Simple Homemade Korean Dishes

Featured image: Photo by Yeo Khee on Unsplash

Hello. I have been innovating my new dishes lately and adding my own twist to it. I enjoyed cooking and the luxury of having to eat what I cooked make me feel content. I know some may find cooking a hassle because of the effort required from preparation, cooking and risking yourself to oil splatter. But trust me, when you cook your own dishes, it can be much more healthier and nutritious as compared to takeaways or food deliveries. Besides, you know what ingredients you have put in the meal as well as the estimate amount the calories.

The first recipes I am sharing is Mandu Kimchi Jjigae (dumpling Kimchi Stew). This is a relatively popular dish among Koreans and well-loved among foreigners too.

Disclaimer: I am a person that cannot take very spicy food if not my gastritis would be triggered. So there are some ingredients I may have altered to my liking but I would provide options to include them in.

Homemade Mandu Kimchi Jjigae taken by me.

Abbreviation: tbsp = tablespoon, tsp = teaspoon.

My recipe for Mandu Kimchi Jjigae (2 servings)

This recipe is dairy-free.

Preparation time: 5 – 7 minutes

Cooking time: 20 – 30 minutes.

Total time: 25 – 37 minutes.

Soup stock:

  • 1/3 cup of dried anchovies
  • 1/2 slice onions

Alternative: ready-made chicken/pork/beef stock

Main Ingredient lists:

  • 1/2 of a regular size zucchini, sliced
  • 1 medium size carrot, sliced
  • 150g of kimchi, sliced
  • 8 big handmade mandu (handmade dumplings) Alternative: frozen pre-made mandu

Extra ingredients to add in: (optional)

  • 1 block of firm tofu, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp of gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 cup of kimchi juice

How to make the Jjigae base:

  • 2 tbsp of gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 1 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 3 tsp of sugar (adjust according to your liking)
  • Add in gochujang (hot pepper paste), soya sauce, minced garlic, ground black pepper, sugar and gochugaru (if available) and kimchi juice (if available) into a bowl.
  • Mix them well and done.

Cooking steps:

  • To make the soup stock, put some dried anchovies and sliced onion in a pot filled with 500ml of water. Allow it to boil for 15 minutes. If you are using ready-made stock, you can skip this step and pour the chicken stock in the next step.
  • After 15 minutes, lower the heat remove the anchovies and add in the sliced zucchini, carrot, kimchi and jjigae base into the pot.
  • Bring the stew to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, add in the mandu and let it boil for 5 – 7 minutes depending on the mandu size.
  • Turn off the heat and pour the Mandu Kimchi Jjigae in a bowl and serve! Optional: garnish with spring onions before serving.

Recipes for handmade dumplings:

Preparation time: 20 – 30 minutes.

Ingredient lists:

  • 220g of minced pork (Alternative: chicken/beef)
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp of corn flour
  • 1 packet of gyoza pastry

Extra ingredients to add in: (optional)

  • Spring onions, chopped
  • Korean Chives, chopped

Preparation steps:

  • Add in minced pork, shiitake mushrooms in a mixing bowl.
  • Add in the seasonings: sesame oil, soya sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, salt fish sauce and egg.
  • Mix the seasoning well with the minced pork and shiitake mushrooms.
  • Add in the corn flour and mix well. Leave it aside.
  • Prepare a tray or a large container where you can store your dumpling.
  • Shift the tray/container with a bit of flour to prevent the dumplings from sticking on the tray/container
  • Put a scoop of minced pork-mushroom in the centre of a piece gyoza pastry and start folding your dumpling. Placed the mandu on the tray once folded.
  • 1 packet of gyoza pastry should make about 25-30 mandu.
  • Keep the unused mandu in a vacuum tight container and freeze them immediately.

There are many ways to fold a dumpling, I pick the most simple one (circle in red).

Image credit: redhousespice.

I’ll provide the link on the various way to fold the dumpling: Ten ways to fold dumplings.

The second recipes I am sharing is the Korean Fried Chicken which is also a popular dishes that loved by local and foreigners.

