That fishcake kimbap

That fishcake kimbap

When I started dabbling in homemade bibim naengmyeon (cold spicy buckwheat noodles), I had no idea it would lead so quickly to kimchi pancakes. But here we are, going to the k-mart twice in a week to replenish our kimchi and noodles. Because we’re that into Korean food right now. Yup, we’re eating or cooking something Korean almost every week. And fishcake kimbap is the latest addition to our list of likes.

At the k-mart, there’s a homemade food section where they roll out fresh ready-to-eat food items like banchan (side dishes), noodle plates, etc. The food items change daily so you never know what you’re going to find when you walk in on any given day.

There’s a sign on the front door informing customers about special food items they’ll be making, or bringing in from Korea or other cities. So it’s always exciting to go there and see what kind of surprises they have in store.

On our way out of the store after getting our supplies, we stopped to watch an older Korean lady making seaweed rolls at the homemade food section. Hip2bDaughters were fascinated at her skill and asked her a couple of questions.

The lady spoke little English but she was really trying. Somewhere within their brief chicken-and-duck exchange, Hip2bDaughters learnt that it was fishcake kimbap she was making, and that instantly brought on the oohs and aahs.

The lady then picked up a piece of kimbap in each of her gloved hands and reached out to Hip2bDaughters who were somewhat taken aback. “For us?” they asked. She nodded and gestured them to take the kimbap.

Little ol’ me who had been lurking in the background distracted by some nearby pastries also got a piece to try. It was so pretty I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it before popping it into my mouth.

That fishcake kimbap

It’s got yellow preserved radish (dabomb!), carrots, tofu and fishcake, of course. I told her in Korean that it was very delicious. At first, she didn’t believe I’d spoken Korean. She looked like she was having that knee-jerk reaction like, am I hearing right? So I repeated myself and she was like oooh, I still can’t believe it. Lol, I’ve been learning Korean for quite a while now. So yeah.

All the way home, we were raving endlessly about our first taste of fishcake kimbap. No surprise that we went back the very next day and got ourselves a whole tray.

That fishcake kimbap

I love that there’s not much rice in it unlike some sushi’s and maki’s. So good but I feel it could definitely use a good slap of mandatory wasabi to give it the kick I love. Still for $5 a tray of such deliciousness, I can’t complain. We’ll be back! For more!

That fishcake kimbap

Birth of a kimchi pancake

Birth of a kimchi pancake

We were looking through old food photos and recounting the hot favorites at our weekly Korean restaurant. “Omg, that kimchi pancake looks so-oo yummy I wanna eat it right now,” Hip2bDaughter2 cries, threatening to print out the photo and eating it! No-oo-ooo!

Seems like we’ve all fallen in love with Korean pancakes at various points of our frequent Korean eat-outs. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re savory and crispy, very delicious, totally addictive. Problem is I have no freakin’ idea how to make a Korean pancake. I tried to once but that pancake fell apart on me and that was it, I said, no more homemade pancakes!

But here’s the thing, whenever my kids mention something they like to eat, I’d either take them out to eat it or I’ll cook it for them, even if it means having to learn how. That’s the kind of mom I am, and this is exactly what happened here.

Spurred on by those sad puppy eyes and the success of my homemade bibim-naengmyeon, I figured heck, I got this! Time to roll up those non-existent sleeves and dive straight into the batter. There’s no looking back now. And that’s how my first successful kimchi pancake came about.

Birth of a kimchi pancake

I wasn’t sure what to expect so I whispered to the pancake as it sizzled in the pan. “Don’t fall apart on me, don’t fall apart on me!” That apparently did the trick and my pancake turned out perfect and so delicious.

“Tastes just like the one we ate at …,” sings Hip2bDaughter2 happily. And that was the encore which got me making another kimchi pancake for dinner that night…

Birth of a kimchi pancake

… and another two more for lunch the next day which we gobbled up like savages while they were hot and crispy. Man, I gotta say this kimchi pancake was something else. It tasted authentic, is what I meant to say. It transported us right back to our weekly pa jeon sans the 700% markup. Score!

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Our barbecue buffet lunch reminded me of how much I miss our almost weekly bibim-guksu which, by the way, isn’t guksu (noodle soup) but naengmyeon (cold spicy noodle). Anyhoo, I’ve been talking about it endlessly a-and well, it’s no use talking about it, let’s do it! *rolls up sleeves* (Oops, I’m wearing a tank top!)

