Recent Blog Posts
Sometime a few weeks back, I got it into my head to make a dessert with black sesame seeds. I don’t know why, but I can tell you this cake won’t be the last of it. Black sesame seeds are nearly as aromatic and rich as coffee or chocolate, but in a very subtle way. They have a longstanding place in Korean traditional medicine and in traditional Eastern medicine in general. One of the main benefits of sesame seeds is that they are packed with calcium, and as black sesame seeds retain their hulls, they have even more calcium than the white seeds.
Of course, we’re talking about cake here. Health benefits don’t really figure in. But there it is, anyway.
I knew that if I put the seeds into a cake, their flavor would likely be lost. On the other hand, as far as toppings go, their texture is less than ideal, even when they are finely ground. I finally settled on an infusion.
I didn’t want the seeds too finely ground, as I wanted to be able to get the bulk of them back out of the cream, so rather than use my coffee grinder or food processor, I opted for the good, old fashioned mortar and pestle.
You know that song from The Sound of Music? Raindrops and whiskers? The smell of ground black sesame seeds would be on that list for me.
Normally when you make a cake, you make the batter and bake the cake layers first, as they need to cool completely before you can top them, which can take several hours. With this cake, though, you’ll need to heat both the cream (to infuse it) and the jam (to liquefy it), and they will both need more time than the cake to cool back down before you can apply them (especially the cream, which has to go back in the fridge for at least four or five hours before you can whip it), so it’s best to do them first.
When the hot cream hit the ground sesame seeds, man, I knew I’d done a good thing.
As a side note, I’m not trying to be a slime ball with the ‘read more’ cuts, I promise. I just have a couple of different camps reading this blog. There are those who find it through recipe websites and come here for posts like this one, and then there are those who are in Korea just looking for a decent place to grab a bite to eat who couldn’t care less about dozens of photos of me making a cake. I promise to only use them on recipes and posts that are very heavy with photos that will take forever to load on the main page and cause people to have to scroll for ages to get to the next post.
I left the seeds in for the duration of the cooling process and only strained them out just before whipping the cream. Little flecks of the hulls remained, giving the cream, which had turned a gentle blueish-grey, a nice speckled look without affecting the texture of the cream itself.
I don’t know why, but I kept thinking of Earl Grey tea while I was making and consequently tasting the cream. The color was similar to what it would be with an Earl Grey infused cream, for one thing, but it also had the same kind of slightly spiced sweetness to it.
Jam and whipped cream are two notoriously troublesome fillings for a layer cake, because they tend to squish out and slide, so I went with a lighter batter and kept the layers thin.
As a side note, anytime I make chocolate anything, if there is a liquid element that can be heated up like water or milk, I always, always add a bit of coffee. In this case, I just used freshly brewed coffee in place of water. There are a few different reasons for this. First of all, dissolving the cocoa powder in a hot liquid helps avoid clumping, which seems inevitable to some degree even with sifting (the same concept applies to recipes with melted butter and cocoa powder — I always dissolve it in the butter, rather than adding it in with the flour). The coffee also highlights the chocolate and give it a little more depth. The coffee flavor itself never comes through — it just makes the chocolate taste slightly richer and more bitter, which in turn balances and highlights the sweetness of the cake. The final reason is that the coffee adds a little more of that chocolate brown color to the batter.
Crucial tip for this stage of things, if you’re like me and slightly slow on the uptake — that bowl of cocoa powder and coffee may look delicious, but it is not sweetened yet and basically tastes like really bitter mud, so don’t lick the spoon, no matter how tempted you are. I’ve done it more times than I’d like to admit.
Whipped cream on top of jam, always — never the other way around, unless you want a mess. The cream spreads much more easily than the jam, which means the jam is more likely to stay in place while you smooth something over the top of it. If you really want the aesthetic of the jam dribbling out over the cream, you can always put the cake together upside down and very quickly flip it over. I don’t recommend that, though, as inevitably the filling is bound to come oozing out as soon as you put on the top layer. Also, as a note, if you intend to cover the entire cake with cream rather than just the top. you should stop the layer of jam and cream way inward of what is shown above, or else you will end up with a jammy streak along the outside of your cake.
Some fresh strawberries on top of the jam and cream to stabilize the second layer and keep it from squishing out all of the filling…
Put on the top layer, smooth it over with the remaining whipped cream and top with raspberries and powdered sugar.
