade banchans from Korean grocery stores such as Hmart but having tasted the difference between homemade and store bought, homemade is definitely a lot fresher and you can make more to store away so give it a try! Thanks for reading.

Cheers,

Ess.

 

DIY Cooking: Miyeuk Guk (Seaweed Soup)

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Korean Seaweed Soup

Im back!

Wow, its been almost a year since my last blog post. How time flies… so much for keeping up with writing after starting work. I don’t know how other mommy bloggers do it. Juggling work, household chores, a toddler, and a social life (that i barely have); trying to squeeze a blog post has been challenging. Much respect to consistent bloggers. Anyway, a lot has happened since last April and I’m happy to announce that i welcomed another healthy little princess 2 weeks ago! I now have two beautiful little girls that will be best friends for life! I’ve always wanted my daughter to have a sister since i grew up with 3 sisters and I’m happy that my wish has come true because girls really do have more fun!

At 27 weeks i think...
At 27 weeks i think…
37 weeks
taken at 37 weeks and a few days before i went into labour.

So I’m back into the blogging world since i will be on maternity leave for another year! (I love Canada). Its not easy with a newborn and a toddler but I’m hoping to share my experiences and everything in between here at thatkimchilife.com.

After the birth of my second daughter, all i’ve been eating is seaweed soup with brown rice. Not only is it nutritious for the body but quick and easy to make. In Korea, Seaweed soup is a must have for new mothers to help with postpartum recovery. The seaweed is high in Iodine and Calcium and helps detoxify and purify the blood. I personally like the flavour of seaweed soup and with the cold rainy season, its been my go to comfort food. Perhaps it has helped rejuvenate my body as I am not as tired as i was with my first child. Mind you, i still don’t get enough sleep but my milk supply has increased tremendously (they say seaweed soup also helps increase breastmilk supply). I should be happy that i am able to feed my kid breastmilk but oh dear lord, i am constantly dripping with milk (not a sexy picture i know). With my first, i barely had enough milk that i had to supplement with formula; with my second kid, i have too much milk! Is there no happy medium?

Anyway, adding to my DIY cooking series, below is my version of Seaweed soup. Again, i don’t really measure ingredients precisely but i’ve tried my best to guesstimate what i put in for the broth. I recommend a lot of tasting in between to get the right flavour you desire.

Miyeuk Guk (Korean Seaweed Soup)

Duration: 15 – 20 minutes

Ingredients:

5-6 cups of water

1/2 lb of beef cubes

1 tsp Minced Garlic

1 tsp Sesame Oil

1 tbls soysauce or soysauce for soup

1 tsp dashida (optional) (korean beef stock)

1/4 cup of Dried Kelp (You can pick this up at any korean grocery store. Looks like this…)

dryseaweed
Dried Kelp. You can pick this up at any korean grocery store.

 

Instructions:

  1. Soak dried kelp in water for 15 minutes or until the seaweed has expanded back to its slippery green form.
  2. Add water, beef cubes, garlic, soy sauce, dashima and sesame oil into pot and turn heat to medium.
  3. Scoop out the seaweed from the water and add to broth.
  4. Once soup is boiling, turn heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Dinner is served! I like to have my soup with brown rice and a side of kimchi and fried eggs.

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Simple and easy. Enjoy!

Ess.

Best Seolungtang (Oxtail Soup) in Vancouver

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Spring is around the corner!

Its March already and I haven’t blogged for a while. Where does the time go! Anyway, I thought it was time to post one more blog before I dash off to Africa to meet Simba and his entourage! Yep, thats right. I am going back to my home country – Kenya! Its been more than 10 years since I had left to come to Canada and going back to visit brings a lot of mixed emotions – joy, anxiety, excitement, to name a few! During my time there I might not have the time to blog, so follow me here on Facebook or here on instagram to see pictures of my adventures in Africa!

