Coco is ko-real (Part III)

In Korean street-food of the week, I am feeling the wintery sweet vs savoury bomb that is Hoddeok. Basically it is a dumpling, flattened to a crunchy pancake but the star if its show is the cinnamon sugar centre. You can get 3 for 2000 WON (NZ $2). They are dangerously delicious. Here is a great recipe c/o Last Appetite


Ingredients – Makes 5

1 1/4 cups plain flour
6 tbsp milk
Pinch of salt

To start the yeast:
1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/4 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp water

1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp brown sugar

Mix the yeast, white sugar and water and leave in a warm place to ferment for 15 minutes. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt, milk and yeasty water. Mix well, cover and leave to rise for two hours. Go see a movie or something.

Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar together for stuffing. Oil up your hands (if not sufficiently oiled from movie popcorn) and take about 1/5 of the dough, flatten into a thick disk and place a tablespoon of stuffing inside. Seal like a dumpling.

Add oil to frypan and heat. Place your sugar filled dumpling into the oil. When brown, turn over and flatten the dumpling into a disk with a spatula. Cook until browned.

In other news I am obsessed with Chilsing Cider, cider here means lemonade. This is the boring english side of the can, how colonial of me.

Here is my cute kid of the week Alan.
He wears this tae kwon doe outfit 24-7 and whenever he is in trouble can charm me out of it in 5 seconds. Sitting under his desk to meditate during a test searching for answers was a definite highlight. This whole class is adorable and showers me in candy for some reason, thats a culinary post for another time.

and one more.....


my sister at the bow of the boat

waiheke fish haul

and flesh

austin bush's south american inspired ceviche

Hock's english inspired fish and chips (using heston blumenthal's thrice-cooked chip recipe)

Hock's Thai-inspired deep fried snapper with mango salad

cooking paella, drinking epic

Weber grill up

my sister's garden

and produce



Post-Holiday Blues

We just arrived back in Canberra after the most wonderful holiday in New Zealand

Canberra is a 38 degree dust bowl, with no people, and nothing to do. It's all just bogans and bad food round here.

Although Australians tend to think themselves more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than New Zealand, when its a comparison between Auckland and Canberra, I'll take Auckland thanks.

Here are some photos that substantiate my overall sentiments right now.

cheap new zealand mussels and pipis around NZD 4 a kilogram


Plentiful fresh snapper which we caught ourselves in the snapper spawning grounds that are Auckland harbours

such as here

and here

Just check out those beautiful pink gills

Home-smoked kahawai

and kahawhai sashimi


and landing on deserted beaches

and cooking on our own beach

Food Songs of the Day

A song by Lawrence Arabia. There are quite a lot of dead skinned bunnies (and other game) at supermarkets in Cologne. One of these days I'll try cooking one with "Stuffed roast marrow and carrot", and will sing this song as I do it.

On a less bloodthirsty tip, here's one for all the brussel sprout-spurning fruitarians out there (song by NZ band Phoenix Foundation):

Ingredients of Love

MySpace Codes

Our correspondent in Korea, Coco Solid (see blogpost below) also runs an agony cousin advice blog,,
where she drops gems like this on the regular: "I treat office politics like a dancefloor, sometimes I wanna shine - sometimes I'm cool sitting against the wall having a drink and saving my energy."

Here's an excerpt from a recent post, after a chef-dating Auckland waitress wrote in for advice.

Love on the boil

Hi Philosoflygirl,
We had a big family function the other week, lots of people came and my boyfriend's parents stayed with me & my boyfriend.

I went to bed while he and his parents continued talks late into the night.
I woke up and could hear them talking - and my boyfriends mother was telling him that she thought he was happiest when he was going out and working with his last girlfriend...See, his last girlfriend was a chef, and he is too, they were in a big restaurant making lots of money. Since he left her and has been with me, he is about to start his own business and things are financially hard, and I work in a cafe in town so its not like I make much, so together we aren't as rich as what he was with his last girlfriend and can't afford as many luxuries... but I know I support him in his dream, so we can work together one day in our own restaurant that we can own someday...