Homemade Korean Fried Chicken Fillet with rice cake

My recipe for Korean Fried Chicken (2 servings)

This recipe is dairy-free.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Total time: 20 minutes.

Main Ingredient lists:

  • 1 packet of fresh chicken fillets about 7 strips. Alternative: any other chicken part
  • A handful of tteok/rice cake (For frozen rice cake, kindly pre-soak in warm water)
  • 1 tbsp of korean sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  • 1 cup of potato starch mixed with rice flour (ratio 3:1)
  • Cooking oil for deep frying (I used canola oil).

Ingredients for Fried Chicken Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp of gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 1 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 3 tbsp of tomato ketchup sauce
  • 1 tsp of korean sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tsp of brown sugar (white sugar is also okay)

Recommended ingredient to add in:

1-2 tbsp of honey (this will make the chicken sticky and nice gloss finish). In this case, I did not add honey because one of my family members is allergic to honey.

Cooking steps:

  • In a bowl, put chicken fillet, sesame oil, salt, pepper and grated ginger. Mix them well.
  • Add in a cup of potato starch and rice flour (ratio 3:1) into the bowl and coat the chicken evenly. Alternatively if you do not have potato starch, you can use corn starch.
  • Add cooking oil into a deep fryer/wok/pan. Heat the oil to about 175℃ (350°F). Slowly add the chicken fillet inside the deep fryer.
  • Cook till it’s golden for about 3-4 minutes. Remove the fried chicken and placed them on a kitchen paper or drain them on mesh strainer set in a bowl.
  • Reheat the oil to 175℃ (350°F) and fried the chicken fillet again for about 2-3 min.
  • Remove the chicken and set it aside.
  • Prepare the fried chicken sauce by putting all the ingredients and mix them well.
  • Pour the sauce into the pan and turn on a low heat.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer and add the fried chicken and rice cake.
  • Turn off the heat and coat the fried chicken and rice cake evenly.
  • Plate the fried chicken on a serving bowl and sprinkle some sesame seeds (optional).
  • Serve with rice or eat it alone.

Violà! You are done! 🙂

I hope you find some inspiration in my recipes or you can adjust accordingly to your preference!

A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.

Thomas Keller

Cheers!

June Favourites 2020

Featured image: Photo by Loverna Journey on Unsplash

Hey! We have passed the mid-year and left with relatively five months to mark the end of 2020 and ring the bell for 2021! How has the half-year been for you? I know we are experiencing new changes due to pandemic and I hope that you are positively adapting to new norm such as sanitising your hands often, wearing a mask when you heading outside and keeping a safe distance from one another.

If you are new to this segment, I’ll be sharing about 2 or 3 favourites that I have used for June. It can be anything from beauty, makeup, book, music or app. FYI: The product(s) mentioned is/are not sponsored.

Favourite Beauty of the month: MISSHA Time Revolution Red Algae Treatment Essence (150ml)

This red algae treatment essence retails for 39,000 Korean Won and that is equivalent to about 45 SGD. I think the price point is considered affordable as compared to a renowned facial treatment essence. This was newly launched this year in February but I ordered this in mid-May from an online store (Shopee) and the package arrived in early June which is in time for this month favourites!

If you have been wondering is it necessary to include treatment essence in your skincare routine? I would say it is not essential, but it’s good to have one. Facial Essence is a lightweight liquid formulation that adds a level of hydration. Besides, it contains concentrated active ingredients that target different skin concern such as wrinkles, fine lines, dullness and uneven skin tone.

Red algae have been a rising trend in the skincare industry that it was said to have numerous benefits to the skin. MISSHA utilized their technology and slowly ferments at 36.5℃ for 100 days to increase the anti-oxidant power of the Irish Moss extract (also known as red algae) and then it captures the 100% undiluted solution. It has been about a month since I have used the new red algae treatment essence.

