Nachae kimbap – Naked cucumber rolls

cucumber rolls

A favourite with kids and adults alike, these easy rolls look extra fancy with the rice on the outside!

Now you might be wondering about the name (a little risque, I must say!) My yobo says they are called ‘naked’ kimbap in Korea since you can’t see the seaweed on the outside.  Personally, I always think of them as ‘inside-out’, like they have their shirts on inside out.

Since you taste the rice first and the crunch of the cucumber, if you have someone in your life (or maybe even you) who is leery to try rice rolls because of the texture or taste of the seaweed, naked kimbap is a great introduction.

Yield: 4 rolls of nachae kimbap

The time you need: prep: 20 mins (for rice to cook) rolling: 10 mins

The things you need: (to make 4 rolls)

  • 2 cups of rice (4 cups cooked rice).
  • 4 sheets of kim (seaweed)
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • sesame seeds to garnish

The prep:

  • make the rice. For a great tutorial on how to sticky rice, click here
  • once the rice is cooked, let the rice cool slightly and add the sesame oil and salt
  • cut the cucumber into really thin long pieces discarding the seeds (they just make things watery!)

The assembly:

  • lay the seaweed, kim, on a bamboo roller.  (If you don’t have one, don’t stress.  I just find it does make it easier but they can be made without one.)
  • scoop 1 cup of rice on the seaweed
  • spread it out evenly covering the entire piece of seaweed
  • flatten and smooth it out with the spatula
  • IMPORTANT STEP: cover the rice with a piece of saran wrap and flip it over so the seaweed is facing up! (You may have seen this being done at a sushi restaurant. I have tried to do it without the saran wrap and it was a sticky mess! 🙂 )
  • layer 1/4 of the cucumbers at the top of the rice
  • carefully make a roll over the cucumbers  (Be sure to not roll the saran wrap along with it…. not that I know from experience!)
  • continue to roll the nice and tight. When it is all rolled, use the saran wrap and the bamboo roller to give it a tight squeeze
  • allow the roll to rest a few minutes (while you roll the other ones) and cut with a sharp knife
  • arrange, garnish with sesame seeds and pat yourself on the back!

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Kyah’s birthday – Korean writing

kyah's 9

Kyah is now 9!

Interview with Kyah:

  • What is your hobby? Reading books
  • What kind of books do you like? History and mystery books (it rhymes)
  • What is your favourite sport? Soccer and skiing
  • What is your favourite colour? Lime green and sky blue
  • What instrument do you play? Violin
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Architect
  • What is your your favourite Korean food? Udon
  • What is your favourite thing about Korean culture? That we get to wear hanbuks. I like the food a lot, that is sometimes spicy and we get to do it in hot pots.
  • What is your favourite thing about Korean school? That we get to go to mamas class at snack time 🙂
  • Do you speak Korean? A little bit
  • Can you write Korean? Yes

Here is how Kyah writes her name in Korean and a few basic words:

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Yu ja in sam cha- Korean honey citron tea with ginseng

korean honey citron tea

A soothing tea made with lemon marmalade and honey is a delicious remedy for a sore throat, a cold or the flu.  Add some ginseng tea powder for extra cold fighting powers.

I have been feeling sick all week and everyone knows that moms aren’t suppose to get sick!  I have been drinking this Korean tea combination in attempts to feel better and get better.  The citron tea is delicious!  It is a yummy marmalade made with sliced up lemons and honey.  I could eat it off the spoon!  To increase the cold fighting ability of this drink, I add some ginseng powder tea.  The bitter taste of the ginseng is well camouflaged by the lemons and honey.  All and all, I hope it is working its magic and I am feeling better soon!

So if you find yourself on the wrong side of a cold, here is the how to:  (since when you are sick sometimes you need help with even the basics of making tea!)

  • spoon 1 tbsp citron honey tea and 1 packet of ginseng tea into a mug
  • add 1 cup of hot water
  • mix and enjoy!

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These are the teas: Korean Royal Red Ginseng tea and Honey Citron tea

I will spare you a picture of a sick me!

Hoisin beef stir fry

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This delicious combination of vegetables and beef in a sweet hoisin sauce has a secret ingredient, garlic stems!

My mom whipped up this fabulous dish for dinner tonight.  My yobo was not going to be home so my mom invited me and the kids to stay.  Then my sister’s husband was also not going to be home so my mom invited her and her 4 boys for dinner too.  She looked in the fridge and came up with this amazing dish in no time at all.  How she does it, we are not sure.  We are all just glad she does!

Not only is my mom a wonderful cook, she makes it look easy.  She can make a meal for a dozen people on a moments notice and it will be delicious.  My mom claims it all has to do with having the ingredients in the house; they have two chest freezers and two fridges even though it is only her and my dad at home.  She loves to host and truly has the gift of hospitality.  “There is always room for one more” is her motto. (If you have been to their house on Sunday for lunch, you will have experienced this!)


