Hummus

I’m off to see the wizard the wonderful wizard of OZ! I’m going to Vietnam tomorrow so thought I would squeeze in one more little post to keep you nourished whilst I am away. I will be far too busy getting drunk and stuffing my face to find the time to be blogging, so you will have to suffer without me for the next 9 days. Hard as it may be I’m sure you will all soldier on though.

As a parting gift I leave with you my hummus recipe, which is one of the things my friends bug me most to make. A quick trip to the foreign food mart to secure your chick peas and your on your way. When I lived in Cheongju I also saw them at the world food mart too.

Ingredients

300g dried chickpeas

3-5 tablespoons of Tahini (buy it at the foreign food mart in Itaewon or make your own, it’s really easy just blend sesame seeds with olive oil)

200 – 300ml Olive oil

3 – 5 cloves of garlic

The juice  and zest of 1 or 2 Lemons

2 -4 tablespoons of cumin (foreign food mart or Gmarket)

1-2 tablespoons of paprika (foreign food mart or Gmarket)

3 tablespoons of peanut butter (optional)

Directions

Soak your chick peas over night or for several hours in cold water, do not add any salt. Cook your chick peas in boiling water for 2-3 hours or until they mash easily with the back of a spoon. I use my rice cooker to cook them as you don’t have to worry about topping up the water, just give them a lot at the beginning and they will be fine.  Once your chick peas are done, strain them but reserve some of the water for later. Blend the chick peas in your blender with a little of the extra water, olive oil lemon and garlic do this until they start to resemble the consistency of hummus. Everyone has a different preference about how they like their hummus, some like the runny oily kind whilst others prefer it thick. It’s really up to you, whatever floats your boat, so add more or less oil as you need it. Then you can start to add your spices, a little at first stirring them in until you get the taste you want. You also might want to add more tahini and lemon juice too. Hummus is one of those recipes that is hard to pin down. I generally make it the same each time but the results always seem to vary. As long as you get all the basics in there though it should turn out well. I’ve read a lot of recipes which recommend using peanut butter in the place of tahini, I wasn’t too keen on this, but I liked the result when I added both so don’t be afraid to play around with it by adding different things. Serve with my homemade flat breads.  Happy eating and I’ll see you all soon.

How to order food in Korea!

So I’m off on holiday for a week and I don’t want you all to starve to death, my 13 followers are very precious to me. So I thought I could pass on some of my wisdom to help you order some food without even leaving the house.

The first thing you need to do is find out your address. There are so many people living here in Korea who don’t know their address. There are two easy ways to find it. If your still on your first Alien card then it’s written on the back, although some people have the school’s address so just check its your apartment number. The second way is to get one of those pieces of paper called bills that are put into your letter box every month, the address is written on it. If you can’t read Korean then have one of your co-teachers translate it for you.

If you have a lot of restaurants near where you live then a great way of securing a delivery when you need it is to go to them and give them your address and phone number, then when you call them they will automatically know who you are. If you order the same pizza time after time or read Konglish then this should be relatively easy for you, when ordering new things from the menu a bit of Korean always helps.

If your Korean is even remotely passable then use one of those many delivery leaflets that are pushed through your door on a regular basis and call them up. I even managed to do this in my first year here and I think anyone that knows me would say my Korean is poor at its best, so give it a try, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. The restauranteurs are always keen for business so will try their best to understand what you want and where you are.

Mcdonalds – Yes you can get Mcdonalds delivered to your door here in Korea if you are lucky enough to live relatively near one. The number is 1600 -5252 and they speak English. Most delivery services are 24 hours a day too, so no need to go without that midnight snack. This is the thing we always longed for when I lived in England and was feeling hungover and now it’s a reality.

Pizza hut – A classic, you can check out their menu online http://pizzahut.co.kr/ and choose what you want then call them on their central number 1588-5588. If the person you are speaking to can’t speak English they will call you back with someone who does. The best thing about this service is that they store all your details so the next time you call its much easier.

Dominos – They have an English menu online which automatically makes the whole process a lot easier. http://www.dominos.co.kr/index.do Dominos used to be the easiest way of ordering pizza as you could pay for it online using your card in the English setting, but they have now changed the pay system which doesn’t seem to work on my computer for some reason. However I have just been advised by a faithful reader that you can pay with cash if you order online on the Korean version. 1577-3082

Lotteria – The inferior Korean cousin of Mcdonalds also delivers, not everyone’s cup of tea but for those of you not living within the Mcdonalds delivery zone a  Lotteria burger is better than no burger at all. Personally, I’m rather fond of the European Frico with cheese.  1600-9999.

