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October 27, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes, and a surprise

Guess what? CSN Stores contacted me about hosting giveaway on my blog. This will be my first ever giveaway.
CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find anything you need whether it be a stylish handbag, a chic barstool or even cute cookware! And most importantly,... Free Shipping!

Someone will get $50 gift certificate to spend but he/she has to reside in U.S or Canada
So, what do you need to do to win?
1) Be my follower.
2) Leave a comment about your favorite Korean food.
3) You may blog about this event, leave me another comment. It makes another entry to notice.

I will announce the winner on Nov. 8th.

I am not much of cake decorator but I do enjoy making fun cupcakes with my kids.
Halloween is coming near, and this year I made some easy cupcakes with my Sous-Chefs (?) to celebrate the fun tradition of this country.

I am not going to add tutorial on the cupcake part because you can use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and chocolate frosting. You can even use store bought cake mix and frosting to make your life easier. All you need to do is bake some meringues to make cute ghosts.

Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in a high speed until soft peak forms.
Add vanilla. 
Gradually add sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time until...

the steep peak forms like this.

 I put the mixture in a zip lock bag and cut the ends about 1/2" wide.
If you have a pastry bag with 1/2" round tip, that would work the best.
Just swirl around to make a base and build to the top ending with a slanted tip.

 Bake at 200ºF for 75minutes. 
Turn off the heat and keep the meringue for another 1 hr until they dry completely.
They can be kept in a airtight container for 1 week as long as the climate is dry.
For the Ghost face, I put some frosting in a small zip lock bag, 
cut a tiny slit, and dot eyes and mouth.

 Crush some Oreo cookies without the white filling.
(I used the store brand, copycat of Oreo, since they were much cheaper)

 Frost cupcakes with your frosting.
So nice to have a Sous-Chef in the house, isn't it?

Sprinkle the cookie crumbs on top.

 Put a little bit of frosting on the bottom of ghost and stick it on top of the crumbed cupcake.

For the tomb stones, use any rectangular shaped cookies.
(I used back side of coconut cookies)
Use the same frosting in a bag and just drizzle to write the words you like.

While one is busy making, the other is chowing down.
"Mommy, I ate the ghost!"

Have a Happy Halloween!
Don't forget to enter to win the giveaway.

Halloween Meringue Ghosts
makes about 24 ghosts

3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 C granulated sugar 
chocolate frosting for eyes and mouth

Preheat your oven to 200ºF.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment whip egg whites and cream of tartar until well mixed on high speed. Add vanilla and whip.
Add sugar 1 Tbsp at a time, continue to whip until the steep peak forms.
Put the mixture in a pastry bag with 1/2" round tip, or put in a zip lock bag and cut 1/2" slit on the corner. 
Place parchment paper on the baking sheet. Squeeze out the filling, swirling around to make 2" circle to form a base, and build to make ghost shape with a slanted tip on top. 
Bake for 75 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the meringue in the closed oven for another 1 hr until they dry completely.
You can store them in a airtight container for up to 1 week.

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October 22, 2010

Bean Sprout Beef Rice Bowl, a humble guest

I am so happy to announce that I was a guest blogger to the famous Asian food blog, "Rasa Malaysia". A sweet girl named Bee, who recently became a proud mother of cute baby boy, is the author of that blog and I was thrilled to be invited. Her blog is awesome.

The recipe I shared was this fabulous yet humble food called Bean Sprout Beef Rice Bowl. You will find the recipe and instructions on her site at;

Thanks, Bee. I had a fun working on this recipe for you.
Wow, this will be the shortest post I have ever created in my blog.

Well, Have a fantabulous weekend, y'all!

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October 21, 2010

Korean spinach my way, Popeye! where are you?


 As a young kid, I did not care for spinach until I saw a show "Popeye" on TV.  
Oh, Yes! we were able to see "Popeye" show in Korea in the 70th. In my innocent young slender eyes Popeye was a hero, and I truly believed his strength came from eating the spinach from a can. He defeated the naughty Brutus, and saved Olive every time. I loved his steroid injected looking arm..., a symbol of power and strength of a macho man!

 Nobody eats canned spinach in Korea, not even frozen ones. We use fresh spinach every time. It is all year round side dish "Banchan(반찬)" on Korean table.
You will see the spinach Banchan pretty much in every Korean restaurant. All seasoned with salt, some garlic, and sesame oil... Sometimes it gets bland and boring.