Yup, I finally got down to cooking bibim-naengmyeon. This was after several blatant promotional campaigns to generate interest in this meal idea. You see, I was practically the only one who was crazy about that bibim-guksu while everyone else was just kinda meh. Yup, it took a while but I did eventually win them over.

I set to work creating my giant bowl of buckwheat noodles on a bed of white and purple cabbage piled high with cucumber and seaweed with the obligatory half-egg perched atop that fiery homemade sauce. I love how appetizing this looks.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

Yeah, I know, you diehard Korean food fans are probably shaking your heads and going, “You know, she was doing so well up until the cabbage. So what’s with the cabbage? It has no business being there”. And you’re right, that cabbage has no business being there at all. I really do try but I’m just not very good at following recipes!

I wanted to have a bit of fun with my bibim-naengmyeon – add a bit of color here, a bit more bite there and a bit more veggie never hurt anyone. And you gotta trust me, the cabbage didn’t taste weird at all. In fact, all the flavors blended into one huge fiery mouthful, neutralized nicely by the sweetness of the cabbage. Downright delicious.

Cold spicy buckwheat noodle bowl

In the end, this brainchild of mine worked out really well. It not only looked tasty, it was totally tasty. The same people who needed convincing are the ones now calling for an encore. Now that must mean something, right? Muax! I love you, guys!

Some bones to pick

Some bones to pick

One fine Saturday morning, while on our grocery run, we had to appease some rumbling tummies and so unanimously agreed to forget the groceries for a while and hurry over to our regular Thai restaurant.

We ordered the fried fish curry (and one other dish but that’s not important right now). As the owner/chef was approaching with our order, I noticed she was holding a plate rather than a bowl. I thought that was a bit strange. Our order of fish curry usually comes in a bowl.

Turns out our dear server (her son, a stoic individual who has an MBA but obviously missed the class on customer service with a smile) didn’t ask, and we forgot to mention we wanted the fillet, not the fish. We-ell, we thought he knew but apparently he didn’t.

Anyways, the owner (she’s not the friendly lady I mentioned here) was quick to defend her son, “But you didn’t say fillet!” And we were like, it’s fine, we don’t have time to argue, our tummies need food, we’ll just go with this.

Some bones to pick

To be honest, I’m a little rusty where fish bones are concerned. I mean, isn’t life busy enough as it is? Who needs to bother with bones when you can have fillet instead, right?

Still it was a fun challenge picking our way through this obstacle course of bones, fins and gills. The fins and tail were the best parts, so crispy we chomped everything down to this. Please excuse the mess.

Some bones to pick

We did good, huh? I think we did. But I’m definitely more of a fillet person. I just want to enjoy my meal and not have bones to pick with a squeaky shoe, know what I mean? *winks*

First days of fall and living dangerously

First days of fall and living dangerously

Our grocery cart was pretty empty this weekend. We’ve decided to live dangerously for a change. So here’s our two loaves of multigrain bread, a tray of chicken tenderloins, a bag of those fat, juicy shrimps we used to cook that delicious shrimp scampi pasta, and a box of Bartlett pears.

First days of fall and living dangerously

Seems like the price of strawberries is holding steadier than the exchange rate. So I guess we’re moving from a week of intense watermelon juicing to a week of strawberry-ing and grape-ing. Our goal is to eat as much of these amazing grapes before the season ends and so far, we seem to be doing grape *hick*!

First days of fall and living dangerously

Remember I said we’d go back and have that Vermicelli Bowl which I enjoyed so much. Well, we did. This time, we ordered two Beansprout Vermicelli Bowls, one with the works and the other with only grilled pork. They were delicious but could use way less beansprouts and more noodles. We think we might’ve stuffed ourselves and still had leftovers to take home. Are we such small eaters and didn’t know it?

First days of fall and living dangerously

Fall is making its presence felt but we’re still clinging on to summer. The sun is still unrelenting but temps are down and the wind is picking up. Still I refuse to give up my summer uniform – just yet! On grocery morning, I went out in my cap sleeves and shorts and it was like stepping out into nature’s air-conditioning with the fan blowing. This morning, it was 45F (8C) outside when I threw the windows open. Whoosh, that cold refreshing air. How delicious is this kind of weather.

