Edamame Hummus

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My favourite bean is back in season and last week I picked up a giant bowlful for only 5,000. It was actually a giant bag full of the little blighters. Aside from boiling them and eating them as a healthy and delicious snack, you can also use them to make a cramazingly tasty hummus. Simple as anything you just boil the beans as usual then use them in place of the chick peas. I just made a regular version but you could also jazz it up by replacing the cumin with wasabi paste.  The beans I got were a different variety than usual, their skins were black and purple rather than the lustrous green we all know and love but still just as delicious. I served it up with my homemade chili chips. I’m obsessed with making homemade tortilla chips at the moment, as they are so much healthier, and if you get one of the big bags of wholemeal tortillas from Costco an absolute bargain.

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Ingredients 

500g of edamame (doesn’t need to be exact)

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of tahini (see my recipe here)

1 lemon (juiced)

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1/2 a teaspoon of cumin

Olive oil and paprika for the top

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Chili Chips

3-4 wheat tortillas

2-4 chilies (depending on how hot they are)

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 a teaspoon of chipotle

3 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

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Directions 

1. First boil your edamame beans for 5-25 minutes. This is rather vague as the green ones usually take about 5 minutes, whereas the black ones take much longer to become softer. So just keep trying them until they are firm but soft in the middle. Reserve the cooking liquid as you will need it for the hummus.

2. Once the beans are done, pop the beans out of the shells and into a blender, add a little of the water at a time, until you reach a thick hummus consistency. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt to taste then blend again. Hummus tastes are very personal, so just adapt it to your liking. If it’s still too thick add a little more water. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil to serve.

3. To  make the chili chips, put all the ingredients except the tortillas into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a thick gloopy liquid and everything has been pulverized.

4. Preheat your oven up to full heat to around 210 degrees Celsius. Cut your tortillas into eighths then brush each one with the chili paste. Then place onto a large flat baking tray and cook in batches. It only takes a few minutes until they are golden brown and crunchy, so you really need to keep an eye on them  as a minute too long and they will be burnt to a crisp. Serve with your totes yummy edamame bean hummus. Yummy and healthy, what could be better? 

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Din Tai Fung

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Oh dumplings, I am quite the fan shall we say. I could pop those little babies in my mouth until I can no longer move. I’ve had a hankering for some Shanghai soup dumplings for weeks now, so since we were staying in Times Square over the holiday I thought it would be rather prudent to check out Din Tai Fung. I’m a huge fan of Crystal Jade having visited a couple of their branches but I had yet to try Din Tai Fung so I had high hopes ahead.

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After a good gander of the menu, we ordered 10 of the Pork Xiaolongbao (9,900) to start us off. They arrived promptly and we dived in. I pierced open the pocket of goodness and let the soup spill out into my spoon. However my high hopes turned to ash as I supped up the soup. It just really lacked in flavour, not a patch on the meaty gravy it should be. If anything it was just fatty and greasy. I bit into the middle to find the ball of pork completely tasteless, not even seasoned. It was very disappointing. Dipping it into the vinegar and ginger made it better but not really the standard it should be.

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The Beijing Pork (16,000) showed up and immediately bucked up our spirits. It was a triumph. A light yet crispy batter, with the sweet yet slightly sour sauce to pour on top. With the preserved lemons to give it extra oomph it was a knock out. We got the small portion which was ample for two people. This is certainly where I plan to head next time I have a craving. Sweet and sour is my favourite dish and this one knocked the socks off most other places that serve it like Ho Lee Chow. The only one who can compare is the Dongdaemun Mutton Refectory, but even still I’d give Din Tai Fung the edge on this one.

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They were out of the fried noodles we wanted to order so we opted for the Fried Rice with Eggs, Shrimp and Pork (12,000). Another stellar dish. I just don’t know how they get that delicious Chinese fried rice taste. Home efforts are always in vain and can never match up to the real deal. One day I will find the secret.

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The steamed Charsiu Pork Buns (6,500) arrived and were yet another dismal offering. The filling was sparse and again tasteless not even a hint of the char sui sauce which makes them so good, I’ve had better ones from the 7-11. Without the meat we were just eating flavourless steamed bread. Though it’s no surprise they didn’t live up to my expectations after eating the Michelin starred ones from Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong. Nothing can compare to those bad boys.