 I do make this spinach quite often, but I season differently, and everyone is asking what's in it that makes taste so good. I will reveal my secret for you.

This is my magic powder.
It is "dried shrimps" but in a grounded form. I know some might think adding these shrimp to spinach must be stinky or fishy but I tell you, it is NOT.  It adds very nice flavor but no one can tell it is shrimp. Try it! your spinach won't be that boring anymore.
Besides you can use this in other vegetable Banchan (반찬) and soups to enhance their flavor.

You can buy these dried shrimps in any Asian market these days.
I store them in the freezer.

Just toast these guys until very dry.
Make sure to cool them completely afterward.

Put them in a food processor or spice grinder, and process until finely grounded.
 I wouldn't use coffee grinder unless you want your coffee shrimp flavored.
Hmmmm, shrimp flavored coffee....
Who knows? Anything is possible these days.

You will see some chunks of shrimp but it's O.K la!

Transfer into a pretty jar if you have.
Store them in the cupboard if you live in cool climate.
Store them in a freezer if you live in tropical paradise.

 Now, let's learn how to make the Korean spinach.

 You will need;
spinach, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce (I always use low-sodium),
garlic (fresh or dried), and the shrimp powder.

 First trim and clean the spinach. 
Blanch in the boiling water for 5 seconds.
Don't forget to add salt!

 Drain and rinse with cold water.

 Squeeze out to remove excess water from the spinach.
But not too strong.  You are not Mr. Popeye..., Yet.
It needs to retain its moisture.

 If your spinach is long, slice them.
I don't want you to get choked on by a foot long spinach.

 Add rest of the ingredients and toss with your HAND, not spoon or fork.
 Give a massage to these green goddess.
Massaging motion as you tossing the vegetable is an important skill to master 
in Korean side dishes.

Taste, always...
to see if you need adjust seasoning.
Don't make it too salty, though.

You get to eat more spinach this way than eating spinach salad.
Serve as a side dish to any Asian themed meal.
It is healthy, tasty, and easy.

Feed it to your man,
and check his arms afterward...
You may discover his hidden macho-ness.
Who knows?
He could be the next Mr. Popeye.
He says,
"Hey, leave some comments for me, would ya?"

Korean Spinach
(시금치나물, Sigumchi Namool)
serves 4 as a side dish

1 bunch Spinach, trimmed and cleaned
2 Tb soy sauce (low-sodium)
1 small clove garlic minced or 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1 Tb sesame oil
1 Tb roasted sesame seeds
1 tsp shrimp powder *

Blanch spinach in the boiling water for 5 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the spinach with your hands to remove excess water with some force but not too strong. It has to be still moist. Slice them if they are too long.

Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well with a hand with massaging motion so the seasoning can soak into the spinach. Serve as a side dish.

* Shrimp powder
Heat a pan over low heat and toast handful of dried shrimps, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
Let them cool completely. Put them in a food processor or spice grinder, and process until finely grounded. Store in a airtight container avoiding direct sunlight or keep them in the freezer.

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October 13, 2010

Korean Soft Tofu Clam Stew, bring out the innocence in you

 Have you ever tried to run away from your home when you were a kid?
I think I did once, but only lasted less than 1 hour. I was 7 or 8 years old, I think. I was mad at my mom and my sisters for some reason. I only went about 3 blocks, got scared, and went back home. I don't think my mom ever noticed that I was gone.

 I went to Norman Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge last weekend. Stockbridge is a beautiful town in west end part of Massachusetts. I understand why Mr. Rockwell loved that place so much.
It was about 8 hours drive form Northern Virginia where I live. Why did I go there?
Well, I was in the mood of New England clam chowder and missing the beautiful fall foliage there, plus I always have been a fan of Mr. Rockwell's works. I saw his famous "The runaway" and it reminded me of my somewhat-forgotten childhood.

 There is no artist that captured everyday life of American people more charming and nostalgic than Norman Rockwell did. Even though I did not grow up in this country, I could still relate my Korean childhood and rediscover my innocence through his works. They are honest, sincere, and yet brings out smile from your heart.

My family of four continue the journey toward the east from there, Cambridge, MA.
We used to live in Cambridge while my piano man was attending law school.  It has been 10 years since we left. Some stayed the same but some has changed. I remember how much I enjoyed the fall season in this region of U.S. We often went to the farm in Vermont to get maple syrup and cheese, go up to Maine to eat lobsters and see the northern ocean.

