Korean Sushi (Kimbap)

Kimbap Gimbap

Sushi is a popular dish throughout the world because of its unique taste and refreshing qualities. Although I love making sushi, I thought that it would be nice to learn how to make kimbap for a change.

I was introduced to kimbap when my Korean ex-colleague made some and brought them to the team for an office gathering. When I had my first look at kimbap, I mistaken it for sushi. When I asked him what he has made, he replied – “It’s kimbap, the Korean version of a sushi.”

Kimbap is a popular picnic and snack food in Korea. I wonder why I didn’t know about it earlier!

My first bite of a kimbap was very inviting. I immediately got hooked on the dish as it tasted so delicious. My first attention was drawn towards the taste of the Korean pickled vegetables that were in the kimbap. I found them so appetizing and tempting!

That day was about 10 years ago! And I can’t believe I did not try to make that dish until now…

I’m sure many of you are wondering – what’s the difference between sushi and kimbap?

Well, the main difference is that in sushi, they use a lot of raw ingredients like raw salmon, tuna, cucumber and carrots. However, kimbap usually uses cooked ingredients for its filling like stir-fried beef, canned tuna and pickled vegetables. So if you are planning to prepare sushi for your friends and family at your next party but are afraid that they are not opened to eating raw fish, why not try making kimbap instead?

My first try at making kimbap was successful, though next time I’ll include a much thicker slice of the pickled radish to add more flavour to the dish. Although many recipes include sliced tenderloin beef for the kimbap filling, I opted to use minced beef instead to be more cost effective. Besides that, I used sushi rice and chose to season my rice with vinegar and use the sushi way of cooling and marinating the rice to make my kimbap. I’ve added sesame oil to the rice marinade as it is a classic marinade for kimbap.

If you’re looking forward to making kimbap but afraid of the rolling technique, don’t fret. I’ve specially produced a video documenting my step-by-step guide to rolling kimbap just for you!

Watch my video here:

Now that you know how to roll the kimbap, let’s get cooking!

Here’s my recipe:

KOREAN SUSHI (KIMBAP)

Ingredients:

7 pieces nori sheets

3 cups sushi rice

4 cups water

250g minced lean beef

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 bunch spinach, blanched

3-4 tbsp sesame seeds

7 strips yellow pickled radish

3 eggs, beaten

3 garlic cloves, minced

Soy sauce

Brown sugar, salt, black pepper and sesame oil to taste

1/3 cup white vinegar or more according to your preference

Method:

  • Marinade the beef with soy sauce, 1 clove minced garlic, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, brown sugar and a dash of sesame oil. Set aside.
  • Cook the rice with water in a rice cooker or saucepan. Once cooked, fluff up the rice and spread it in a shallow baking tray. Season with vinegar, sugar, salt and sesame oil to taste. Let the rice cool down by covering it with a damp cloth.
  • Combine blanched spinach with the remaining garlic, a sprinkling of salt and a dash of sesame oil. Squeeze the liquid out from the spinach.
  • Stir fry the carrots with some oil and a sprinkling of salt till slightly tender. Remove any access water from the carrots. Set aside.
  • Heat a frying pan with some oil and cook the beaten eggs by spreading the eggs evenly in the pan till slightly browned. Cut the eggs into thin strips.
  • Stir fry the beef until it is cooked. Set aside.
  • Place the nori, shiny side down on a bamboo mat.
  • Spread the cooked rice evenly on the bottom third of the nori sheet.

Spread rice on nori

  • Sprinkle rice with sesame seeds.

Sprinkle sesame seeds

  • Place the beef, carrots, pickled radish, egg strips and spinach in the center of the rice.

Put radish

  • Roll the kimbap with both hands and press firmly to ensure that the filling stays in a tight roll.
Roll kimbap step one

Step one to rolling the kimbap

Roll kimbap step two

Step two to rolling the kimbap

Rolled kimbap

Your kimbap will look like this once it is rolled

  • Cut the kimbap into bit-sized pieces.
Slicing kimbap step one

Step one to slicing the kimbap

Slicing kimbap step two

Step two to slicing the kimbap

Slicing kimbap step three

Step three to slicing the kimbap

  • Repeat the process until the remaining ingredients are finished.
  • Serve immediately.