This has been upsetting me, cause I work hard and help him in his dream to be a chef on his own, and it hurts to hear people think he's better off working back in the hotels. I haven't told him what I heard, but its hard to speak out against someones mum...

Do I tell him what I heard?
Thanks Philosoflygirl...I hope you can help me...
Freemans Bay, AK.

Whut up girl.
That can easily sound like a tough one.
The good news is its not. I'm about to lay it on you girl so listen up.

Think of it like a 3 layered cake... well a gâteau really. There is your boyfriends completely new direction which is meeting inevitable resistance. Then there is his mothers opinion. The base (and the most important layer) is you. You secretly know you are bringing something less conventional but potentially amazing into his life, it just aint cooked yet. (Booya I get to abuse my food analogy licence, thanks Mere).

We have a saying in my family c/o of our good friend Jodhi Hoani.
"Even Maui had haters". This is especially poignant because it was Maui's own brothers who doubted his fishing abilities. Then he fished up Aotearoa. SHAME.

If the over-heard conversation is upsetting you (and I'm thinking its actually the comparison to his trusty ex that made you insecure) you can definitely tell him. Just be sure to tell him in a way that reinforces the commitment you have for his grand vision. Its pointless to be defensive, critical or lashing out at his mother or his ex. What will that prove? Keep it positive and be the hype-man.

I think you should simply take the classy zen ground and remind him why he chose you to ride shotgun for his slightly edgier future. He aint with his ex anymore so own it. Be as open and supportive as you want him to be when you share what has been bothering you.

And peace out on his Mum. The doubters will eat their words AND your mans incredible food when you dish it up to them yourself in a brand new restaurant. "How do you like them lightly sautéed apples!"


Coco is ko-real (Part II)

Greeting from the slob of the century with a day off! You should see my apartment - cookie boxes I cant read and empty bottles of milkis and orange juice everywhere. Im in a scruffy not working zen, Legally Blonde just came on cable with voice-overs.

For those who don't know I am living in Ulsan, just outside of Busan - basically I now live in the coastal hippier mellow regions of South Korea and in Feb will be doing alot of pop-cultural travel between here and Seoul. I am also 2 hours away from Fukuoka Japan by boat (FYI Fukuoka is my hometown Manukau's sister city and when I was 12, the Manukau City Council had me represent South Auckland as a 'promising youth' kicking off my love for Asia. They definitely didn't have a crystal ball adolescence-wise but hey, thanks!) I really like the vibe here. There is a huge river at the back of my apartments and the local skyscrapers are all casually pushed up against mountains which I really like, its like a thrifty Asian Monaco.

So i thought I'd drop another culinary bomb on you.

Have been watching Korean food television, utter kitchen pornography OBSESSED.
Mellow old ladies (ajuma) run circles around their hotter younger spikier co-hosts who are only put in there to sex the shows up a bit (totally uncalled for when you see the amazing shit these doddery mums are making). Cuisine here is all about creating a selection, creating it quickly and it has to be HOT. I loved spicey food before, but once you go spicey here, i dont know if you can ever really go back. i better have a spicey friend or 2 when i get to Berlin just sayin. On these cooking shows they make it look like all you need is a deadly knife and a pot, they make everything look delicious but so easy. Korea has a respect for soup that I didnt get previously but now am totally tuning into.

Tonight i went out and grabbed a standard $5 meal which when I weigh up the experience with the price, is always enough to seduce me for life. Included was a super spicey beef soup, and dumplings that we made ourselves (fresh cabbage, onions, bean sprouts and lots of Gochujang ie. the Korean hot sauce slathered with almost everything. Warning: it is addictive, raises your metabolism and is not for the faint-hearted). Naturally all meals are served with banchan, the experience of what feels like thousands of tiny side-dishes. Restaurants will bring out cold pickled radish of every colour, shape and cut (these often help cool down the gochujang and robust kimchi) seaweed, potatoes, sprouts in sesame oil and seafood infiltrates these side-dishes subtly, sometimes with a thinly stewed squid on the side or anchovies being tucked into the kimchi paste.

