Category Archives: Korean food

diced radish kimchi (kkakdugi)

About a year and half ago, I took a kimchi making class where I learned to make kinds with Hae Jung Cho, a master preserver and chef. Read about the experience here. I was recently inspired by the Netflix series Cooked, inspired by a book of the same name, written by Michael Pollan. He delves into the health benefits of fermentation and how it’s a technique used to preserve food and also explains all the nutritional value of it. I love that he makes his own kimchi too! It reminded me of this easy recipe. Took me about an hour on a Monday night. Enjoy!

day 10

day 10 of the kkakdugi – perfectly ripe!

diced radish kimchi (kkakdugi) adapted from Hae Jung Cho’s recipe
(makes about 2/3 a kimchi jar, the squat half-size one)

3 lbs. radish (I like the Korean grown ones)
1 TB sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 tsp sugar (white is fine)
1/2 cup of ground red pepper
2 TB Asian fish sauce
1 1/2 TB minced garlic
2 TB minced ginger
3 green onion stalks
1/2 bunch of Korean watercress or minari
1 tsp salt (added later)

1. Wash the radish. Use a veggie peeler to peel the skin. Chop into 1-inch cubes.
2. In a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl, place the radish cubes and sprinkle with 1 TB of salt and 1 tsp of sugar. Let this sit for about 40 minutes then drain radish in a strainer or colander for 10 minutes.

1. While the radish is sitting in the salt and sugar mixture, wash and trim the green onions and watercress. Chop them into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
2. In a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl (plastic may stain), mix together the fish sauce, ground red pepper, garlic, and ginger.
3. Add the cubed radish to the bowl and incorporate until all sides of the radish are coated (I suggest using one-time use plastic gloves).
4. Add in the watercress and green onions and gently mix.
5. Taste to determine whether to add more salt into the mixture.
6. Put mixture into a container, like a glass kimchi or mason jar, pressing down to reduce air bubbles.
7. Pour a small amount of water in the mixing bowl to collect all the remaining seasoning and pour into the container. Press down again.
8. Cover container and let it sit in a cool, dark place at room temperature for 2-3 days. Then, refrigerate and enjoy in about 8-10 days as it takes about 10 days to 2 weeks for full fermentation.

I substituted fish sauce for salted shrimp due to a shellfish allergy. To use salted shrimp, add 2 1/2 TB instead of 2 TB of fish sauce. I like making my own kkakdugi as it is less sweet and less salty than the store bought kind. Very refreshing.



Korean watercress (minari)

powder bottle

Red pepper powder – look for ‘Product of Korea’

day 1

Day 1 of the kkakdugi

day 2

Day 2 old kimchi jars come in handy


kimchi quesadilla

I love Korean BBQ places but often the kimchi is disappointing. I dunno why they focus on all the other banchans (side dishes) and meat while neglecting quality kimchi. What ups the flavor quality and experience for me is grilling it to get that nice caramelized taste.

I made some kimchi quesadillas this week as my roommate brought her mom’s homemade kimchi to share. Made with organic, locally grown napa cabbage, it’s really good and even better when grilled and combined w/cheese. Check out my easy recipe for making kimchi quesadillas below. Love me some kimchi and 3-ingredient dishes!

1 collage kimchi quesadilla

kimchi quesadilla (serves 2)
1/2 cup of kimchi (napa cabbage, ripened), chopped
2 tortillas (I used whole wheat tortillas)
1 cup of shredded cheese
pico de gallo to serve (optional)

Place a frying pan on medium heat and add 1 tsp of vegetable oil and kimchi. Pan fry until browned (in my picture, it looks burned but it’s not) and set aside.

Adjust stove heat to medium low and place a tortilla and sprinkle a handful of cheese evenly on half the tortilla. Scatter half the kimchi on top of the cheese. Place another handful of cheese over the kimchi layer and fold over. Brown both sides of the tortilla or until the cheese is all melted. Place quesadilla on a cutting board; should rest for a few minutes. Slice into 4 pieces and repeat the same process for the 2nd quesadilla. Enjoy w/some pico de gallo.

Try this and tell me what you think! Check out my other Asian fusion recipes like the kimchi mac and cheese, korean tacos, or bulgogi pizza. I also love this blog that features more Asian fusion recipes.

japchae (Korean noodles w/beef and veggies)

It’s so funny that when I tell people I have a food blog, they assume that:

a) I make elaborate weeknight dinners (and host multi-course dinner parties),
b) I seek out strange and obscure dishes at restaurants,
c) I’m often cook new and interesting dishes.

The reality is often less glamorous as I have my usual rotation of weeknight meals. It changes here and there but my foolproof, go-to meals are fried rice, stir-fry, simple pastas, and vegetable soups. Sounds simple, right? It is, because like most of you, I don’t have the mental energy or want to eat dinner at 9pm on weeknights. Confession: when it’s super busy at work, I rely on the frozen foods section of Trader Joe’s for my dinners (I love their mushroom risotto and margherita pizza).

Japchae can be an easy weeknight dinner with some careful planning/prep the night before. I recently took some over for a dinner party and my friends really enjoyed it. I haven’t made it in awhile and surprised me how simple it was once I chopped and cooked the veggies the night before. FYI–the pictures you see are from the second time I made it (sans beef and ‘shrooms) but these ingredients really make the dish so don’t skimp 🙂

Hope you make it for the loved ones in your life! It’s worth the effort and chopping. Btw, the sauce measurements are estimates. Just like your umma, I eyeball it and season to taste for that balance of soy sauce and sweetness from the sugar.