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On the whole Din Tai Fung was rather hit and miss, the dumplings which they are so famous for were such an anticlimax. However the fried rice and sweet and sour pork we ordered as an afterthought were exceptional. Similar to the Chinese style we all know and love I will definitely be going back for my next craving, but next time I want dumplings ill stick with Crystal Jade.

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Din Tai Fung is located 4th Floor, Time Square, Yeongdeongpo, Seoul. To get there take a train to Yeongdeongpo station (line 1). Exit the station and follow the signs to Time Square. Din Tai Fung is located on the 4th floor.

Summer Sangria

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It’s Saturday and it’s time to get the party started. Although summer is pretty much at an end season wise, it’s actually the ideal time time to get outside. Plus with the sun beating down in the late 20s it sure as hell feels like summer, thus the summer sangria was born. I am usually a red sangria drinker myself, but was in the mood for something blanco this time. I’ve been drinking it for 5 days straight over Chuseok so it must be pretty damn good, that or I’m just not that fussy when drunk. The lovely people at Berentzen  sent me over a bottle of their apple liquor as thanks for creating a few cocktails with the blackcurrant one. There’s only one thing I love more than booze and that’s free booze, so I used it to jazz up this classic drink. It really hits the spot and goes down a storm. Add any fruit you like, I just used what I had. Happy drinking!

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Ingredients

1 bottle of Prosecco (or and sweet sparkling white wine)

100mls of Berentzen apple

300mls of Sprite

1 orange

A handful of blueberries

A handful of strawberries

Ice to serve

 

Directions

1. Slice your orange and add the fruit to your jug.

2. Add the Berentzen and Prosecco.

3. Top up with ice and Sprite and give it a good old stir. Drink and enjoy. Repeat steps 2-3 until you run out of wine or you fall over. For me it’s generally falling over, I’d never be foolish enough to let myself run out of wine!

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Hopscotch

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A few weeks ago I was invited to come down and check out Hopscotch. It had been on my list of places to try for some time now, so I of course jumped at the chance. It’s not very often I get to do things Gangnam style!

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Hidden in a labyrinth of alleyways, Hopscotch is like a speakeasy from the 1920s. Away from the hustle and bustle of the main roads, you would blink and miss it. If the main door is closed, the little red glowing sign is your only clue to what lurks behind. Upon entering the door you are transported in time, I really did expect girls in flapper dresses to be doing the Charleston.

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After taking a seat in one of the cosy corners we were presented with their cramazingly cool menu. They used the covers of old school note books which just exudes a retro feel. It’s all the details like this that really make the place. The owner told me that he and his partner constructed a lot of the bar and furniture themselves as one was skilled at wood work and the other at metal work. Every detail has been thought out meticulously.

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Cocktails were ordered of course, it would have been churlish not to. They have a small range of classics, which are perfectly executed. We tried the  New Yorker 16,000, and the Old Fashioned 16,000. Both whisky based and not for the fainthearted. The New Yorker was a nice twist on the whisky sour, The Old Fashioned was a touch too strong for me, but The Fat Boyfriend loved it.

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As well as their cocktails they also have a dedicated list of a scotch whiskys and selected craft beers. Hence the name Hopscotch, hop for beer, scotch for whisky. So we also tried a Great white (10,000). There are some darn fancy beers on the menu including one which was voted beer of the year and comes in a wine bottle.

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To accompany our drinks we ordered the very popular Duck Frites (9,000). Shoe string fries cooked in duck. I’m always a fan of cooking things in animal fat, even if it’s not particularly healthy, and duck fat is my mums secret ingredient for making the best roast potatoes in the world! You really can’t go wrong with a bowl of these babies.

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We also ordered the the Socal Salad (17,000) which consists of pulled chicken, mandarin oranges, apples, pecans, almonds, gorgonzola, cranberries, avocado, romaine lettuce, and citrus dressing. This salad was a true delight, and I would be all kinds of thrilled if I was taking this baby for lunch every day. So many tasty ingredients working together in perfect harmony. Some of the vegetables are even grown on one of the owner’s organic farm, no wonder it’s so good.

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After that healthy salad I needed some more deep fried goodies and couldn’t resist the Shroom Fries (10,000). Breaded shitake mushrooms served with garlic aioli, they are similar to the ones I made myself a few weeks ago. These are shaped to resemble potato wedges, and have a nice crispy exterior around the softer inside. Topped with parmesan and dipped into the scrummy garlic mayo they are nice bar snack to nibble on.