What I like about this Time Revolution Red Algae Treatment Essence:

  1. The essence is suitable for all skin type, especially dull and stressed skin.
    • FYI: My skin type is combination-sensitive and up to this point, I did not experience any skin reactivity after application.
  2. The essence only contains one ingredient which is 100% Chondrus Crispus Extract (scientific name) as stated in the ingredients list.
    • Chondrus Crispus is widely known as red algae which is a type of seaweed that is a rich source of nutrients for the skin. It’s highly rich in phenols and fatty acid that gives remarkable moisturising properties to maintain the skin’s natural protective film, replenish the skin’s natural water reservoir, and increase its moisture-retention capabilities.
    • It contains high potent antioxidants that help fight free radicals making it a powerful anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory. I did notice that it does reduce the redness on my skin.
    • It contains a high concentration level of carrageenan. This form a “protective” film layer on the skin to shield it against environmental stress and damaging air-bone pollutants.
  3. It absorbs quickly into the skin and leaves no sticky/tacky feeling. The viscosity of this essence is a slight gel-like liquid as compared to their best seller of a water-like viscosity.

Based on the photo, you can see that the essence is slightly pale reddish which comes from the red algae. This is 100% naturally pigment with no artificial colouring. It also contains no fragrance.

Honestly, I couldn’t think of any cons to this product because it was a simple ingredient product. So either your skin loves it or your skin hates it.

Overall, I had a pleasant experience using this for more than a month and it definitely moisture my skin. On top of that, my skin seems to be more “brighter” than before which gives a healthy natural glow. I think this could be a good addition to the skincare routine as our face might experience external stress from wearing a face mask which has become mandatory in our daily life. I highly recommend to those whose skin need protection and and has lost its strength barrier.

My rating for this product:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

For more information, you can visit the Missha official website or Missha US website.

Disclaimer: I find this product beneficial to my skin but it may or may not works for everyone. Kindly understand that every individual has different skin type and texture. I recommend that you do some research before purchasing the product or patch test on your skin before usage. This is not a sponsored post too.

Click on page 2 for more favourites.

May Favourites 2020

How’s everyone doing? I hope everyone is doing good and stay safe. Time flew passed quickly and we are midway through the year 2020. If you are new to this segment, I’ll be sharing about 2 or 3 favourites that I have used for May. It can be anything from beauty, makeup, book, music or app.

Favourite beauty of the month: Laneige Fresh Calming Sun Essence SPF 50+ PA++++

This product was freshly released last month, April in Korea but I discovered upon it in late April and decided to purchase it. This is not yet released in my country but I managed to get it online from Shopee (E-commerce store). The sun essence retails for 29,000 KRW for 50 ml which is estimated at about 33 SGD.

Sunscreen is the most crucial step in the skincare routine regardless of how many steps you have in your skincare or even how expensive is your skincare product. If you are not applying sunscreen, you are missing out a big piece in your skincare routine.

But why is it important to apply sunscreen?

Basically, we are living on Earth with the sun shining above us. It is not possible to say no to the Sun whenever we like it so we have to do our best to avoid sun exposure. Exposure to UV rays (sunrays) heightened the process of premature ageing of your skin such as wrinkles, fine lines, age spots.

You might be thinking that “I am still too young to get wrinkles or age spots on my face thus I do not need to apply sunscreen? OR “I spend most of the time indoor so I do not need to apply sunscreen?” The answer is NO! Even if you are like in your 20s, you still have to apply sunscreen to prevent further damage to your skin and UV rays can penetrate through the windows which will speed up the skin’s ageing process.

There are 2 ultraviolet rays from the Sun, UVA and UVB that are harmful to our skin. I’ll not go deep into the explanation of these two ultraviolet rays because this is not a science class. I’ll provide simple illustrations for a better explanation.

Image credit: Sungrubbies (www.sungrubbies.com)
Image credit: Gleneagles (www.gleneagles.com.sg)

Reference to the illustration above, UVA ray is capable to penetrate to the deeper skin tissues layer known as dermis that is responsible for premature skin ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation while UVB penetrates to the top layer of the skin known as epidermis that is responsible for skin redness and sunburn.

