Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles)


1/4 pound dried Korean glass noodles
1 bell pepper, sliced
1/4 pound spinach, washed and drained
1/2 carrot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Fill a large pot with water and boil. When water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water. Drain again and toss with only 1 tsp of the sesame oil. Set aside.
2. Add olive oil in a wok or large saute pan on high heat and swirl to coat. When the cooking oil is hot but not smoking, fry bell pepper and carrot slices, until just softened.
3. Add the spinach, soy sauce, and noodles. Fry 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Turn off heat, toss with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp of sesame oil.

1-2 servings

Braised Potatoes

3 medium potatoes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons Korean or Japanese dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons malt syrup
1/2 cup water
a pinch of salt

1. Clean and peel the potatoes. Boil the potatoes in a pot of water for 10 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes and let them cool for 5 minutes. Cut them into cubes.
3. Heat a wok with a bit of olive oil over low heat. Saute the potatoes with a pinch of salt until they can be poked through with a fork without them breaking in half.
4. Mix the soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, dried rosemary, and sugar. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and stir to coat.
5. Stir the malt syrup in water, add to wok, and stir well to combine.
6. Put a lid over the wok and cook slowly. Stir occasionally so the sauce evenly coats the potatoes. The longer you braise them, the more the sauce will disappear and the darker the potatoes will become. If the sauce disappears entirely before the potatoes are cooked, add a little more water to the wok and keep cooking. Have the potatoes cooked just enough so that they hold their shape and are soft to bite all the way through with no crunchiness.
7. Do not serve this dish hot. Allow to cool at least to room temperature.

1 serving


Being a vegetarian in Korea is a bit difficult. In England, almost every restaurant has at least several vegetarian options labeled on the menu, but there isn’t so much of that luxury in Korea. Koreans love their meat. So I decided to research vegetarian restaurants, and the first one I came up with was Sanchon in Insadong, which is run by a former monk and serves Buddhist temple food. The food is made with roots, herbs, plants, and vegetables that are grown in the mountain areas. Everything is natural and extremely healthy. A friend and I went one afternoon, and got to experience their lunch. The menu is set, no matter one time of day, so you simply come in, sit down, and wait for them to bring you the food: tofu, potatoes, mountain greens, jjigae, rice. The lunch menu is 22,000 won, and the dinner is 39,600 won with a show.

Chocolate Chip Muffins

There’s something lovely about waking up in the morning to a nice warm chocolate chip muffin, isn’t there?

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F).
2. In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. In another bowl, combine the egg, melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans.

6 large muffin servings

Roasted Potato Wedges with Rosemary

4 small potatoes, unskinned and scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
dash of dried thyme
ketchup (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).
2. Parboil potatoes in a pot of water for 10 minutes (this will give the potatoes a crispy skin when roasted).
3. Take potatoes out and cut them into small wedges.
4. Place potatoes wedges in a mixing bowl with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, rosemary, and thyme. Combine well.
5. Scatter potato wedges on a lightly oiled oven pan. Roast for 45 minutes until golden brown.
6. Serve alone or with ketchup.

1-2 servings

Butterfinger Pancakes

Today we were supposed to head down to Daecheon Beach for the Boryeong Festival, but because not enough people showed up (only 15 out of 70 showed up for 2 45-seater buses) and the rain was pretty heavy, Jason Ritzer (one of the managers for CDI) had to postpone the trip until next week. They were pretty nice about it, and ended taking the 15 of us to an American sort of diner in Apgujeong. The prices were a bit steep, but it was nice and comforting to be around the smell of bacon, eggs, and pancakes. I had a fruit salad, which consisted of berries, bananas, pineapple, apples, and oranges on top of iceberg lettuce (10,800 won). We later found out that the guys were paying for the whole meal, so one of us ordered the Sunday-something special: ice cream and a waffle with bananas, whipped cream, and fudge, and a cute little blue house cookie on top. 🙂

Butterfinger pancakes is located behind Burger King. Take subway line 3 to Apgujeong Station, take exit 2, and then head to Hak-dong Saggori.


Wheat gluten, also called seitan (pronounced /ˈseɪtæn/), wheat meat, gluten meat, or simply gluten, is a food made from the gluten of wheat. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch dissolves, leaving insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten.

Wheat gluten, although not as well known, is an alternative to soybean-based meat substitutes such as tofu. Some types of wheat gluten have a chewy and/or stringy texture more like that of meat than most other substitutes. Wheat gluten is often used instead of meat in Asian, vegetarian, Buddhist, and macrobiotic cuisines. Simulated duck is a common use for wheat gluten.

Wheat gluten is most popular in Japan and China, where it was first developed, as well as in the cuisines of other East and Southeast Asian nations. In Asia, it is commonly found on the menus of restaurants catering primarily to Buddhist customers who do not eat meat.

Because it was first popularized in western nations during the second half of the 20th century through its promotion by proponents of the macrobiotic diet, seitan (the name by which it is known in macrobiotic circles) is also the name by which wheat gluten is best known in most English-speaking nations. In the West, prepared wheat gluten is generally available only in Asian markets and health food stores (although gluten flour is commonly available in supermarkets).

1 cup vital wheat gluten
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
6 cups broth for cooking

1. Combine gluten flour and dry spices in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix soy sauce and 3/4 cup water. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Gluten will have a rubbery consistency. Add more water a tablespoon at a time only if needed.
2. Once mixture is well combined, knead seitan 10-15 times, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then knead a few more times.
3. Separate your ball of gluten into three or four smaller chunks. Gently stretch each piece into a flat cutlet, around 3/4 inch thick. Seitan will expand when cooking, so you’ll want to start out with somewhat thin cutlets. Don’t worry about any holes that may form in the gluten.
4. Add seitan to 6 cups of broth (I used chicken broth) in a large pot and bring to a slow simmer. You can add extra spices or flavors to this broth as well.
5. Cover pot and allow to cook for an hour or more. Be sure to use a large pot and plenty of broth, as seitan will expand. Seitan is done cooking when it has firmed up and expanded.
6. Remove from broth, allow to cool. Seitan keeps well in the freezer in a sealed container or zip lock bag.