That’s it! Now you can eat your kimbap and share it with your family and friends.

Thinking of making kimbap but not a big fan of beef?

Get creative with your kimbap filling ingredients! I found a link that may help you to learn about the various types of kimbap in Korea. Use this as a guide and let your creativity run wild to create more tempting kimbap with found ingredients in your panty!

Your guide to famous kimbap in Korea:

http://www.dramafever.com/news/korean-food-12-different-varieties-of-kimbap/

Have you heard about kimbap before? Have you eaten it in a Korean restaurant? If not, will you like to try it if given the opportunity?

I’d be happy to know.

Till next time I wish you all the best in your cooking adventures.

Happy cooking!

Cheers,

Caroline Poh

Almond London Cookies

almond london cookies main

This confectionery may look like just any ordinary homemade chocolate truffles, but don’t let your eyes fool you. This is actually the all-famous Malaysian festive cookie called ‘Almond London Cookies’!

Almond London Cookies are very popular especially when celebrating the end of the Ramadan (fasting month). Festive cookies are normally petite in Malaysia as it is common to try a few different types of cookies when visiting our friends and families over the festive season. Eating a huge cookie could possibly destroy our chances at trying out different types of cookies, so I guess that’s why people in Malaysia are more inclined to creating small cookies. And that’s why these Almond London Cookies are the size of a chocolate truffle!

Almond London Cookies are a Malaysian creation. Their tempting flavours managed to win the hearts of all the different races in Malaysia. I’m not sure where the word ‘London’ came from though.

I was introduced to this cookie by my Malay friends when I visited their homes during their festive season. Once I had a bite of this cookie, I immediately loved it and couldn’t stop eating it! I mean, who can resist the perfect combination of crunchy and fragrant toasted almonds wrapped around with buttery and crumbly sweet butter cookie that is oozed with dark decadent chocolate and topped with texture inviting roasted almond nibs? This cookie spells the best of all worlds – chocolate, cookie and confectionery heaven!

Seriously – the creator of this cookie must have been a genius!

Being a huge fan of this cookie, I sadly haven’t had these cookies for five years. Since I couldn’t find them anywhere in Australia and missed eating these cookies so much, I decided to make them myself!

After scouring the internet for recipes on how to make this delicious festive treat, I managed to come up with my own version of Almond London cookies. My version is more cost effective, rich in flavour and chocolaty. The addition of milk in my new version brings the cookie dough to the next level in terms of texture and taste.

I find that these cookies are best eaten after they left overnight to harden for their taste to develop. Though I can assure you that once you start eating these cookies – you can’t stop eating them! So if you are preparing them for guests, don’t start eating them before your guests arrive.

My best advice to you is – if you’re up and running and would like to indulge in a sweet treat yourself or would like to impress your loved ones with a sweet delight, here is my contribution to you.

Here’s my recipe:

ALMOND LONDON COOKIES
Makes approximately 52 cookies

Ingredients:
125 grams unsalted butter, softened
75 g icing sugar
1 medium sized egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
200 g plain flour
25 g rice flour
Whole almonds
300 g dark cooking chocolate
80 g slivered almonds
2-3 tbsp milk

Method:
• Preheat your oven to 170 C.
• Spread a baking tray with the whole almonds and toast them in the oven for 12-15 minutes, turning the almonds around every five minutes.
• Take them out and cool before keeping in air-tight jars.

whole almonds

• Next, dry fry the slivered almonds until lightly browned. Then chop them into rough pieces. Cool and store them in air-tight jars as well.

dry frying slivered almonds

toasted silvered almonds

Take the slivered almonds once they turned lightly brown to avoid them from burning.

• Now , start making the butter cookie dough by creaming the butter and icing sugar.

beating butter and sugar

When creaming the butter and sugar, you want to make sure the butter is softened for easier mixing.

Mixed butter and sugar

Your butter and sugar mixture should look something like this.