There are two types of sunscreen: physical (mineral/inorganic) and chemical (organic) sunscreen. Similarly, I’ll provide illustrations for a better understanding.

Image credit: Babeandbeauty (www.babeandbeauty.com)

Reference to the illustration above, a chemical sunscreen contains organic UV filters that catalyse a chemical reaction when exposed to the sun. It will absorb the sun’s rays and transform them into heat which released into the environment. Whereas physical sunscreen contain inorganic UV filter that acts as a blocking barrier to reflect the sun’s ray from penetrating to the skin.

So which is a better sunscreen? This is a tricky question but it is dependent mainly on individual preference. As for me, I preferred physical sunscreen, not because I dislike chemical sunscreen but I experienced skin reactivity from using it. So far physical sunscreen has not caused any reactivity such as redness and hives on my skin.

Let’s get back to the star product…

I have been using this Laneige sun essence for more than 3 weeks. I have been pleased with this product but neither am I “wow-ed” by this nor am I disappointed at this. I think this is a fairly decent product launched by Laneige.

There has been an ongoing trend in Korea for sunscreen to be more than just giving you protection from the UV rays. But rather a sunscreen with added beneficial (hydration/moisture or even anti-ageing) to the skin. Therefore, you might come across labels such as “sun essence/cream” or “sun cushion”.

Laneige Fresh Calming Sun Essence a physical sunscreen that is suitable for all skin types especially toward troubled skin and sensitive skin. It is mildly formulated with 7 hypoallergenic free ingredients (animal ingredient, mineral oil, polyacrylamide, imidazolidinyl urea, triethanolamine, tar pigment and talc).

The SPF (sun protection factor) for this sun essence is 50+ with PA++++. I feel that it is best to go for a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 50, no more or less than this value because it’s at the optimal which is illustrated below.

Image credit: colorescience (www.colorescience.com)

As you might know that UVA rays are “silent killer” to the skin as the effect doesn’t take place immediately but rather a prolong exposure effect. The PA grading system origin from Japan to inform the consumers of the level of protection from UVA rays. The PA grading system was adapted using the PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) method that analyses the duration of the skin turning brown/tan. The PPD value is then converted into the PA grading system.

  • If PPD = 2 to 4 = PA+ = Some UVA protection.
  • If PPD = 4 to 8 = PA++ = Moderate UVA protection.
  • If PPD = 8 to 16 = PA+++ = High UVA protection.
  • If PPD = 16 or higher = PA++++ = Extremely High UVA protection.

For example, PPD rating of 8 should allow an individual to handle 8 times as much UVA exposure. But the PPD rating doesn’t give the exact amount of the UVA protection as there is no standardised system to evaluate the PPD scores. Thus, only 5 countries utilise the UVA testing: Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and Australia. In Japan, PPD results are grouped and simplified into PA measurements.

The drawbacks about PA rating system, not everybody get tan easily. Some people don’t even get tan from being exposed from to the sun. So this might be insignificant and the PA rating does not tell the duration that it can last in a real-world situation.

What I like about this sun essence?

  1. This product is not solely a sunscreen that blocks UV rays from entering into the skin but also provide moisture to the skin as it contains 70% moisture essence derived from natural ingredients such as green tea. It also has a quick “cooling” sensation upon application.
  2. The ease of application for the sun essence. This sun essence has a gel-like texture with a slight peach tint that spread easily around the face. Compared to my previous sunscreen of a tacky texture that took a while to spread evenly on the face.
  3. The product does not leave a white cast and blend well with your skin tone leaving a soft dewy finish. Compared to my past experiences using physical sunscreens, they do leave a white cast that it’s pretty obvious that cause the appearance of a greasy face.

Do take note that this is more of like a tone-up sunscreen (reduce redness and discolouration) that brightens up your skin. And it is not water-proof too!

What I do not like this sun essence?

  1. This product does contains parfum/fragrance which can be potentially sensitized skin. I mentioned previously that even though fragrance makes the product smell nice, it does more harm than good to the skin. So far, the product does not cause any irritation to my skin so I am not mad at it.
  2. After application, my face does feel a slight stickiness but it take a few hours for the stickiness to be gone. Similarly, I am not mad at it because I hardly touch my face.