If all of these fail then its always good to have a kind and loving Korean friend who can call up and order for you, to get you through those bleak and hungry times.

Cheese Tarts

I really miss being able to buy ready-made pastry. Short-crust, filo or puff I love them all. Being able to go to the store and just throw a couple of things on a delicious pastry base makes such a lovely dinner. However with the lack of ready to roll pastry here in Korea, it’s a pain in the neck to have to make your own every time you want it.

I have been looking at my spring roll wrappers for a while now, they look very similar to filo pastry, would they work for a tart? Turns out they do, they worked even better than expected. They cook really quickly and have a nice crunchy texture. They are also really cheap so you can save those pennies and put them towards the filling.

Ingredients

16 Springroll / samosa wrappers (I got mine at the foreign food mart in Itaewon)

1 sliced tomato

150g grated cheddar/ mozzarella

4 teaspoons of Garlic herb Philadelphia

50 g spinach

2 red onions

Directions

Defrost the spring roll wrappers so you are able to peel them off one by one. Arrange them in your tin by layering them on top of each other. Try and skew them so you get the pointy bits the whole way around, about 3 or 4 will do it. Then choose your filling, pretty much anything will do here so let your imagination run wild. I just had a go with what was in the fridge. I caramelised some red onions with a bit of balsamic vinegar then topped them with the Philadelphia and then the grated cheese. The other ones I made had the spinach, tomatoes and grated cheese . Put them in the oven for about 5 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Serve on their own or with a side salad. Voilà a quick and easy dinner.

Mi Casa

I was very excited about eating some spanish cuisine as it’s something I rarely cook myself.  I used to work in a Spanish restaurant when I lived in Sydney and they always kept me very well fed. We managed to secure a table in the busy restaurant on short notice. Sadly I left feeling rather disappointed and little hungry. There wasn’t anything majorly wrong it was just a few bad points that added up to a less than perfect night. Our total bill was 78,000, not astronomical but I don’t want to spend that much on dinner then feel the need to go and buy a kebab because I’m still hungry. You might feel I’m being picky but one thing that annoyed me is that they told us the kitchen closed at 10, which was fine, we had plans later that evening anyway but they brought out all four of our dishes before we got our drinks. It was a Friday night and I was looking forward to having a nice drink with some dinner but by the time it finally showed up I had lost the desire for it. It wasn’t a fancy cocktail, just a sangria and a beer, but to have it come at the end of the meal was disappointing. It’s service 101 that you get your drinks before your food.  Otherwise everything else was fine.

The meal started off well with the Albondigas en tomate (spanish meatballs), 10,000 for the small portion. They were good and came with a trio of sauces and fresh bread.

Next up was was the Montaditos (bread topped with salmon and ham) 7,000 for 2 this was my boyfriends choice I didn’t eat them but he said the salmon topped with capers was great with a delightful mustard dressing and the one topped with parma ham was  nice but not as good as the salmon.

Then came the Patatas Bravas, which was my biggest disappointment. Having worked in a spanish restaurant and visited Spain several times I knew what patatas bravas should be and sadly these were not the delicious little chunks of potato I was expecting. They were hand cooked crisps. Had this been specified on the menu, I wouldn’t have ordered them. I nearly sent them back and wish I had now, as crisps they were nice and the accompanying sauce was ok, but not what I was expecting. I would not be willing to pay 12,000 for a few potato chips, which is what they were. You could have two kebabs for that.

The saving grace of this meal was the Panceta A La Plancha (pork belly) 26,000. The pork belly itself was very good and cooked to perfection, especially the fat, although the balsamic onions were slighty too acidic and overpowered the taste of the pork, this dish was good, but small, a bigger portion would have been better for the price.

They served Paella here which I really would have liked to have tried but it was rather expensive, although I think I would have left with a full belly had I chosen it. The girls at the next table had barely touched theirs and I was very tempted to ask if I could some but thankfully didn’t. The wine list was very extensive and the bar upstairs seemed to be thriving, perhaps that was why our own drinks took so long. I personally wouldn’t return to Mi Casa as I think my money could be better spent elsewhere. However if you have deep pockets and enjoy wine this could be the place for you.