• After they are well combined, add the egg and vanilla essence. Continue mixing the ingredients.

Adding butter and vanilla extract

• Sift the plain flour and rice flour. Mix them in small portions into the butter mixture to form a soft dough. Then, add 2-3 tbsp milk to the dough. If the dough is too soft or sticky, add some flour. Then mix again.

Adding flour to butter mixture

Mixing the flour in small portions ensure the flour is evenly distributed to form the dough.

Finished cookie dough

Your prepared cookie dough should look something like this.

• Take about ¾ tsp cookie dough and flatten it with your hands. To make an even layer for the cookie dough, I normally like to press the sides of the dough with my fingers.
• Next, place a toasted whole almond in the centre of the flattened dough and wrap the dough around the almond. Shape the cookie dough into a small log.

whole almond on dough

Step 1: Flatten dough and place whole almond at the centre of the dough.

sealing dough step 1

Step 2: Fold the dough into half.

sealing dough step 2

Step 3: Gently enclose the dough to cover the entire almond.

shaping cookies

Step 4: Shape the dough into a small log.

cookies before baking

This is what your cookie will look like before baking them.

• Bake the cookies at a preheated oven at 175 C for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Cool cookies completely before proceeding with the chocolate coating.

cookies after baking

Your cookies should turn golden brown like this after baking.

• Melt the cooking chocolate using the bain-marie method. To do this, you need to place the chocolate in a large bowl under a smaller saucepan with simmering water and turn the gas to low heat. During this process, do not let any water get into the chocolate as this will ruin the melted chocolate texture.

melting chocolate

Melt your chocolate in a big bowl over a smaller saucepan of simmering water. Don’t let water get into it!

melted chocolate

After melting, your chocolate should look shiny like this.

• Dip the butter cookies into the melted chocolate with a spoon and transfer the cookies to the small paper cups with a fork.

dipping cookies

Gently dip and coat the entire cookie with chocolate using a spoon.

taking cookies from chocolate

Lift up the cookie with a fork so that the excess chocolate drips off.

placing cookies on paper cups

Gently place the cookie in small paper cups.

• Immediately sprinkle the cookies with chopped almonds before chocolate hardens so that the almonds will stick to the cookies.

topping cookies with nibbed almonds

• Leave the cookies to cool completely before transferring them to air tight containers.

• Enjoy eating them!
half cookie

Are you hungry yet? Maybe it’s time to start baking.

Do you love baking or cooking? How about baking cookies? Or do you just love eating?

Share your thoughts here.

Cheers,
Caroline Poh

Oatmeal Butter Prawns

oatmeal butter prawns

Have you ever visited a restaurant again and again to order the same dish…only to find out later that the particular dish is actually really easy to prepare at home?

That happened to me when I finally learnt how to cook Malaysian butter prawns at home!

Butter prawns have always been one of the favourite dishes that my family likes to order whenever we are dining at a Chinese seafood restaurant in Malaysia.

Butter prawns are really popular in Malaysian restaurants. Although not much has been documented about the origins of this dish, the flavours and ingredients of this succulent dish may suggest that its creation was partly influenced by Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. There are two versions of butter prawns in Malaysia – the wet and dry version. There are many different ways to cook dry butter prawns. Some cooks like to deep fry the egg mixture as they swirl them in hot oil, some like to use grated coconut or desiccated coconut, some like the Nestum cereal combination and others love to include instant oatmeal in their butter prawn dishes.

I used to buy the pre-packed mix for making cereal butter prawns but I later on discovered they consist of some artificial flavouring. So I decided to make my own butter prawns from scratch instead. After researching all over the internet for an easy recipe, I finally mastered the art of making butter prawns. This favourite recipe of mine uses instant oatmeal as it is easily available where I live and it is cheap to prepare.

Although the traditional butter prawns recipe requires me to deep fry my prawns in hot oil and use a lot of butter, I have modified the traditional recipe so that I use less butter and oil to provide a healthier option.