Overall, I think this product is suitable for people whom prefer a physical sunscreen over a chemical sunscreen and also brighten up your skin to create that soft dewy effect which is suitable to wear it alone or as a make-up base. If you are interested in the product, feel free to look it up! For more information: Laneige

My rating for this product:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I find this product beneficial to my skin but it may or may not works for everyone. Kindly understand that every individual has different skin type and texture. I recommend that you do some research before purchasing the product or patch test on your skin before usage. This is not a sponsored post too.

Click on page 2 for more favourites.

April Favourites 2020

Hello! It’s time the month of favourites. Phew! March ended just like this. Most of the time, I was staying at home except if I am doing the grocery run. I feel that this self-quarantine does not sound as bad as it seems. Sometimes, it can be a perfect time for you to slow things down if you always have been busy coping with your work.

It’s a time for you to slowly unwind and notice the surroundings or do something that you like to do. Have you ever sat down in your rooms, look outside the windows and appreciate the outside scenery – the cloudy sky, the trees and the sudden breeze that blows through your window?

If you are new to this segment, I’ll be sharing about 2 or 3 favourites that I have used for the month of April. It can be anything from beauty, makeup, book, music or app.

(*) = affiliated link.

Favourite beauty of the month: DR.G RED Blemish Clear Soothing Cream

Photo credit: dr-g.co.kr

This cream was one of the best sellers in Korea in the year 2019. This retail for 36,000 KRW which is roughly about 40 SGD for 70ml. The price is considered affordable. Unfortunately, there is no physical shop in Singapore so I got it online. And I have a question: “Is this cream worth the hype?”

A brief background information about the brand DR.G.

DR.G was founded by dermatologist Dr. Ahn Geon-young of Gowoonsesang Cosmetics*, one of the world’s largest skincare medical group and the number one skin clinic in Korea. Gowoonsesang means ‘Beautiful World’ in Korean. According to their webpage, My Skin Mentor DR.G was launched in 2003 with a philosophy: “Dr. G guarantees a healthy and beautiful skin by continuously developing safe and effective products that are suggesting solutions for various problems based on genuine sympathy and consideration for those with skin problems.”

For more information you can read up his interview here* or visit the DR.G official website (Korea)*

When it comes to cream/moisturiser, I am very particular due to my past experiences of using the cream/moisturiser that causes me to breakout or have fungal acne aka tiny little bumps on the face after some time. I have tried numerous creams from drugstore to expensive cream such as the TATCHA Silk cream. I never really mentioned my experience with using TATCHA Creams so I am going to briefly share it below. You may choose to skip the next 5 paragraphs on the TATCHA experiences.

About 4 years back, I brought the TATCHA silk cream* (120 USD for 50ml), the name indeed sounds luxurious but it was not worth the splurge. The silk cream is a rich gel-cream that is suitable for normal to dry skin. Back then, my skin was relatively combination-dry. After using for two weeks, I started to have fungal acne on my forehead which I did not have previously. And every alternate day, I woke to a new pimple on my face. It made me question whether was it the silk cream that I recently used.

I’ll be frank with you, the silk cream felt “heavy” on my skin and I find that it was not suitable for places experiencing humid weather all year-round. But I think it is most suitable for people with dry skin type and in places that experience winter. I gave the cream to my mum and she loved it considering that she has a dry skin type plus she loved the smell of the cream (FYI: the cream contain parfum/fragrance).

TATCHA launched the water cream* in 2017, I remember purchasing the cream (68 USD for 50ml) online back in late 2018 as it was marketed out as a lightweight gel-cream that was perfect for combination to oily skin type. Comparing the price, the water cream was more affordable than the silk cream. The experience using the TATCHA water cream was okay but nothing fantastic. It’s a lightweight cream that does its job to keep your skin hydrated leaving a non-sticky feeling. Neither does it cause any breakout nor prevent any pimple from coming out. It did nothing to my redness even though there was a split moment of a cooling sensation.