It’s not a cake for the faint of heart — it has a lot of strong flavor elements. But I don’t much care for light, overly sweet desserts. I like a little body. A lot of body, alright. But I think the chocolate and raspberry play well with the black sesame, holding their own but not drowning it out. All the same, a little slice will do ya, with this one.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup hot coffee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/3 cups cake flour
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons black sesame seeds, slightly crushed
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 cups raspberry jam
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
- The night before or several hours before you want to make the cake, heat the heavy cream over medium low heat while stirring constantly until it begins to steam and bubble. Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the crushed sesame seeds. Allow it to cool to room temperature, cover it and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours before making the cake.
- Melt the jam over medium low heat while stirring until it liquefies (about 2 or 3 minutes). Remove it from the heat and set it aside to cool, but do not put it back in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C) and grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.
- Mix together the hot coffee, cocoa powder and vanilla until there are no clumps and set it aside to cool to room temperature.
- Cream together the butter and the sugar being sure to aerate well. Add the eggs and continue to beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Fold in the coffee/cocoa powder mixture until it is just combined. Sift in the salt, baking powder and flour, folding it in as you go. Fold until the batter is well mixed -- do not over mix.
- Divide the batter equally between the two cake pans, smoothing it out toward the edges. The layers should be relatively thin. Bake the cakes for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes or until they pull away from the sides of the pans before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool for about 2 hours.
- When the cream is completely chilled, strain out the sesame seeds and beat it on high speed adding the powdered sugar in increments as you go. Whip it until it forms stiff peaks and the bowl can be held upside down without any whipped cream sliding out.
- When the cakes and jam have cooled completely, place the first layer of the cake upside down on the decorating round or plate. Apply a thin layer of jam smoothing it out from the center to just inside the edge of the cake. Top with about a third of the whipped cream, gently smoothing it out from the center until it just overlaps with the edge of the jam. Place fresh raspberries around the circumference of the cake and in concentric circles moving toward the center. Gently place the second cake layer on top of the raspberries, top with the rest of the whipped cream and decorate with the remaining fresh raspberries and a dusting of powdered sugar. Chill the cake in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Freelance writer and editor. American in Seoul. I write about Korean food. I blog about all food. Last year I wrote a monthly column about traveling to different places around the country to explore Korean ingredients and cuisine. This ignited my interest in local foods and cooking, which I blog about regularly now. I also blog restaurant and cafe recommendations, recipes and some background and history about Korean food.
Odaiba (お台場) is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. This is generally known as a date spot. You can either take a driverless train which goes over rainbow bridge, or you can take a boat from Asakusa. Both are pretty nifty. Personally, I’d take one there and the other one back.
Daiba has lots of interesting things. Unfortunately, they are all spread out and the things that are available changes from month to month. Try to look for the Statue of Liberty there.
About the girl
Thank you so much for visiting and reading.
Everything Frugal Living South Korea
A decade ago, it was pretty easy to put away a couple thousand USD every month from teaching English in Korea. This usually involved a combination of the regular day-job and then some private teaching at night or on weekends. These days though, the cost of living has increased significantly while salaries have remained stagnant. Private teaching gigs are fewer than they once were and not many of them pay the 50,000 Won an hour that they used to. If you can save $1000 USD per month teaching English in South Korea, you’ll be doing well.
See: Teaching Abroad = Fun, but not Financially Lucrative for more details.
All is Not Lost, Perhaps?
However, all is not lost. It really is possible to save a good chunk of change while living and teaching in South Korea, particularly if you work at a university where OT is plentiful. This in combination with some frugal living power will help you achieve your financial goal awesome.
The Topic of Today’s Post
That leads us to the topic of today’s post: frugal living South Korea. If you’re looking to put a good chunk of change away for yourself and not waste your time while teaching abroad in South Korea, then check out these 49 Frugal Living Tips. It’s a slideshare presentation so you can get the info, minus the boring.
The post 49 Frugal Living South Korea Tips appeared first on .
|Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea|
My Life! Teaching in a Korean University:
University Jobs Korea: universityjobkorea.com
There’s another reason my blogging has been a little slow lately. There were a few different recipes I wanted to do, but I knew that some ingredients would be hard to find for people on one or the other side of the world. So before I do those recipes, I wanted to do a few different quick posts on how to make some basics. For example, I wanted to post about Irish soda bread, but I didn’t want to just tell a bunch of people living in Korea to “add buttermilk”. That’s ridiculous. There is no buttermilk here. Luckily, it’s very easy to make. So I’ll start there.