At my Hagwon (english school) there is the mind-blowing aspect of everyone being able to order food anytime while we teach. Everyone eats constantly as it is a huge sharing and feasting society (no one needs to teach Korean kids how to share, their luch times are generous touching moments that'd make a Hallmark card or Anne Geddes puke).

Delivery is not just a sloppy burger or pizza slice (although admittedly alot of kumara/sweet potatoe + sour cream pizza does get ordered). This is anything. I order dolsot bibimbap a bit, dolsot means stone pot and bibimbap is a signature Korean dish. It is rice, vegetables and meat with a raw egg that fries itself when one stirs it in against the hot stone. On top of that, the sesame oil which lines the bowl will cook the rice until it is crunchy and golden. (We leave these dishes in a metal suitcase for the mysterious delivery men to collect later, its like 'The Saint').

In junk food news, I saw a hot dog stand and froze the other night while shopping, both metaphorically and literally. I swore this hot dog (stick format) had croutons fused to it. I stepped closer in my bundled-up glory to see, and while local hipsters and old men were eating the standard skewers or shu-cream fish (a dessert of crunchy waffles shaped like fish with custard inside sold only in sets of 3) I had to taste it for myself. What I got was a vertical chip butty. The outside was cubed hot chips, the batter was infact a toasted slice of bread all encasing the sausage which was of the high-end wurst variety.

When it comes to the language not so much, but when it comes to the food - this country understands me. Heres a photo of one of my favourite students Billy as a touching closer.

Love Coco

Quote of the Day

IMAGINE THAT AS a young and desperately poor Mexican man, you had made the dangerous and illegal journey to California to work in the fields with other migrants. There, you performed stoop labor, picking lettuce and bell peppers and table grapes; what made such an existence bearable was the dream of a better life. You met a woman and had a child with her, and because that child was born in the U.S., he was made a citizen of this great country. He will lead a life entirely different from yours; he will be educated. Now that child is about to begin middle school in the American city whose name is synonymous with higher learning, as it is the home of one of the greatest universities in the world: Berkeley. On the first day of sixth grade, the boy walks though the imposing double doors of his new school, stows his backpack, and then heads out to the field, where he stoops under a hot sun and begins to pick lettuce...

...and so goes a brilliant and satisfyingly scathing critique of Alice Waters and her forays into school canteens and gardens.

Cultivating Failure, The Atlantic, Jan/Feb 2010

Knödel Dumpling Attack


Tis the season for snow, flight delays and eurostar trains getting stuck in the chunnel due to blizzard convection currents.
The time of year when it's comforting to eat warm and stodgy fare; when you feel you have a valid excuse to pad yourself with porridge for breakfast (rice or oat) and dumplings for dinner.

There are quite a few German dumpling variations: from plum-sized klöse, made from potato (a nice side next to roasted meats) - through to dampfnudeln desserts, which are similar to a Bao Zi steamed bun, but with a fruit compote or warm vanilla custard on the side.

Knödel are large savoury boiled dumplings, made from potato or bread, and if you have leftovers, they can be served in grilled slices. Golden chanterelle mushrooms make an especially delicious sauce with which to augment a fat Knödel.

I admit that snow or shine, sober or drunk, I'm partial to any sort of dumpling. It's possible that in place of a heart, I have a round, damp, chewy lump of dough.
If you have similar dumpling sentiments, you might like to try this easy-to-make recipe for Bavarian-style bread-based dumplings.

knoedel brot

Spinach & Cheese Semmel-Knödel (adapted from a recipe in Landlust magazine)
Serves 4

400g bread (we used a mix of white and a light rye. it should be a reasonably delicious and medium-dense sort of bread: no tip top, and no gritty multigrain)
1 onion & 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
300 g blanched spinach (drained & roughly chopped)
200 ml milk
200g gouda & 100g Emmental (or a mix of your preference), grated
4 eggs
Salt & pepper
olive oil
100 g parmesan (optional)

Cut the bread in thin slices and put into a bowl.
Sauté the onion & garlic in a little olive oil until transparent. Add the spinach & sauté one more minute.
Add the milk and heat to luke warm.
Beat the eggs with this mixture and add to the bread. Let rest 15 min.
Add grated cheese + salt & pepper.
Mix with your hands to combine.
Form 12 dumplings of a similar size.
Add to boiling salted water then reduce heat & simmer for about 20 minutes. Drain and if you like, sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Serve with salad, or any kind of spicy stew.
Cheese and spinach can be reduced, or omitted completely for a traditional accompaniment to roasted or braised meat (you'll want to have some kind of gravy or sauce in play).

