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Recipe for Disaster: Ramen 라면 Done Right

31 Aug

You are likely questioning my selection for this installment of Recipe for Disaster. “Why Shauna, any cretin can make a package of Mr.Noodle/Top Ramen/Cup Noodle!” you say? But neigh, this is not the ordinary run-of-the-mill, spicy, carbfest that you are familiar with. This is ramen done the Korean way.

When first coming to Korea, I was mildly confused by the big hullabaloo surrounding ramen. A huge isle at every grocery store is dedicated to it, it’s on the menu at restaurants, the noodles are sold as an instant snack (comparable to potato), and the students turn into ravenous beasts at the sight of it. And yes, there is an app for that (not for ravenous children, but for ramen – see here). The stuff was everywhere, and it seemed to be a rather unfounded obsession. I mean, yes, the ramen that I was used to was a satisfying, carb-y snack, but I would have hardly qualified it as a meal or even a mainstay in my snack roster.(yes, there is a roster)

And that’s because I was cooking it wrong.

When ramen is served at a local restaurant, it is prepared with an array of extra ingredients – the most common being onions, garlic, carrots, scallions, pressed fish cake known as odeng 오뎅, squid, egg and my favourite, cheese! Thats right, cheese. And not just any cheese, but a disgusting slice of plastic processed cheese. But the results are delicious.

Before we get started I must warn anyone attempting to follow this recipe will not get good results using some 15 cent garbage from Walmart. Please use an authentic Asian product. The most popular ramen in Korea is Shin Ramen seen below

….but I’m not a huge fan so I used this brand.

Moving on (err please excuse the gaudy eighties colour blocking…..not quite sure what’s going on there)


1 package of quality instant ramen
1 slice of processed cheese
1 egg
1 minced clove of garlic
1/2 a medium carrot, sliced in quarters
1/4 cooking onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium spring onion, coarsely chopped
Optional: A pinch of ground red pepper for increased spiciness


  1. Bring 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add carrots, onions and garlic. Cover and leave on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
  3. At about the halfway point, empty the contents of the package of soup base into the pot. If you want to make it spicier, also add a pinch of ground red pepper. Save the noodles and dried vegetables for later. Put lid back on.
  4. Once vegetables are tender, turn up the heat to high. Break the noodle brick in half and add to the pot.  Cook noodles for about 2.5 to 3.5 minutes without a lid.
  5. About 1.5 min after the noodles go in, add the egg.
  6. Once egg whites appear cooked, swirl the yolk in with the noodles. Try not to break up the egg whites in the process. I did a terrible job of this, but I have faith that more skilled cooks will have to problem here.
  7. When there is only 30 seconds left, add dehydrated vegetables and spring onion.
  8. When time is up, turn off heat and immediately place your slice of cheese on top of the concoction. Don’t mix it in, the cheese will take care of itself (like magic?).  Now it’s ready to serve.
The finished product. So good. Sooooo good. It’s like the noodle equivalent of a unicorn or something. I apologize, that simile was just about as ridiculous as my eighties-inspired graphic design work above.
Note the fancy garnishing job. I was quite proud of myself(not quite sure that Italian parsley makes the best garnish for Korean ramen).
I think ramen has officially made the roster.

Recipe for Disaster: Hobakjeon 호박전

24 Jul

My foray into the craft of cooking continued this week with a fried squash dish named Hobakjeon 호박전; a decision made after a student described it as “Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!”(with that many o’s how could you go wrong?). Spoiler: this venture was not quite as successful as the last.

The type of squash used in this dish is called young squash or green pumpkin and basically looks like zucchini (you could probably use a zucchini in lieu of squash) . Here’s a picture of the one I used:

Yes it’s on the floor. It’s also in a wrapper. I also have no counter. Stop judging.

Along with young squash this is what you’ll need:


1 young squash, long shape
50 g lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 minced clove of garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sesame salt
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp oil for frying (The cook’s discretion)

Calm before the (fire) storm (Step 4)


  1. Slice the squash into disks that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices into a bowl and sprinkle them with your 1/2 Tbsp of salt. Let them stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, mix the beef with the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and garlic. (Swedish massage technique not necessary)
  3. Once ten minutes have passed drain the slices of any water they may have collected and dry them with paper towel.
  4. Cover each disk with a thin layer of the beef mixture (as seen in the picture above).
  5. Heat oiled pan. Dip disk in flour and then egg. Fry on medium heat for about 3 minutes a side. (Keeping the flour and egg close to the pan makes this step much easier)
  6. To up the deliciousness of the dish, serve with a super easy dipping sauce. One part soy sauce, one part vinegar.
The first batch
Something you wouldn’t feed your worst enemy
Clear fail. I was quite discouraged after the first batch(I believe the folly here lay in the haphazard execution of step 4). But I hate wasting food and so was determined to get it right. When done my apartment could easily have been mistaken for an opium den with all the smoke, but at least I managed to realize some success…..ish.
My successful batch
Something a stray animal may consider for dinner
The book’s rather more appetizing batch
A clear win. 😦
Well at least they tasted fantastic…..ish(No really! Though they looked like the contents of a neighbour’s compost they were quite good).