I also had a night out this past weekend from baby (thanks to an awesome babysitter aka her dad and my husband) to check out a very cool and fresh new lounge called Prohibition in Downtown Vancouver with some awesome girlfriends. It was nice to dress up and catch up with friends.

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Individual bathroom stalls at prohibition, kind of like Vegas!

I must say I was quite impressed with the venue. I felt like I was at an upscale lounge in New York City! I would have liked to write a review on this place but I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the Venue… just selfies of me, myself and I. Hehe. This mama doesn’t get to dress up much so when I do, I applaud my efforts of looking like a human being again. Its nice to get dolled up once in a while.

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Lately into polka dots…

Anyway, back to the title of this blog and without further ado, presenting a blog about one of my favourite foods of all time – Seolungtang!

My love for food has led me to blog about a hidden gem that I recently discovered tucked away in a little town called Ktown in Coquitlam. What a marvellous find! Introducing THE best Seolungtang dish that I have ever tasted in Canada at Wang Ga Ma Restaurant, located across from Hmart. The Seolungtang served at this family owned establishment is comparable to Seolungtang that you find in Ktown NYC, Ktown LA and of course the motherland – Korea, meaning it is AMAZING. If you’ve checked out the various Korean restaurants at any of these cities then you are on par with how finger licking delicious everything is on their menu, Seolungtang included. Even their banchan (Side dishes) alone will blow your mind! The quantity, quality and authenticity of Korean food in these cities puts Korean food served in Vancouver to shame. Korean restaurants in Vancouver need to step up their game. Seriously.

What is Seolungtang?

Seolungtang is a delicious broth made from oxtail or ox bones that has been simmered for hours producing a milky and cloudy colour. Seasoning includes sea salt, green onions and pepper that you can add to your own liking. Rich in nutrients and a favourite hangover food, this oxtail soup is loved by many Koreans.

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Seolungtang

Accompanying Seolungtangs are the spicy pickled radish, Mu and/or fresh Kimchi. The Mu and Kimchi either makes or breaks your first bite with the creamy broth. A good seolungtang needs a good kimchi partner. Just like Beyonce and Jayz, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Peanut butter and Jelly, Fried chicken and Beer, Salt and Pepper, you get the point. Fresh, semisweet, spicy, pickled Kimchi or Mu just hits the spot with the soup. The two are inseparable.

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The picture doesn’t do justice! Delicious Kimchi!

Anyway, thanks to my desperate hunger I walked into the first Korean restaurant (which happened to be Wang Ga Ma) that I saw and ordered a Doganitang (Beef tendon soup. The soup base is the same as Seolungtang, only that it comes with beef tendons). Wang Ga Ma definitely knows what they are doing as they specialize in the beef broth. With a limited selection on their menu, many come for their Seolungtang and Bossam (pork belly topped with spices and wrapped in cabbage. Drool).

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Oh My Lawd. What is this heaven that I am tasting? I haven’t had good seolungtang soup in a very long time and I was so happy to have found a place in my city that I can go to at the whim of a craving! The mustard brown sauce dip for the meat was also an added bonus! I no longer have to wait to visit Ktown LA, Ktown NYC or even Korea to be able to taste well brewed Seolungtang broth. Wang Ga Ma, I thank you!

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Even the rice is delicious and comes in a stone pot bowl!

Check It Out!

Wang Ga Ma Restaurant

Address: 450 – 329 North Road, Coquitlam BC

Hours: 10 am – 10 pm

Price Range: $10 – $20

 

Bon appetit!

Ess.

DIY Cooking – Dduk Guk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

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Traditional Ddukguk

Today, I wanted to share one of my all time favourite recipes – a good ole comfort dish for those cold rainy days at home. I don’t cook very often but when I do Im on a roll and end up cooking for several consecutive days. Once in a while, I’ll blog about my favourite meals and share with y’all hence decided to start a DIY cooking series. I aint no chef Ramsay so don’t expect too many fancy smancy dishes. Most of the meals I prepare are quick and simple. Today’s dish will be Ddukguk – (떡국 Korean Rice Cake Soup).

