Monday, January 30, 2012

greener kale soup

For a long while I thought of kale as just the vegetable with the mud color. Then a couple of years ago a friend made a kale soup for me at her home in Budapest that was fresh green in color and fresh in taste. Thereafter I thought back of the soup a lot of times but had no idea how to make it and never gave it a shot on my own (the friend and I didn't keep in touch frequently and somehow I thought that if I contacted her out of the blue, I should not ask for a recipe...:)).

In my quest I got a hint by
Sybille-Anna (thank you!) who is familiar to Hungarian cuisine as well as all other things food-related, I am sure :)

So with her directions I made my first kale soup - being very attentive not to overcook the green. I have no idea if this is Hungarian or if the soup in my memory was. I am not even sure if this is the taste that I was seeking for as there have been many years in between... But I am happy with the result. And pity for those winters beforehand without having rejoiced in this color and the lovely bitter aroma.
It made up a fine match with orange.

basic kale soup

prep & cooking time 20 min.

thoroughly rinse the kale (as much as fits comfortably into a big pot), tear the leaves into smaller sizes and slice the stems finely. salt the kale a little.

dice 1 onion and 3 potatoes and sweat all in a large pot with 1 tbsp butter.
add the kale and sweat for around 5 minutes.

4. add 1 l
vegetable broth , close with a lid and let everything simmer for around 10 min until the kale gets soft. stir from time to time.

5. add pepper and if needed, additional salt to taste. puree the soup.

6. serve with sour cream and optionally with
dried or fresh orange zests.

Last but not least, I dedicate this dish to this very talented lady who appeared in a television cooking show last year and is a celebrity in the blogosphere now :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Noodle Bliss

Handmade noodles are so cheap (3-6 USD) and omnipresent in Korea that sometimes it almost feels pity - would the people have to pay more for it, they would value such a handcraft more... I visited one internationally acclaimed place and two other noodle houses near my parent's flat. They all had humble settings but fantastic noodles.

Myeong Dong Gyoza opened since 1966 in the old shopping and entertaining distric of Myeongdong, Seoul. Their signature dish is Kalguksu, a mild soup with cut wheat noodles. There was a waiting line, 10 minutes during lunch time which is not really worth mentioning. Incredibly kind staff and incredibly pungent Kimchi considering the foreign visitors. I had Bibimguksu - green colored noodles, I had never seen before, mixed with crisp vegetables and a spicy sauce.

Opens everyday from 10:30 am - 9:30 pm.
Subway: Euljiro 4 Ga (Line No. 2), Myeong-dong (Line No. 4).

Bopyeong Memilguksu at the beach of Dadaepo. Sticky buckwheat noodles, Memilguksu, (paradox, isn't it?) in a sesame broth with tasty Kimchi and Kkagduki. As beverage they serve Sungnyung for free. I didn't ask but I bet that the dish was vegan.

보평 메밀 국수, Dadae Nakjo 1 Gil, opposite of Busan Bank.

Iljoeok Son Jajang, a stone's throw away from the buckwheat noodle house. This little deli is at least citywide known after a newspaper article from last October. I used to go to a famous Jajangmyeon place in Seomyeon (the central district of Busan, forgot its name...) but this one was as perfect as it was in my memories.

일조억 손짜장, Dadae 5 Jigugil.

The last two pics via the
Busan Ilbo. Finding Korean addresses got easier after the introduction of the street system but it is still tricky. See this map.

My mum's Bibimbap, mixed rice with mixed memories

Five types of Namul unified in a bowl - each one with a different story. From top to bottom:
  • San-Namul (wild greens) picked in the Taebaek Mountains, defrosted and sauteed
  • Kkaenip (Perilla leaves) picked on a private island in the South Sea (there are so many little islands in that sea, that some people own one) dried, sauteed and seasoned
  • Gosari (Fern shoots) from the local market, dried, sauteed and seasoned
  • Pimaja or Ajuggari (Castoir oil plant), from farming relatives in the Jeollado province, dried, sauteed and seasoned
  • Siggeumchi (Spinache) from the local market, steamed and seasoned

In my family Namul is not made for the purpose of
Bibimbap. Bibimbap is rather an accidental bowl of rice mixed with anything that happens to be in the fridge, so it's kind of a leftovers' dish for us but not less pleasurable :)

When I visited my parents during holiday season there were lots of different Namul produce in the pantry and I adored each single type that made it onto the plate, every sort has a unique aroma and texture.