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For those looking for something a bit more substantial you can try the Brisket Bite (17,000). Smoked brisket pilled on toasted ciabatta, topped with emmental cheese and creamy southern style coleslaw. The bread was lovely as was the brisket. It was indeed a very tasty sandwich but probably not worth the 17,000 price tag. Though if you can afford it, probably not so much of an issue, the big ballers of Gangnam probably scarf down these bad boys like I do 2,000 won double cheese burgers.

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To round off our meal, the owner brought us over a dish of frozen grapes, that had been drizzled with balsamic reduction. A sweet and refreshing dessert to finish with. I will have to give these a go at home.

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If you are in Gangnam and looking for something a little different, this is an ideal place to bring and impress a date or a cool crowd of friends. The drinks and food are well paired and it’s worth coming for the luxe furnishings alone. Feel free to dress in 20’s attire as you really wouldn’t look out of place. They have also recently opened up a second location in Gwanghwamun too.

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Hopscotch is located at B1, 113-20, Nonhyeon-dong, gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea. To get there take a train to Gangnam Gu Cheong Station (Line 7) Come out exit 3 and immediately take a right. Then take your first left. Follow that road along for maybe 50 meters and keep looking to the right. It’s hidden away on a little side street. We found it just by using the GPS on our phone and the address, or just call and they will come out and find you! For more information you can call on 02-511-0145 or check out their facebook page.

Carrot Salad

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As part of my new, healthier lifestyle I am trying to embrace more produce in my life. Trying to keep things new and fresh isn’t always easy. When we make the same old things all the time, it’s easy to get bored with eating them. I also think far too often that we relegate great ingredients to fillers. I would rarely ever use carrots as a star ingredient but they are more than just a side dish. Here they take center stage in this glorious salad. The key here is slicing them with the vegetable peeler so they have a different texture. You can also use them this way as a substitute for pasta. dressed in this fabulous and tasty dressing, they really are lovely. We have had it twice this week alone. Any salty crumbly cheese will work here, but you could also skip it if you don’t have it.

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Ingredients

1-2 carrots

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 lemon (juiced)

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of sliced almonds

1 tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon of salt

A handful of torn mint leaves

50g of feta cheese

 

Directions 

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel your carrots into lovely long ribbons. This will get a tad trickier as you approach the middle, but you should be able to do most of the carrot.

2. To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and cilantro. the pour over the carrots and mix. You may not need all the dressing depending on how large your carrots are. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

3. When the carrots have marinated crumble in the feta, and sprinkle on the mint leaves and almonds. Give everything another tossing then serve. Voilà carrot salad.

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Holy Smoke

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Holy Smoke opened  on Saturday, and as always I was one of the first through its doors. Although the close proximity of my house to the restaurant probably had something to do with it! I was just desperate to find out if all the banging in the early morning was worth it.

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Despite the mother Mary logo and the godly like name, the interior is dark and slightly satanic. Some cows are certainly getting slaughtered up in here to serve at the altar of deliciousness. With the glowing red lights they have a real juxtaposition of good and evil going on. Maybe it’s supposed to represent the glowing coals upon which the meat is cooked, but I really couldn’t say for sure.

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Hot on the tail of Linus’s success, some might say this is a copycat restaurant as the menu is somewhat similar.  However there’s room for more than one BBQ restaurant in Seoul. In fact there are thousands of them. Koreans love BBQ meat so I’m surprised the American style trend didn’t catch on sooner.

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I got a few sandwiches to go on opening weekend, and finally ate in last night. They have been running out later in the evening so I would advise going early to avoid disappointment. The menu offers a good selection of BBQ foods without having too much. We ordered the pulled pork sandwich (6,000), with fries on the side (2,000).  There is generous amount of meat served in a soft buttery roll. The meat is unsauced, allowing you to add your own. They have three available, Franks (a BBQ styled thousand island kind of sauce), Carolina Gold (a mustard laced vinaigrette), and Red hot chili. I find the Franks to pair best with the pulled pork, and with the coleslaw piled in on top this is a damn good sandwich for the price. The meat is tender and juicy but could possibly do with just a touch more flavour within it. Without the sauce it would be a bit bland though.

