Korean nachos

korean nachos

An East meets West combination! A wonderfully weird marriage of a Mexican classic and a Korean side dish. Korexican. Mexiorean. Whatever you want to call it, it is the best of both worlds. Mashi-e-sawyo! Delicioso!

I usually shy away from ‘fusion’ food.  It is really popular in Korea and I know California has a big Korean fusion culture, but I remain skeptical about mixing flavours from different ethnic foods. But I was making the kids and me some nachos the other day for dinner and knew that my yobo would be less than excited about them.  He is not a picky eater at all and he will eat anything I make him, but Mexican is not is favourite kind of food.

Then I remembered a recipe I saw at my sisters house in  Fresh Juice magazine: Korean Tacos

Fresh Juice

Inspiration hit! Since I did not have the magazine, I just improvised this Korean version of nachos. And the verdict?  Delicious!  I ended up eating these instead of the ones I made for me and the kids 🙂 And my yobo? He devoured them and asked for more! Always a good sign!

The things you need:

  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 heaping teaspoon taco seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp gojujang, red pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • lettuce
  • cucumber
  • hot green peppers
  • kimchi
  • sesame seeds
  • nacho chips

The how to:

  • brown the ground beef with the garlic and add the sesame oil, taco seasoning and soy sauce
  • mix together the gojujang, vinegar and sugar to make a yummy spicy dressing
  • chop your lettuce, cucumbers and hot green peppers into bite size pieces
  • assemble: nachos, lettuce, ground beef mixture, cucumbers, peppers
  • drizzle the dressing over it all and top with chopped kimchi and sesame seeds!
  • to take it up a notch in fusion… add cheese! (it was surprisingly delicious!)
  • Enjoy!

korean nachos

A Single Shard

A Single Shard

Book review – by Kyah

Title: A Single Shard

Author: Linda Sue Park

Main Character: Tree-ear

Setting: A small village in Korea in the 12th century

Story line: It is about a boy named Tree-ear who is an orphan and lives on a bridge with a man named Crane-man.  He broke one of Min’s (a potter) work, so he had to work for him for 9 days and later he works for him.  Then he goes to the kings court to deliver Min’s work (a pottery vase) but robbers break it.

Did you like it? Yes, because it is interesting to learn about Korea long ago.

What did you learn? I learned about pottery and how monks come and fetch orphans to go to the temple.

Rating: 8.5

Kyah's book review

Our reader!

Yawna kimbap – Smoked salmon rolls

salmon kimbap

A delicious combination of smoked salmon, yellow radish, cucumber and avocado rolled up in a sesame flavoured rice roll.

I was going through the fridge looking for some inspiration and lo and behold I found all the ingredients for a fabulous kimbap! My brother-in-law had smoked me some salmon, my mom had given me avocados before they left on a trip and I always have yellow Korean radish and cucumber on hand. Lucky for my yobo, since if I ever ask what he wants for dinner he always says “kimbap!”

Now you might be thinking, “aren’t these sushi rolls?”  They obviously are very similar with a few distinct differences. One of them being the seasoning for the rice; kimbap utilizes sesame oil and salt to flavour the rice while Japanese rolls use sushi vinegar. Another distinction is the ingredients; kimbap tends to have more ‘stuff’ in them and they usually include of pickled yellow radish.  I must admit though that the avocado is not very authentically Korean 🙂

So if you haven’t given kimbap a try, here is your chance!

salmon kimbap

Yield: 10 rolls

The things you need:

  • 8 cups cooked sticky rice (4 cups uncooked = 8 cups cooked)
  • a package of kim, seaweed or nori sheets (10 pieces) I just buy what is on sale.  I am not too picky!
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • Korean pickled yellow radish (see pic… available at Asian markets)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 fillet of smoked salmon

The prep:

  • cook the rice.  I used 2 cups white and 1 cup brown this time (trying to be healthy!)  For a step by step on rice, see here
  • once the rice is made, allow it to cool for a few minutes, add the sesame oil and salt and mix well
  • cut the radish into 10 long thin pieces (6 inches)
  • cut the cucumber into 4 long pieces (6 inches), give the column of seeds to one of your helpers to gnaw on and slice the outside chunks into 10 long pieces
  • peel the avocado, take out the seed and slice thinly
  • break the salmon fillet into smallish pieces

cucumberradishcut radishavocadosalmonkim

The assembly:

  • put the sheet of kim, seaweed, on a bamboo roller
  • scoop 3/4c + a little smidge rice onto the seaweed
  • nicely spread out the rice on the top 2/3 of the seaweed
  • place the ingredients on the bottom end of the rice
  • carefully make one roll from the rice side to cover the ingredients and pinch it nice and tight
  • roll the roll over the rest of the seaweed nice and tight
  • take a few little grains of rice to act as glue and place them on the loose end of the seaweed and squeeze roll tightly
  • let the roll sit a few minutes before cutting
  • cut with a sharp clean knife into small bite size pieces (this way it looks like more and you can eat it gracefully!)

kimkim and ricesalmon kimbapsalmon kimbap 2rice gluesalmon roll

kyah and nyles

Kimbap kids in the kitchen!

