Thursday, October 27, 2016

Traditional Korean Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Bae-Chu Kimchi)

Kimchi - the national dish of Korea and staple side dish on every Korean table - needs no formal introduction. Recognized long for its range of health benefits, this fiery, fermented vegetable side dish is rooted in tradition. Among the hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea, the Napa cabbage variety, also known as pogi kimchi or tongbaechu kimchi, is the most iconic and common and is generally referred to by the catch-all name, kimchi.

Nowadays, one can easily skip the seemingly labor intensive process of making kimchi and purchase kimchi sold in jars or vacuum packs in supermarkets, but there is something irreplaceable in old-fashioned, authentic homemade kimchi.

Great kimchi starts with good, fresh Napa cabbage!
As with almost anything homemade, you get to tweak and customize.
And it's not just how spicy or mild you want your kimchi to be. Various salted seafood is used in kimchi to add a depth of flavor and to aid in the fermentation process. Whether it is salted shrimp, squid, or dried fish, the complex pungency of seafood is truly irreplaceable in kimchi. But if you are like me who is allergic to crustaceans, omit the shrimps and go with dried pollack and even anchovy paste for the unmistakable essence of the sea.

Eat it straight, as a banchan, or get creative: a batch of kimchi opens up infinite culinary possibilities

Making kimchi is like a mini science project.
Admit it, you were religiously watering and watching your beansprouts grow as an elementary school kid. Making kimchi from scratch is so much more fun than that. You get to get in and dirty, watch it ferment, and reap the benefits of all that effort in as short as a few days as it ripens!

You are participating in an age old tradition. 
Aside from adding a human touch to what you eat, making homemade kimchi allows you to experience hands-on the wisdom, knowledge, and tradition passed down from grandmother to mother, mother to daughter, generation after generation for centuries in Korea. As I made my own kimchi in my kitchen, I could almost hear the stories and laughter shared among women who gather for gimjang, where enormous quantities of kimchi is prepared communally to last through the harsh winter. Try it, you'll know what I mean.

A major bucket list item gets checked off.
Making kimchi, nevertheless, is not a once-in-a-lifetime event. It only gets better with practice!

Don't attempt to leave the gloves out!
After much research and trial, my recipe is based loosely on Korean American Chef Esther Choi's recipe which has been passed down from her grandmother. I have modified certain steps in preparation to make it simpler for home cooks. Apple or pear puree is added for a nice tinge of sweetness, whereas Korean dried pollack adds immense depth of flavor to the kimchi.
It's fall... kimchi making season! So get them gloves on and let's make some!
What you'll need...
1 head of Korean Napa cabbage, cut lengthwise, quartered
5 tablespoons rock salt
70g of Korean dried pollack (bugeochae), shredded
1 medium daikon radish (1lb), cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1 small carrot, cut into 2-inch matchsticks (optional)
1 bunch of scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 small apple or nashi pear, peeled and cored
2 inches fresh ginger
1 head of garlic
1 small onion
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup anchovy sauce (I used the filipino Bagoong Balayan)
1/4 cup lance fish sauce, or Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons salted shrimp (saeujeot)*, chopped
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
1 cup Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru), or more to taste
*Note: for a crustacean-free version, substitute salted shrimp with anchovy fillets or paste.

Prepping and salting the Napa Cabbage
To split a Napa cabbage in half, cut a slit in the base of the cabbage up to a third of the total length of the cabbage, gently pull the two halves apart. Repeat for each half to quarter the cabbage.

Add 1 1/2 cup of water inside a basin, dissolve 2 tablespoons of rock salt, wet the quartered Napa cabbage inside the basin and sprinkle salt between each layer of leaf. Let rest for at least two hours, turning them over every 30 minutes.

Rinse each quarter well under running water to remove the salt. Squeeze out excess water and let drain in a colander.

Making the rice gruel
In a small saucepan, add the rice flour and 2 cups of water over medium heat. Whisk constantly. Cook for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.

Making the seasoning paste
1. In a blender, blend together the apple, onion, garlic, and ginger with the mirin.
2. Soften the dried pollack with some lukewarm water. Drain.
3. In a big bowl, combine the rice gruel, apple mixture, daikon radish, carrot, scallion, dried fish, and the rest of the seasoning ingredients and massage everything well to become a paste.

Bringing everything together
Bring the drained cabbage quarters into the mixture and spread the paste onto every single leaf. Tightly pack the kimchi into jars or containers with fitted lids or cover tightly with plastic. 

Allow the kimchi to sit in room temperature for at least two days, or longer for a stronger flavor. The warmer and more humid the environment is, the faster the kimchi will ferment. Store in refrigerator once the kimchi begins to ferment and use as needed. Refrigerating slows down the fermentation process, which makes the kimchi more and more sour as time goes on.


