Barcelona 2016

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Barcelona was the first European city I visited years ago, and possibly that’s why it was my favourite European city back then, and remained special to me. I didn’t particularly enjoy flying within Europe, for I would have preferred train rides anytime. But we had to fly to Barcelona, and it was fun. It was sunny, vibrant like I remembered, colourful and relatively easier to walk about compared to Florence (the forever-maze to me). The supermarketing had to be really fun too, almost like what I remembered.

Given that I’ve already been there twice and I didn’t enjoy the flying, I wonder if I ever would be back again.

This time, I didn’t have to get any (lousy) chinese food there (for I know I would have Bun Rieu in days to come, and that’s more than enough).

Florence 2016 (2)

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Italy was at the peak of Summer when we were there, even if it could still be chilly in Paris, wet and cold in London, but it was super duper sunny in Italy. Anyway the most traditional family restaurants were all closed for their summer breaks except 1, which we went by twice. It was definitely disappointed, considering that I planned almost the entire of Florence around food. Then again, we still tried to make the best out of it. At least we did manage as much meals at our favourite restaurant in Paris (another post someday).

Chianti, Tuscany 2016 (2)

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It was a public holiday, or rather Italy most important public holiday. Hence it was an understatement to say that trying to arrange for anything on that day (even before and after) was a logistic nightmare, not forgetting the fact that we were car-less, and taxi would have cost a bomb.

We did eventually gone on a vineyard tour, with lunch. Though it was probably way too much of a summer to be in the vineyard, so it was more of a cellars tour. The fact that we were the only 4 people in the tour meant that the staff couldn’t wait to finish the tour, but we still enjoyed our short few hours there. The food’s very great, but if I didn’t have to think of getting back to Florence later the day, I would have drank everything that’s being served.

And, I think I really like Italy, even if all that I’ve seen were some Florence and Tuscany. Maybe it calls for a non-summer Italy holiday, someday, one day.

Inspired by, Shinwha Eric E-Chef’s menu

The recent craze is cooking exactly what E-Chef cooked in the latest episode of 3 Meals A Day, Fishing Village keke

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(Starting from the biggest photo; clockwise)

Gajma Jorim/ korean braised potatoes; Pumpkin porridge with tangyuan, bossam and the soup that boils the pork (this is the absolute favourite), Maewun-tang / spicy seafood soup and butter-olive-oil fry fish; soy braised black beans (this is easy, yummy and nutritious) and smooth steamed egg (so proud that my steamed egg is now so smooth and silky)

P/S: And I’ve jus booked our family holiday to Korea next year, for the Summer!

Kimjang, Korean red chili and Kimchi jeon

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Thanks to my sister, we’ve been enjoying some homemade Kimchi and also Kimchi Jeon (I’m pretty much out of action after hurting my back last weekend, but am so thankful that days of being pulled out from my seat is pretty much over).

And, after doubts of whether our Korean chili plant will bloom from using seeds of the Korean dried chili that we bought in Gurye, we finally managed to harvest one!

It’s also crazy that we are nearing Christmas and the end of another year (didn’t I just come back from #31KoreaDays?).. as usual I am sending my Christmas greetings to Paris Aunt with a card I designed and stitched, but this year with cute Korean socks for her as well. I hope she likes it ^^

Homegrown Chamoe #1

 

Homegrown Chamoe No.1

If you have been following my instagram, reading my blog, one of those that I rattled off about our homegrown Chamae (haha!), curious or non-curious folk likewise, here you go!

We’ve finally enjoyed the fruit of our harvest today – homegrown Chamae #1. All the credit goes to my parents, whom have been taking care of/raising (haha) the plant, and hopefully there are more to come!

A brief background on Chamae – the Korean melon/ Chamoe/ 참외 is a type of melon primarily cultivated in Korea, Japan and China. The typical size of it is 10 cm long, 0.45 kg (next time I will measure and weigh it!). Smooth, yellow and oblong in shape, with white stripes running the length of the fruit. On the inside, its flesh is white and the seed cavity is filled with small white seeds. In Korea, there is apparently the Yeoju Geumsa Oriental Melon Festival 여주 금사참외축제 around end May/early June!

How did it all started for us? We first ate the chamoe in Jeju in 2012. Without knowing what it actually was, we thought it has a pretty interesting taste – not too sweet thought we couldn’t quite decide if it is a fruit or vegetable. We kept some of the seeds (mum loves gardening!) and forgot all about it. Fast forward to mid this year, after our #31KoreaDays, we bought chamoe from our local supermart and again kept the seeds. Together with the perilla and Korea chilli seeds, Mum decided to plant the chamoe using the seeds from this year (she also realised she threw away those from 2012 as she couldn’t recall what seeds were they haha) in a medium-size pot. I wasn’t too optimistics about harvesting a chamoe – because it is not a leaf like basil or perilla, but a fruit! For the first 3- 4 months, there were lots of leaves, and some flowers. Nobody noticed there is a fruit popping out somewhere among the leaves until someone else spotted it and told us! Subsequently, my mum placed a bucket (filled with sponge no less haha!) under it, just in case it will fall off the stem! Patiently, we waited for it to turn yellow from green (which looks like a watermelon!). We harvested it on 18.11.2014 and enjoyed it today, 23.11.2014.

How did it taste like? We each had about a quarter of it, and it is slightly sweet and juicy, and super duper crunchy! Some said it tasted like a cross between a honeydew and cucumber. I thought it is the super crunchy version of a honeydew that isn’t that sweet (duh @@).