Recipe for Disaster: Bulgogi 불고기

11 Jul

I love food. And though this is a claim made by many, my devotion to food is simply on a different plane – I get food, I connect with it. But I have been a neglectful partner in this relationship, as unless unwrapping a burger counts, I can’t cook. I would speculate that my lack of this basic living skill is due in part to my addicton to eating out and to the fact that I am completely domestically disabled (also known in medical circles as laziness). It’s not that I am a bad cook, I just simply do not understand the first thing about cooking.(like that sharpe metal thingy…knife…. is that pronounced with a hard k or what??)  And so I’ve come to admit that I can no longer claim to be a true foodie if I continue avoid the scary fire machine like the black plague. Fine I’ve  embelished a little, I know it’s called a stove, but the most I can do with said appliance is boil an egg.

When I came to Korea I swore on all that is good and tasty that I would make it my mission to learn how to cook. I even stomped over to the book store to purchase a Korean cook book written in English:

Not surprisingly, the only role the book has fulfilled during the four months following it’s purchase  is that of a dust trap. And so as a last attempt to motivate myself to become aquatinted with the kitchen, I’ve decided to start a new weekly installment aptly entitled Recipe for Disaster. And as you may have noticed I’ve also added it as a new page to the blog. My hope here is to empower as many fellow kitchen cretins as possible. I guarantee that if I can execute a recipe, then anyone can(really really).

For my first go I decided to make with what an adult student claimed to be the easiest to make, and happens to be one of Korea’s most popular dishes,  Bulgogi 불고기. The name is Korean for fire meat, which is because it is commonly grilled over an open flame. Unfortunately, due to lack of hardware, I had to opt for the likely less yummy method of making it in a pan.

So here we go(please excuse the crappy photoshoping that is being used as a diversion for the crappy photography).


(For those shopping in Korea I’ve included some ingredient names in Hangul)

1 lb (450 g) beef (though you can use lean, because you will need to slice it so thin, fat and lean streaked is suggested. If you are purchasing this in Korea, ask one of the women in the meat section for Bulgogi beef and they will direct you to the right cut. If not, you can apparently ask the butcher to prepare it for you this way)

2-3 Tbsp soy sauce (Jinganjang, 진간장)

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp seasame oil (Chamgireum, 참기름)

1 Tbsp seasame salt  (Kkaesogeum, 깨소금)

A dash of black pepper

4 coarsley chopped green onions, both white and green parts

1 coarsely chopped onion (this wasn’t in the book, but the bulgogi I’ve eaten has had onions in it  so..)

3 minced cloves of garlic

1 Tsp of minced fresh ginger (Saenggang, 생강. Should you peel it?-yes)

2 Tbsp of water or rice wine (I used water as it was more convenient, but rice wine is recommended. Rice wine: Cheongju, 청주)

Optional: 1 Fuji apple, peeled, chopped and then blended in a processor (I didn’t use it for this go around, but have had it suggested to me since, so next time I’ll give it a go)


  1. Slice beef as thin as possible. Cut it into bite size pieces (not too small, but a size that can comfortably enter your mouth in one go…according to the book this size is 3″ long)
  2. Place the rest of your ingredients into a bowl. This concoction will be your marinade.
  3. Place your thinly sliced beef into your bowl of marinade. Use your hands to Swedish massage the marinade into the beef-make sure your beef is thoroughly covered in marinade.
  4. Place the bowl in the fridge for anywhere between 1-8 hrs (I left mine for 2 hrs due to time constraints). The longer you marinate the beef, the more flavourful it will taste,  however, if you do plan on letting it sit overnight you should use a little less soy sauce to ensure the beef doesn’t become too salty.
  5. Heat an oil covered pan. Once hot, place the contents of your bowl into the pan. Cook on high heat for about 3-5 min. Use your tongs to flip over the meat to ensure that both sides are well cooked. Your bulgogi should be well done, but because the cut is thin it will cook fast, so make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. Wooooo You’re done! Bulgogi is traditionally served straight from the pan and with a bowl of rice.
My finished product
Not bad! It tasted authentic and I am still alive to tell the tale. All in all a successful mission.  Next time I will try to capture some exciting ‘action shots’ to better illustrate how I get from the ingredient phase to the final product.
And for another week I my kitchen stays safely in one piece….