Best Korean Summer BBQ Party – Menu and Tips

Korean BBQ party table with Kalbi, Radish Salad, Kimchi and Potato Salad
Lily of the nile in purple jar
Lily of the nile in purple jar

Koreans LOVE BBQ in the summer. In Korea, when you visit the various parks, mountains and rivers, you will see that Koreans will find a way to grill everything, whenever and wherever they are. Most Korean pensions (Korean’s version of Bed and Breakfast but without breakfast) will usually have picnic areas that allow BBQ and may even provide BBQ fire pits for a fee. It is almost unimaginable for Koreans to have a outdoor event without having some sort of a BBQ.

Anyway, we recently threw a BBQ party for my daughter’s birthday in our backyard. She originally said she was thinking about 8 – 12 people but then while I was gone to Lake Tahoe,  it suddenly became 17!!!  Yikes!! I mean, a few years ago, that would not have been a problem at all…but I have not cooked for this many people in a while so I knew I had to keep it simple. Cooking for 17 young adults is not an easy feat – especially if you are going to make most of it alone.

As with any party, the key is to come up with the right menu, distributing the cooking over time (it’s hard to cook everything in one day) and then also planning things well so that each dish is served at their right temperature. Some need to be cold, some need to be piping hot and some can be at room temperature.

So here’s the party menu – Kalbi is the only dish that need to be kept very warm.

  • BBQ Kalbi (Korean Ribs)
  • Potato Salad Korean style (Gamja Salad)
  • Radish Salad (Moosaengche)
  • Kimchi
  • Rice
  • Perilla Green Onion salad -This is basically a lazy man’s ssam (lettuce wraps) because you don’t have to wrap it
  • EXTRA Veggies with Ssam Jang-  if you want, you can serve some fresh green chili peppers (Annaheim peppers are great because they are not too spicy hot), bell pepper and cucumber sticks with some Ssam jang as dipping sauce.

1 day BEFORE party 

Marinate Kalbi: Calculate about 1/2 lb per person if using bone-in LA style, thinly cut short ribs. But when cooking for large party, these bone-in LA style Korean Ribs are a lot of work because you have to rinse each piece to wash away tiny bone fragments. So I bought Boneless Beef Short Rib Meat sold at Costco. It comes in pretty thick pieces so I sliced it into thinner pieces about 1/2 in thick.

Make marinade using following recipe –

PER POUND(lb) of Rib Meat, mix following and marinate the meat overnight in the fridge.

  • 3 T soy sauce (Kikoman)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 T red wine [ or sake ]
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1 t ground black pepper
  • 2 t toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 T chopped or thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 T chopped kiwi  (An emergency fix is to add 2 T or so of diet coke if you find that the meat is too tough and no time to marinade for hours beforhand)

Tip: Make sure you add some kind of tenderizer like kiwi, pear, pineapple or even coke for Kalbi because the rib meat is really flavorful but can be a quite chewy. I did not have kiwi so I did not add it and regretted it. Flavor was great but meat was a little too chewy. Lesson learned again.

Korean Beef Ribs (Kalbi) marinated
Korean Beef Ribs (Kalbi) marinated

Moosaenche: Moosaengche can be made using my moosaengche recipe, 1 day ahead. Store in the fridge. It actually taste better when it has time to pickle a little bit in the fridge.

The Day of party

How to make Korean Potato Salad (Gamja/Kamja Salad 감자 사라다):

Serves about 15:

  • 6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large english cucumber or 3-4 pickling cucumbers, cut into cubes
  • 2 -3 fuji or red delicious apples, peeled, cut into cubes
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/3 ~ 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (depends on your taste)
  • Peel and boil russet potatoes and carrots in lightly salted water. Hard boil eggs.  Cook potatoes until they start to kind of fall apart. Cook carrots and eggs. Cut them into cubes. Cut cucumbers and apples roughly into cubes.
  • Once the potatoes and carrots are cooled, toss everything in Mayonnaise. Season by adding more salt if needed. Keep it refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • So simple yet so delicious when eaten with Kalbi. Extras – some like to add grapes or rasins.

    Korean Potato (Gamja/Kamja) Salad
    Korean Potato (Gamja/Kamja) Salad

Cook Rice – I made about 6 cups of rice with brown rice and that was enough.

