Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Koreans eat on New Year’s day

Let’s talk about what Koreans eat on New Year’s Day. The typical day of the New Year starts with breakfast. Breakfast consists of a rice cake soup called ddok-kuk (떡국). Ddok-kuk (떡국) is a soup made of beef broth with thinly shaped oval rice cakes. Actually, I’m not sure why Americans call ddok-kuk (떡국) a soup with rice cakes. It’s not really a rice cake per say, but rather a type of dough made out of rice. Anyway, some of the ingredients in ddok-kuk (떡국) are bits of seaweed, an egg that has been cooked and thinly sliced, and some seasame seeds. The beef broth also contains some soy sauce as well. On top of that, it’s not unusual to see beef cut into small chunks mixed in with some green onions.

This is optional, but sometimes people put mandu (만두) in ddok-kuk (떡국). Mandu (만두) means dumpling in Korean. Mandus (만두) can be prepared by frying them, or boiling them in hot water. The mandu (만두) used in ddok-kuk (떡국) is boiled. The fried mandu are called gunmandu (근만두). Usually gunmandu (근만두) is crispy and dipped in soy sauce. The kind of mandu (만두) made in boiling water is called mulmandu (물만두) or mandu-kuk (만두국).

ddok-kuk (떡국)
image credit:
The insides of the mandu (만두) vary by preference. I like to put noodles in my mandu (만두) with some pork and green onions. Kimchi mandu (김치 만두) is also very popular as well. I’ve also heard of a seafood mandu (만두) with crab meat and vegetable mandu (만두) with green herbs. Honestly, there are so many variaties out there, and different kinds are being invented every year.

That’s the best part of mandu (만두). You can put whatever your heart desires. All mandus (만두) despite what’s inside, are made of a flour-based exterior. The flour is mixed with water and rolled into a dough. Then the dough is thinly shaved into round circles. The ingredients are put in the dough and the dough is sealed with some egg yolk. Of course, you can just buy mandu (만두) at a store. (It’s much easier!)

The question I often get is, why do Korean people eat ddok-kuk (떡국) on New Year’s Day? The answer to that is two fold. One, ddok-kuk (떡국) is believed to be healthy and to purify the body. The white rice cakes are white and the color white is supposed to symbolize the purity of the food. Second, it’s a tradition and people have been carrying out this tradition for ages. That’s it for today, but I’ve got some more posts coming up on New Years celebrations, so don’t miss out!

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baechu Kimchi
(Whole Cabbage Kimchi : 배추 김치)

This is the most common, classic kimchi you will find at a Korean meal. Whole heads of cabbage are trimmed to remove discolored outer leaves and then split longways into two or four sections. These sections are soaked in brine for three or four hours until they have softened (during the summer and winter for about 12 hours.)

While this is going on, the other ingredients are assembled and mixed together. (Ground pepper powder, chopped garlic and ginger, pickled baby shrimp -or other sea food pickled such as anchovies and other fishes as a form of row fish cut in bitable size, sponge seaweed- and oysters can be added depending taste and family recipes.)

When they are mixed and the cabbage is ready. For common baech'u kimchi the softened cabbages are cut in to bitable size and mix with other ingredients. For Tongbaechu kimchi, handfuls of the stuffing are then pushed and spread between the leaves of the cabbage until it is all used. The outer leaves of the cabbage are wrapped round whole to form a solid bundle, which is then stored in a crock covered with salted leaves and pressed down firmly.

It is the most popular winter Kimchi made by packing the 'so', the blended stuffing materials, between the layers of salted leaves of uncut, whole cabbage.
It varies by region. There are cold northern areas and warm southern areas divided by each climate.

In the former, this Kimchi tastes neither spicy nor hot, rather insipid. On the other hand, in the latter, it is salty, hot, and juicy. In the middle area, it is properly salty and juicy. In the northern area, the 'so', the blended stuffing materials, is not used much, but spices and seasoning are added to finely shredded radish and then those are put sparsely between the heart of white cabbage.

Meanwhile, in the middle area, a large amount of the 'so' is made to be sufficiently put between every layer of leaves of the cabbage. In the southern area, it is common to plaster the 'so' mixed with strong salted seafood juice and glutinous rice paste over the whole cabbage

info credit:


Baechu Kimchi recipe

Main Ingredients:

1 Large Napa Cabbage
2 Cups Korean Radish
1 Cup Garlic Chives
5 Green Onions
1 Onion
2 Hot Peppers

Salt Water for Cabbage:

10 Cups Water
½ Cup Coarse Sea Salt (For Salt Water)
⅔ Cup Coarse Sea Salt (For Sprinkling)

Sauce Ingredients:
2 Cups Water + (3 Tbsp Water and 3 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour)
¼ Sweet Apple + ¼ Onion
1¼ Cup Red Pepper Powder for Kimchi
1 to 2 Tbsp Sugar
¼ to ⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
3 Tbsp Minced Garlic
½ Tbsp Minced Ginger
½ Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds


1. Remove any bad parts from the napa cabbage.

2. Divide 1 the napa cabbage into 4 pieces. Some people divide it half, but I prefer 4 pieces, since it’s easier to put in a jar and cut later.

3. In a huge bowl, combine 10 cups of water and ½ cup coarse sea salt to make salt water. Stir until the salt is dissolved.

4. Prepare ⅔ cup coarse sea salt. Divide the salt evenly for 4 pieces of cabbage. Sprinkle the salt inside each leaf. Put more salt on the thicker parts than the thinner parts. This step is important to make kimchi. The right amount of salt and time to marinate the cabbage will change the results of your kimchi.