Mi Casa is located in the allyway behind the Hamilton Hotel right opposite, My Thai China (see my review here) 119-21 Itaewon-dong, Yongsam-gu, seoul, Korea. Call them on 02-790-0063 or check out their website for a full details and a menu.  http://www.micasa.kr/en/index.html

Halloumi Pesto Pasta

This is a little treat I whipped up for myself with all the left overs I had over in the fridge. It turned out great it will be making it into my regular collection. Quick, easy and delicious, just what I look for in a weekday dinner. My boyfriend was lucky to get some. I used penne pasta in this dish but you could use any other kind of shaped pasta you can find, spaghetti would be ok but not ideal, don’t use macaroni. It has no place in this dish.

Ingredients 

300g penne pasta (you can alter this to a bigger or smaller portion if you like, it’s currently on sale in Homeplus 1,800 for 500g)

60g of Halloumi (I just used the leftovers I had, you could use any other kind of cheese though)

100g Anti Pasto peppers (recipe here)

3 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons of pesto (recipe below, but you can use the jar stuff if you like, its at Costco and the foreign food mart)

15 cherry tomatoes halved ( I soaked my in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar first with a pinch of salt)

A generous grating of fresh parmesan

Directions

Cook the penne in salted water for about 10 minutes or until its al dente and drain. Fry the garlic in a little butter or oil until its soft and slightly browned. Add the halloumi until its also browned on each side, it should only take a minute or too. Next add the cherry tomatoes and peppers and stir for a minute or 2. Finally add the pasta and pesto until everything is well coated. Leave on the heat for a further minute or so until the pesto is warmed through, then transfer to a bowl and top with the grated parmesan. Voila a fantastic dinner made from leftovers.

Homemade Pesto

Ingredients

100g of basil (it’s all my plant could muster, if you have more use it)

100g of spinach ( I used this to bulk up the lack of basil, but I found it worked rather well)

50g of walnuts (I’m pretty sure I have seen pine nuts in Homeplus, but you can use walnuts or almonds in their place)

3-6 table spoons of olive oil.

A generous grating of fresh parmesan.

A  small pinch of salt

Directions

Put the basil, spinach, walnuts and olive oil in the blender for a minute or so until it resembles the consistency of pesto. Add more oil if you need it, or add more spinach/basil if it’s too oily. Mix in the grated parmesan and salt. Voilà. This pesto is actually very easy to make and if you already have the basil and parmesan, you can get everything else in a Korea supermarket. I’ve never actually made pesto before as you can get such nice fresh one as home in the supermarket, but here in Korea I haven’t actually found one in a jar that I’ve liked all that much. The pesto will keep in the fridge for at least a week so it’s the perfect pasta accessory.

Aloha Table

Last night I dined at the Aloha Table and it was a very enjoyable evening. They have a beautiful terrace here for you to enjoy but sadly we could not get a table as they were all reserved. We ate inside, which was still very nice and had the weather not been so beautiful it would have been the ideal place. We came early (at around 5pm) so they clearly are not aware of  how to turn tables, when we left 2 hours later there were still several tables unoccupied which we could have used.

There are plenty of choices on the menu at Aloha Table, some of them Hawaiian others not much (spaghetti bolognese???) There are lots of salads, burgers , meats and fish to choose from but we decided to go for the set BBQ menu priced at 19,800 per person. For this you get a platter of barbecue meats, a variety of side dishes, unlimited french fries and edamame beans plus a Hawaiian shaved ice to finish it off. If this couldn’t get any better you can add an unlimited beer 5,000 or wine 7,000 for 90 minutes.

The sides came first, small buffalo chicken wings in a yummy BBQ sauce, macaroni salad, tofu and nacho chips with sour cream. The sides were fine but nothing to write home about. Next up were the bottomless french fries and edamame beans and boy were they good. For 5 people we must have got through about 12 portions of chips at least, I think I manages about 5, they were so good. Chips are one my favorite foods, so the fact that it was all can you eat pretty much made my day. I also love edamame beans and this is the only restaurant in Korea I’ve seen them in. I’m sure plenty of Japanese places must have them, but bottomless? perhaps not. I wish they sold them in supermarkets here, they are one of my favorite snacks, if anyone knows where to find them let me know!

On to the main course. We were served up a sizzling feast of barbecue meats. Rib-eye steak, garlic soy chicken and spicy ribs. The steak was thick and juicy and the chicken was covered in this glorious thick BBQ sauce, which was amazing if you dipped the french fries into it. I thought the ribs were good although they could have been improved by being doused in the sauce (I’m a big fan of sauce). One of my dining companions didn’t really enjoy the rosemary on the ribs but overall the barbecue fare went down very well indeed, the pans were left bare at the end. Accompanying the meat was corn on the cob and a vegetable kebab which is a nice treat  for anyone not wanting to dine solely on meat and french fries.