Perilla and Green Onion Salad (Sangchoo Kkaetnip Pa Moochim 상추깻잎파무침):

  • Wash and tear lettuce and perilla into bite size pieces. You can also cut them with a knife to make it go faster for larger amounts.
  • Cut green onion into thin strips and soak in cold water for lighter flavor. This is when the green onion curls up like I wrote in my Chapsal Bulgogi post.
  • Right before serving, toss the greens by adding a few splashes of rice vinegar, sprinkling of sugar, dashes of salt, black pepper and red chili powder. Go light on all the seasoning. It is not a stand alone dish but served as an accompaniment to Kalbi.
Korean Perilla Green Onion Salad (깻잎상추파무침)
Korean Perilla Green Onion Salad (깻잎상추파무침)

Ready to Serve!

  • When guests arrive, grill the Kalbi. Korean style is to serve it well done. If you’d like you can serve it medium or medium well. I served it in my Staub cast iron pot to keep it warm.

    Grilled Korean Beef Ribs BBQ (Kalbi)
    Grilled Korean Beef Ribs BBQ (Kalbi)
  • While the Kalbi is grilling, set the buffet table with all the other dishes including rice and Kimchi. For Kimchi, try making some easy green cabbage kimchi from my recipe – ahead of time.
    Korean BBQ party table with Kalbi, Radish Salad, Kimchi and Potato Salad
    Korean BBQ party table with Kalbi, Radish Salad, Kimchi and Potato Salad

    These next 2 photos are by one of my daughter’s friend who is an amazing young street photographer Ben Lee ( If you need a photographer for your event in the bay area, check him out! Thank you Ben for these photos!! I love how you have captured the sun shining on my food.. :))

    Party table with Chips, Guacamole and Salsa, Moosaengche, Kimchi
    Party table with Chips, Guacamole and Salsa, Moosaengche, Kimchi – courtesy Benjmin Photography
    Korean Vegetable Platter with Ssam Jang
    Korean Vegetable Platter with Ssam Jang

    Raw carrots, cucumbers and green chili peppers all taste great with Ssam Jang and goes well with Korean BBQ’s.

  • One last thing – if you want to make it even more perfect, make some Dwenjang Jjigae or Kimchi Jjigae and serve it hot. This will be just absolutely delicious and will help cut through any greasy taste of the Kalbi.

Well, hopefully this is helpful in preparing a simply, easy yet delicious Korean BBQ party for the summer. If you have any other BBQ party menu ideas, I would love to hear from you!

Enjoy your summer everyone!

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Gyeran Jjim (계란찜) in Hot Pot – Savory Korean Egg Souffle

Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim (계란찜) Korean Savory Egg Souffle
Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim (계란찜) Korean Savory Egg Souffle
Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim (계란찜) Korean Savory Egg Souffle /Steamed Egg in Hot Pot

Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim(계란찜) or Dalgyal Jjim(달걀찜) is a Korean side dish made from eggs. Gyeran and Dalgyal both mean ‘egg’ in Korean. I know this must be always so confusing about the Korean language – there’s usually two different words that mean the same thing. Korean language has words that come from two different origins – one based on Chinese characters and the other is based on pure Korean phonetic characters called Hangeul which was created by King Sejong in 1443. Gyeran comes from Chinese characters and Dalgyal/Dalkyal is a pure Korean word.

So, my inspiration for this dish?? July is always a happy, busy and expensive (according to my hubby;) ) month for our family. Our wedding anniversary and our only daughter’s birthday are all in July. And then there’s July 4th weekend…and it’s also summer vacation time!!! We usually have a fabulous time traveling, going out to expensive restaurants to celebrate and buy each other gifts. But then when the time comes to pay the bills at the end of the month, we usually end up having a fight..trying to blame each other for spending too much money… haha. This year though, thankfully, my husband and I were invited to spend the 4th weekend at my friend K’s beautiful vacation home in Lake Tahoe which meant we did not have to pay for lodging!! Yay!!! Thank you K, for the invite. :))

View from Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, CA
View of ski slopes in summer from Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe, CA

At Lake Tahoe, we had great fun meeting and making new friends (who were also invited to K’s home). And during a conversation about my blog with a young man- who will be moving out on his own very soon – I was asked how he could cook some Korean dishes for himself. Until he asked me a recipe for Gyeran Jjim, I was able to answer most of his questions with – “Oh, it’s in my blog.. I have a post on it”. But for Gyeran Jjim, I realized I did not have a post about on it.  I couldn’t believe I left out this classic!!! This Korean steamed egg (in hot pot or not) souffle side dish (banchan) is such a great quick, easy, nutritious and filling recipe for college students, singles, kids and anyone who loves eggs. I don’t know why I missed this one. Thank you Andrew for asking!