5. Dip the cabbage in the salt water. Put some heavy thing (like big pan with water) on top of the cabbage to keep them under water. That will help them get salted better. Leave them for 4 to 5 hours until the cabbage leaves become a little soft.

6. Rinse the salted cabbage twice in water.

7. Drain the water, and set it for about 2 hours until the water drips out. Or you can squeeze the water out, after sometime.

8. Mix 3 Tbsp of sweet rice flour and 3 Tbsp of water.

9. In a pan add the mixture and 2 cups of water. Boil it until it makes bubbles on medium. Keep stirring it so that it will not stick to the bottom. (It took about 10 minutes for mine.)

10. Cut the radish very thinly into 2 inch lengths.

11. Cut 5 green onions the same length as the radish.

12. Cut the garlic chives into 1½ inch Pieces.

13. Cut 2 hot peppers thinly and slice ¾ onion thinly.

14. Grind ¼ of an onion and ¼ of an sweet apple.

15. In a big bowl, add the rice flour mixture, 1¼ cup of red pepper powder, and 2 cups of radish. Mix well.

16. Then add the rest of the ingredients: chopped onion, hot peppers, garlic chives, green onion, onion & apple mixture, 1~2 Tbsp of sugar, ¼ to ⅓ cups of fish sauce, 3 Tbsp of minced garlic, ½ Tbsp of minced ginger, and 2 Tbsp of sesame seeds. Mix all of the ingredients well. Taste it and salt it to your tastes. I added ½ Tbsp of salt.

17. Spread some of the mixture into each leaf of the cabbage. Make sure all of the surfaces get covered in the sauce.

18. Wow, at last, it’s done !!!

recipe credit:


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Korean Breakfast

Korea. In South Korea, breakfast is traditionally eaten at home around 7 AM before going to work or school. It often consists of a small plate of kimchi or several types of kimchi, a bowl of rice and a bowl of salty soup made with vegetables (radish, onion, seaweed green onion, cucumber, squash, any vegetable can be used) and enriched with stock made most commonly from meat, bones, shell fish or dried pollack or anchovies in the broth (eg. clear yellow soybean sprout soup, beef marrow broth, seaweed miyuk soup, ox tail soup), sometimes along with oil or fat.

Savory namul or vegetables cooked in a pan with oil (usually sesame but sometimes other seed or vegetable oils) and seasoned with salt and other flavorings can also be served as a nutritious alternative or acompaniment to fried or grilled fish. Fresh fish, gutted and sliced along the backbone is marinated or rubbed with salt and fried in a hot pan with some oil. At the table, it is shared from one plate and eaten off the bone without any sauce or seasonings (such as salt, pepper, or soy sauce). You may find a garnish of lemon or something when eating at a restaraunt. Fresh leafy vegetables, steamed cabbage, or pickles (such as pickled cabbage leaves, sliced carrots, or raddish slices) may be served alongside the fish.

In this case, ssamjang, or soy bean paste mixed red-pepper paste any assortment of oil, vinegar, chopped spring oinion or garlic, or other fermented paste or product is usually provided as well so as to add a salty and savory flavor to a slice of the leafy vegetable or perhaps pickle wrapped around a piece of salty fish and a little rice, so as to make a small hand held parcel, which is then eaten. The variety of small dishes (simply called "namul" by most foreigners, although the term denotes specifically a certain method of preparation of vegetables with oil and salt and other flavorings) is infinite.

Traditional Full Korean Breakfast
Traditional Full Korean Breakfast (image credit:

However, the most common ones mostly fall into the aforementioned categories of pickles or pan fried vegetables. Other accompaniments to rice include fermented fish, roe packed in salt and other fish egg products, eggs prepared with water or oil or vegetables, beans (soaked overnight and panfried with oil and a light pan syrup made from soy sauce and sugar is very popular), dried anchovies or other small fishes (often fried with sugar like the beans), resiscutiated seaweed with sauce, etc. Fresh fruit or vegetables are also popular breakfast table items, most often washed in cold water and cut up. They may be tossed in vinegar, salt, or sugar, or some other sauce or oil, such as onions or carrots soaked in salt and vinegar overnight or cut apples or pears. Fruits are actually usually more of a digestive than an accompaniment to fish or rice, or to the soup.

Anything other than fish, rice, or soup is generally considered an accompaniment to one of the three, but fruits are considered something else, either eaten after the meal or as a light snack. Instant coffee with powdered creamer and sugar are common components of this after-meal digestive course, if taken directly after the meal. Murky soups called jjigae are also very common. The most common at breakfast is dwenjangjjigae, fermented soy bean paste added to boiling water, along with nutritious vegetables such as squash, onions, or small raddishes with their leaves intact. It may be enriched with oil or dried anchovies or something. Nutritious cut tofu is added at the end and the stew is allowed to boil without stirring.

The pot is brought to the table as is and everyone eats from it. In the case that nothing or very little is added to the boiled water and paste, the resulting stew is still dwenjangjjigae, only a very poor one. However, an especially delicious or homemade paste can make up for the lack of meat stock and vegetables, especially if tofu is available to add nutrition to the meal. In the summer, cold soup is made from fermented vegetable stock, fermented fish stock, just regular unfermented fish or beef stock, or straight vinegar mixed with water and vegetables such as cucumbers and raddishes and fruits, perhaps crisp pears or apples, to make a crisp and refreshing soup. In this case, you may forego rice altogether, although in the case of a family meal, the rice is provided. Cold rice is an option for these hot mornings. Noodles or barley and other non-rice centric foods can be consumed as well, whether in the summer or any other season.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Korean Food Buffet Thailand

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Korean Instant Noodles

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