 The lake at Concord, MA

I did have my clam chowder, twice, in our 4 days of trip! One in the roadside caboose cafe of small town in Connecticut, and the other one in the famous Colonial Inn at Concord, MA. They both were good.

So, what does this Korean soft tofu clam stew called Soondubu Jjigae(순두부찌개) has to do with Norman Rockwell or New England?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
I don't know Mr. Rockwell ever had tofu in his life but he should have eaten clams, though.
I just wanted to comfort myself in this chilly weather with this hot stew and try to find my Korean innocence along the way.

Warning! This is spicy stew, in case you want to knock yourself out...

 The list is long this time.
Korean soy sauce, chili oil, chili flakes, mushrooms, clams, Asian leeks,
red and green chili, onion, garlic, dried anchovies and sea kelp, egg, beef, and soft tofu...
 Did I miss any? 
I hope not...

 Close up for the main ingredients;
The clams, beef, and the tofu
I happened to have precooked clams (that's why their mouths are open) in my freezer 
so I did not have to clean myself.
If you buy fresh clams (even better), soak them in salted water in a bowl covered with dark plastic bag  and keep them in the fridge over night.
That will get rid of all their ocean gunk in them.

First, make anchovy stock.
For detailed instruction click here.
You will need about 1 1/2 cup.

Prepare the vegetables.
Chop, dice, slice, tear or whatever...

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the chili oil over medium heat.

Saute beef, onion, garlic, with chili flakes for 2 minutes.

Now, I added 1Tbsp of chili flakes. That is on the very milder side.
If you want to knock yourself out add 2Tbsp or more.
If you want to knock someone else out... 
Well, all I can say is, follow your guts.
He/she might curse you when he/she sits on the toilet.

Add the stock to the pot.

Let them boil, about 1 minutes.

Cut the tofu package with knife.
Don't panic if the water squirt out.

Squeeze out big chunks of tofu into the pot.
Let it boil for 1 minute.
If you are using fresh clams, add with tofu and boil for 2 minutes.

Add mushroom, and chilies.

I add my clams last since they are already cooked.

Season with Korean soy sauce.
You can use fish sauce instead as a substitute.

Lastly add Daepa (Asian leeks), and crack one egg in the pot.
Turn off the heat and cover.
The heat in the pot will cook the egg white and some yolk.
If you want your egg to be cooked completely just keep the stove heat on.
Taste it first and season with salt and pepper if you need.
You can add a tiny bit of sesame oil if you like.

I am having a lunch with meditation,
with a tissue in one hand in case I need to wipe my nose.

Life goes on with time no matter what.
We all get older and wiser.
Our body will fade away just like the leaves,
but our spirit will remain the same. 

Once in a while,
Bring out the innocence of the past. 
You will find gratitude and joy of life itself.

For that reason,
I thank to Mr. Rockwell
for the memories of my childhood in a country far far away...

 Soft Tofu Clam Stew
(순두부찌개, Soondubu Jjigae)
 makes 2-3 servings

1package soft tofu
1/4lb beef chuck in small chunks
1/3lb clams cleaned
1/2 small onion diced
1 garlic chopped
1Tb chili oil
1-3Tb Korean chili flakes, depends on your preference
1/2 package Enoki mushrooms or other types of mushrooms
1 1/2C anchovy stock*
1/2 red chili sliced
1/2 green chili sliced
1/2 Asian leek sliced
1Tb Korean soy sauce or 2tsp fish sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2tsp sesame oil, optional

Heat chili oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Saute beef, onion, garlic with chili flakes until beef is browned and the onion becomes translucent. Add Anchovy stock to the pot. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.

Cut the tofu package and squeeze out the tofu into the pot. Make sure you keep the tofu in big chunks. Add clams and let the stew boil for 1 minute. You will see the clams starting to open. Add the mushrooms, chilies, and leeks. Season with Korean soy sauce or fish sauce.

Crack one egg and add it to the pot. Cover the lid and turn off the stove heat. The heat inside of the pot will cook the egg. if you want to cook the egg completely, just keep the heat on for 1 more minute.
Taste it first and adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper. You can drop a tiny bit of sesame oil if you like.
Serve with hot bowl of rice and make sure you have a napkin with you.  :)

*Anchovy stock
6-7 dried large anchovies
2-3 slices of dried sea kelp
2 cups water

Combine all in a pot, cover, and let it boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes covered. Remove the anchovies and the sea kelp.

Printable recipe

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