Are we travelling around or is this going at a certain theme ? Nope. It’s just part of the “Let’s cook Asian food” week.
Japchae is a classic Korean vegetarian stir-fry dish made with sweet potato starch noodles, lots of vegetables and a sesame-soy sauce. It can be eaten hot or even cold. The sweet potato noodles are also known as Korean vermicelli and once boiled, they turned more transparent from their apparent grey appearance. The texture is similar to Glass Noodles (Tang Hoon) which are also made from starch, but mainly mung bean, yam or potato starch. When they are boiled, they turn into a slippery ‘mess’ and it doesn’t stick together like rice vermicelli (Mee Hoon) and has a chewy texture.
The other condiments that goes with this noodles are vegetables like spinach, carrot, capsicum, and shiitake mushrooms for vegetarian or beef slices for non. It’s a good dish to make if you are trying to clear some stuffs from your fridge.
For mine, I had a couple of colourful veg in the fridge to include to this dish. Edible rainbow ? you bet.
I adapted the recipe from Maangchi’s. She’s my to-go-to when I need to make some Korean dishes.
- 1 pc chicken breast cut to 2 inch long strips, or pork shoulder (or beef if you want)
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 2 to 3 hours, cut into thin strips
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 bunch long leaf spinach, washed and drained
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 60g sweet potato noodles
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 spring onions, cut crosswise into 2 inch long pieces
- ½ yellow onion, sliced thinly
- ½ carrot, cut into matchsticks
- ½ red capsicum, cut into thin strips
- vegetable oil
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- ground black pepper
- Crack egg in a bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Whisk the egg with a fork lightly. On a heated pan, add in 1 tsp oil. Pour eggs on top and let it cook for 1 minute. Flip over the other side and cook for another minute or until cooked through. Remove from pan, set aside. Once it is cooled, cut into strips.
- Marinade chicken and mushroom with the stated ingredients while you cut the other vegetables. Cover and set in the fridge
- Bring a pot of water to boil.
- Add in spinach and blanch for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Use a strainer to remove the spinach and rinse thru cold water. Squeeze dry, add into a big mixing bowl (it should be big enough to fit in all the ingredients) Cut the spinach with a scissors 2-3 times. Mix in 1 tsp soy sauce and 1tsp sesame oil.
- With the same pot of water, add in the sweet potato noodles. Stir with a wooden spoon so it doesn't stick together. Boil for 7 minutes.
- While the noodles are boiling, cook the vegetable.
- Heat a pan and add in 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
- Add in chicken and mushroom (from Step 1) and onion and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in carrots, capsicum and spring onion and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Season with some salt and pepper. Turn off heat and leave it on the pan.
- Once the noodles are cooked, remove from stove, drain the noodles in a colander and add into the mixing bowl with spinach. Optional to cut the noodles to shorter strands. Add in 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce and 1 tsp sugar to the noodles. Stir with a chopstick or wooden spoon.
- Add in the cooked vegetable and chicken into the same mixing bowl. Add in the egg strips (cooked earlier). Add in the dressing and toss everything. Using a chopstick and a wooden spoon makes the job easier. Or, with your fingers.
- Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top.
Well recently I’ve been very hardworking, cooking. It was inspired by a friend whom I was staying with in Sydney when I was there for a holiday. She sort of had her meals planned out for the week and shops once a week. In my old working place, I could access to the grocery just 5 mins away and I would just grab what I felt like cooking on that day itself. In some ways, you create alot of wastage, especially when I only cook for 1. So now since my new work place doesn’t have a well-stocked grocery nearby, I tend to stock up once a week as well. So these days I’ve been doing the same but you know what! I still overbuy. Haha. 😡
I plan it over by deciding if it’s going to be a Asian or non-asian week. One plate meals or more than one plate meals, and I try to make dishes with the same type of vege to try to avoid wastages. You know, you can keep chicken or seafood in the freezer but you can’t really keep vegetables in it. Luckily, I have 4 dogs so whenever I have excess veg that I can’t bring on the following week to cook, I cook them for my dogs 😉
So back to the okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”. The ingredients are fairly simple and straight forward. Just imagine making a regular pancake but instead of using milk, you use a type of stock for the pancake batter and a lot of cabbage is added in to fill you up. It is then topped with okonomiyaki or takoyaki sauce, kewpie mayonaise and bonito flakes (dancing fish hehe). It’s a very popular dish in Osaka especially.
You can also add shrimp, bacon or squid. If you want to make it a vegetarian, you can too! It’s a very versatile dish yet forgiving, except that if you put in too much filling, it may be difficult to flip over unless you have some ninja-flipping skills. Hehe. I adapted the recipe from Nami of Just One Cookbook.
- ½ head cabbage with core removed, finely diced
- ½ carrot, diced
- 1 tube squid, cleaned and cut to slices.
- 4 slices bacon, cut to 3 per strip
- 60g all purpose flour
- pinch of salt and white pepper
- pinch of sugar
- 80ml dashi, or 80ml water with 1 tsp. mushroom stock powder
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup Panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
- Okonomi Sauce
- Kewpie Mayonnaise
- Spring Onion
- Bonito Flakes
- Mix in all the batter ingredients and whisk together. Set in the fridge while you prepare the other vegetables.
- Remove core from cabbage, stack the leaves and dice it.
