4.054 Yellow Curry with Chicken & Bamboo Shoots

-Cycle 4, Item 54-
28 (Thu) February 2013

Yellow Curry with Chicken & Bamboo Shoots


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, and Nanny 8

This Thai yellow curry paste by the company Suree is a bust.  I bought it a few months back as a base for the Cambodian dish amok trey (see 3.308 Amok Trey), an attempt that resulted in abject failure.  With tonight's lousy outcome, I'm forced to conclude that the poor quality of the product was largely responsible in both cases.  I can't quite put my finger on what the problem is, but the curries have come out somewhat bitter and oily without any depth.  I seem to recall the brand's red curry paste being pretty good, though that was years ago.  My standards have probably changed, because I can't imagine that the formula would've changed all that much since then or that the color variety would make that much difference.  This time, I'd even pan-grilled the chicken for charred flavor, which usually makes anything taste good, but it wasn't enough.  I'll give the paste one more shot.

4.053 Mul Naeng Myeon

-Cycle 4, Item 53-
27 (Wed) February 2013

Mul Naeng Myeon


at Samwon Garden

-Sinsa, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

As something of a belated birthday bash for the wife, we had dinner at Samwon Garden.  It's one of our favorite restaurants, especially for their galbi (갈비) (see most recently 2.142 Grilled Galbi), Dominic's all-time favorite, but their high prices prevent us from visiting as often as we'd like, so we tend to go only on special occasions.

Though located in one of the choicest neighborhoods in Gangnam, half the real estate is open space, such as an expansive car/bus waiting area and a courtyard with a towering waterfall. 

The establishment features 5 additional dining areas as large as this one, plus dozens of private rooms.

Indeed, we sometimes go there just for galbi tang (갈비탕) or get some as takeout (see most recently 4.038 Galbi Tang), because the dish is both relatively cheap and so good.

Same with their mul naeng myeon (MNM)Whereas most barbecue establishments offer as a perfunctory accompaniment to the meat, but Samwon Garden makes it a dish respectable in its own right.  It's a good example of the emergent "Seoul style," which I'll describe in greater detail someday soon.  A bit too sweet for my tastes, as I'm partial to the more austere Pyongyang style, but very well-balanced, an excellent mainstream MNM.  11,000 won, pricy but worth it.  I now prefer my MNM up front, a practice that I started for health reasons (see 3.048 Mul Naeng-Myeon) but it also helps with the budget, filling me up so that I don't eat too much meat.  This time, the chill perfectly suited my somber mood, the special occasion notwithstanding.

The side dishes aren't that impressive, however.

Happy birthday, I guess.

Address: Seoul Gangnam-Gu Sinsa-Dong 623-5 (서울시 강남구 신사동 623-5)
Additional Locations: Daechi-Dong 
Phone: (02) 548-3030
Website: (English)
Hours: open 12:00 - 20:00; open every day
Parking: valet
Menu: Korean, English

Factoid: the owner's daughter is former LPGA star Grace Park, whose autobiography is on sale throughout the premises.

4.052 The Kids' Mommy's Birthday Apple Pie

-Cycle 4, Item 52-
26 (Tue) February 2013

The Kids' Mommy's Birthday Apple Pie

* *

by me and Dominic

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

Having been on the outs with the wife recently, I wasn't in the mood to do anything for her birthday today, like preparing a birthday cake.  I didn't even feel like using the leftover cupcakes from yesterday as a half-assed last-minute substitute.  The (older) kid, on the other hand, was guilt-tripped into action by his mother, who began to sniffle late in the evening that it was turning out to be the worst birthday ever: ramyeon for dinner, no cake, blah blah, boo hoo.  He asked me to help him bake an apple pie from a recipe that he'd found in the cookbook Kids Can Cook! by Nicola Graimes.  I'd acquired the book many years ago in hopes of making stuff with him someday, filed it away on a low shelf, then totally forgot about it until now.  This being the first time ever that Dominic had shown an interest in cooking, motives regardless, I couldn't refuse.

The pie turned out like crap--a win-win outcome.

The ramyeon package is visible in the background.

4.051 Frosted Carrot Cupcakes [with recipe]

-Cycle 4, Item 51-
25 (Mon) February 2013

Frosted Carrot Cupcakes [with recipe]


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-


After years of being a one trick dessert pony (see generally 3.356 Patty Pumpkin Pie), the time had come for me to learn something new, so I decided to learn carrot cake.  The first key point that differentiates my version from the standard carrot cake is the absence of icing.  To me, not being a fan of sweets in general, the extra layer of sugary/cheesy goop seemed to overwhelm the rest of the cake, which seemed sweet enough in itself.  In the plating here, I dusted a bit of powdered sugar on top, mainly for the purpose of presentation, a touch of added sweetness being acceptable.  Second, rather than a full form cake, I found cupcakes to be preferable in many ways.  They cook and cool in half the time, they can be eaten without utensils/dishes, and they provide a crispy texture in nearly every bite.  This should hold me over for the next few years.


Recipe for Carrot Cupcakes
(makes 6)

These accompanying photos show me making a larger cake that required twice the amount of batter than the recipe here will produce.

1 (medium) egg
1/4 cup canola oil (any light vegetable oil will do)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
71 g (2.5 oz) (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour (I tried it with bread flour but couldn't tell any difference)
100 g carrot
1/4 cup (25 g) pecans (walnuts will do)
1 stick of salted butter (unsalted will do, but the crust won't taste as good)
1/2 tsp powdered sugar (optional)

1.  Preheat the oven to 180 C.  

2.  Combine the egg, oil, vanilla, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together for about 1 minute, enough to get some air into the mix.

Reportedly, because measuring flour by volume is very inconsistent, weighing it is the proper way to go; I use the ratio of 1 cup : 5 oz = 142 g.

3.  Stir in the flour, gently so as not to eliminate the air (in fact, I've read that leaving streaks of flour in the batter ultimately creates a moister cake). 

Rather than grating the carrot by hand, which is both a major pain in the ass and creates a lot of excess moisture, using a food processor is highly recommended. 

4.  Grate the carrots and crush the pecans.

5.  Fold in the carrot and pecan, gently of course.

6.  Grease a muffin tin with the butter.

7.  Pour the batter into the molds halfway up, about 1/4 cup each.  

8.  Bake at 180 C for about 25 minutes, until the tops are no longer wet (or do that toothpick thing). 

9.  Cool for about 10 minutes then remove the cupcakes from the molds.  

10.  Serve as is or frosted with powdered sugar (optional).