韓國旺菜  1 棵
粗鹽  5 湯匙
韓國鱈魚乾  70 克
韓國大根蘿蔔  1 磅
甘筍  1  枝
大蔥  數棵

蘋果或梨  1 個
  2 吋
蒜瓣  6 個
洋蔥  1 小個
60 毫
鯷魚露  60 毫升
魚露  60 毫升
韓國蝦醬  3 湯匙*
粘米粉  2 湯匙
韓國辣椒粉  100 - 120 克

1. 於旺菜底部切一刀,用手把旺菜輕輕撕開兩半,再分為共四份。
2. 於大盤裏加入一碗半清水及 2 湯匙粗鹽,沾濕旺菜,再於每片葉之間灑上剩下的粗鹽,硬的部份多灑一點。
3. 完成後待其軟化出水,每半小時翻轉一次,共約 2 小時。
4. 徹底洗去鹽份,輕輕擠去多餘水份,晾乾備用。


1. 大根、甘筍切絲,大蔥切段。
2. 韓國鱈魚乾搣成絲,加入少量清水待其軟化。
3. 蘋果/梨去皮去芯切粒,加入薑、蒜、洋蔥和味打成蓉。
4. 於大盤子裏加入大根、甘筍、大蔥、蘋果/梨蒜蓉、鱈魚乾絲、蝦醬/鯷魚、鯷魚露、魚露、米漿和韓國辣椒粉,用手拌勻所有醃料再作調味(謹記帶手套啊!)
5. 加入旺菜,並於每片葉之間塗滿醃料至完全覆蓋。
6. 完成後把泡菜放在玻璃盒或陶瓷煲內,加蓋封好。
7. 放在室溫發酵 2 天後放入雪櫃,泡菜會繼續慢慢發酵。隨時享用!

- 泡的時間越長味道越酸,泡菜汁中培養出來的各種益生菌也更多。
- 較成熟的泡菜最適合煮食泡製出其他菜式。
- 調味很隨意,亦視乎材料原來的質素及味道。調味可加亦可減。

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Chef Esther Choi:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Zoodles with Shredded Chicken and Sesame Sauce

Zoodles! Besides being a fun word to say, zoodles (zucchini noodles) are an incredibly fresh, healthy, nutritious, gluten-free, and low carb alternative to pasta or noodles. Zucchini takes on flavors easily, thus making zoodles a remarkably versatile base for a wide range of dishes.

I picked up a bag of zucchini at the Heart of the City Farmers Market in San Francisco last weekend. Back at my penthouse kitchen, just as I was craning over these dark green summer gourds, sweat dripping down my forehead under the unrelenting summer heat, a sudden craving for 涼拌雞絲粉皮 hit me.

A gorgeous zucchini, also known as courgette
A familiar and massively popular appetizer in Northeastern Chinese cuisine, 涼拌雞絲粉皮 traditionally consists of translucent mung bean sheet noodles (粉皮), hand shredded chicken (雞絲), crisp cucumber julienne (青瓜) and a lip-smacking sesame dressing (麻醬) that always tickles my taste buds.

Now, who says zoodles only works as pasta? With zucchini in my hands, I decided to swap out the mung bean noodles and cukes and swap in zoodles for a twisted, "greened up" version of this classic Manchurian starter. No fancy spiralizer, no mandolin needed; just your good old fashioned vegetable peeler and a knife!

晶瑩通透 又滑又爽口!

When cut to the right width, those thin, slightly opaque ribbons of zucchini frankly does a marvelous job mimicking mung bean noodles. As for the main ingredient of the dressing, sesame paste is hardly the only choice either. Peanut butter is also commonly used in restaurants and will similarly knock the ball out of the park. Heck, I even made once with sunflower seed butter. Delish!

So here is a fun, light, and super easy twist on this popular Northeastern Chinese cold dish using zoodles. It is about time that you, too, jump on the zoodle bandwagon!

What you'll need...
Zoodles and Chicken:
2 zucchini
Choice of 4 chicken tenders, 1 chicken breast, or 1 chicken thigh

2 tablespoons sesame paste
3 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 inch of fresh ginger, grated (optional)
Dash of soy sauce

Choice of garnish:
Toasted sesame seeds or peanuts
Small bunch of cilantro
Cucumber matchsticks 

For the dressing...
Firstly thin out the sesame paste by stirring in warm water. Add all other ingredients and stir until the dressing reaches a smooth, heavy cream-like consistency. Make ahead to allow the flavors to mingle.

For the zoodles... 
1. Start by cutting off the ends of the zucchini. Using a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into long ribbons. The more pressure you apply, the thicker your zucchini noodles will be. Peel all four "sides" of the zucchini until you reach the core with seeds (reserve the cores for other uses such as ratatouille, casseroles, or stir-fries - don't let it go to waste!).

2. Stack the strips on top of each other. Cut the strips to 1/2 inch strips or as desired.

3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, blanch zoodles very briefly - no more than 60 seconds! Immediately drain and dunk into an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking process. Once cooled, drain and set zoodles on paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to absorb excessive moisture.

For the chicken...
Steam or boil your choice of chicken. Once cooked and cooled, shred chicken into thin strips using your fingers.

Now, all that is left to do is to put everything together.
Layer the zoodles on your serving platter. Top with shredded chicken, sesame dressing, and your choice of garnish. Enjoy!!