- Add cabbage, carrot and squid into the batter and mix well.
- Heat pan with a little oil on medium heat. Use a ladle to scoop the batter onto the pan. Lay 3 cut slices of bacon on top. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 3 minutes.
- Remove the cover, flip the okonomiyaki. Cook the same (about 3-5 minutes on the the other side) or until it's browned.
- Flip over again and this time, cook without the lid on just to give it some crispiness.
- Remove from pan, and on to a plate. Squeeze some okonomi sauce, then some mayonnaise. Scatter bonito flakes and spring onion on top. Serve hot.
Eating healthy without trying too hard, that is. Last month was quite a month. I went to Sydney and Melbourne for 2 weeks and then to warm my butt for a week in KL then hop on the next flight to Seoul. Honestly, in that short period of time, I understand frequent flyers. But it’s way too stressful for my skin and (ahem) my appetite. I ate so much in Sydney and Melbourne that I kept my meals in Seoul minimum, which is really rare.
When I came back, I felt that I need to detox a bit but not too extreme. I can’t do the whole green juice for 3 days nor sugar-free detox, but rather decide on fresh produce and more greens, and homecooked meals. Throughout the times when I was daydreaming, or walking alone, I managed to “detox” my brain for a bit and think of what I want to do with this blog and why I still keep this blog after 10 years of blogging. In the next few months, I will be making some changes on this space and focus only on food (recipes) and travel posts; on what I do best. And I’m still fixing the index that’s taking forever.
Incase you’re still wondering what is cauliflower couscous ? It’s basically, just cauliflower! This underrated vegetable is really popular amongst paleo eaters as it work wonders. It can be used in replacement of rice, couscous and even pizza crust. My dear cauliflower, what can you NOT do ? The easiest way to cook is really put cauliflower florets in the food processor with the blade attachment and pulse till its grainy. There you have it. As I’m not really a fan of couscous, I enjoyed this quite well sans the guilt, especially with the crispy salmon skin for some texture.
You can cook it or eat it raw but I prefer to cook it. Then, add in tomato, corn, chickpeas or other vegetables which you like into the caulicous (typing cauliflower couscous is like a tongue twister for the fingers) and toss with some salad dressing if you want to, like a dijon mustard dressing ? with some lemon juice squeezed in. I think if you add an egg into this, you can form it into a croquette and fry it. (Just saying, don’t take my word for it)
As for the salmon, I find the foolproof way to get crispy skin is to use a cast iron skillet. I used non-stick pans before but the crispiness doesn’t maintain. I think my trusty Le Creuset cast iron skillet is mostly used for making crispy skin salmon. Haha. Kidding, not. Maybe I should make a Dutch pancake with next.
So this is how it’s going to go huh, from cauliflower to dutch pancake. This could be a great meal if you are cooking for a party or a group of people. The cauliflower couscous can be whipped up in 5 minutes and I’m sure you don’t need long to cook salmon. But the dish packs alot of flavours and nutrients (and it fills up your vegetable quota of the day pretty quickly). So the next time you see cauliflower in the market, grab 1 (or 2) back because there’s alot you can do with it. It’s magical. Haha
Before I go on with the recipe, I just wanna talk about the chickpeas. Usually when I use chickpeas, they are in the can (like for hummus). And I don’t cook alot of chickpeas because most of the time, I am cooking for 1 or 2 and it doesn’t keep well in the fridge. So I was elated when I saw this roadside stall selling Malay kuihs that had steamed chick peas for only RM1 (less than USD 0.30) a packet. If I didn’t found the chickpea stall, I wouldn’t add chickpeas in the couscous. You could perhaps replace with something you have, like bell peppers or zucchini. Remember, cooking is about adapting so if you can’t find something, replace it.
Crispy Skin Salmon with Cauliflower Couscous
- ¼ head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ½ cup chick peas (cooked)
- ½ cup corn kernels
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 salmon fillet (about 120g-150g each)
- a bunch (8 stalks) of asparagus
- salt and pepper
- *cayenne pepper - optional
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- To make the dressing, combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic in a bowl. Drizzle in oil while whisking. Adjust with seasonings if needed. Set aside.
- Cut cauliflower to florets. Put in a food processor with the S blade and pulse till it is grainy. Do not leave it on to pulse continuously as it may turn out too creamy.
- In a pot, add in 2 tbsp butter. Add in cauliflower couscous and stir. Cover with a lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove lid, add some salt and fluff up the cauliflower couscous with a wooden spoon. Pour into a bowl.
- Heat up the skillet, while skillet is heating, add in pine nuts just to toast it for 1 minute. Once it looks toasted, remove from skillet and add into the cauliflower couscous. Set aside.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of salmon fillet. Next, drizzle some oil in the skillet, put the salmon skin side down on it. Let it cook for 4 minutes then flip over and cook for 2-4 minutes depending on how thick your salmon is.
- After you have flip the salmon in the skillet pan, make a little space on the side so you can add in your asparagus, chick peas and corn for a light toast, it should just take less than a minute.
- Add the chickpeas and corn into the cauliflower couscous. Add in cherry tomato and toss gently. The heat will warm up the tomato releasing its juices. Add in the dressing, reserve ¼.
- By now, the salmon should be cooked.
- Plate up with some couscous salad, asparagus and salmon and drizzle the remaining dressing over.