The recipe:

Prep time: 20 mins   Cook time: 15 mins

The things you need:

  • 2 lbs eye of round beef strips
  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups beans
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 1 bunch garlic stems (they can be found in the ‘weird’ Asian vegetable section – according to my sister)
  • 2 cups bok choy
  • 1/2 stalk leek

The how to:

  • marinate the meat – the longer the better – in the hoisin sauce, water and sweet chilli sauce
  • cut up the vegetables and set aside
  • stir fry the meat.
  • mix the corn starch with the 1/4 cup water and add to the meat
  • set the meat aside (or if you are my mom, use another wok) and steam the veggies
  • when the veggies are almost cooked, combine the two together
  • serve with quinoa

The gang

 The happy dinner guests

Kimbap – Korean rolls

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Kimbap, Korean rice rolls, are a wonderful medley of vegetables, egg, radish and meat tightly wrapped in sesame rice and seaweed.

This recipe is one my yobo’s mom taught me to make when I lived in Korea.  My mother-in-law is a great cook and an amazing woman. Knowing how much I liked kimbap, every time we came to visit, she would prepare them.  She then patiently taught me how to cook despite my limited Korean language ability.  Using lots of hand gestures, simple Korean and some help from my yobo, I learned how to make these classic Korean rolls. There are many variations of kimbap but this is a basic version that my yobo grew up on.

Kimbap is picnic food or a great snack in Korea.  In my opinion, it is too time consuming for a snack. When I make 10 rolls of it, it is dinner! And a yummy dinner at that.

Yield: 10 rolls of kimbap

The time you need:  prep: 30 mins    rolling: 15 mins (depending how fast you are!)

The things you need:

  • a package of kim, seaweed, or nori sheets (10 pieces)
  • 4 cups white sticky rice (8 cups prepared)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste… add more if you like it more salty)
  • Korean pickled radish – see picture
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 eggs
  • a package of lunch ham (or you can buy a ham steak and cut it up)

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The prep:

  • make the rice.  For directions, see this post by Kyah – bap
  • when the rice is made, allow it to cool slightly and add the sesame oil and salt.  Mix well.
  • beat the egg and fry on medium low like a crepe.  Flip when browned and cool. Cut into 10 long thin pieces
  • slice the carrots into 10 long thin pieces (6 inches long)
  • slice the radish into 10 long thin pieces (6 inches) or you can buy the package that is pre-sliced for you
  • cut the sides of the cucumber into 4 long pieces from the outside.  Discard the column of seeds. Cut the long pieces into 10 thin pieces each having some green on it – if this is confusing…see the picture 🙂
  • cut the ham into 2 halves
  • lightly fry the carrot in the fry pan used from the egg till it is browned and  lightly salt.

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The assembly:

  • lay the seaweed, kim, on a bamboo roller
  • scoop 3/4c + a little bit of rice onto the seaweed
  • spread out the rice evenly on the top 2/3 of the seaweed
  • use the spatula to spread and smooth out the rice
  • layer the ingredients at the bottom end of the rice
  • then carefully roll the seaweed like a jelly roll – if you know how to roll a jelly roll 🙂 – first pinching the top of the seaweed over the ingredients and then carefully rolling the rest nice and tight
  • use a little bit of rice at the end to ‘glue’ the seaweed to the roll
  • squeeze the roll tightly
  • allow the roll to rest a few minutes before cutting
  • cut with a sharp knife.  I find it helps to clean the knife between rolls or else it gets all goopy from the rice.

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Nothing beats making kimbap in the sunshine!

Bokumbap – Korean fried rice


A tasty fried rice recipe made with the flavours of sesame and garlic.  Mixed up with ground beef, vegetables and egg, it is a complete meal in a bowl!

It was getting late and I hadn’t thought about supper yet.  This happens to me all the time.  Especially when it is sunny.  I feel like if the sun is shining, it is still day time and I don’t need to think about what I am going to make for dinner. Then the troops start getting hungry and this mama needs to start cooking!

When I have no idea what to cook, I always put on a pot of rice.  Surely in the 20ish minutes it takes for rice to cook, I can whip up something to go with it.  I know there are homes where potatoes or pasta are put on in the same way, but in our house, it is rice.

Still at a loss, I fry up some ground beef.  Directionless I cut up some veggies and figure inspiration will have to hit at some point.  And it did!  Just in time because the kids were really hungry now.  Bokumbap, Korean fried rice!