Overall, this is just an average oil-free cream. The selling point was that it contains GOLD as an ingredient in the water cream which is supposed to be anti-oxidant and perhaps giving you that glowy skin. I highly doubt that that is real gold added to the cream. But why add gold in skincare products? I don’t think that the gold would be absorbed by the skin, it would probably sit right on top of your skin that’s all. There was a news article* about the water cream reviewed by a dermatologist. The water cream lasted me for 4 months and I did not repurchase it.

I am not trying to trash TATCHA and just to let you know I used to loved TATCHA products and I want to be honest about my thoughts on their products. For those who actual loved their cream, you can continue using it. However, there are better affordable cream out there that can give you a similar result. 🙂

Let’s focus on the star product…

I have been using the DR.G soothing cream for 3 weeks which I think is substantial to give my honest thought about it. This cream is suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin. My skin type is combination-sensitive and occasionally I do have pimples.

I used this every night even though it was instructed to use it twice daily. So far, I had a pleasant experience, the cream is a lightweight gel texture and I would wake up with a nice glow on my face that did not look too greasy.

The cream absorbed relatively fast into your skin and it did not leave any sticky feeling aftermath. It also soothes my redness, not instantly, take about 5 minutes after application to see the effect.

What I like about this cream:

The cream is fragrance-free and essential oil-free.

I feel that fragrance and skincare should not come together because they don’t complement each other. I know skincare company add fragrance to mask a certain chemical smell or as a marketing technique to attract the consumer to buy their product because of the aroma fragrance.

Since last year, I have decided to make a change to minimise the fragrance content in my skincare products to as little or no fragrance. There is a good reason why. Your skin doesn’t react to a fragrant product from using it for a day, a week or even a month. It’s the prolong exposure that can potentially sensitised your skin and aggravated your skin condition.

You can read more about why you should choose fragrance-free products here: post written by Paula’s choice*

The cream is alcohol-free.

I feel that alcohol can be drying especially toward dry skin and be potentially irritating toward sensitive skin. But not all alcohol is bad for the skin. There are good ones which are classified under fatty alcohol such as Cetearyl, Stearyl, Cetyl and Behenyl alcohol that are not drying or irritating to your skin at all. In fact, they act as emollients which protect your skin and help it to keep moisture in.

The cream contains 5-CICA Complex™ that is specially formulated by DR.G. The 5-CICA Complex™ comprised of 5 skin-soothing ingredients:

  1. Madecassoside – wound healing, skin soothing and anti-oxidant properties
  2. Asiaticoside – wound healing and anti-oxidant properties
  3. Madecassic acid – skin regenerating, wound healing properties
  4. Asiatic acid – moisturising and wound healing properties
  5. Centella extract (aka Tiger grass) – anti-inflammatory properties

However, the cream is not silicone-free which is not necessary a bad thing.

When it comes to silicone, people might automatically assume that it is bad because it can clogged pores. However, this is not true. Silicone is both hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic and not known to sensitise the skin.

Silicone will not penetrate into the skin but it forms a breathable barrier on top of your skin providing beneficial properties such as conditioning properties, emolliency, and ability to prevent moisture loss. Furthermore, they can make the skin appear smoother and more radiant due to their light-reflective properties.

The main takeaway for me about this cream is beside it give my face a hydration boost but also did a good job in controlling any breakout. What I meant was a lesser breakout especially my hormonal breakout that it’s something I cannot control. For my existing pimple, it does help to reduce the flare-up of the pimple.

Back to my question whether is this cream worth the hype? Yes! It is worth the buy especially if you are sensitive – acne-prone skin and you wanted a gentle moisturising cream. This might be the one for you. So if you are interested, feel free to check it out online!

My rating for this product:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I find this product beneficial to my skin but it may or may not works for everyone. Kindly understand that every individual has different skin type and texture. I recommend that you do some research before purchasing the product or patch test on your skin before usage. This is not a sponsored post too.

Click on page 2 for more favourites.