The great thing about making buttermilk is that you get a twofer. You can’t make buttermilk (using this method, at least) without also making butter. Homemade butter has a few different advantages. For one thing, in Korea at least, it is cheaper than the better quality brands of store-bought butter. You can also salt it to your exact liking and mix in any herbs you want. This time, I made chive butter, but you can of course make basil butter, thyme butter, rosemary butter… the list goes on. The other great thing about homemade butter is that it is much lighter in color than a lot of store-bought brands, which means you can use it to make a much more true-white frosting without having to add pounds of powdered sugar. You can also use ice cube trays to make individual pads of butter, which are much more convenient for a lot of things than the massive hunk of butter sold at the stores here.
The only things you really need to make butter and buttermilk are cream, ice, some kind of straining device, some ice and an electric mixer. You don’t technically need an electric mixer — I’ve whipped cream without one before — but for the sake of your arm muscles and sanity, I recommend using one. If you want cultured butter and buttermilk, you also need a buttermilk starter or a couple of tablespoons of of cultured buttermilk. Since the point of this post, however, is to help those without access to buttermilk find a way around it, you can also use a couple of tablespoons of yogurt with live cultures, which most store-bought brands have (the packaging should say that it contains live cultures — in Korean, look for 유산균). Now, some of the cultures in buttermilk are different from those in yogurt, so this won’t give you an exact replica, but it will give your buttermilk that richer, soured flavor. Just be sure to use plain, unsweetened yogurt. As a side note, if you are able to get your hands on a buttermilk starter or some genuine cultured buttermilk even once, you could potentially keep using it to culture more buttermilk indefinitely. It would just take a lot of maintenance, as you’d have to keep making a constant fresh supply to keep the cultures alive.
If you don’t culture the cream, you will still end up with perfectly fine butter and buttermilk. They will just be a bit sweeter and lighter in flavor.
I didn’t culture mine this time around, but if you’d like to, all you need to do is mix your starter into the cream and leave it out at room temperature for about 8 hours. Then you follow the same steps from this point.
You need to make sure the cream is cold so that it will whip properly. It should stay in the fridge for 24 hours leading up to the time you intend to whip it.
If after five minutes of beating the cream it doesn’t begin to thicken up and start looking like whipped cream as in the photo above, either your mixer isn’t set high enough (it should be on the highest speed) or your cream is not cold enough. If it’s the latter, don’t panic. Get another large bowl and fill the bottom with ice and a little water. Place the bowl with the cream inside the ice bowl so that the water rises about 3/4 of the way up the side of the bowl with the cream in it. Be careful not to get any water in the bowl of cream. Keep beating, and your cream should come together pretty quickly. If you’re using a hand whisk… good luck! Keep going. Find a friend. Work in shifts. Wear a wrist guard.
Now, if you were making whipped cream and it starts to look like this, congratulations! You are now making butter. The cream is beginning to separate, and, in this case at least, that’s exactly what you want.
Now things start to get really messy. As the solids separate from the liquids, your mixer will begin to fling buttermilk all over your kitchen. For that reason, I recommend not setting up too near a wall or other appliances, or else you’ll be scrubbing buttermilk out of crevices for weeks to come. There’s really nothing you can do to prevent it — it’s better to just minimize the fallout.
When your bowl looks like this, you are ready to start working the butter.
Scoop out the solids and leave the liquid in the bowl. I recommend using a cutting board at this point, because you can pick it up and tilt it over the bowl to save the buttermilk you’re going to squeeze out of the butter.
That wooden paddle is a god’s-honest butter paddle I brought back with me from Texas after my last visit. It’s probably at least 60 years old. While the flat shape is ideal for pressing out the buttermilk, I recommend opting for a wooden utensil even if it’s a spoon. You’re going to be pressing really hard, and the butter is going to get very stiff and sticky, and metal and plastic utensils, even if they’re flat, will probably be more hindrance than help.
Basically, you’re going to use the paddle or spoon to knead the butter, pressing it flat, scooping it up, folding it over and flattening it again. Keep doing this until you can’t get one more drop of liquid out of the butter. This is important, because any buttermilk left in the butter will cause it to go off more quickly. Set the buttermilk off to the side — we will come back to it later.