Just like how we all have a different omelette version that we like, I think Gyeran Jjim (Korean steamed egg omelette) is one of those dishes that people have different tastes for and different ingredients are added to make each Gyeran Jjim unique. So I shall now begin a series of posts on Gyeran/Kyeran Jjim and end with a summary post on all the different methods and ingredients you can use to cook this ultimate Korean comfort food. So, are you ready to follow me?? :)

First, in this post, I will introduce the recipe version that is not the most classic but it’s certainly the dish you have most likely seen it served at restaurants. The most classic way is to steam it in a double boiler and that’s how our moms used to make it at home. At many Korean BBQ restaurants these days, for some reason, they cook it directly on the fire and it comes to you in hot pot, steaming – hot, hot. Sometimes the bottom part will be burnt and this is absolutely my favorite part.

Servings: 2 – 3                      Cooking Time: 20 min                           Difficulty: EASY


  • 4 eggs (large)
  • 200 ml water (3/4 cup + 1 Tbs)
  • 1 Tbs chopped green onion
  • 2 tsp saewoojeot(salted fermented shrimp) – substitute fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3-4 dashes black pepper
  • red chili pepper powder (optional)
  1.  Chop green onions, saewoojeot (fermented shrimp) and mix with sesame oil, sugar and black pepper. Let it sit for few min.

    Green Onions, fermented shrimp(saewoojeot) mix for gyeran jjim
    Green Onions, fermented shrimp(saewoojeot) mix for gyeran jjim
  2. Whip 4 eggs in a bowl and add water. Mix again.
  3. Add green onions + saewoojeot mixture from 1 and mix with egg.

    Whipped eggs and water for Gyeran Jjim
    Whipped eggs and water for Gyeran Jjim
  4. Add to your favorite hot pot (ttukbaegi 뚝배기) and put on the stove on MEDIUM heat, covered for 7-8 min.

    Gyeran Jjim at 8 min after cooking
    Gyeran Jjim at 8 min after cooking
  5. At this point, egg should be semi cooked, still very watery. Stir the egg mixture (bring bottom to top) to ensure even cooking. Cover again.

    Gyeran Jjim stirred (but not shaken ;) )
    Gyeran Jjim stirred (but not shaken ;) )
  6. Turn heat to LOW. Finish cooking for another 3 min.
    Gyeran Jjim @11 min after cooking - done!
    Gyeran Jjim all risen like a souffle! @11 min after cooking – done!

    Cook a little more if you like the bottom to be a little burnt. But not more than 1 – 2 min.

  7. Sprinkle some more black pepper, red chili powder (optional) and chopped green onion as garnish.

    Inside of Gyeran Jjim cooked in hot pot
    Inside of Gyeran Jjim (Korean savory egg souffle) cooked in hot pot

Here’s a close up of the inside of Gyeran Jjim cooked in ttukbaegi (hot pot). See the browned bottom? And the yummy broth? My mouth is watering just looking at this picture. BTW, this one is made with chopped cooked pork belly – my Dad’s special recipe. Be sure to check back my next posts as I will share the following recipes –

  • Two of my Dad’s special Gyeran Jjim recipes – pork belly and myeongranjeot(salted pollack roe)
  • Easy Microwave Gyeran Jjim recipe for college students
  • Elegant Steamed Gyeran Jjim for party menu – so pretty
  • Kid friendly Gyeran Jjim that’s nutritious and yummy (no special Korean ingredients needed)


A fabulous Girl’s Getaway Day 2 (Carmel, CA)

Perfect Sunset in Pajaro Beach, California

Hope everyone had a very happy July 4th!! (at least for the people in the US ;) )  So now on to the 2nd post for my girl’s getaway trip to the Central Coast area of California. On Day 2 of our trip, we made our way to Carmel which brings back many memories for me. Carmel is right by the sea and is a very unique small town with great galleries, pretty shops and most of all, excellent restaurants that serve many varieties of yummy food including some that even have separate menu for dogs!! Carmel is a very pet-friendly town.

Before we left for Korea in 2012, we made a trip to Carmel to reward ourselves for all the hard work we had to put in for the move and to also say good-bye to California. After a fun day of shopping in Carmel, my daughter and I (my husband was already in Korea) had dinner at Forge in the Forest with our dog Coco. Little did I know that Coco would not return with us to California ever again.. :(((  If any of you have a dog, give your dog an extra hug today!!

At Forge in the Forest, we ordered a separate plate of chicken breast from the dog menu. When the food came, I thought the amount of chicken was too much for a little dog and so I bent down to take some from her plate but she just gobbled up in an instant before I could even get to it!! I mean that dog lived for food – ;)

Anyway, this time my girlfriends and I decided to have lunch at La Bicyclette at the recommendation of another neighborhood friend. La Bicyclette is a restaurant that “features cuisine crafted from local (mostly organic) ingredients using old world techniques”. It also has a really cool french decor both inside and out as you can see from this cute sign..