Partly though, that was connected with a sad memory: after the Fukushima tragedy when its impacts on the neighbor regions couldn't be foreseen and the people felt insecure in general, my mother was so concerned about the rains that during that spring she collected tons of dried vegetables for the upcoming time.

Officially the harmful clouds were said to have moved west and the rains to have hit the ocean, so after a while people in Korea (1-2 flight hours distance from the Japanese main island) went back to normal (of course nothing can't be normal after such a calamity but that's how one lives with it, right?).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Anggeum Bbang - Korean Style Yeast Bread with Sweet Mung Bean Filling

Sweet bean paste is (next to apples and nuts) my favorite filling for pastries. Because it involves no additional shortenings or diaries but something good for the body that one does not at all have to constrain ;) Long before the first black bean brownies became popular sweet bean paste was used in Asian cuisines for desserts, rice cakes and pastries filling. While Azuki Beans (the ones used for Mochi) are the most common, there are also pastries filled with Mung Beans (the ones used for Mung Bean Sprouts...) that yield to a nice green color.
As I love the texture of Korean sweet breads - ultimately fluffy and soft so that they melt in the mouth, I was so happy to find a lot of trustworthy recipes in the www these days.

Tracing baking recipes was not easy in former times. There were not many home-bakers in Korea, at least I have never come across such an Ajumma (the very useful word for referring to a friend's mum or the female vendor at the market or any auntie, that is not your real aunt... I heard that today no woman shall be addressed this way, though :)).

Besides it was hard to get serious baking ingredients in the groceries which is no longer a problem today.

Anyway somehow Anggeum (Bean filling) Bbang (Bread) is my first batch of Korean pastries.

I wasn't so happy about how the color of the bean paste turned out (namely as gray as the foggy weather in Germany now...), still I am satisfied to be able to produce these pastries whenever I like.

I adjusted this recipe
which includes helpful pictures.

Recipe for 9 pieces of Anggeum Bbang

1. Make sweet bean paste, see pictures here.

Soak 100 gr Mung Beans in water for at least 9 hours and drain.
Cook the beans gently with 3 times the volume of fresh water. When they become very soft, pour off the excess water and fill in the double volume of fresh water. Puree the beans.
Add 50 gr of sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and continue to cook gently until most of the water evaporates. Let the paste cool down.

2. Make the dough

Mix 220 gr white flour, 20 gr sugar, 2 gr salt, 3 gr dry yeast in a bowl.
Mix 120 ml milk, 1 egg (take out 1 tsp of egg yolk for later) and 12 gr melted butter. Pour into the flour mixture and knead well. Let the dough rise for 60 min.

3. Knead the dough well and form 9 balls out of each the bean paste and the dough.

4. Incorporate the bean paste into each dough ball, then flatten it.

5. Cut and form according to the picture, coat with egg yolk and a little milk and sprinkle with black sesame seeds in the middle.
Let raise for another 30 min.

6. Bake in the oven at 180 °C for around 20 minutes.

The one and only Applesauce

In the last weeks during which i abstained from cooking it seemed that every person was doing something with either pomegranate, cranberries, beetroots (less surprising with regard to the season) or this totally surprising oven roasted apple sauce (basically consisting of apples only and originating from a french recipe).

As i am always smitten with recipes that include a minimum of ingredients and because everything tastes better, when slowly roasted in the oven, the apple sauce turned out to be the first kitchen task of this year.


Mix a huge amount of peeled sour apples (like 2 kg) with a pinch of salt and 2-3 spices (for example vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, cumin...).

Bake it in a roasting tin with the lid closed for a couple of hours at 160 ° C (it took me 3 hours) until the apples are dark brown and caramelized.

It will yield to the most fragrant luscious apple sauce with a little texture left.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

scenes of utopia by Kim Yoon Min @ Busan Museum of Art

In those decades of turmoil when his landsmen suffered from repression under colonization, civil war and dictatorship, Kim Yoon Min (김윤민, 1919-1998, lived and worked in Busan) painted scenes of mothers, children, mountains, rivers and cows. In soft blue and green shades with curves over curves. Again and again.

