I don’t think there is anything (food-wise) that says KOREA as much as kimchi does. Actually there is no Korean meal without its small plate of kimchi. It is the mos clasic of bachan dishes that adorn every Korean meal. Basically, kimchi is fermented vegetables. It was a way to preserve vegetables and have flavourful food all year round (it can be used up to six months after the fermenting process has started).
There are many different types of kimchi, but nappa cabbage kimchi is the most common and the perfect one to start learning how to make your own kimchi.
When I was living in South Korea, I tried kimchi many times, but its strong flavour was a bit too much for me. It isn’t an easy flavour for Westerners to start with, specially not for a 14-year-old Spaniard boy. It’s strong, salty, and quite spicy. Very characteristic. It was in another trip I made to Geoje some years later, when I was in my twenties, to teach Eglish to Korean children, that I started loving kimchi.
The greatest thing about making kimchi, is that is a big enterprise, so it is awesome to make it with friends. It is great to turn it into a communal event, something that is very common in Korean, in the small towns, and big families, and it is still done today.
Kimchi can be eaten by itself, or in a lot of recipes.
Easy Kimchi (Mak Kimchi)
This is a very easy recipe to double, or even double the doubled recipe (if you catch my drift). In Korea they wouldn’t normally make kimchi out of only one cabbage. So, maybe it would be a great thing to do. I have always thought that throwing a Kimchi Party would be sooo much fun and a great way to learn how to make it. Anybody up for it?
- 1 nappa cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. salt
- 190 ml. water
- 2 Tbsp. rice flour
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
- ¼ onion
- ½ Tbsp. fresh ginger, skin off & chopped.
- 2 Tbsp. fish suace.
- 80 g. gochugaru
- 1 or 2 spring onion(s), julienne
- 1 carrot, julienne
Cut the cabbage into bite sized pieces (as in pictures). On a big bowl (or the kitchen sink) clean the cabbages, up to three times. The dissolve the salt into water and bathe the cabbage on the salty water for, at least, two hours. Then rinse and dry it well.
To make the porridge, on a slow heat, dissolve the rice flour in the 190 ml of water. Mix well and keep mixing until it starts to thicken, then add sugar and let it cook for a minute more. Transfer the porridge to a bowl and let it cool (you can use an ice bath for this too).
Combine the garlic, onion and ginger, with a mortar and pestle. Add the fish sauce and mix well.
On a very big bowl, mix the porridge, the garlic mix and the gochugaru. (I recommend using your hands for this). Lastly add the spring onion and carrot.
Once thoroughly mixed, add the dry cabbage and mix very well.
Pack the mixture very tight in tupperware or glass containers. Let it ferment at room temperature for 3 or 4 days and then transfer to the refrigerator. By the 4th day it is ready to eat.
One of my favourite places to visit everytime I go to Madrid is Federica & Co., a “magic garden” with some of the most beautiful shops in Madrid. This garden is located in the interior garden of Hermosilla, 26, in the Salamanca district. Here are located two of my favourite shops: 98&YU and Federica & Co.
It was a bit sad to visit this time, because it wasn’t completely open since they were still going undergoing some remodeling after the fire that occurred a few months ago, but in spite of this, my Mom, Aunts and I had a lot of fun, looking around, doing some shopping and looking at and petting the dogs. I always like the ambience of everything so open, so friendly.
It was a great blessing to visit F&Co. with my family. Specially since it was my Mom who told me all about this amazing & strange haven of shopping in the middle of Madrid.
I never really thought that the passing of a woman whom I only knew through her writing and her books would affect me so. It has been so long since I read her amazing memoir “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings“; so long that I don’t remember exact words, not even all the stories that are told in that book, but I cannot forget the feeling I was left with when the book ended: suddenly I was in love with girl, I felt she was part of me & I was part of her. I wanted her strength. I felt she was talking directly to me, even though I was a gay white man born in the 80s in the Basque Country.
Maya Angelou, inspired me to be a better person; her poems, her television appearances (specially her last appearances in Super Soul Sunday with Oprah), taught me, as so did, & still do, Anne Lamott’s books, the posibility to be oneself, to be hopeful and to learn to listen to God (whatever we might call her/him).
She wrote two cookbooks, “Hallelujah! The Welcome Table: A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes” (2004) and “Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart” (2010). From this second book I have rescued this easy & simple recipe, an American classic: popover. Something I had never tried to make. So this is my breakfast in homage to Dr. Maya Angelou, one of the most important women in the last centrury.
