Monday, 12 September 2011

Happy Chusok

Dear Korean friends, and readers from all over there in the internet.
I wish you a very Happy Chusok.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Korean cooking: Songpyeon

Chusok is coming. I have written at least 2 times about how Korean people spend their Chusok. But here I will give a glympse on what they cook.

The video above shows a detailed receipe on how to prepare rice cakes which are eaten very often in Korea, but they are especially done during Chusok.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of rice flour (ssalgaru 쌀가루) this often is in the frozen section of a Korean grocery,
  • but if you are somewhere in the West go to your oriental shop and they will give you rice flower over there. More and more often network chains also have it, like Euroshop or Real. 
  • 2/3 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • glug of sesame oil
  • Sesame seed stuffing
  • 1 cup of chamkae (roasted crushed sesame seed)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey - if you are in Eastern Europe, you are lucky, real honey is exactly what you have not far from your home, unlike anywhere else in the world
  • 14 tablespoons of salt
White bean stuffing - white bean paste can be served in variety of forms, but for this we need a sweet version:
  • 1 cup of white beans (navy beans)
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • a pinch of salt

Recipe Steps:

  • For the white bean stuffing, soak the white beans for 1 hr or longer and boil until it gets very tender. Strain, then crush it with a potato masher. Strain again to remove any liquid. Mix the mashed white bean with walnuts, salt and honey. Set aside.
  • Make the sesame seed stuffing by crushing the roasted sesame seeds and mix with salt and honey. You can put this into a blender or food processor for a short burst. Set it aside.
  • Slowly pour 1 cup hot water into 8 cups of rice flour and knead to make a smooth dough. Now you're ready to stuff the dough.
  • Pull off a small piece (about 2 tablespoons) of the rice flour dough and roll it into a small ball. Push it down in the middle to make a small cave and put a teaspoonful of stuffing mix. Press down edges to close it, and make into a half-moon shape, or whichever shape you want to make it into. You can make half sesame seed stuff and half white bean stuffing.
  • When you're finished stuffing, get a steamer pot ready. Fill water to reach about the half of the pot and bring to a boil. Place a damp cheese cloth on the tray of the steamer, and place the stuffed rice balls on the tray. Steam for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for five minutes.
  • Coat your hands with some sesame oil and then move each songpyeon (steamed rice balls) carefully to a serving dish. Serve warm or cold. It's best to eat songpyeon fresh. However, if you do have leftovers, you can store in the refrigerator (it will get hard). You'll need to resteam or microwave it to get it soft again.
Serving Size: 15
Preparation Time: 45 minutes

I will let you know how my rice cakes were soon :)

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Daegu Championships

World Championships in Athletics had started in Daegu, just a few days ago. They will last until Sunday.
While South Korea has been in the top 10 of the medal standings at the last two summer Olympics, winning 13 golds in Beijing, they have never won a medal of any color at a World Championships. 

The strategy is to focus on small number of disciplines but do them good, which makes bigger and bugger success over the years. This year the hosts focused on being among 10 top best national teams. 

Best or not, Koreans are happy to host the event, and are good at it. Also Daegu is a very beutiful city located in the middle of the country in the Geum River Valley enclypsed from the West by Nakdong. Also a city of thousands of trees and one of the greenest in Korea, which was the project realised in recent years to stop enormous overheating and smog in summer. I am not sure however if that has been stopped entirely by now - which maybe one of the reasons of reported headaches among athletes. 

Above on the photo, Paweł Wojciechowski after beating world record in high jump, and also a record of Poland after nearly two decades.