The things you need:

  • 2 cups rice uncooked (= 4 cups cooked rice)
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pepper to taste

The how to:

  • cook the rice. For directions see here.
  • Slice up all the veggies thinly (a mandolin is great for this!)
  • brown the ground beef with the garlic. Drain and add sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar (I realize it sounds funny to drain the fat to add oil but the sesame oil adds lots of flavour). Set the beef aside.
  • scramble the eggs. Set them aside.
  • using the same fry pan (because who likes dishes?!), cook the veggies.
  • when the veggies are done, add the rice.  Mix it around really well.  You don’t want any rice to still be white!  Add the beef and the egg and continue to mix it up.  Add pepper to taste.
  • Serve it up!

taron bokumbap

 “Hey Mister! Try some of this bokumbap!”

Chicken? Kitchen?!

chicken? kitchen?!

This happened when my yobo and I were dating. I was very confused; being a native English speaking, it never occurred to me how close these two words sounded. It is quite a common mistake for learners of English to make.  Once I was teaching ‘the rooms of a house’ to a group of middle school students and I showed a picture of a kitchen.  An excited student blurted out “a HEN!”

For my yobo:

This is a chicken:


This is a kitchen.


And this is a chicken in a kitchen.

chicken in the kitchen

 Photos: Caramel the chicken, Peace the chick with Kyah.

Hae mul pa jeon – Seafood pancake

seafood pancake

This is the best pancake I have ever made!  Full of green onions, vegetables and shrimp, this hae mul pa jeon has been crowned king of pancakes in our house!

The recipe makes one ginormous pancake which is how they are eaten in Korea.  You can cut it up like a pizza or attack it with your chopsticks like my yobo does.  Either way, it is yummy!  The trick to making this especially delicious is to have enough hot oil in the pan to make the pancake crispy and serve it hot!

What you need:

  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2/3 c water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 c zucchini cut into half moons
  • 1 red pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs mixed
  • 1/2 c seafood (I used shrimp)

The how to:

  • blanch the seafood for a minute or so (this way the pancake doesn’t get too watery)
  • combine the flour, water and salt to make the batter
  • add the onions, zucchini and red pepper and mix it all together
  • heat a fry pan on medium heat… add vegetable oil… allow the oil to get hot
  • spread the pancake batter out evenly in the pan and add the seafood on top
  • allow to cook for a few minutes then pour the egg on top of the pancake
  • allow to cook for a few more minutes, then carefully flip it over (If you are not talented at this, as I am not, don’t worry, if it falls apart, just squish it back together)
  • cook until browned on the other side
  • serve HOT!

kidscrazy kids

Kids crazy about Korean food!

Recipe from

Mandu – Korean dumplings

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Here is an easy-to-make recipe for dumplings. These home-made Korean dumplings will have you abandoning your frozen bag from the grocery store faster than you can say “MANDU!”

I haven’t made mandu in a long time and I was feeling intimidated.  It seemed like a lot of work. But when I got down to it, it really was not more work than making meatballs. And it was less messy.  Now if you think making meatballs is still too much work, I might not be able to persuade you to make dumplings.

If you are on board to make them, you will be rewarded.  They are delicious!

I must confess that having a dumpling press not only makes mandu-making easier, it also makes them look pretty.  I found this press years ago in a dollar store and it has sat in the far corners of a cabinet since then. This summer when I was overly pregnant, my friend was helping me clean. She almost threw the press out.  Boy was I glad I stopped her! And boy was I glad she found it back!  I might have to make her some mandu as a thank you.

The time you need: prep time: 15 mins    cook time: 7 mins (per batch)

The things you need:

  • 400 g lean ground pork
  • 1 cup cabbage shredded
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (2 – 3 cloves, depending on size)
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 30 frozen dumpling skin wrappers (available in most grocery stores)

The how to:

  • chop your cabbage nice and fine
  • chop up your green onions
  • add the veggies to the ground pork
  • add remaining ingredients and mix well

chopped cabbagechopped onionmandu mixture

Method one: “hand” made

  • Lay a dumpling skin on your hand
  • Place 1 teaspoon of meat mixture in the centre (‘re’ because I’m Canadian!)
  • Wet the edges of half the skin
  • Fold over and press together and pinch

mandu in handhand made mandu

Method two: a dumpling press

  • Lay a dumpling skin on your handy-dandy press
  • Place 1 teaspoon of meat mixture in the centre
  • Wet the edges of half the skin
  • Collapse the press together and squeeeeze!

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  • heat a frying pan with vegetable oil
  • place as many dumplings as will comfortably fit in the pan (you will need to do more than one batch)
  • fry for 1-2 mins until the bottoms are brown then flip them over
  • add 1/2 cup of water and steam the mandu until the water has evaporated
  • fry for another 30 seconds or so and serve with dipping sauce
  • WARNING! these will be gone before you have finished frying up the next batch!


jaina making mandutaron making mandukyah making mandu

 The kids earning their keep!

Recipe adapted from