Friday, August 24, 2012

Sweet Rice Dessert 약식 Yaksik

Hey guys, so I'm back with a recipe this week. School has been getting more hectic since there is so much that I still need to so before I graduate. Anyways to get my mind off all of that I'm going to post a quick blog post today.

Today I will be introducing you to a traditional Korean dessert that is thought to have slightly medicinal properties because of it's ingredients. The dish is called Yaksik 약식. It is a sweet Korean dish made by steaming glutinous rice, and mixing with chestnuts, jujubes, and pine nuts. It is seasoned with honey or brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sometimes cinnamon.

Traditionally it is eaten on Jeongwol Daeboreum (정월대보름), a Korean holiday which falls on every 15 January in the lunar calendar, but also for weddings and hwangap festivities. But it is still really nice to have all year around, why wait for the festivities?

Yaksik got its name due to the use of honey in its ingredients. According to the etymology book Ah'un Gakbi (hangul:아언각비, hanja:雅言覺非) written in early 19th century Joseon, it is noted that honey was commonly called as yak (medicine). Thus honey buckwheat wine was called yakju (약주), honey rice was called yakban (약반, old word for yaksik), and fried honey ricecake was called yakgwa (약과).

Records of yaksik date back to Samguk Yusa, written in the 13th century. Legend says that King Soji of Silla headed on a journey on the 15th of January, when a crow alerted him of danger. The King saved himself from a potential revolt thanks to the crow's warning and the day of January 15 was designated as a day of remembrance thereafter. Glutinous rice was put up as an offering during the commemorative rites, which became the origin of yaksik.

The adding of pine nuts, chestnuts, red dates, honey, and oil were added in the Goryeo era. Yaksik is also mentioned in various books from the Joseon period such as Dongguk Sesigi(동국세시기), Yeolyang Seisigi(열양세시기), Dong'guk Yeoji Seungram (동국여지승람). In Yeolyang Seisigi, it is said that envoys to China shared yaksik with the people in Yeonkyung, and most enjoyed the dish.

It's has been a while since I have done a history post of the dishes that I am going to post about, but I think I can get used to it....

And now, to move on to the recipe. There is a bit of work involved but the reward is much greater.

4 C sweet rice
2 C water
(1 1/3 to 1 1/2 C sugar + 3 T honey) OR (1 1/2 C dark brown sugar)
4 T soy sauce
4 T sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
1 1/2 C peeled chestnuts (uncooked and it can be from a can or fresh)
1 C dried jujubes (aka dried red dates)
2 T pine nuts

You need: a pressure cooker (pressure rice cooker works best), 8×8 cake pan or 12 or more cupcake liners or remekins.

1. Measure the sweet rice and soak in cold water for 1 hour (soak 5 hours if you are cooking in the microwave instead of a pressure cooker).
2. Measure and prepare the pine nuts, chestnuts and jujubes. Drain the syrup from the canned chestnuts and set aside. Canned chestnuts work best but you can also use uncooked peeled chestnuts.
3. Wash the dried jujubes, making sure the dust in between the wrinkles are completely washed away. Dry them with a towel. If they are seeded, cut around the seed. If they are seedless, one less thing to do! Cut the flesh into small squares (1/2 inch) or strips.
4. Save the seeds and make some jujube water by boiling and then simmering the seeds in 2 cups of water for 10 min. Now you have jujube tea (대추차 daechucha) which you can drink with some honey and also use some to cook the rice later. Jujube water adds much more flavor.
5. After the sweet rice has soaked for an hour, drain the water from the rice. Cook the rice in a pressure rice cooker by adding 2 C of water (use 1/2 C of the jujube water from step 2 if you can) and follow the instructions for cooking regular white rice. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can cook the rice in the microwave – add about 1 C of water and cook on high for 10 minutes.
6. When the rice is cooked (the rice will be very sticky but should not be too mushy), add the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and cinnamon powder. Mix the rice well but not too much because it will become too starchy. Stir only until the rice is evenly seasoned.
7. Add the jujubes, chestnuts and pine nuts. Fold them into the rice.
8. Put everything back in the pressure cooker and if you have a ‘steam’ option, steam for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a ‘steam’ option, just choose the shortest rice cook time and cook it again.
9. You are ready to serve Yaksik now. Fill a 8×8 cake pan with the Yaksik and let it cool. Once it’s cool to touch, cover it to keep it from drying. Cut it into small squares or 2/3 in thick slices and serve. Again, when it’s cooled, cover with some plastic wrap.

And there you have it a delicious traditional Korean dessert that you can attempt to make this weekend. But I will warn you that it requires a lot of time, so maybe plan ahead which weekend you want to try the dish out.