Here’s my recipe:

OATMEAL BUTTER PRAWNS

Ingredients:
16 medium sized banana prawns (shells intact)
3tbsp cornflour
4 cloves roughly chopped garlic
2 springs curry leaves, separated from their stems
3 finely sliced dried chillies
2-3 tbsp unsalted cooking butter
½ cup plain instant oatmeal
2 egg yolks
2tbsp milk
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

Method:
• Peel off the shells of the prawn body and devein them. Make sure to keep the heads and the tails of the prawns intact as they will provide flavour to the dish.
• Lightly toast the oatmeal by dry frying them in a non-stick frying pan until the oats are lightly browned. Remove immediately to avoid them from burning.

toast oats
• Coat the base of a frying pan with cooking oil and heat till the oil is hot. You can test the heat of the oil by using a wooden chopstick. When you place the chopstick in the oil and you see bubbles around the edges of the chopstick, this means that your oil is hot enough to fry the prawns.
• Next, coat your prawns thoroughly with cornflour.

prawns in cornflour

• Lightly shake off any excess cornflour from the prawns before pan frying them on both sides until they are lightly browned. Do not overcook the prawns as they will become rubbery.

frying prawnscooked panfried prawns

• In a clean frying pan, melt two tablespoon butter.

melting butter

• Beat the egg yolks with the milk and pour gradually into the melted butter while swirling the mixture.

beating eggs with milkAdding eggs to butter

• Add in the chopped garlic, dried chillies and curry leaves. Continue to stir fry until the mixture is fragrant.

Stir frying butter mix
• Next, add in the oatmeal. Continue to stir the mixture until well combined. At this point, if you feel that you would like more butter, you can add 1 tbsp butter to the mixture. Then, add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Adding toasted oats to butter mixMixing curry leaves chilli and garlic with butter mix

• Now that your oatmeal mixture is done, add in your cooked prawns and combine both prawns and mixture.
Adding prawns to oats mix

Combining prawns to oats mix

• Serve prawns immediately with warm rice and stir fried vegetables.

So there you have it – an incredibly easy restaurant style prawn dish that you can whip up in minutes.

Butter prawns for end photo

Do you have a favourite restaurant dish that is really easy to prepare at home? Or do you wish you knew how to cook some of your favourite restaurant dishes?

Feel free to share your thoughts here.

I guess that’s all for now. Hope you’ve been inspired to prepare this easy restaurant dish at home.

Till then, happy cooking!

Cheers,
Caroline Poh

Chinese Wonton Noodle Soup

chinesewontonnoodlesoup

With the colder days kicking in, I always look forward to warm and comforting food.

So, when I was free the other day, I finally decided that it was time to make one of my favourite childhood Malaysian hawker or street food – Chinese wonton noodle soup.

Chinese wonton noodles are very popular among Malaysians. They are often sold at street stalls and at Chinese restaurants. Whether rain or shine, you will find Malaysians happily enjoying their Chinese wonton noodles with their family and friends – usually as a weekly affair. This dish is the perfect comfort food whether you’re feeling at tip top condition or feeling sick and down.

There are two versions of Chinese wonton noodles served in Malaysia – the soup based and the dry version. The soup version usually consist of a serve of three wontons, Choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), a few strips of BBQ pork, wonton noodles and wonton soup broth. For the dry version, the wontons and soup are served together in a bowl separate from the plate of wonton noodles which are tossed in special oyster sauce combination and topped with vegetables and BBQ pork. These two versions are often served with green chilli pickle.

If you are wondering whether making your own Chinese wontons is worth the effort – my answer is a ‘Yes’. Although it may be time consuming, making your own wontons means knowing what goes into the wontons. This will ensure that you get wholesome ingredients and a generous amount of filling inside your wontons. Sounds tempting enough?

If you’re feeling energised and want to make your own Chinese Wonton Noodle Soup, I’ve specially compiled some useful tips for you.

