Udon day

Udon noodles are one of S’s favourite dishes, and I was bound to learn how to make it. Yesterday seemed like a good time, as Seoul was/is slipping into another deep freeze and it felt appropriate to have a bowl of hot noodle soup to help remedy the cold.

The process was frustratingly messy. I meant to boil bonito flakes, dried sardines and some kombu seaweed to make the dashi broth, but I got the last bit wrong and used too much of another kind of dried Korean seaweed that not only expanded so much it devoured all the broth, but also turned whatever liquid was left intensely green. Also, I didn’t have a cheesecloth, so I had to strain the soup in a sieve lined with teared open coffee filters to separate all the little fish flakes from the liquid. Finally, it wasn’t easy to prepare all the ingredients with limited counter space, so there was a lot of rotating items to and from the floor.

I wasn’t too pleased with the results. I thought it was too much work for a mediocre outcome. But S thought it was great, and I suppose for some dishes like this one, he gets to be the judge.  I have a feeling I will be making this again.

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Monkeying Around

It was a sunny Sunday morning, perfect for a late breakfast or brunch out. But after calculating our expenses for January, our first month of twosome living, we decided February was going to be about less eating out, and more eating in. So while I laid semi-awake thinking what I could make, monkey bread came across my mind, and got me so excited I jumped out of our heated bed and into our unheated kitchen to get the process started. I’ve only had the cinnamon caramel encrusted bread once at a San Franciscan breakfast joint, but it wasn’t hard to make at all. I halved a recipe I found online, baked it in a mini loaf tin and came up with this.

At first I thought that I wouldn’t include any recipes on this blog, as I rarely come up with anything I can truly call my own. But since I’m changing most of the recipes to feed only two, I thought it might be helpful to document the downsize for future uses.

Monkey Bread (for two)

1 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup warm milk
2 tbsp warm water, warm
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp of instant yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra
1 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp melted butter

Mix butter, milk, water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. In a pot with lid, mix flour and salt. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix with dough hooks on a handheld mixer. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead into a glossy ball. Let it sit and rise for an hour or so in the pot with the lid on. In the meantime, prepare melted butter and cinnamon sugar in two separate bowls.

Pat the dough out on a floured surface and cut into squares or rectangles. Flatten the piece with you fingers. Dip the pieces in butter and then coat with sugar. Fit them into a generously buttered loaf tin, so that the pieces fit snuggly together, but also have enough room to rise. I had some leftover dough that I braided. Let the dough sit and rise for another hour, or until you lose your patience. Bake at 350 degrees C for 20 minutes, or until the sugar caramelizes and the dough looks golden.

We ate the whole loaf with a cup of freshly roasted coffee my mom brought from Taiwan, and I couldn’t think of a more glorious way to start the day.

My oven is here!

I’ve been in Seoul for 4 weeks and until now, I’ve been cooking using only one burner. So far, I’ve made things like kimchi fried rice, chicken soup, pasta with rose sauce, rice cake stir fry and lots of pancakes. Yesterday, I received the oven I ordered off g-market (a Korean ebay) and I can finally start baking. To placate my cheese cravings, I made pizza. At home, I would probably buy a pre-made crust and make the sauce myself. But here I have to do the inverse, because canned tomatoes are hard to come by and there isn’t a market for pizza crusts. Since I didn’t have a rolling pin, I flattened the dough with the pizza sauce jar.

I also couldn’t resist making a green tea mochi cake, which I ended up over-baking. Still quite tasty and gelatinous though!