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

I don’t know why we picked a sizzler of a day for a Korean barbecue buffet lunch. Probably not a great idea to pile heat on heat. But considering the watermelons we’ve been gobbling and the fact that our regular buffet restaurant has opened up at a new location with some swanky new features, we figured that was reason enough.

Trust the early birds to be there at opening time in anticipation of a big Sunday lunch crowd. We were among the first and practically had the whole place to ourselves. Which was nice, of course because we’ve been to busy, noisy buffet and steamboat places where we were choking on our food the whole time, and it was impossible to talk without shouting.

This place is very spacious and everything is shiny and clean (love it), and even boasts a long banchan bar packed with side dishes and fresh accompaniments like mushrooms and lettuce. At the old location, we had to flag down servers to top up our side dishes and lettuce to the point of embarrassment. So this is good.

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

We started looking through the lunch menu for raw meat to order but our server pointed us to the dinner menu instead because hey, what d’ya know, it’s dinner all day Sundays. What?! *scowls* Something’s not right about paying dinner prices for lunch. That kinda dampened the mood for us – but only for a while because we were hungry and all set to dig in.

As usual, we ordered two pajeon (pancakes), and tofu soup which I love. It’s sourish, gingery and piping hot with lots of tofu and mushrooms.

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

For the first round of meat, we had the spicy and non-spicy pork bulgogi, and pork belly. Omg!

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

Then we noticed there was seafood on the dinner menu (which is new to us since we’ve only ever been there for lunch) and decided to try the squid, octopus and shrimps. They tasted okay, a bit like eating erasers and I’m not real crazy about peeling those shrimps.

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

For the third round of meat, we went with an encore of the 3 porks we had earlier. Mmm! I was having a ball with the lettuce wraps which I love, love, love.

I still have no idea though how to stuff the entire lettuce leaf plus filling into my mouth all in one go, not that I’m even going to try. Apparently that’s the right way to eat it. But I mean, I’m all dressed and prettied up with lipstick and everything, and I’m gonna jam the whole wrap into my mouth?? Um, NO!

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

As you can see, between the meat and the trips to the banchan bar, we really didn’t eat that much! and we didn’t waste any food either. Of course, I was thrilled at how many side dishes a dinner plate can hold which meant fewer trips to the banchan bar.

But I quickly realized that banchan somehow tastes better in little plates than in a big old dinner plate. So maybe that’s why they’re traditionally served in little plates but I’d sure hate to be the one doing the dishes later, haha!

The barbecue buffet lunch that was dinner

So that was one lunch that cost us the price of a dinner. Our wallet wasn’t too happy but our tummies certainly were.

Not your wimpy skimpy shrimp scampi

Not your wimpy skimpy shrimp scampi

We’ve had shrimp scampi pasta three times in these two weeks. If something tastes good, just cook it again, and again, that’s how we roll. Nothing wrong with that. And it’s all because we recently started buying tail-on frozen shrimp that’s been cleaned and deveined instead of the cooked shrimp we usually buy.

These raw shrimps are great because they go straight from the freezer into the pot with very little thawing required. I usually soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes to remove the icicles and to soften them just a little.

Cooked shrimps will shrink quite a bit when cooked. Lol I like that – when cooked shrimps are cooked!! What the heck am I saying? Anyhow since they’re already cooked, I can’t leave them in for too long or there’ll be nothing left to eat. But these raw shrimps don’t shrink all that much and still pack a mouthful when fully cooked.

Not your wimpy skimpy shrimp scampi

My experience with shrimp has left me completely unimpressed. I don’t eat live seafood and rarely cook shrimp at home. The only shrimps I eat are probably the ones in eat-out noodles, etc. and even then, those are always either minuscule or stale. So I’ve learned not to expect much. If I can see the shrimps without a magnifying glass and they don’t disintegrate when chewed on, I’m laughing!

This shrimp scampi pasta is Hip2bDaughter1’s creation tossed with love and cherry tomatoes. And those are not your regular wimpy skimpy shrimps. They’re plump, juicy and pack a crunch and a bounce. Three times in two weeks ain’t much *winks*. Keep it coming!

Not your wimpy skimpy shrimp scampi

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