So that is it from me this week. I hope that you all stay happy, healthy and safe until I post again next time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ginger Tea 생강차 Saenggang Cha

Hey guys, so it has been a while since I last posted. Maybe you guys have finished going through my week of recipes so you have come back looking for more...hopefully. But I have finished all my school exams so I am sort of free until the actual exams that I need to to. So I'll probably be posting more for the next two months, but it also depends on whether or not I am bothered ^^

To ease my way back into blogging I am just going to be posting up a simple recipe for ginger tea 생강차 (saenggang cha) that you can make to drink anytime that you want. It will be nice to cool you down by adding a few ice cubes in, or you can just add more cold water.

Saenggang cha (생강차) is a tea made from ginger root. The ginger root is washed and sliced without peeling. The sliced ginger root is stored with honey for a few weeks. To make tea the mixed honey and ginger root is added to hot water.

Efficacy in Traditional Korean Beliefs: Some believe that Saenggang Cha is useful to prevent colds and to aid digestion. It also has a remedial effect on diarrhea and stomachache due to low body temperature. It helps someone who has a low body temperature due to bad circulation. However, neither belief has been shown in independent scientific evaluations.

This is an extremely good remedy for a sore throat and runny/blocked nose because of the ginger working wonders to the body's immune system. Although the taste may be a bit strong, it is still extremely good for your health, especially for when the days are getting chilly. Which is perfect for where I am now which has become cold again.

Fresh ginger – 80 g
Fresh cinnamon pieces- 20 g
Water – 8 cups
Optional - 4 to 5 pine nuts, 1 tsp of honey

1. Clean the ginger well (peel the skin off as well). – I scrubbed it with rough cloth first then used a spoon to scrub off the skin
2. Rinse the cinnamon in cold water. (You don’t need to cut them into small pieces, mine was already in small pieces.)
3. Thin slice the ginger.
4. Put the ginger, cinnamon, and water into a pot.
5. Boil it on medium heat for about 25-30 minutes.
6. Sieve the ginger and cinnamon. (Use a white straining cloth if you can, to catch the small dirt from the cinnamon)
7. Serve it in a tea cup. (You can also add some pine nuts and honey)

And there you have it, a hot cup of goodness to protect you from the cold, perfect for the weather now which has returned to being cold.

So that it it from me today. I'll try my best to post another recipe again in the next few days, provided that I don't procrastinate too much. And remember that until next time to keep safe, healthy and happy!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spicy Cold Noodles with Kimchi 김치 비빔국수 Kimchi Bibim Guksu

So today is the last day that I need to be posting for a whole week. I'm a bit sad that the time has flown by, but there are lots of things that I need to do, such as school, exams and think about a whole lot of other stuff as well.

Anyways to end the week I am going to introduce you to another summer favourite. It is very somilar to another dish that I have done before, but this is has some extra ingredients. Kimchi Bibim Guksu (김치 비빔국수) is a twist on the bibim guksu that I talked about last time. If you haven't read the recipe before you can click on the link to check it out.

To save time I'm not going to talk about the history of bibim guksu again, you can check it out on the other page. Instead I am going to go straight into the recipe for kimchi bibim guksu.

8 - 10 ounces somyeon (somen) noodles
1 cup thinly sliced kimchi (fully fermented)
1/4 cup juice from kimchi (use a little more soy sauce and vinegar if unavailable)
1 tablespoon Korean red chili pepper paste, gochujang (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn syrup (use honey or more sugar if unavailable)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice or apple vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Optional garnish
4 perilla leaves, kkaennip, thinly sliced
(or cucumber or lettuce, thinly sliced)

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil while preparing the kimchi sauce.
2. Thinly slice the kimchi and place it in a medium size bowl. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and mix well.
3. Add the noodles to the pot of boiling water. Cook the noodles according to the package instructions (3 - 4 minutes). Drain quickly and shock in cold water to stop cooking. Drain and rinse in cold water again. Repeat until the noodles become cold. Drain well.
4. Combine the noodles with the kimchi sauce, and toss everything until the noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.
5. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste, if necessary.
6. Garnish with your choice of the optional vegetables and serve cold.

And there you have it, a simple dish to serve for lunch or dinner in the summer heat.

That is it from me for this week. It may be a while until I post again because things are starting to get hectic. I will try and keep on posting but don't expect too much yet. There are a number of recipe that you can try out on my site if you don't know what to cook for dinner, lunch or breakfast. So remember to stay happy, healthy and safe.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Seasoned Cucumber 오이무침 Oi Muchim

So I'm nearing the end of the week and it is still VERY hot in Korea so I think I need to keep on coming up with recipes that are summer coolers.

The recipe today is going to be spicy and refreshing for the summer, something to wake you up from all the heat that is around you. The side dish his called Oi Muchim (오이무침) and it is seasoned cucumbers. The dish is perfect for the summer when you want to bite into something crispy and fresh.

The dish is super easy to make and as follows:

1 Korean cucumber or 2 pickling cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Thinly slice the cucumber.
2. Toss gently with salt and set aside for 15 - 20 minutes.
3. Drain excess liquid. (Avoid squeezing them because they will bruise.)
4. Mix well with all remaining ingredients.

A simple and easy side dish to serve in the summer without all the effort.

