Annyeong! I love Korean food, especially hot pots and I love having Korean bbq with friends (not so much having the bbq smell in my hair) and kimchi and korean fried chicken are staples in my house but I've no idea how to make most of these korean dishes. So I was excited when Heather Jeong of SBS Korean Food Safari and SBS Kitchen Conversations fame invited me to attend one of her popular Korean cooking classes held at the Korean Cultural Office (255 Elizabeth Street, Sydney). I was a bit confused as I'd walked past Elizabeth Street several times but I've never seen the KCO well it's not because I'm going mad but it's fairly new and opened in 2011 the year of friendship between Korea and Australia. The Korean Cultural Office is more like a museum and currently exhibitis ancient tools, Korean arts and instruments.
Our class was a small group of six and I was lucky enough to bump into the lovely Vivian there too. I especially loved how intimate the class felt and made it a very enjoyable hands-on class. Heather started to demonstrate and explain Korean cuisine and core ingredients whilst we nibbled on some gingko nuts, said to improve your memory.
One of the dishes we were taught was LA Galbi a dish which has increased in popularity in Hawaii and Los Angeles. This is one of Bill's favourite dishes and we almost always order these marinated short ribs when we go Korean bbq. Heather kindly explained the different cuts of meat, showed us how to butterfly the meat and tips on how to buy them at the butchers – ask for pyeon galbi (non-marinated). We each marinated our own cuts of meat with sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, refined brown sugar and some kiwi to break down the meat with acidity and popped it in the fridge to absorb all the flavours and ready to cook later at home. Heather had pre-marinated some LA galbi which she simmered over a low heat (on baking paper so the sugar doesn't ruin the pan) and we had a plate of tender, sweet short ribs best wrapped in a korean lettuce.
Kochujang jiggae and sundubu were one of the first Korean dishes I tried and I've loved Korean cuisine ever since. Kochujang jiggae is a korean chilli hotpot, a sort of comfort food to eat with a bowl of steamed rice. It's a one pot dish and very easy to make, as long as you have some core ingredients – kochujang – a vibrant red chilli paste made from harvested and sundried chillis and doen jang – a fermented soybean paste. The seasoning (kochujang, doen jang, dash of soy sauce) along with your vegetables (tofu, zucchini, potatoes) and pork mince are cooked in the korean claypot called a duk baegi which can be bought at Korean grocery shops. After 10 minutes it should a vibrant red and be bubbling hot, ready to eat with a bowl of rice.
Once we had the hands-on cooking experience and gained knowledge of the korean culture as well as the cuisine, the class concluded with a sit down meal, sampling the dishes we made today and banchan which are side dishes normally served at each meal to accompany your rice – I love banchan served at korean restaurants I would be happy eating just that with rice! Heather generously prepared a colourful array of banchan including kimchi, kongnamul (bean sprouts in sesame oil), a Japanese style sunomono and lotus root jorim (simmered in broth). Heather also bbqed some strips of wagyu which were marbled beautifully, seafood pajeon (pancake) with squid and mung bean pajeon to sample. Due to the sweetness of korean dishes, dessert is normally fruit however since it is nearing "Chuseok" the celebration of the harvest moon and Korean thanksgiving, we were treated to some pretty rice crisps!
The Korean Cultural Office cooking class was a great experience and I had a lot of fun learning to make some of my favourite korean dishes. The classes are intimate and Heather is a lovely teacher providing guidance along the way. It was a great way to learn further about the korean culture and the unique ingredients and techniques particular to korean cuisine. The Korean Cultural Office are holding cooking classes in October and November and are very affordable and pays for itself with the sit down meal at the end 😉 For further information head on over here Traditional and Modern Tastes of Korea. Happy Chuseok and Moon Festival everyone!
Butterfly and score the meat
Marinate in sesame oil, soy, green shallots, ginger, garlic and brown refined sugar
Simmer over a low heat for sweet, tender LA Galbi
Doen Jang – soybean paste
Mung bean pajeon
Thank you KCO for a lovely afternoon and beautiful meal. Ayana attended courtesy of Korean Cultural Office.