La Bicyclette Restaurant, Carmel, CA
La Bicyclette Restaurant, Carmel, CA
Entry Way of La Bicyclette (french cafe) in Carmel, California
Entry Way of La Bicyclette (french cafe) in Carmel, California – loved the bicycle outside.
Inside of La Bicyclette restaurant
Inside of La Bicyclette restaurant -credit goes to my friend SC for this fabulous picture taken with her iphone.
Soup served in Pot at La Bicyclette, Carmel, California
Soup served in Pot at La Bicyclette, Carmel, California – I think this is how restaurants should serve their soup! It comes warm in a pot and there’s enough soup for seconds.
Fennel Sausage Pizza with Lemon
Wood Fired Fennel Sausage Pizza with Lemon

After lunch, we browsed around the town for a bit. Then, because 3 out of 5 in our group have dogs, a stop at the Diggidy Dog store was a must.

Diggidy Dog store sign, Carmel, California
Diggidy Dog store sign, Carmel, California – Don’t you just love cute signs?

After a lovely afternoon, doing what girls love doing – shop, talk and eat – we came back to our beach house to spend our last evening at the beach. With a glass of wine in our hands, we walked down to the beach to enjoy the beautiful sunset.

I think we would have been able to enjoy it more if tried not to do so many selfies..haha…just kidding, girls!! It was fun, actually.  I actually don’t like taking pictures in general because I always have the biggest face and also because I keep closing my eyes. I closed my eyes so much so that one of my friend yelled at me (in a nice way) – “JinJoo!!! Stop closing your eyes!!!” That made me laugh so much.. Sorry girls!! I think trying to do a selfie with 5 people, with someone who keeps closing her eyes plus trying to get the sunset in, ..was almost a mission impossible!! After trying it for a good dozen times, a couple of us started to yell “NO MORE SELFIES!!!”…haha..We did get some good ones though.

This trip for me was a indeed a fabulous getaway. A true retreat. A chance for me to see the glass half-full and not half-empty. Thankful for friends (I love you girls!!), thankful for family, thankful that I have survived and am almost healthy. And certainly thankful for all of you *my readers* for staying with me on my food blogging journey.

Finally, here are some more pics from our evening at the beach.

Sunset at Pajaro Dunes, Watsonville, California
Sunset at Pajaro Dunes, Watsonville, California
Pretty pink flowers that grow in the sand!
Pretty pink flowers that grow in the sand!
Sand Dollar on Railing
Sand Dollar on Railing
Perfect Sunset in Pajaro Beach, California
Perfect Sunset in Pajaro Beach, California

A fabulous Girl’s Getaway Day 1 (Central Coast, CA)

An array of different color Sand Dollars from Capitola Beach, California
An array of different color Sand Dollars from Capitola Beach, California
An array of different color Western Sand Dollars from Capitola Beach, California

I always LOVED these little creatures called sand dollars…and I never even imagined that I would be collecting so many of these on my recent girl’s getaway trip to the Central Coast area of California. Of all my years visiting various beaches throughout the US, this is the first beach where I saw so many of them. The image above are of all the different color sand dollars we collected during our walks on the beach. I looked up about these sand dollars and it seems there are several varieties and ours is the Western or Pacific sand dollars. I personally think these are the prettiest of all of them.

Our most relaxing and healing girl’s getaway was to the wonderful area of Moss Landing and Pajaro Dunes in Watsonville, California. The five of us first drove to Santa Cruz for lunch and then stayed in a cute beach cottage in Pajaro Dunes overlooking the ocean.

beach house view from pajaro dunes
Pajaro Dunes beach house view – we were just 2 minutes walk from the beach
Chairs in the balcony of our Beach House in Pajaro Dunes, CA
Chairs in the balcony of our Beach House in Pajaro Dunes, CA

For some reason, being together with my California friends and enjoying some simple good times really made me so thankful for everything and realized how lucky I was in so many ways. I know people say this kind of thing all the time… But for me, this was something that was missing from my life lately. Being away on this trip made me realize how I have actually become quite a grumpy old woman lately…because I just could not get over my last couple years in Korea. I think I may have not really posted much about my times in Korea – honestly, I had quite a hard time there.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, my hard times there was not all simply because I was in Korea. I did miss my home in CA but I did enjoy some really fabulous Korean and other foods, re-experienced Korean culture, learned a whole lot about Korean food and most of all, really enjoyed spending time with my family and friends in Korea. But, with Coco (my dog) dying, with my own health issues (I still have scars from it…) and many other things like having a mid-life crisis..:))..things were not at all easy for me there. I don’t think I am ready to talk all about it yet – I may write more about this some day once I get a good perspective of all that has actually happened.