Last up was the Hawaiian shaved ice, to be honest it looked better than it tasted. It was reminiscent of Mr Frosty the toy we all had when we were kids. It was just ice covered with flavored syrups, but it was cool and refreshing and I think after all that food we couldn’t have manged anything too heavy anyway. They have plenty of other more substantial desserts on the menu if rainbow ice isn’t your thing.

Overall our group left happy and well fed, the goal of any meal out. Everyone enjoyed it, (even the former vegetarian) and vowed to return again. It’s a great place to go for a big group meal if you get the set deal as it eliminates all the problems that can arise from group dining, ie when the check comes. It’s located in Hongdae so you can head straight out after to party the night away.

Aloha table is located in Hongdae at 364-14, Seogyo-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul. If you walk along the main road at the bottom of the park away from the university towards Club FF and the like, it’s on a side street on the right hand side just a little further up from Burger B. If you’re hoping to enjoy the summer nights on the terrace then a reservation is recommended. Call them on 02-324-7718 or check out their website  (Korean) http://www.alohatable.co.kr/waikiki/

Anti Pasto – Roast Peppers

I think you have probably learned by now that I am fond of a bargain, especially when it comes to food. When I found 10 yellow peppers for 1,000 at my local supermarket I knew I had to get them. Some people may have balked at the challenge, what the hell am I going to do with 10 peppers that are on their last legs? Not me though, I rose to occasion and was thrilled with the results. Since they were already rather ripe I decided to make anti pasto. This is the perfect recipe if your living on your own and always worried about veg going off if you don’t use it, as it keeps in the fridge for weeks, ready and waiting for you to spice up a sandwich, salad, or pasta. They are even delicious on their own.

I don’t really get many unexpected visitors living here in Oryu dong but I have always wanted to be one of those girls that can whip up a great meal if someone stops by unannounced. My fridge is generally quite well stocked anyway (although usually for the purpose of my own gluttony and not for unexpected guests). These are a great ingredient to have on standby should the need arrive.

Ingredients

10 red or yellow peppers (although you can make this with as little as 2 or 3)

200-300 ml of olive oil (this is just a guide, use as much or little as you need)

3 -5 cloves of garlic

Directions

Put the peppers (whole) on to a tray and drizzle them with olive oil.

Cook them in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the sides have become black and charred, you should turn them over about half way to make sure they get evenly burned.

After the peppers are cooked you need to remove the skins, there are various methods of doing this, I found covering the pan with a carrier bag works quite well. When the peppers have cooled, remove the skins and seeds within and discard. Slice or tear the peppers into pieces then put them in a jar. Slice the garlic and add it in too (you can roast the garlic too if you wish). Top the jar up with olive oil and store in the fridge or enjoy straight away by yourself or with friends.

Baba Ganoush and Flatbread

I was at my favorite Korean supermarket yesterday and managed to get 7 aubergines (eggplants) for 1,200 won. How could I resist such a bargain? So I decided to make baba ganoush, a yummy eggplant dip. After the sucess of pizza dough I thought it would have a crack at making some flat breads too. This recipe is very easy to follow although with the dip you can alter it to suit your own tastes.

Baba ganoush

Ingredients

7 aubergines

3 table spoons of tahini (you can buy this at the foreign food market or make it yourself, its just sesame seeds and olive oil blended together)

2 tablespoons of sour cream (optional)

2- 6 cloves of garlic

lemon juice

salt

table spoon cumin

Directions

Slice your aubergines down the middle and drizzle with olive oil, then roast them in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they are soft inside and the skins are crinkly. I also roast the garlic at the same time. After they have cooled scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork, or you can do this in the blennder. The more traditional way is to just use the pulp inside, but i don’t like to waste the skins so i usually blend them up too (I dont think it really affects the taste either way). Add the roasted garlic and tahini and blend again. Then stir in the cumin, lemon juice and salt to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, paprika and some chopped fresh herbs to make it look pretty.

Flat Bread

Ingredients

500g of flour (I used the one for noodles and dumplings)

2 tablespoons of oil

10oz of water

8g pack of yeast (found in most Korean supermarkets)

2 tablespoons of salt

1 tablespoon of mixed herbs

1 tablespoon of cumin

Directions

Stir the salt and instant yeast into the flour and mix well. Add the oil and water until the flour becomes dough like, you may not need all of the water or you may require a little more. When the dough is in a big ball and clearing the sides of the bowl and the bottom you have the right consistency and its time to start kneading. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes to make it more elastic. If you want to make pita breads in the oven then , leave the dough for an hour or so to proof. However if you want to make flat breads and cook them in the frying pan as I did you can start straight away. Take a small ball of the dough and roll out thinly on a floured surface with a rolling pin (if you dont have a rolling pin you could use a can of something heavy, although I think its well worth the 2 dollar investment at Daiso). Dry fry the flat bread  for a minute or two on each side until its lightly browned and cooked through. Then serve with your delicious dip.