Japchae (Korean noodles w/beef and veggies) adapted from Korean Bapsang blog

6 oz. Korean sweet potato starch noodles (dangmyeon)
4 oz. shiitake mushrooms (I used crimini), 1/4″ slices
6 oz. bulgogi (Korean marinated ribeye)
1 small carrot, chopped into thin matchsticks (julienned)
1 small yellow onion, 1/4″ slices
2 green onions, sliced on diagonal, 1″ pieces
2 eggs, beaten

4 TB soy sauce
3 TB sugar
2 1/2 sesame oil
2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 TB toasted sesame seeds

1. Boil noodles in a large pot for about 6-7 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water and cut so they’re not too long (and hard to serve).
2. If you’re adding egg, on a lightly oiled frying pan, cook the egg like an omelette on medium low heat. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes and slice into strips. Saute all the veggies separately. Start w/cooking the onions with 1 tsp of veggie oil and salt + pepper until lightly cooked (like a stir-fry) and still crunchy. Add the green onions toward the end (since they cook quickly). Repeat this process w/carrots, spinach (I used sesame oil), mushrooms, and bulgogi at the end. When the bulgogi is cooled, slice into thin strips. Set aside. Tip: This step can be done the night before.

japchae 1

3. In a small bowl, mix all your ingredients for the sauce until the sugar dissolves.
4. In the large pot, add back the drained noodles and on low heat, mix 3 TB of sauce into the noodles until warmed through. Turn off the heat, add the remaining sauce and beef/veggies. Check for flavor. Does it have the right amount of sweet and saltiness? Add more sugar, soy sauce, or sesame oil depending on the missing flavor(s). When it tastes just right, sprinkle sesame seeds and black pepper.

japchae 2

Great at room temp or the next day for lunch. Mmmm.. your coworkers will be jealous 🙂

japchae 3

labor day weekend



group picture


The great thing about having a birthday so close to labor day weekend is having the long weekend to spend time with friends and family. My friend SH and I went hiking in Malibu (Escondido falls) early enough to beat the heat and then dipped our feet into the ocean (felt so good!). Of course the best part was indulging ourselves with brunch at 26 Beach in Venice (anytime there’s ice cream for breakfast, I’m game).

I had friends over for lunch on Monday and grilled teriyaki chicken and they graciously provided appetizers and desserts (snuck in a delicious cake). Ended a fun-filled day with naeng myun (cold Korean buckwheat noodles) at Cho Sun Ok in Buena Park.

Tuesday night, I took advantage of a groupon deal and enjoyed classical music under the stars and made a new friend/food blogger (check out her delectable blog).

Yesterday, on my actual birthday, my friend Christine of feedmysole treated me to a memorable meal at Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo where they make dishes with freshly made udon noodles. We sat at the bar and watched the noodle master at his craft (love the rolling pin hanging racks) while savoring our braised pork belly and uni cream udon. OMG, what a difference it makes!

marugame #2

pork belly

uni cream udon

I can honestly say, I’m still stuffed and more importantly, I am richly blessed. Special thanks to my sister who helped me behind-the-scenes with her servant heart and showered me with extra love.

Giveaway: Seoultown Kitchen by Debbie Lee

It’s been over two years since I wrote my first blog post. As a fun way to thank my awesome readers, I thought I’d do a cookbook giveaway as one lucky winner will receive a copy of Seoultown Kitchen by Debbie Lee. This was actually chosen as one of the ten New York Times 2011 Notable Cookbooks and she was also a contestant on the Food Network’s reality competition show (for person with their own show). The reason I chose this book was I’ve often been that friend that’s taken my non-Korean friends to enjoy some delicious Korean BBQ. Not necessarily because they haven’t tried it but it’s always fun to go with someone who speaks the language and understands the culture (to some extent).

I remember in grad school when four of my friends and I took a well deserved extended dinner ‘break’ to enjoy some Korean BBQ while we were studying for our comprehensive exam (the last HUGE hurdle before the real world).

cover 2

I didn’t actually watch the The Next Food Network Star (as she was a contestant) but judging from the book, she definitely seems like she puts a lot of love into her food. It’s written for a mainstream audience while honoring the traditional Korean flavors and also throwing in some western flavors and ingredients like bacon (hello!). She devotes a full chapter to pork (pork belly), tofu, kimchi, etc. It’s cool how her book has come into the mainstream market when Korean food has popularized. I’m seeing food bloggers make kimchi and use ingredients like gochujang (red pepper paste).

Doesn’t this look amazing? Bacon wrapped tteok(rice cake) skewers. Btw, the pictures in the cookbook are gorgeous so don’t judge by my iphone shots of the pages.

bacon tteok skewer

Or Korean style chile chicken wings

ckn wings 2

And nakji bokeum (spicy seafood stir-fry) with noodles

nakji bokeum 2

So I’ve tempted you with these close-ups. Here’s how to enter the giveaway:

1. Leave a comment below mentioning your favorite Korean dish/food. Only one comment (entry) per person (see #2 for the exception). Please include your email when you enter (only visible to me. I won’t spam you.)

2. Leave a 2nd comment saying you’re a current or new subscriber (you can do so in the next 7 days).

I’ll randomly choose a winner next Friday, January 18, 2013 at noon, PST. Sorry, this is only open to US residents.