由意大利翠玉瓜(zucchini, 簡稱意瓜)刨成絲
製成的低熱量「偽意粉」Zoodles 在外國已流行多時,
Zoodles 其實用法甚多,現時天氣轉冷,更可作為熱食沙律,
更可 fusion 做成「涼拌雞絲偽粉皮」!


意大利翠玉瓜  2 隻
雞肉  可選用雞柳、雞胸、或雞腿肉

1. 首先將意瓜兩端切除。
2. 用削皮刨,下點力於意瓜的四面刨出寬條狀,直至到達瓜中見籽的地方為止。
3. 把一條條的寬條叠好,用利刀切成一條條約半吋闊的「 偽粉皮」。
4. 煮沸熱水,把偽粉皮快速地灼一灼,撈起並立即浸冰水,以保其爽嫩。
5. 瀝乾後放一旁備用。
6. 隔水蒸熟雞肉。略涼後以手搣成雞絲。

芝麻醬  2 湯匙
溫開水  3 湯匙
鎮江醋  2 茶匙
砂糖  2 茶匙
麻油  1 茶匙
蒜末  1 大茶匙
薑蓉  約半吋薑
老抽  適量

1. 芝麻醬先用溫水稀釋,加入其他調味料拌勻再作調味。

芝麻 / 花生

1. 接下來最後一個步驟,先把意瓜偽粉皮置碟,在粉皮上放上適量手撕雞肉和自選配料,之後再淋上拌勻的麻醬即成。

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Crunchy Chewy Cornflakes Cookies

Crunchy Chewy Cornflakes Cookies - speaking of alliteration and an oxymoron within the same cookie! As the name implies, this fabulous cookie is full of mouthwatering contrasts. At once sweet and salty, it is soft and chewy on the inside, crisp and crunchy on the outside - what's not to love?

I am not really into cereal with milk in the morning, but dunking this baby in a glass of cold fresh milk is a whole different story. I had my first ever cornflakes cookie earlier this winter in a cafe in Toronto and was hooked on making them ever since. Little did I know that cornflakes cookies have been around since 1970s. In today's world, thanks to our ever growing variety of flours and sugars, every home cook can play with different combinations to suit their dietary preferences and create their desired results. So play around and even get your kids into it!
The below recipe includes coconut flour and cornstarch to produce incredibly crumbly and tender cookies, so if you are after a more crunchy bite, feel free to substitute coconut flour with a half cup of plain flour or bread flour and leave out the cornstarch. Longer baking time will also produce a crunchier cookie. Additionally, you can sub brown sugar for white sugar for a more blond, less chewy version of the same cookie. Add a pinch of coarse sea salt for that extra crunch and contrasting savoriness. You can even experiment with mixing several kinds of cereals like rice cereals!

Now, get baking, and get ready to curl up with a glass of milk and a book!
What you'll need... (makes 24 3-inch cookies, minus all the dough I nibbled) 
Dry ingredients:
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup + 1 cup cornflakes, lightly crushed by hand
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of coarse sea salt

Wet ingredients:
7/8 cup (200g) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl sieve together the flours, cornstarch and baking soda. Mix in salts and 1 cup of cornflakes.

3. In a separate bowl, use electric beaters to beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Pour this wet mixture into the flour mixture and fold to combine.

4. Place the remaining cornflakes in a bowl. Spoon slightly heaped tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough into the cornflakes. Toss gently in the cornflakes to coat and form balls.

5. Drop the dough balls onto the parchment lined baking sheet, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. For best results let the cookies cool for 10 minutes before attacking. Repeat this step until you are out of dough.

Note: Just like cereal in milk, once mixed into the dough the cornflakes can quickly go soggy. If you enjoy working slow in the kitchen (like me), or have a small oven that can only handle a half dozen of cookies at a time (like me), reserve more cornflakes to be used as sprinkles instead of mixing into the dough in step 2.

材料(約 24 個 3 吋 曲奇):
低筋麵粉  125 克
純椰子粉  85 克 (可用 60 克 低筋麵粉取替)
玉米片  60 克(分半,並用手輕輕壓碎)
粟粉  2 茶匙
蘇打粉  1/2 茶匙
幼鹽  3/4 茶匙
海鹽  少量

牛油  200 克 (室溫)
紅糖  220 克
砂糖  50 克
香草精  1 茶匙
雞蛋  2 隻

1. 預熱焗爐至 190C / 375F。
2. 麵粉、粟粉、蘇打粉過篩,拌入幼鹽、海鹽和一半玉米片備用。
3. 牛油、砂糖、紅糖用攪拌機打至綿滑,拌入雞蛋及香草精。
4. 將以上濕和乾成份混合均勻。注意別過分攪拌。
5. 將剩餘的玉米碎片置於碗子內。
6. 把麵團揉成圓球狀,再沾上玉米碎片,然後排放在鋪了烘培紙的焗盤上。注意每球分隔約 2 吋讓其有充足空間擴大。
7. 放入焗爐焗約 12-15 分鐘至金黃色。略涼約 10 分鐘後可馬上享用!

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