To celebrate the new year, Koreans traditionally eat Ddukguk – a rice cake soup that is popularly made in the Korean household. If I was living with my parents right now, thats what I would have had for breakfast but alas I am an over thirty, married with a child and living in a far away land called Canada unable to seek my mom’s delicious home cooked meal.

SO despite the fact that new years has now passed and gone, I decided to cook some of that ddukguk for dinner. Its amazing how a craving can make one so productive. In addition to recreating my mom’s ddukguk, I decided to be a super housewife and whip up some fresh ooi-muchim (spicy pickled cucumber, a korean side dish) to complement the soupy broth.

Presenting Ess Kimchi’s version of ddukguk below (Please keep in mind that I’ve never really used measuring cups or spoons for the ingredients. They are all purely by guesstimation so you’ll need to do a lot of tasting here and there to cater to your taste buds. Practice makes perfect folks!).

DdukGuk (떡국 Korean Rice Cake Soup)

Duration: 20 min

Ingredients:

1 lb Dduk (thinly sliced Rice Cake) – This can be found at any Korean grocery store. I got mine at H-mart.

7 Cups Water

1/2 lb Beef Cubes

3 Cloves of Minced Garlic

1 Tsb Sesame Oil

1 Tbl Soysauce

1 Tsb Dashida (Beef Stock) – Also known as the korean msg. Not that great for you but Oh so delicious in soups! You are only putting in a bit, so it wont kill you. Come to the dark side. Put that dashida in your soup!

Egg

Roasted Seaweed

1 Stem of chopped Green Onion

Instructions:

  1. Soak the Dduk in a bowl of cold water for 20 mins.
  2. While the Dduk is soaking, add 7 cups of water to pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Add minced garlic and beef cubes and let it boil for 5 mins turning heat to medium.
  4. Add sesame oil, soy sauce and dashida.
  5. Remove Dduk from cold water and add to the broth. Sprinkle pepper and boil for another 5 mins. Stir occasionally so that the Dduk (Rice Cake) doesn’t stick together.
  6. Heat frying pan with oil and crack egg into a bowl. Whisk away and pour onto the pan. Spread egg evenly like you are making a crepe. Once cooked, move egg from pan to cutting board and chop it into long thin pieces. This will be the ddukguk’s garnish.
  7. Grab a pack of seaweed, open it and cut into thin long pieces. This will also be the ddukguk’s garnish.
  8. Remove ddukguk from stove and transfer to bowl. Decorate with chopped green onion, egg and seaweed.
  9. Tada~ Dinner is served. Enjoy!

 

ddukguk
My homemade Ddukguk. Tasted so delicious and the broth was perfecto!

 

Ooi-Muchim (오이무침 Spicy Cucumber Side Dish)

Unfortunately, my cucumber side dish was an utter fail. It was so salty, it literally tasted like the dead sea. Perhaps I should have just stuck with the instructions instead of getting creative and doing my own thing by adding a cup of salt to the cucumbers. (I didn’t think 1 tsp was enough…. –.– I was clearly wrong.) What a waste of perfectly good cucumbers… sigh. I am beyond annoyed. Anyway, I got the recipe from a website called koreanbabsang.com that I incompetently followed below. Perhaps you’ll have better luck than me. You can find full details on the following link, http://www.koreanbapsang.com/2010/07/oi-muchim-korean-style-cucumber-salad.html.

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My homemade spicy cucumber side dish. It looks delicious but tastes terrible. So salty…

 

Good luck with cooking!

Cheers,

Ess.

Calabash Bistro

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Happy birthday to mee!

Thanks to grandma and grandpa, Hubs and I were able to enjoy my birthday with a small group of friends at a Caribbean restaurant called Calabash Bistro last week.

Calabash Bistro is a hidden gem tucked away in the ghetto neighbourhood of the downtown eastside. (and by Ghetto i really mean Ghettooo to the max). Near Calabash, you will find all walks of life in the streets of Hastings and Carrall. Such an array of characters – definitely not the typical yaletown entourage I can tell you that!