We aren’t going to be farmers overnight but it certainly has been a fun journey – our family’s whatapps periodically was filled with updates on the journey of our 1st ever chamoe, whilst perilla never gotten much attention in contrast! And this certainly makes a good ice breaker – ever grown your own chamoe? ^^

Anything fun we should plant next? Let me know!

P/S: Sorry for the poor quality photos, I’ve been in the lazy mode recently! I’ve been relying on the photos that my dad took and some were photos from my instagram.

Doenjang Jigae, gamjatang and harvest

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Since we bought doenjang for the purpose of making ssamjang (korean spicy dipping sauce) for our bbq session, we thought we would finally make doenjang jigae/ soybean paste stew. Personally doenjang jigae isn’t my personal favourite and the fact is I’ve only eaten it during our recent #31KoreanDays, and that one time was because it was one of the cheapest dish (and the fact that we hadn’t eaten before among the usual bibimbap). But you know, anything Korea & homemade got to be nice. Mum also harvested the perilla that she’ve grown and we again cooked our favourite gamjatang, this time with potatoes, as well as one of those last dried chilies from Gurye. Lastly, that picture of that melon got her really excited/ happy. And yes it’s chamoe 참외. We can’t wait for it to turn yellow.

Do you know… that 7 November 2014 marked the onset of winter in Korea / ipdong 입동? And do you know the history of Koreans’ favourite Banana Flavored Milk (apparently other than banana & strawberry, the new flavour is melon!)? Briefly, the product, produced in Gyeonggi Province, is 40 years old, and started during the time where, due to import restrictions, bananas were hard to find in Korea. Also, the shape of the milk bottle was said to be inspired by the traditional Korean jars (I got to know it because of this article).

Global Seoul-Mates 2nd Mission: Kimchi Making & Sharing Festival Special Mission

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The second mission will be conducted under the theme ‘2014 Seoul Kimchi Making & Sharing Festival, My No. Poster: Made by 192 Global Seoul-Mates’. Each person must create his/her own unique promotional poster that fulfills the criteria listed.

So here you go, that’s my poster:

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And yes, all the photos I used are our Kimchi-making at home. We love Korean food and enjoy the Kimchi making process. It is a family get-together activity whenever we make Kimchi. So far we made a few kind of Kimchi, including Napa Cabbage Kimchi 통배추김치, Cucumber Kimchi 오이소박이, Pa Kimchi 파무침. Even during a period where I cannot eat spicy food, we made non-spicy Pa Kimchi just so that I can eat my Kimchi! ^^

Generally the Kimchi-making process is similar regardless the kind of Kimchi you make. Briefly this is how it will be like, for a Napa Cabbage Kimchi.

1. Planning: Decide how much of Kimchi you want to make, buy your vegetables (and other ingredients) and find a suitable container for your Kimchi.

2. Preparing: Split the Napa Cabbage Kimchi into half. Wet them and spread salt evenly in between of the leaves. Tips: use more salt at the stem areas.

3. Resting: Let the cabbages rest for 2 hours. Tips: for a more evenly salted result, turn them around from time to time.

4. Mixing (the condiments): While the cabbage is being rested, prepare the condiments. Mix water with sweet rice flour and cook it until bubbles appear. Stir well, add in sugar and then let it cool.

5. Mixing II: In a mixing bowl, add garlic, ginger, onion, fish sauce and hot pepper flakes. Some also add other ingredients such as fermented salted shrimp, chives, radish and carrots. Stir well and this will be your Kimchi paste.

6. Bathing: After 2 hours, give the cabbage a good bath!

7. Spreading: Spread the paste over each cabbage leaf. Tips: you can wear gloves to help you! We usually spread newspaper over our kitchen floor so that we don’t need much cleaning after that!

8. Storing: Place them in your container and store well e.g. in the refrigerator.

We cannot stop munching right away but letting it ferment for a few days will give you a better taste! Even though it seems like a few steps, they are not too difficult and the reward at the end of the day you have a big jar of homemade Kimchi that goes well with rice, porridge and even noodles!

If you have leftover Napa Cabbage, you can also make Napa Cabbage Jeon 배추전, a dish said to originate from the Gyeongsang-do region. Like how you make Jeon, dunk the whole leaves in batter and fry them.

And lastly, sharing also some photos of our Pa Kimchi process:

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SEOUL & SPRING 2014 (PART 8)

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I decided to dedicate an entry on 중화요리 Korean Chinese cuisine, because of a few reasons. First, a couple of years back, jjajangmyeon is one of the most featured dishes in Kdrama, together with 라면 ramyeon eaten out from a golden pot/pot cover haha. For a period of time, jjajangmyeon’s all I crave for. I first ate it in 2012 from one of the shops in Auguk. These days, I probably having cravings for gamjatang and Andong chicken more, but that might be because I bought one of those golden pots too ^^ Second, I learnt of something interesting about Korean Chinese cuisine through a conversation with my favourite blogger, which I thought is interesting to share (see next paragraph)! Third, it was only during this trip did we try tangsooyook, the Korean version of our so-called sweet and sour pork – different but equally delicious!

When I was first told that it’s customary to order jjajangmyeong/jjambong, tangsooyook after moving house, I couldn’t quite understand. I mean black cannot represent good luck, or can it? Apparently, it was an olden day practice that has since been followed. Historically, the majority of Korea’s ethnic Chinese population stayed in Incheon, where the cuisine was developed. Those days, whenever there was an event worth celebrating, e.g. graduation day, it was customary to treat guests to a meal and a Chinese meal is considered a big treat, often associated with honor and luxury. These days treating Chinese meals evolve as a gesture where one show appreciation, for instance treating friends whom help you move house to a Chinese meal.