I realized this week that this marks the 5 year anniversary of this little ol’ food blog of mine.
That’s pretty much the longest relationship that I’ve ever had (yeah, my track record with romance isn’t exactly stellar…but that’s for another time!)
When I look back, it’s been a pretty interesting 5 years. When I started this blog back then for a university social media assignment, I had been reading food blogs for a few months and it seemed like the scene was still fresh and new. I could count the number of well known blogs on my fingers, and thought that I would love to start my own! Of course, when we were tasked with starting a blog at uni, I suddenly had opportunity and could legitimately devote time from the rest of my studies to starting this project.
I was so incredibly proud of my efforts back then – I even bought myself a brand new Olympus point and shoot camera to enable me to take pictures (though I knew absolutely nothing about photography), and at the end of the semester, when the project scored top marks, I was so absolutely pleased with myself.
Looking back at my first few posts, I quite literally cringe at how bad they were and how utterly abysmal my photography was. Part of me wants to tear them down, but part of me likes the idea of keeping them up just as an indication of just how far I’ve come from those early days….
Reaching 5 years seems particularly monumental considering that 2 and 1/2 years ago, my (then) web host accidentally destroyed my entire blog whilst upgrading their databases. Everything. Every post, every link, every comment, every picture – it was all lost to a 5gb size bunch of babble. Everything that I had worked on to that moment had disappeared.
It almost destroyed my desire to blog – and even managed to destroy my will to cook for a week (there was a lot of toast and cereal involved…)
However, with a little support from friends and readers, I slowly started to rewrite all my posts and eventually got almost all the recipes back up! And thankfully I’ve been going strong ever since
Anyway, in celebration of my blog’s birthday, I thought I’d run through a few POSITIVE memorable moments for this blog of mine!
Firstly, the list of the top 5 most viewed posts:
- Our authentic family recipe for Kimchi (so tasty that my Momma gives OTHER Korean ladies tips on how to make it!)
- Home-made English muffins (trust me, they’re worth the effort!)
- Beautiful Dutch baby pancakes
- My mother’s recipe for Korean Spicy Fried Chicken (move over KFC, you ain’t got nothin’ on this!)
- My step by step tutorial for making fondant animal heads (perfect for topping a cake or cupcakes!)
Then there’s the list of the top 5 most commented entries:
- My peanut butter beef stir fry (and Bessemer giveaway!)
- My step by step tutorial for making fondant animal heads
- My favourite recipe for simple lemon cupcakes
- Beautiful panna cotta and honey jelly
- Alice Medrich’s peanut butter & choc torte with strawberry sauce
Over the past five years, if there’s one thing that you’ve asked for, it’s always been for more of our traditional Korean family recipes. For someone who mostly cooks and eats Korean food at home, there is a real lack of family recipes here – something that I’m going to share more of this year!
It was actually a new year’s resolution…but I guess you can tell that hasn’t been going far too well
(Does ANYONE ever manage to keep their new year’s resolutions? Seriously? Anyone at all??)
Anyway, in keeping with that (failed) resolution – here is a recipe from my maternal grandmother. This dish is about as old school Korean as you can get; delicate hand-made noodles floating in a lightly fragrant broth and topped with silky spicy poached chicken. And this, served with spicy salted cabbage (or kimchi, if you have it!)
Ingredients for the broth/poaching
1 medium-sized raw chicken – skinned, cleaned and rinsed
1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger
12 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 whole spring onions, cleaned and sliced in half
Ingredients for the noodles
4 cups plain/all-purpose flour + 2 cup flour for kneading/dusting
2/3 cold water
Ingredients for marinated chicken meat
1 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fish sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 spring onion, chopped
Ingredients for spicy salted cabbage
1 medium-sized Chinese cabbage
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup gochugaru (Korean chilli powder)
2 tbsp fish sauce
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1. Place the chicken in a large pot then add the remaining broth ingredients. Fill with water till the chicken is covered, then place the lid on, turn the heat on LOW and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or the the flesh falls easily away from the bones.
2. Remove the chicken to another bowl, strain out the other ingredients and return the stock to the pot and set aside. Allow the chicken to cool, then pull the meat off the carcass in small pieces. Discard the bones and set aside the shredded chicken meat for now.
3. Mix together the 4 cups of flour and water into a sticky dough, then scoop out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle an additional cup of flour over the dough and knead in. If the dough is still sticky, slowly incorporate the final cup of flour till the dough is smooth and no longer sticky or tacky.
4. Cut the dough into quarters. Take one quarter, roll out to about 2mm thick on a floured surface, then rub flour onto both sides and fold up into a ‘roll’ (from one side to the other, with each fold about 5cm wide)
5. Cut the roll into pieces 3-4mm wide, then lightly and gently spread them out onto a tray, making sure that you’re working with enough flour so that the noodles don’t stick to each other.
6. Repeat the process with the remaining balls of dough, till you have a tray full of noodles. Bring a pot of water to the boil, then blanch the noodles in the water for a few seconds (making sure you constantly stir with your chopsticks to prevent the noodles from sticking. Drain the noodles in a colander and set aside for now.
NOTE: This step is not entirely necessary, but I like to follow it because it part cooks the noodles and washes off a lot of the flour that coats them. If this excess flour is still clinging to the noodles when they are added to the stock, it will thicken the soup up a lot and also mute the flavour of it.
7. Separate the cabbage leaves then slice into long strips diagonally. Toss the salt through till evenly distributed, then set aside for 30 minutes or till wilted. Rinse the cabbage strips off under running water, then squeeze out as much water as possible (without crushing the cabbage) and set over a strainer for another 30 minutes.
8. Place the strips into a large bowl and toss through with the remaining ingredients, making sure it’s all thoroughly mixed together.
NOTE: You can skip the salted spicy cabbage and steps 7 & 8 if you like, and just serve the noodles with Kimchi, however traditionally this dish is served without kimchi and with this side dish instead.
9. Mix the shredded chicken meat with the marinade ingredients (gochugaru, garlic, fish sauce, salt & pepper and spring onion) and set aside. Then bring the stock back to the boil and add the noodles. Once the noodles are floating at the surface, they are cooked and the meal is ready to be served!
9. Working quickly, serve the noodles in separate bowls, then top with some of the chicken. Serve with the spicy salted cabbage in small bowls so that each diner is within reach of it, and enjoy!
This recipe is one that (according to my mother), my grandmother would make all the time in the colder months. She would often make incredibly large amounts of this dish, then invite all the neighboring families over to enjoy in the fruits of her labour. To me, this is what taught my mother to appreciate slow cooking and home made food – and is such an integral part of my appreciation of food and family to this day.
So this post is dedicated to my incredible maternal grandmother, who is no longer with us, as well as my amazing mother. Thank you for being such wonderful women who taught me to appreciate the simple pleasures. This blog would not exist without you.