Now here comes the ice. You’ll need three bowls at this point — one for the kneading the butter, one for the ice water and one to pour off the excess buttermilk water. Put about half a cup of the cold water (just the water, not the ice) into the bowl with the butter, which by now should be solid enough for you to work with your hands. Continue to knead the butter in the water, squeezing out the excess. When the water becomes cloudy, pour it off into the third bowl, pour more cold water over the butter and repeat. Keep going until the water stays relatively clear. Do not put this poured off water in with your buttermilk — it’s garbage. Throw it out.
At this point, you can mix in whatever herbs you want and salt, if you’d like, as well. If you’re making uncultured butter, I suggest adding only a small amount of a salt — maybe 1/4 teaspoon per pint of original cream. Uncultured butter, as I mentioned before, has a delicately sweet flavor that I personally enjoy too much to drown it with salt. That having been said, salt helps preserve the butter, so adding a pinch per pint is a good idea.
Fold in your herbs and salt, pack your butter into whatever mold you like and set it in the fridge to chill. Once it’s well chilled, you should be able to take it out and remove it from the molds for storage after it sits at room temperature for a few minutes.
As for the buttermilk, you’re going to want to strain out any remaining solids (I used cheesecloth, but a very fine strainer should be fine) and store it in the fridge for future use. Biscuits, cornbread, buttermilk pancakes, soda bread — it may not be 100% bona fide cultured buttermilk, but it’s not half bad, and it’s certainly better than life with no buttermilk at all.
University of Michigan PhD Candidate Michael Prentice interned for a year at a Seoul-area corporation, conducting semi-covert academic research on the unique corporate culture of South Korea.
Here, he discusses the semantics, politics and evolution of the word ‘Chaebol’, the origins of post-Korean War corporate and economic development in the country as well as society’s fascination and obsession with the behaviour and excesses of its ruling oligarchy.
This is the first of a 3-part conversation.
Music on this episode is from김연숙 ‘s 1987 single ‘그날’.
Photo: New Samsung HQ in San Jose, CA
When you think of Korea, what do you think of? K-Pop, kimchi, and Korean barbeque? What about alcohol? Korea is home to a wide variety of interesting (and delicious!) alcoholic concoctions that make enjoying a night out drinking with friends anything but boring.
Put down the beer, and read on for a list of must-try Korean alcoholic beverages that you should incorporate into your next evening out! Bottoms up!
Korean Alcohol #1: Soju
It doesn’t get more Korean than soju, a quintessential Korean alcohol. That being said, Koreans aren’t the only ones who love soju – believe it or not, it’s the most widely consumed type of alcohol in the world!
Soju pairs well with a wide variety of popular Korean dishes, so it is considered by many to be a staple for a great, well-rounded dinner. However, be careful before you pour your third or fourth glass – soju is commonly 19-25% alcohol, so it is a much higher proof than beer and wine. Don’t let that scare you away, though! The distinct, sharp taste of soju is popular for a reason. Stop and pick up a bottle before your next dinner party and you’ll see what all the buzz is about!
Korean Alcohol #2: Bokbunja
Time for a quick wine lesson! As I’m sure you’re aware, wine is made from grapes, and the different flavors in different types of wine come from manipulating the fermenting process to enhance different properties of the grapes’ flavor. So, what would happen if a fruit like blackberries was used instead of grapes? A delicious beverage called bokbunja is what happens!
That being said, the similarities between bokbunja and wine stops there. Bokbunja has a much higher alcohol content than a standard glass of red or white wine – a glass of bokbunja averages 15-19% alcohol, and a glass of wine averages between 9-16%. Due to the high acidity of the blackberries, bokbunja is a delight to drink with lightly seasoned seafood dishes.
Bokbunja also has a less-known property that makes it a huge hit – it’s been linked to a rise in testosterone in men, making it a delicious aphrodisiac. Pick up a bottle of this tart Korean alcohol the next time you’re cooking fish, crab, or octopus for your date and you’ll be in for a treat!
Korean Alcohol #3: Maeshilju
Are you a fan of sweet dessert wines? If so, maeshilju is the drink for you! Maeshilju is a super sweet Korean alcohol made from green plums fermented with a sweetener, like light brown sugar or honey. The alcohol percentage of this drink is sitting at a decent 14%, which means you’ll be able to enjoy a few glasses without falling over or running into walls.