If you like rolls, check out these:

cucumber rolls kimbap rolls

Naked cucumber rolls      Kimbap

News article


I made the news – on page A3 of the weekend edition of JoongAng Ilbo, a Korean newspaper!

So what did I do that was so newsworthy?  I am not so sure.  The article highlights how I am fascinated with Korean food and enjoy learning how to cook with Korean ingredients.  It explains how I went to Korea to teach English and my first experiences with Korean food.  The article mentions my family and my little food blog and some of the dishes I would still like to learn how to make.

I guess that is enough to make the news!

Sundubu jigae – Soft tofu stew

sundubu jigae

A spicy red stew thick with veggies, seafood and silky tofu. The depth of flavour from the fish stock is enhanced by the red pepper paste, gojuchang, and the smooth tofu is complimented by the crunch of the vegetables.  Add in any kind of seafood you desire and this is one fabulous stew!

My yobo really enjoys this stew.  He isn’t a big meat eater and he likes tofu and egg in just about anything. Serve with a bowl of steaming white rice and he is one happy man.

The time you need: 25 mins

Yield: 2 servings

The things you need:

  • 1.5 cups of fish stock (to make fish stock, I boil 6 little fishys with 2 cups of water and reduce.  Then I feed the little fish to the chickens for a taste snack and omega 3 eggs!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red pepper flakes, goju garu (add more for a spicier soup)
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/4 c onion chopped
  • 1/2 c zucchini chopped
  • 1/4 c mushrooms chopped
  • 1/2 c shrimp or other seafood
  • 1 tube of soft tofu
  • 2 eggs

anchoviesfish stocksoft tofuchopped veggiesshrimpspicy paste

The how to:

  •  mix together the garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and red pepper flakes in a pot (I used a stone one)
  • saute the mixture for a few minutes
  • add the chopped veggies and continue to saute for a few more minutes
  • add the fish stock and bring to a boil
  • add the soft tofu in chunks and allow to boil until the veggies are soft
  • with a few minutes left, add the shrimp (so as not not overcook it)
  • crack an egg on top
  • serve!

close your eyesa big surprise

“Open your mouth and close your eyes and you will have a big surprise!”

Korean mask dance

korean mask dance

Our Korean language school had a concert in which all the students performed; my adult class agreed to participate as well.  When we asked what we were to do, we were told “just a dance”; a traditional Korean mask dance, no less.  This was all carefully explained to us of course… in Korean.

Now dancing isn’t really my forte since I don’t really have a sense of rhythm. But it was fun to learn and if nothing else, it made all the children feel less nervous since they were only singing, and we were dancing with funny masks on!

korean performance 012

The fabulous mask dancers with our teacher.

korean performance 006

My daughters sang a lovely rendition of “Do re me” in Korean.

Our garden – growing for cooking

gardening 040

I am so excited; we planted our vegetable garden! The compost has been spread, the top soil has been raked, the mounds have been built and the seeds and seedlings have been sown!

So what have we planted?

green onions green onions for seafood pancakes

gardening 031 potatoes for a yummy side dish

korean garlic onions Korean garlic onions for cucumber kimchi

peppers green peppers for dipping

gardening 023 zucchini for veggie pancakes

gardening 036 yellow zucchini for fun!

gardening 033 radish for radish kimchi

gardening 032 lettuce for eating with dwaeji bulgogi

gardening 037 kale for good dutch cooking 🙂

gardening 035 leek for beef and broccoli and stir frys

gardening 034 spinach for chapjae and smoothies

gardening 039 peas for pickin’ and eatin’

gardening 026 perilla (Korean sesame leaves) for bulgogi

garlic garlic for everything

gardening 038 rhubarb for a delicious crisp

and since we use all our compost on the garden, each year we have mystery plants that grow. Any guesses?

gardening 044gardening 043

 gardening 025

My garden gnomes!

So, what is growing in your garden?

Beef and broccoli

Beef and broccoli

Before I moved to Korea I admit that I was a little ignorant about the differences in East Asian cuisine; I hadn’t even heard of kimchi.  So when people asked me if I liked Korean food, I replied that I was sure I would since I like Chinese food.  Now, as experience as taught me, Chinese food and Korean food are quite different.  And Chinese food served in Canada is not very authentic Chinese, especially the dishes served up in the the food court in the mall.