High Street Market

I had passed this store a number of times before I finally ventured in and I’m very glad I did. It has a wealth of foreign food and deli items. Fresh coffee beans, meat, cheese, and wine can all be sourced here to make the perfect brunch. Laid out like a deli you would find at home, it’s so  much more stylish than the foreign food mart where everything is crammed in. This is the kind of store that you have been longing for and now its right here in Itaewon.

The main pull of High Street Market compared to the foreign food mart is their meat counter. They have a buffet of meat produce available. Lamb, turkey, pork chops, and a variety of different cuts of beef can be found in abundance here. They have all manner of cold cuts such as smoked turkey, roast beef, and pork  meats all ready to make your favourite sandwich or sub. It beats the plastic ham they sell in Homeplus any day of the week!

The cheese section in this store is also rich and plentiful (Brie, Gouda, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Gorgonzola, Bleu, Gruyere, Red Leicester, Fresh mozzarella and Parmesan) , they seemed to have everything I could think about wanting. Imported cheese is expensive in Korea full stop, but I generally think its worth paying for, in the end its only the cost of a cocktail or two so I’m usually happy to indulge myself.

Another great thing about this store is they have plenty of baking equipment which can be at times difficult to source.  Homeplus doesn’t have everything ,especially when it come to items that Koreans have no need for so its nice to know you can get everything you need in one trip.  There are also all the baking ingredients you would require, like whole-wheat and rye flour, a whole shelf devoted to Betty Crocker and a variety of other baking products we take for granted at home but just can’t seem to find here in Korea. Although some of these things can be found in the foreign food market it can take ages to walk around picking everything up as nothing is laid out as conveniently as it is at this store. It really is a shopper’s paradise.

The most exciting part for me was all the sugary treats. It’s a sweet lovers dream, they have a large variety of chocolate ( a fair few from my post here) and sweets and candies galore. There is something to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.

There are also plenty of ready to eat products at this store. They had a rather extensive list of sandwiches which are made to order which you can eat in the small cafe within the shop or take away. I can recommend the cookies too. Also available are home-made lasagna, hummus, coleslaw and tzatziki but I didn’t try them as I’ve made most of them myself. Check out my coleslaw recipe and Lasagna recipe. Hummus coming soon…….

High Street Market sets itself apart from other some of the other foreign supermarkets in the area by providing a delivery service. So you don’t even have to leave the house to get a taste of home. Free delivery is even included on rainy days, what could be better?

If I havent convinced you  so far to pay them a visit then this picture should do the trick. 3 different varieties of salt & vinegar crisps, what more could a girl ask for?

High Street market is located in Itaewon, come out of exit 2 and keep walking up through Itaewon, its towards the far end, next to the IP Boutique hotel (map below). Opening hours are 10am – 9pm . Phone number 02-790-5450 . Full product details can be found on their website, as well as all information about online delivery.  http://highstreet.co.kr/

Halloumi Stuffed Peppers

Last week I went to foreign food mart when I had rather a lot to drink. I always end up buying far more expensive items when I am a little tipsy than when I am sober. Anyhow I woke up the next morning to find some halloumi sitting in my fridge as well as more salt and vinegar crisps than it is acceptable for one person to eat.

I’m actually very glad that I bought the halloumi, as it’s a treat I always enjoy when I’m on holiday. For those not aware of the deliciousness of halloumi its a gorgeous cheese from Cyprus. If mozzarella and feta had a baby, halloumi would be the result. It has the texture of mozzarella and saltiness of feta. I decided to make some delicious stuffed peppers.

Ingredients

Halloumi (mine came in a 180g pack but I only used 120g)

3 whole peppers (any color)

100g of couscous

A glug of olive oil

Directions

Start off by making the couscous. I made a simple one with just courgette in it, but you can see my previous recipe if you don’t know how to make it. Cut the peppers in half lengthways then drizzle them with olive oil and roast them in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until they are slightly soft. Fill the peppers with the couscous, then top with a slice of halloumi and put under the grill again until the cheese is golden brown. Drizzle with pesto and serve with salad. Voilà, another tasty treat.