Maeshilju doesn’t pair particularly well with dinner because its sweetness can be overpowering, but a glass after a meal makes for a fantastic dessert. Break out some maeshilju the next time you’re hosting a dinner party and would like to bring the dining experience to a well-rounded finish for your friends or family. They won’t be disappointed!
Korean Alcohol #4: Makgeolli
Makgeolli is the original Korean alcohol – it’s much older than the other alcohols listed on this list, but it’s still a favorite in Korean bars and restaurants for good reason!
Makgeolli is a think, sweet rice wine that is sweet and tangy with a touch of carbonation to pull the drink together. In recent years, makgeolli has started becoming popular with the younger crowd when paired with a fruit cocktail to make it slightly sweeter. There are a ton of different types of makgeolli available for purchase – some renditions add additional flavors, while some renditions pride themselves on using pure, organic ingredients for an all-around smooth and unbeatable taste (at a slightly higher price). Shop around and find the makgeolli that you prefer, and take part in a tradition almost as old as Korea itself!
Korean Alcohol #5: Dongdongju
Dongdongju is a less-popular (but still delicious!) variation of makgeolli. Makgeolli is made from rice, and as a result is thick and can be full of sediment if it’s unfiltered. Dongdongju is its unfiltered cousin – your standard glass of dongdongju will have rice particles in the bottom of the glass, adding an interesting texture to an already interesting drink. Aside from the difference in thickness and texture as a result of the filtering, dongdongju has a very similar flavor profile to makgeolli, so if you’re a fan of makgeolli give dongdongju a try!
Korean Alcohol #6: Sansachun
Sansachun has been considered a “medicinal alcohol” for over 400 years – supposedly, sansachun is the drink to pour when you’re stressed or anxious, as it’s supposed to calm the nerves and soothe the body. Sign me up!
Brewed from hawthorn berries, sansachun is slightly sour and is said to enhance appetite if it’s consumed prior to eating, which makes it a popular pre-dinner drink. Use sansachun to unwind the next time you’ve had a long day, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Korean Alcohol #7: Cheongju
Cheongju is literally “clear liquor” in Korean, and true to its name, it’s a clear Korean rice wine. Think of it as a very mild, slightly sweet soju. The difference in taste comes from being fermented at least twice (rather than once), and the difference in the fermentation process produces a mild, sweet beverage that appeals to many drinkers who find the taste of soju too intense or unpalatable. If you gave soju a shot and you didn’t know what all the fuss was about, try cheongju for a dialed back drinking experience that you’ll be sure to enjoy!
Getting to know the food and drink of a particular culture can be intimidating if you don’t have a point of reference. Hopefully this list helps you navigate the Korean drinking scene and have some fun! Do you have a favorite Korean liquor that wasn’t on this list? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments!
Main Photo: Graham Hills
Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn
The pictures pretty much speak for themselves, but I’d say the Robot Show in Shinjuku is an experience worth having. Like everyone says: don’t buy the food there. I still don’t quite understand what I saw, but my visual and auditory senses were stimulated.
Only in Korea Facebook Group creator Travis Hull joins Korea FM‘s Chance Dorland to discuss HBC gentrification & the government’s plan to turn Haebangchon (Hangul: 해방촌 Hanja: 解放村) into a “Green Culture Village.”
Subscribe to Korea FM Talk Radio & News Podcasts Via:
Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.
STREAM or DOWNLOAD via:
Agreeing to go to one theme-restaurant in Japan, we went to Kagaya where their motto is “frog is stranger than fiction.” I had no idea what this place was about, but maybe it’s better going into it that way.
It felt like an art show and dinner, all-in-one. It’s a little weird but definitely fun and funny. At different times, there is audience participation and you’ll get to choose your own adventure, as well. The food is traditional Japanese and quite nice; I think the performer’s mother cooks and serves it.
The place is small and they do a good job of fitting a lot of people in a small space. Be prepared: everyone sits on the floor.
It’s a one-minute walk from JR Shimbashi Station, but you should definitely make reservations ahead of time through their website.
Address: Japan, 〒105-0004 Tokyo, Minato, Shinbashi, 2 Chome−15−12, 花定ビル B1F
Phone: +81 3-3591-2347