In the Chinese influenced traditions
blue did not stand for coolness or depression but for nature, life, harmony and peace - just as much as green. Green and blue were shades of the same color. At least there was just one word to refer to blue and green and the linguistic distinctions that are made today seems to be a result of western influences.

Like in the few paintings of
Edward Hopper (1882-1967) that include people in the landscape, there are some mysterious, unrealistic moments in a realistic whole. Yoon, who has studied Western paintings from 1937-1941 in Osaka (thus during the Japanese annexation) could have known the great American painter but he could have as well not be aware of him (Hopper became nationwide recognized in the 1930ies).

What the paintings of the two painters have in common are the absolute silence of the illustrated atmosphere and the vividness of colors. On the other hand the form of Kim's mountains, rivers and trees are so typical for Korean landscapes, that there is a clear reference to his own surroundings.

And like
Igor Stravinsky who, in the outbreak of a world war, "dreamed about spring in Russia" (Sir Simon Rattle on "Le sacre du printemps") in his revolutionary ballet piece, Kim must have hoped for a better time for his country while working on his pastoral paintings - a greener and blueer time.

Paintings of Kim Yoon Min are exhibited until Feb 19th, 2012 at the Busan Museum of Art.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Busan Museum of Art

The Busan Museum of Art in Haeundae is an institution that I was allowed to see just a few weeks after it opened its doors back in 1998 - a rare excursion from an otherwise dull and tough Korean High School life.

In those times the neighborhood around Haeundae Beach, now considered to be the most modern and livable place in Busan, was still under construction.

So among the around fifty art museums I have visited so far in different countries, it will always have a special place in my heart - namely as a coming-back-home kind of place.

The exhibitions aren't too big, so the place is spacious. You can overview the skyscrapers of the neighborhood from the sculpture park.

Among international modern and contemporary artists (the ancient art section is rather small), they cover a serious range of local artists and Busan landscapes.

Stay tuned for more paintings in the next post!

Busan Museum of Art,
Opens Tuesday - Sunday.
Closed each day after a national holiday.
10 am - 8 pm.

Free admission.

Subway: Busan Museum of Art station, Line 2.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

belated happy new year and some blog finds

With a little view from the Namsan park where you can overview the majestic scenery of Seoul I want to wish everybody a truly happy new year!

I wish to make more steps towards a joyful and healthy every-day (I still repent of having had merely extinct fish last year...) and seek inspirations in the city.

Instead of formulating boring resolutions I would like to introduce you to some blog personalities that I have been reading for years now. The most rewarding thing in blogging and blog-reading for me is that you can find the people that can inspire and motivate you from all over the world!

Just before the last year came to an end I ran my first 20 km course - at the coast of Dadaepo in Busan. It has took me quite long to become a passionate jogger (a couple of years to be honest) but I think for every person who loves watching cities and who likes to be outside it is the best sport - you always get another point of view when passing by the neighborhoods by running.

For example, by way of this you can overview the
Hudson River Park, the Gardin Luxembourg or the Englische Garden much faster when traveling ;)

This fall I would like to participate at my first half-marathon in an acceptable time. And in this regard
Cate (from Cate's World Kitchen, Bay Area) is my role model. Not only does she hold astonishing private records at different running races but she also writes a beautiful vegetarian food blog and is a fancier of korean cuisine. And contrary to some German female politicians and Prenzlauer Berg Mamas swaggering about they too, at the age of 40, have offsprings, Cate shows how to manage family, work, healthy and delectable cooking and fitness without being any pretentious.

Less organized but very hilarious is Emi Guner (from letters from the end consumer, Stockholm). Beautiful mother of three beautiful kids, I owe her my favorite quote on consuming:

"I used to think buying things made me happier, but then I noticed that it was the buying, not the owning that seemed to do it for me and how ridiculous is that? Consumerism at its most laughable state..."

Apart from that Emi likes to
cheer up her readers to run - by individual training, group challenges (would have loved to join her berlin vs. london challenge but lacked the technical equipment...) or by way of her authority ;)

Finally there is
Maria (from Scandi Foodie, Sydney) who is assiduous, highly professional and talented in presenting healthy cooking as well as an ecologically sound lifestyle.

So happy 2012!

And btw, male bloggers are welcomed to this list ;)