We ate them in a manner that Erik said was highly unorthodox: with leftover Mexican Chicken Veracruz (baked with tomatoes, cinnamon and jalapeno pickles), and steamed broccoli. Definitely not healthfood - but, served with veg and spiciness, they weren't as rich and heavy as you might expect.


In need of a lake trout re-up.

There is no angle on TV show The Wire left to be mined. What does lake trout signify? Saptarshi Ray, for the Guardian writes:

Bunk, at his most unsavoury, it pains me to say, compares Jimmy to a recurring Baltimore speciality – lake trout – when he tries to clean up his act and settle down with Beadie. "They take something and give it a name to make it sound better, but it's still just a trash fish."

Lake trout makes many appearances throughout the programme, understandably, being a Maryland staple. When Marlo agrees to meet the honey-trap girl from the Barksdales it's at the Lake Trout restaurant. Randy likes a lake trout sub with cherry soda while on the campaign trail for Carcetti. In fact, lake trout is such a signifier of project life that when Brianna drops off some spicy fish of a different variety from a downtown restaurant for D and the boys, Wallace has no idea where it's from or what the big deal is. "If it ain't in the west side, I don't know it, yo."

Also, and not entirely unrelated, Snoop meets Anthony Bourdain; Bourdain eats lake trout.

MerceDeath Food Trends of 2009


Curious about the convenience foods, cooking gadgets and/or health kicks that popped up in Nihon in 2009?

Ex-pat Tokyo webzine Metropolis put together their year's round up of food trends, citing a standard-sounding Swiss menu as their best meal in 09 - not too inspiring.

For a different perspective, I asked Tokyo yuba-guru, interactive designer and musician MerceDeath (pictured above) to throw down the food items that tickled his taste buds last year. From healthy hotpot (with ethereally pale steamed sausage) to fried chicken in a brioche from the convenience store, I can see myself getting down with these treats.

Did you notice any new food trends in 2009?

"Mushi Nabe (steamed nabe hotpot instead of boiled). Functionally, this is same as a steamer, but you can cook on your table.
You can add some vegetable or meat or fish whatever..
This method reduces oil from foods, but retains vitamins and looks fresh!
Finally, the hot water from the bottom of the device gets steeped with so much Dashi(flavor).
Then, you can eat Udon or Ramen with the soup that's made by the hot water.
That's Yummmmy!"

Did you start any new cooking habit at home last year?

"Hot plate Yuba (Tofu skin)
We bought a hot plate for making big Yuba by ourselves (of course we do some BBQ on the hotplate too)
Basic information of Yuba here.
*I didn't know it's called Tofu skin in English!

The way to cook Yuba with a hot plate:
1. Pour some soy milk to a hot plate.
2. Keep temperature 80C.
3. Just wait a few minutes.
4. Eat with soy sauce with wasabi or! I prefer ponzu.

That's super simple, super healthy and Yummy!"



what were your top three new things to eat or drink in 2009? (at restaurants, Konbini, take-out, or vending machines)?

"1. Bottled ginger masala chai
That sounds weird, but it's actually good!

2. L-chiki buns (Buns for Lawson Chickin)
Basically, Japanese convenience store Lawson sells "L-chiki (fried chicken)".
L-chiki buns are for making L-chiki even richer! But you just need to pay 50 more yen.
I love the idea.

3. Big American dog
This is a very old style, but Seven Eleven just started selling them in 2009.
And I had this often!"

MySpace Codes

What's the best after-gig snack?

"Yoshi soba -
It's better than Fuji Soba : )
And of course much better than pizza or Kebabu late at night!"

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