With a menu boasting of mouth watering Jerk chicken, deep fried coconut bread and goat curry, their food is not the only highlight of this place. During dining hours, catchy soft beats of old school hiphop is played in the background and after 11 pm the restaurant transforms into a mini club allowing guests to dance to hiphop and reggae music all night long. Did i just say Reggae? Ohhhweee this mama is ready to get turnt up! (Turnt Up – A hip slang that youngsters use these days to describe an excited, lets-get-this-party-started feeling… in my generation, i think we used “lets get crunked!”? I could be mistaken though…)

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Due to privacy, my friends are sporting some cool shades.

Delicious dinner and groovy dancing all in one venue- that my friend is the ideal birthday party for over 30’s if you ask me. In my 20’s, I remember I would have dinner at a restaurant, then we would hop over to a different venue to grab some drinks, then we would be rendezvoused to some random club to get turnt up (I seem to use this term a lot. hehe. so catchy!) and finally we would end the night with a big bowl of hot Pho (a vietnamese noodle soup) at a 24hr joint.

party

Now in my 30’s, I physically don’t have the energy to be prancing around all over downtown. I get tired just walking 2 blocks. Less walking more eating is my motto!

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Because I had a big group of more than 15 people, Calabash enforced a set menu for each individual. For $25, one got a salad, jerk chicken, rice, curry vegetables and fried coconut bread.  (Note that these come in a share platter so if you are not fast enough you’ll end up with the smallest drumstick on your plate). For the amount of food you get in the platter, i personally didn’t think it was worth $25. Perhaps I had a really big appetite that day but I was most definitely not full. In addition, if you don’t finish your food in time, THEY WILL TAKE IT AWAY. You’ll have to watch your food like a hawk, otherwise they’ll think that you are full and remove your plate to clear the tables. Irregardless, the food was delicious, the music was great and conversation and laughter with friends made it a memorable night.

My favorite dish was the jerk chicken and fried coconut bread.

jerk chicken
jerk chicken
Calabash-dessert
fried coconut bread

Deeeeericious! I didn’t think that much of the other dishes but if i was to rate their menu, I’d give a two thumbs up for their jerk sauce and fried coconut goodness! Calabash Bistro was indeed a nice break from the Asian infested restaurants in Vancouver. (I do want to point out though that most of the asian food in Vancouver is seriously the bomb dot com. Something Vancouver is famously known for. So many great places to eat! nom nom nom). Anyway, the change of scenery and food was quite refreshing and different.

Cheers,

Ess.

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Hubs and I enjoying a babyfree night

Pidgin Restaurant

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(Due to privacy concerns, hubs will be sporting sunglasses)

 

So the other day, the hubs and I decided to try a restaurant called Pidgin that some of our friends have been raving about for our date night. Before I get into how spectacular it was, let me just say that getting ready for date night with a 5 month old baby is just…… oh… how do I put it… EXHAUSTING!

If our dinner reservation is for 8 pm, the entire getting ready process will start at around 4 pm. What exactly does it entail that would take 4 hours you ask? Well, let me break it down for ya.

Feed baby. Change baby. One of us holds baby while the other showers. Switch. Since I take longer to get ready and want to look like I’m “bringing sexy back”, Hubs looks after baby. I try to concentrate on putting on my makeup while baby is screaming her head off in the background. I give in and go console baby with half my face on. Give baby back to hubs and pump out my milk for her next feed. Finish makeup and hair and put on dress. Baby just pooped. I change baby’s diaper while Hubs changes into his sexy self. As I reach for a clean diaper after I’ve finished wiping her bum, out squirts more poop. I’m talking projectile poop shoot. omg. My dress. OMG! I cant even. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. I thought you were done pooping!