There are four components in my Chinese Wonton Noodle Soup dish:

  • The wontons
  • The wonton soup broth
  • The vegetables
  • The wonton noodles

WONTONS

homemadewontons

My freshly prepared Chinese wontons

Ingredients:

1 packet wonton wrappers

500 g skinless pork shoulder

125 g medium sized banana prawns

1-2 stalks spring onions, chopped

Egg wash (beaten egg white)

Cornflour Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Method:

  • Mince the pork shoulder and banana prawns. If you do not have a suitable kitchen appliance, I’d recommend you to omit the prawns and just buy minced pork from the butcher. However, the texture of freshly minced pork shoulder is always the best.
  • Mix the ingredients in a bowl together with the chopped spring onions, cornflour, salt, pepper and sugar. If the mixture does not stick together, you should add a little more cornflour to it.
  • Prepare some egg wash, a pastry brush and a lightly floured plate to place your wrapped wontons.
  • Then wrap your wontons.
  • Once you have wrapped your wontons, you should cook them in the wonton soup broth. The wontons will begin to float in the broth once it is cooked. Take them out immediately once they are cooked.

As for the wonton wrapping process, I feel that it would be much easier for me to show you a step-by-step video to help you understand the wonton wrapping process. So I prepared a video.

Watch my video here:

WONTON SOUP BROTH

I’m not a big fan of chicken stock cubes or store-bought chicken stocks. So I make this simple stock for my wonton soup broth:

wontonsoupbroth

Ingredients:

Chicken carcass

The white part of the spring onions, chopped

Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Method:

  • Place the chicken carcass, chopped spring onions, salt, pepper and sugar into a large or medium sized bowl. Add the water for the soup.
  • Bring the water to the boil. Then, turn down the heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer the soup for at least 30 minutes to an hour to extract all the flavours from the chicken carcass.
  • Taste the soup and add more salt and sugar if needed.
  • Then strain the soup or take out the chicken carcass.

VEGETABLES

vegetables

Ingredients:

2-3 bunches Chinese Bok choy or Choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage), sliced

Method:

  • Bring a pot of water to the boil.
  • Then add the vegetables into the boiling water.
  • Continue to boil until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.
  • Strain the vegetables and set aside for the wonton noodle soup.

WONTON NOODLES

Ingredient:

400g egg noodles

Method:

loosennoodleswithtapwater

  • Take out the egg noodles from its packaging and place it into a bowl of tap water.
  • Slowly loosen the noodles in the water.

loosennoodlesinboilingwater

  • Then, transfer the noodles to a pot of boiling water.
  • Continue to stir the noodles to soften and loosen them for just 3 minutes.
  • Strain the noodles and serve immediately.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CHINESE WONTON NOODLE SOUP

  • To assemble the Chinese Wonton Noodle Soup, put a handful egg noodles into a medium sized bowl.
  • Then top it with the vegetables, wontons and lastly, the wonton soup broth. Sprinkle with leftover chopped spring onions.
  • Enjoy while still warm.

Have you eaten Chinese wontons before? Do you prefer them boiled or fried? Or do you have another favourite street food that you would like to share? I’d be happy to know.

Till next time – I wish you Happy Cooking!

Cheers,

Caroline Poh

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

japanese strawberry shortcake

Welcome to my food blog – ‘Delish Specials’. Since this is my first blog post, I decided – what better way to celebrate the official launch of blog than by baking a cake?

I was doing my grocery shopping the other day and managed to buy cheap strawberries at only $2 for 500g. So I decided to bake a Japanese strawberry shortcake for my blog!

The Japanese strawberry shortcake is a very famous Western-style cake available at bakeries all around Japan. The creation of this cake was first influenced by the American strawberry shortcake but was adapted to suit the local palate. Unlike the American shortcake which uses biscuit (scone-like pastry) for its base, the Japanese strawberry shortcake uses an Asian-style sponge cake base. The Japanese strawberry shortcake is a short and light sponge cake that is filled with whipped cream, strawberries and decorated with whipped cream frosting and strawberries.

Although, I am not Japanese and have not travelled to Japan before, I happened to stumble upon write-ups about this cake in several food blogs and decided to try baking this cake a few years ago and I loved it! Since then, I have been wanting to bake this cake again for a long time but was waiting for cheap strawberries to became available. My wish finally came true! So for this post, I’m will be showing you how to make a Japanese strawberry shortcake.

