Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Culture.licious: Kyunga's Seoul Meal from Korea

Culture.licious (Facebook: Culture.licious, Twitter: @Culturelicious) hosts intimate cooking events at various GTA locations where guests learn how to make cultural dishes. Inspired by her backpacking days in the Far East, Wendy Chung, founder of Culture.licious, wants guests to experience a "journey to a different world and acquire knowledge of different cultures and traditions, learn about foreign ingredients and cooking techniques, as well as personal stories of our Cooks". In addition to learning how to make delicious ethnic dishes (with recipe booklets to take home) guests will also enjoy an elaborate three-course meal at the end of class that they've made together with their Culture.licious Cooks. And who are these Culture.licious Cooks exactly? They are a group of hand-selected immigrant home cooks from around the world who loves food and their heritage, and are passionate about sharing their recipes and kitchen secrets to anyone who wants to learn.

I was invited to Culture.licious"Kyunga's Seoul Meal from Korea" cooking class last Saturday at Whole Foods Market Square One's (@WFMSquareOne) cooking studio. Kyunga, a Culture.licious Cook, is from Seoul, Korea, and was brought up with her mom's home cooking there.

The class started off with Kyunga showing us how to make haemulpahjun, or Korean chive seafood pancake. 

All of us paying close attention...

Kyunga does the pancake flip!

After Kyunga's demo, it was the students' turn. Here's Nick whipping up the batter and Jo (@clickflickca) manning the stove.

Next on the agenda was oheemuchim, a Korean side dish of salted cucumber with spicy dressing. The finished product below:

 Couldn't have done it without us slicing and dicing and getting our hands "dirty" first!

We also made mat tang, or candied yams. We learned during class that desserts is actually not common in Korean cuisine (Koreans usually finish a meal with fruits) so mat tang, although technically a side dish, was treated as a dessert course (still works because it's sweet.)

1) Kyunga showing us the type of yams used
2) Sliding the cubed yams into hot oil
3) Deep frying the yams
4) Taking out the cooked yams
5) Preparing the candy coating
6) Tossing the yams with the candy coating

While cooling down, we sprinkled some sesame seeds on top of the yams.

Saving the best for last, everybody was thrilled about our main course, Bulgogi, or Korean style marinated beef. Kyunga showed us all the ingredients that goes into her Bulgogi marinade sauce (she even revealed her secret ingredient that makes up its sweetness!)

Kyunga and Nick cooking a batch of bulgogi that was previously marinated overnight.

Here it is: bulgogi with mushrooms and vegetables.

Kyunga made multi-grain rice for us, a healthier option than white rice.

Table all set up for bulgogi with ssam (Korean traditional vegetable wrap).

Kyunga describing the three essential kinds of chili paste for ssam.

Kyunga showing us the steps to wrapping ssam.

Wrap, wrap, wrap...

Fun times!

We each got a bag of barley tea to take home :)

I had a great time at Kyunga's cooking class. It was so fun and everything we made was really delicious, especially the seafood pancake (a personal favourite of mine) as well as the bulgogi, which was incredibly tender and flavourful. The cucumbers were also tasty yet super simple to make (love that!) Kyunga was friendly, personable and she made sure that there was ample time for us to learn everything and answer any questions we had. Last but not least, I really enjoyed the interaction that was going between everyone during class and especially when we all sat down for bulgogi and ssam at the end. 

Here is a list of Culture.licious classes:
Kyunga - Korean Cook
Aleks - Former Yugoslavian - Bosnian Cook
Jay - South Indian Vegetarian Cook
Minh - Vietnamese Cook
Lizka - South American Panamanian Cook
Raymond - Goan/Kenyan Cook