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Startled from my shriek, she starts crying. Sigh.. this is so not sexy right now. I get Hubs to clean up and finish putting diaper on while I try to rinse off the poo and look for a new outfit. Baby is settled but is now time to feed. Again. Its 5:30 pm. We have half an hour to wrap up and leave the house since it takes us an hr to drive to the city. (not to mention, another hr to drive back and the chore to remove my makeup and repeat baby process all over again with the miracle that she sleeps so that I can finally crawl into my Sweet. Warm. Comfortable. Quiet BED! Streeeeeetch~~Im sorry hubs, but right now sleepy time is more important than sexy time). Honestly, it is just too much work. The process is aging me! Instead of looking like this

hair flip

 

I feel like I look like this.

 

old lady

Anyway, enough with the venting and back to actually reviewing the restaurant! I do want to mention though that once we sat down at Pidgin with our wine glass and appy… it was heavenly. (To all my fellow parents out there. I am here to tell you that it IS worth it. All that work for a mere 2 hrs of wine and dine is worth it. for both your sanity. Do it. Dooooooo it.)

So Pidgin, contrary to it’s name does not serve pigeons (silly me, all this time I thought they did and I kept telling hubs that I didn’t want to go eat no pigeons!) and is actually a Japanese fusion restaurant. Mmmm. My fave!! I have a weak spot for Japanese tapas, so imagine how excited I was to try this new Japanese influenced eatery!

When we walked in, the place was a fair size with calming lights and simple décor. The waiter was quite attentive and we quickly ordered several dishes before we turned hangry. (Hangry is hungry and angry combined into one word. Your welcome. For the explanation).

First came the “veal tonnato” appy which by the way I thought was some kind of tomato dish.

Waiter: “I highly recommend the veal tonnato.

Me: “I don’t like tomato”.

Hubs: “Oh is it popular? Sure we’ll try that”

Me: “I said I hate tomato!”

Waiter: “Maam, its not made of tomatos, its called Veal “tonnato”

Me: “Well, why would you call it tomato if its not made of tomato? Its misleading”

Waiter: “It’s tonnato! An Italian word. TONNATO!”

Me: “Ohhh…………. Yes, we’ll try that one”.

awkward

(Honestly, even my autocorrect thought it was tomato and corrected it as I am typing tonnato as we speak! So im not the only weird one here. Thanks.)

Veal Tonnato (tomato) was very tasty!! If you like ahi tunas and tuna tataki’s, you will love this dish. Please note, I won’t get into too much detail describing each dish as it will just take forever, so for ingredients, please refer to www.pidginvancouver.com.

tuna

Next we tried this mushroom appy below and it was also quite good especially if you are a mushroom lover. The focus on these mushrooms was that they were sautéed in butter. Oozing with butter. Driiiip.

mushroom

Finally our entrée’s came! Mine was the beef brisket while hubs had the spiced lamb belly. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with my dish. It was literally 3 pieces of beef brisket slices and some beet sauce slapped onto the plate. Errrr… where are my potatoes and veggies?? Not cool. Plus the brisket was a bit too dry for my liking. Since I wasn’t satisfied with my dish, I jacked a bite of his lamb and THAT was actually pretty good! A bit gamey but if you like lamb, you will LOVE this!

beef lamb

 

Since the portions were quite small, we had room for dessert and ended up ordering their signature dessert, which was their ONLY dessert as well.

desert

It was not bad. Very different from normal desserts. If you do try it, I recommend spooning half citrus and half merengue with a scoop of coconut flakes. It’s supposed to tantalize your taste buds. Oooohhhh….Me being the classy lady that I am grabbed the first blob of yellow in front of me and popped it in my mouth. Yech. So sour!

Me: “Babe, this desert is very citriusy. I dunno if I like it”.

Hubs: ”You are supposed to combine the merengue cream  with the citrus cream and coconut flakes to balance the taste:.

Me: “Ohhhhhh…hehe. You so classy hunny! Yes, much Better.”

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If you have room in your belly, try the dessert! And remember… gotta mix the flava’ssssss.

Peace,

Ess.