Below is my recipe:

For the Asian Sponge Cake, you will need:

Ingredients:

6 large eggs (at room temperature), separated

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:

  • Beat the egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Then slowly add ½ cup sugar into the egg whites. Continue to beat the egg whites until are light, frothy and form stiff peaks.
egg white stiff peaks

This is what stiff peaks looks like. As you see, the whipped egg whites will not drop back into the bowl when the beater is lifted up.

  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until the mixture is pale, fluffy and frothy. Then beat in the canola oil, water and vanilla extract to the egg yolk mixture.
light and fluffy egg yolks

Your beaten egg yolks will look pale, fluffy and frothy like this before you add your vanilla extract.

  • Next, fold in your sifted flour and baking powder into your beaten egg yolk mixture.
  • After that, gently fold in your beaten egg whites. When you fold in your beaten egg whites, you would want to make sure that you do not stir the mixture as this will deflate the batter. This could cause your sponge to become too dense and not rise properly.
folding in egg whites

This is how you gently fold in your egg white mixture into your cake batter.

  • Line a springform pan with baking paper. Make sure to line the base as well as the sides of the pan. Lining the pan will help your cake to rise properly.
  • Pour in your cake batter into the spring form pan. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for around 50 minutes or until the top of the cake is lightly browned and fully cooked.
  • Once the cake is cooked, switch off the oven and leave the cake to cool in the oven with the oven door ajar. This ensures that the cake will not shrink too much.
  • After baking the cake, cool the cake in the cake tin and refrigerated at least for an hour to firm up the cake before removing it from the springform pan and decorating it.

For the cake filling and decorations, you will need:

Ingredient:

A small bowl of sliced fresh strawberries

1 cup double cream

1tbsp cornflour

3tbsp caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Cut the cake into two layers. Although you can use a serrated knife (bread knife) to cut the cake into layers, I always use this special wire cake slicer and leveller because it gives me a more accurate cake levelling. You can buy this slicer at cake specialty stores or online.
wire cake slicer and leveller

My wire cake slicer and leveller.

wire cake slicer notch

You can adjust the height of each cake layer by choosing the suitable notches on the slicer before layering your cake.

  • I always flip my cake upside down before cutting it into layers and decorating it.
slice cake

Slice the cake with the wire cake slicer and leveller.

  • Pour your double cream into a mixing bowl. Beat it until it is fairly fluffy. Then, slowly add in the sugar and continue to beat the mixture.
  • Once you have reached soft peaks, sprinkle in the cornflour and vanilla extract and continue to beat until you reach stiff peaks. Do not overbeat the mixture as it will turn into butter!
whipped cream frosting at stiff peaks

Your whipped cream texture should look something like this when it reaches stiff peaks.

whipped cream frosting on beater

The whipped cream must not drip down when you lift up the cake beater. Instead, it should stay firmly on the beater and hold its shape.

  • Place your whipped cream frosting in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
  • Next, spread the bottom cake layer with the whipped cream frosting you have just made and top it with sliced strawberries.
strawberry and cream filling

Make sure you do not fill up the sides of the strawberry shortcake because it will overflow when you sandwich it.

  • Sandwich your shortcake filling with the top cake layer.
  • Lastly, decorate your strawberry shortcake according to your own creativity with whipped cream frosting and fresh strawberries.
strawberry shortcake top

This is what my Japanese strawberry shortcake looked like after decorating it.

strawberry shortcake in container

Keep cake fresh in a container.

  • Keep the strawberry shortcake refrigerated in a cake container to make sure it stays fresh and moist. This cake is best eaten within three days.
  • Enjoy with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

Do you have a favourite cake you always bring for celebrations? Are you a sweet tooth or do you prefer savoury dishes? I would love to hear from you.

If you love savoury dishes, join me next week as I will bring you on a journey to discovering one of my favourite childhood hawker dish.

Till then… Happy baking!

Cheers,

Caroline Poh