One of my favourite Chinese dishes is and has always been beef and broccoli.  My mom made it often growing up and since it included my favourite vegetable, it was a winner in my eyes.  In my naivety about Korea prior to setting out and moving there, I assumed that since Chinese food had lots of broccoli, Korean food would as well.  Once again, experience was my teacher and I learned that Koreans don’t traditionally cook with it and it wasn’t easy to find.  So even though I have grown to love Korean food, I still really enjoy a yummy beef and broccoli dinner!

(This is based on my mom’s recipe)

The time you need: prep: 15 mins  cook time: 15 mins

The things you need:

  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 3 carrots
  • 1/4 c leek
  • several mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 c beef broth (my kids like it saucy)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

The how to:

  • chop the veggies
  • heat up a wok
  • add the olive oil and allow it to heat.  add the garlic and the ginger. saute them for a few seconds
  • add the beef and brown
  • once browned, remove from the pan and add soy sauce
  • add chopped vegetables, a splash of water and stir fry on medium high until almost cooked
  • mix together the beef broth, cornstarch and soy sauce and add to the veggies and give a quick mix
  • add the meat and juices
  • cook until thickened
  • serve over rice and enjoy!

big helpers

My big helpers!

Steamed eggs in a stone bowl – ttukbaegi gyeranjjim

steamed eggs in a hot pot

My yobo really likes eggs which is convenient since our chickens are quite proficient at producing eggs.  As a result, those little gems make a regular appearance at our table and I am always on the look out for different ways to serve eggs.

I found this recipe that resembled something my mother-in-law would often  make; steamed egg in a hot bowl.  It is more ‘soupy’ than I expected, but delicious nonetheless. To make it a firmer, reduce the chicken broth in the recipe.  Either way,  it is great served up with a bowl of rice or as a yummy breakfast.

On the topic of chickens, we have this handsome rooster with our brood of hens.  Now that the weather is beautiful and the windows are open, we have become much more familiar with our rooster and his morning wake-up calls. 5:30 may be an appropriate time for the chickens to wake up, but this mama doesn’t consider that morning!


The time you need: prep: 5 mins  cook time: 15 mins

The things you need:

  • 1.5 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame seeds to garnish

The how to:

  • bring the chicken broth to a boil in the stone bowl
  • whisk the eggs and green onion together in a mixing bowl (reserve a few green onions to garnish)
  • when the chicken broth is boiling, reduce it to low and add the egg/onion mixture
  • stir it well with a fork while you count to ten (this is a good time to practice that second language you have almost forgotten… nothing like multitasking…. brain enrichment AND cooking! 🙂 )
  • cover with a lid for 5-7 minutes.  The egg will have the still look a little soupy but will mostly be firm (like soft tofu)
  • remove the lid, add the sesame oil, sesame seeds and green onions
  • enjoy!

Note: if you don’t have a stone bowl, a small pot would work as well.  It just won’t look as pretty!

Recipe adapted from maangchi.com

Nicola Sushi Restaurant – Merritt BC

rocky mountains

Last weekend, my yobo, Nyles and I took a road trip to Edmonton for a family wedding.  We set out Thursday afternoon in my yobo’s little truck excited to be on our way; the sun was shining and we were on a road trip.  Then the truck over heated as we attempted to cross the coastal mountain range on the Coquihalla highway.  We had to stop several times for my yobo to scoop some snow on the engine and to allow it to cool down.  Needless to say, by the time we made it to Merritt (a mere 200 km into our 1100 km trip), we were ready for a break.  And so was the truck.

Dining options in Merritt along the highway include your usual gamut of fast food chain restaurants.  We were not interested in any of those, we were looking for some yummy food.  Lucky for us, we found Nicola Sushi conveniently located just past the McDonalds in the Travelodge (3581 Voght Street).

My yobo and I ordered their combo meal which included a dynamite roll and a bowl of either beef or chicken udon (we had one of each).  The rolls were good and tasty but they were cut too big.  It was impossible to put a piece in your mouth or eat them relatively neatly.

nicola sushi dinner

The soups were delicious.  The broths were flavourful and the noodles were chewy.  In the beef udon, the meat was thinly sliced and grilled and the chicken udon had sliced up breaded chicken on top. We both preferred the beef udon but the chicken was good nonetheless.  I thought there was a little much cabbage in the soup but my yobo likes cabbage and thought it was just fine.  He also ordered a tuna roll which was simple but good.

 nicola sushi dinner 2

For dinner, Nyles enjoyed beef broth mixed with rice cereal.  He gives two thumbs up!

 nicola sushi nylesnicola sushi nyles dinner

Nicola Sushi opened 3 months ago. The staff was friendly, the place was clean and they were busy.

So if you find yourself hungry in Merritt and you don’t want to eat from a chain restaurant, Nicola Sushi is a great option.

nyles edmonton trip

Our happy little traveler!

Note: Since most Sushi restaurants I have eaten at are owned by Koreans, including this one, I figure I can review them… even though this is a Korean food blog. 🙂

Nicola Sushi on Urbanspoon