 

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We also got the rib platter (16,000). On the menu it said three ribs but we got five which was handy as otherwise my poor and long suffering boyfriend would have been left with just one. The meat on the bones was tender and well cooked, but they were just too plain on their own. The sauces that they currently offer completely overpower the flavour of the meat, so they need to serve some regular BBQ sauce. That or perhaps a dry rub before they are cooked. I’m not really into plain old ribs, they are missing that sticky crispy crust that you get when you cook them in sauce.  I asked the owner if he planned to serve BBQ sauce but was met with a resounding no. He was rather stand offish when I tried to talk to him. It was a soft opening and I thought these things are usually done so they can receive feedback, especially from your neighbours who are most likely to become regulars if treated well. The two counter staff were incredibly friendly though. I enjoyed the beans from this platter a lot, I just can never get enough baked beans in my life. The small rolls were a bit stale though, if they aren’t fresh they should at least toast them. If they get some BBQ sauce on the menu then I would have the platter again.

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I got the brisket sandwich to go (8,000). Again the meat was tender but unflavored, the mustard sauce definitely goes better on this one. I think if pushed though I probably think the pulled pork sandwich has the edge, it’s also cheaper.

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Between Sunday and last night they changed the fries. At the weekend they had the larger ones below, but last night they had the shoe string ones you get everywhere. Bring back the big chips and I’ll order double sides, the skinny ones I’m really not fussed about.

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Later in the evening I was in the mood for something sweet, so The Fat Boyfriend was dispatched across the road to pick me up the deep fried Snickers (6,000). This is for the very sweet toothed. It was just too sweet for me, I liked the crisp exterior on the outside, but the middle is supposed to be soft and gooey but the peanuts in the Snickers opposed this. It works much better with a Mars bar. I think I’ll try the lemon berry curd next time.

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I didn’t have anything to drink as they only serve craft beer. They have a couple of homemade sodas which look great but at 7,000 with no booze in them I had to decline. Maybe after pay day. This place has the making to be a great spot as the portions are large and good value. But they need to make a few changes to get to the same standard as Linus in the taste department. I would definitely continue to get the sandwiches to go either way, but the platters need more work to get me back inside.

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Holy Smoke is located at 1F, Sinheung-ro, 3-gil, Yongsan-gu, seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. walk straight until the road veers off and you see the kimchi pots. Walk along this road until you reach the turning just before bonny’s pizza and go left. Holy smoke is located on the left hand side just after HBC coffee shop. For more information you can call on 02-792-3719.

Thai Chicken Pizza

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I’ve been obsessed with making my own pizza all summer long. If you follow my instagram account you will have seen me devouring them. Homemade pizza is such a joy and puts a smile on the face of anyone that eats it. A thin crispy crust, covered with fresh vegetables and and cheese, and eaten outside. I decided to  switch it up a bit this time and go for a Thai style pizza. The sauce was made with coconut milk and peanut butter, then I layered it up with chicken and lovely Thai vegetables. Served with my tomato salad and a homemade Pimm’s it was perfection. An awesome, easy, and fresh dinner to share with your loved one or friends.

 

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Ingredients (makes 3 large pizzas)

Dough 

500g flour (I used the one for dumplings and noodles.)

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of yeast (I used bobai brand that comes in 8g packages)

4 table spoons of olive oil

14 oz ice cold water

Sauce

1/2 a can of coconut milk

3 tablespoons of peanut butter

2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce.

Topping

1 chicken breast

1/2 an onion

1 egg plant

1-2 chillies

150g of grated cheese

A bunch of cilantro (고수)

A handful of basil leaves

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Directions 

1. Make the pizza dough using my recipe here.

2. While the dough is resting, cook your chicken breasts with a little garlic and oil. I also added some Thai seasoning I bought on i-Herb. Then slice and roast your egg plants. Grate the cheese, and slice the onion and chillies. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

3. Roll out the dough to the size of your pan, then sprinkle with flour before placing the dough on top. Cover the base with the sauce and bake in the oven for 10 minutes to cook the dough. If you don’t do this and you pile on everything on top first the dough will stay raw in the middle.

4. Once the base has cooked, layer it up with cheese and all your lovely vegetables apart from the basil leaves and cook for another 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. Sprinkle the basil leaves on top then serve.

 

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