I’ve been a fan of Korean cuisine for a while now, having visited several local cafe style in New Malden. My good friend Adrian recommended You-Me in Burlington Road, which did not disappoint.
New Malden has the largest Korean community outside of Korea. The high street is graced with H Mart Asian superstore. It’s a treasure trove.
Recently I heard about a fantastic cookery demonstration course being held at King Charles Centre, Surbiton throughout May and decided to sign up. Delivered by Hyung Soo for the Korean Cultural Centre, he’s been a chef and food researcher for 30 years and makes his own brand of firm tofu (available at H Mart).
One of my favourite dishes is Bibimbap or “mix of things” Hyung Soo explained. I love the fresh, crispy vegetables and the way you can control the spicy heat yourself, adding fermented pickle ‘Kimchi’ at will. You find crunchy, chewy white rice welded to the bottom of the boiling bowl – mind your hands: all part of the experience. Textures contrasting. You can garnish the whole dish with a runny, fried egg.
In Korean food, rice is the star. Sushi white sticky rice will suffice or you can splash out and add barley, black rice, quinoa and black bean. Key is washing the grains thoroughly until the water runs clear, then soaking for 30 minutes. You can then drain into a container, saving this water like a stock: it adds to the flavour of countless dishes. Add more clean water to the soaked rice. (Ratio is roughly 1 cup rice :1.15 water.) Bring it to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes, reduce the heat and cook for a further 15 mins. Switch off the heat and leave for 5. Do not be tempted to life the lid while the rice is cooking. The ‘super-healthy’ version becomes an unusual, purply as the colour from the beans seeps out.
Magic Soy Dressing On Cold Noodle Salad
If you’re a little faint hearted when it comes to spices, this dressing is mild, sweet and delicious: drizzled over cold, soba noodles, refreshing and kind.
500ml light soy sauce
500ml Korean apple vinegar
500g sugar (substitute with honey)
150g chopped garlic
50g chopped ginger
300ml sesame oil
Value for money the Korean Cuisine 5 week course certainly is – in week one we covered how to make 4 sauces that can be applied to any food either as dipping sauces (like houmous) , garnishes or marinades. So long as you have good quality ingredients, preparation is simple. You need stacks of chopped garlic (from Tesco – freezable yay!) and don’t forget to warn your closer friends!