Maya Angelou’s Popovers
adapted form “Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Slendidly, Eat Smart” de Dr. Maya Angelou
This is a very simple recipe. They even might feel a bit insipid, but it is because they are a sorf of canvas for great food, both sweet and savory. A bit of parmesan can be added to the mix before baking, if you are planning to used them in a savoury dish. See this as the basic recipe, from which one can grow!
- 2 eggs
- 235 ml. milk
- 20 g. butter, melted
- 125 g. all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 220C and prepar the popover molds (or muffin molds if those are the ones you are using). Beat the eggs slightly and add the milk and melted butter. Mix weel and then add the flour and sault. Whisk vigorously for a couple of minutes. Do not overbeat. It is a very liquid batter.
Fill two thirds of each mold (or ramekin) & bake for 40 minutes.
Hornear durante 40 minutos.
Eat right out of the oven, with butter & jam; or with an egg and some bacon. The can be reheated but they will not taste the same.
I admit it: I get obsessed easily, specially with beautiful things. Emma Bridgewater‘s pottery is one of those obsessions. A couple of months ago I discovered that both Country Living & Country Homes & Interiors (two of my favourite magazines), had advertisements & pieces on a new wallpaper and fabric range designed by this British artist, and they also wrote about her new memoir “Toast & Marmalade and other stories“, now on its way to my house, thank you very much, Amazon.
The thing is, in this last trip to Madrid, at the Living In London store, I found some Emma Bridgewater tinware, and I almost got one of the sets but, I just didn’t have enough space to get them to Bilbao. I’ll just have to wait to buy some pottery through the Internet.
She designs not only pottery, but also lovely things like wallpaper, shopping bags or iPhone covers. I’m already working on my wishlist. I’ll be starting with this major vase form the “Blue splatter” collection.
I don’t know if I have ever told you but, during the years 1998 & 1999, I lived in South Korea. I was a teenager at the time, although at eleven years old I had already spend a summer there. I was living in Geojedo, a small island in the southern part of the peninsula, close-ish to Pusan. My father was working in one of the shipyards in the island.
While living in Geojedo, I learned so much, about Korea, about ex-pat communities, most of which were American and British, living and working, as my dad was doing. This made me love traveling, and made me love trying new foods. In those two years I spend there we traveled all over South Korea, and we got to visit cities like Gyeongju & Seoul, and got to see many many temples.
One of the most used ingredients in Korean cooking is gochujang, a spicy fermented red pepper paste, that is used as a sauce, to macerate meat in, or to give some kick to soups.
This is one of my favourite soups. It is quite spicy, so you can measure out some of the gochujang, if you are not quite sure of how spicy you will be liking it. I recommend maybe just using one tablespoon of gochujang, and then trying to add from then on.
Korean tofu soup with gochujang
Although this recipe uses quite a lot of special ingredients, all are easy to find on Asian supermarkets or through the Internet.
Yo recomiendo servirlo con un simple bol de arroz blanco. No hay nada como coger una cucharada de arroz y untarla en la sopa, o coger cucharadas de sopa y echarlo encima del bol de arroz. (Por cierto, el arroz blanco yo lo cuezo con un poco de sal, una estrella de anís y dos o tres semillas de cardamomo. Nada más).
I tend to serve this with a simple bowl of white rice. One of my favourite things is to dip a spoonful of white rice on this soup. Some people like drizzling a couple of spoonfuls of the soup over the rice. Either way it is awesome. (By the way, for this, I normally boil white rice with salt, one star anise & two or three cardamom pods.
You can go vegan if you just substitute the anchovy or fish sauce with another Tablespoon of soy sauce.
- 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 80 g. scallions (or onion), julienne
- 70 g. green pepper, julienne
- 25 g. green garlic, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. gochujang
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp. anchovy sauce or fish sauce (without MSG), if using.
- 1 liter water
- 1 splash soy sauce
- 1 handful of soy sprouts
- 200 g. tofu, diced
- 1 splash of white rice vinegar
On a big pot for soup, heat the sesame oil and gently fry the scallions, pepper and green garlic, until soft. Then add the garlic, fry until golden brown. Then add the gochujang suace, ground ginger and anchovy sauce. Stir well and let the flavours start melting into each other. A few minutes later, add the water and a splash of soy sauce. Bring it to a boil and then let it cook, covered, on a medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.
Then, add the soy sprouts, the touf and a splash of vinegar. Stir and let it cook for another 15 minutes, more or less, on a low-medium heat.
Before serving, heat it through again.