And there you have it, a simple side dish to serve in the summer to rid the horrendous heat. And as a heads up tomorrow will be the last day of week long posting so keep that in mind. And until tomorrow keep warm, happy and healthy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Watermelon Punch 수박 화채 Subak Hwachae

Day 5 of posts, I'm almost done with the week of posting.

It has been super humid and hot in Seoul for the last couple of days so I'm going to introduce you to a refreshing dessert drink that you guys caa make to help cool down the summer.

Watermelon Punch or 수박 화채 is a refreshing drink that will take you away from the heat of the Summer and help cool you down. Hwachae is commonly made with various fruits and sweet drinks and served as a dessert or snack. There are many variations, and some are even made with edible flower petals or grains such as barley or rice cakes. Traditionally, the base drink is water sweetened with honey, syrup, or sugar. In modern times, carbonated drinks and fruit juices are also commonly used. Hwachae made with watermelon (subak) is a summer favorite.

Today I'm going to add some ginger ale, but other soft drinks such as 7 Up and lemonade will also work. you can also substitute it with some fruit juice. You can also add some rice cake balls to complement the dish and to help give it some chewiness to cut through the crunch from the watermelon.

2 cups watermelon, balled or cubed
1-1/2 cups honeydew, balled or cubed
12 - 16 rice cake balls (gyeongdan) - optional (Recipe follows)
2 cups ginger ale
3 tablespoons Korean drinking vinegar (or pomegranate or cranberry juice)
pine nuts for garnish - optional

1. Scoop out watermelon and honeydew with a melon-baller. (Or, cut into about 1-inch cubes.) Place them in a large bowl along with any juice from the fruits.
2. Add the ginger ale and the drinking vinegar (or pomegranate or cranberry juice) to the fruits. Stir gently. Taste the drink and adjust acidity and/or sweetness by adding more drinking vinegar (or juice) and/or sugar.

Simple rise cake balls:
1/2 cup glutinous rice powder/flour (sweet rice powder/flour)
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons boiling hot water

1. Mix the rice powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix in the boiling hot water with a spoon. When cool enough to handle, knead by hand until a dough is formed.
2. Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch thick cylinder. Cut into (or pinch off) 3/4-inch pieces. Roll each piece between the palms to make a small ball.
3. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice cake balls. Cook until all the balls float. Transfer to a large bowl with cold water to cool. Drain.

When you are ready to serve put everything together and add some ice cubes into the punch so that it keep cool in the heat.

And there you have it, a simple and fruity drink to keep you cool and refreshed in the summer. Tomorrow will be blog number 6, so don't forget to check back from more recipes.

Until tomorrow keep safe, happy and healthy. See you tomorrow!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Korean Doughnut 꽈배기 도너츠 KkwaBaeGi DoNeoCheu

Hey, so I'm back with the fourth recipe in the blogging week ^^ I'm already hald-way through the week.. Eeek.

Today I'm going to introduce you to doughnuts. No, not the ordinary cinnamon ones that you get but the Korean version (꽈배기 도너츠 or KkwaBaeGi DoNeoCheu). It is a similar version of Korean doughnuts that you can buy at street vendors, but from the comfort of your own home. There isn't much to say about the recipe so I will get straight to it.

3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Water
1 Egg
4 Tbsp Sugar
5 Tbsp Butter
1½ Tbsp Yeast
1 tsp Salt
Sugar for Coating
Oil for Deep Frying

1. In a large mixing bowl, add 3 cups of all purpose flour, 4 Tbsp of sugar, 5 Tbsp of butter, 1½ Tbsp of yeast, and 1 tsp of salt. Mix everything together to make the butter crumble.
2. Add 1 egg and 1 cup of lukewarm water.
3. Knead the dough for least 15 minutes until it becomes elastic.
4. Form the dough in to a ball. Cover it with plastic wrap.
5. Let it rise for about 1 hour in a slightly warm place until the dough size doubles. If it is at room temperature, it will take more than an hour.
6. Divide the dough into 16 to 24 pieces. Round each piece to make a ball.
7. Roll a ball of the dough out to about 12 inches in length. While you are rolling it, twist each end in the opposite direction so that the dough will become twisted when you release the tension.
8. Let the dough wrap around itself to form the twisted shape.
9. Set it aside for about 10 minutes to rise again.
10. Meanwhile, heat the oil on medium-high. When you drop a piece of dough in the oil and it rises in about 2 seconds, the temperature for the oil is right.
11. Fry the donuts. When one side of a doughnut becomes golden brown, flip it over.
12. Only flip it over once. If you flip it often, then the doughnut will become too greasy.
13. After frying the donuts, cool them for about 5 minutes. In a plastic bag, add some sugar and a couple of the cooled donuts. Shake them.

And there you have it, your own homemade Korean style doughnuts to enjoy as a snack for the kids or for yourself.

Remember to check back tomorrow because there will be a new recipe. Until then keep warm, happy and healthy.