Anyway..this girl’s getaway trip ended up being truly therapeutic for me. Simply being silly with friends, just being free to do whatever..drinking wine while watching the sunset…all the things girls love to do, we got to do…

So, as I always do, I took pictures of restaurants, foods and picturesque settings. Hope you like them!


MrToots Coffeehouse in Capitola, California
MrToots Coffeehouse in Capitola, California – our afternoon coffee break
Capitola Beach view from Mr Toot's balcony
Capitola Beach view from Mr Toot’s balcony – coffee was wonderful too!!

OK, now about food…

First day dinner was at Phil’s in Moss Landing. Their Cioppino is so famously good that Bobby Flay challenged Phil in his Thrown Down show and Phil actually won over Bobby Flay!!! Sadly, I only learned that AFTER I ordered this amazingly delicious Crab Fettucine –

Dungeness Crab Fettucine at Phil's Fish Market at Moss Landing, CA
Dungeness Crab Fettucine at Phil’s Fish Market at Moss Landing, CA – So Yummy!!

My hands totally got messy trying to crack and eat the crab!! As you see here, I was totally ready to go to war with the crab.  I just needed to make sure I did not splatter tomato sauce all over my lovely girl friends… Hopefully I didn’t…did I, girls??

I am all ready to eat my crab fettucine at Phil's Fish Market!!
I am all ready to eat my crab fettucine at Phil’s Fish Market!!

Honestly though.. crab fettucine was just really too delicious for me to worry about any of that! I think my friends had a good time just watching me eat.. :)) For dessert, we did a take out of Phil’s Chocolate Lava Cake and ate them back at the beach house with some wine to end the day. Oh! what a day!…I slept so well dreaming about finding more sand dollars the next morning and enjoying more good food in Carmel, CA.

I will post about Day #2 soon.






Easy and Pretty Millle-Feuille Nabe (Shabu Shabu)

Mille Feuille Nabe (shabu shabu) ready to cook -
Close up of Mille-Feuille Nabe (shabu shabu) with layers of cabbage, perillla and beef - ready to be cooked! -
Close up of Mille-Feuille Nabe (shabu shabu) with layers of cabbage, perillla and beef – ready to be cooked!

Shabu Shabu (see my Shabu Shabu Korean Style recipe) and really good Japanese Nabe was one of the foods I missed the most when I first came to US some 20+ years ago.  Although these foods have origins in Japanese cuisine, just like how Pizza has totally become part of American food, shabu shabu and nabe have become very much a common food in Korean food scene. In Gainesville, Florida (where I lived as graduate student with my husband) there was no restaurant that served good Japanese or Korean at the time. In fact, in those days, there were very few Asian restaurants to begin with. I think Gainesville only had 1 Korean restaurant, 2 Japanese restaurants and a few Chinese restaurants in the early 90’s.  But definitely no restaurant served shabu shabu or good nabe (stew).

We sometimes drove for hours to Orlando or Jacksonville in search of some better Korean food, only to be disappointed a lot of times because it was not what I was imagining and hoping to taste. Kimchi jjigae that used kimchi that was not sour tasting and was seasoned with vinegar to imitate the taste, japchae/chopchae that was refrigerated and reheated, fish maewoontang that used frozen fish, I mean.. it kind of upsets me even now just to think about those bad Korean foods that we ordered and ended up paying with our precious grad student stipends. This is probably why I ended up learning to cook so many Korean dishes at home because there was no other way to eat them.

Now jumping 20 years ahead in time, in 2014, while I was in Korea, I was watching one of my favorite TV program on the Korean cooking channel Olive which was 오늘 뭐먹지? (Ohneul Mwo Meokji?). It means “What shall we eat today?” It’s a show hosted by two famous Korean celebrities: Sung Si-kyung (singer) and Shin dong-yup (comedian). They invite chefs and cooks from various restaurants to learn their famous dishes by cooking together. I liked the show because they cook all different cuisines – Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean,..and you also get to see these guys goof things up even though they try to really follow the instructions. And one time I saw this Mille-Feuille Nabe (Shabu Shabu) being made on the show and I really wanted to try making it at home.

This Mille-Feuille Nabe (also called Thousand Leaves Hot Pot) not only looks pretty and taste great, it also overcomes one downside of shabu shabu – having to wait while the food is being cooked at the table. And then wait some more until the next batch is cooked…Shabu Shabu done this way means everything is cooked all at once which makes it great for large and/or impatient families. ;) Mille-Feuille Nabe (Shabu Shabu) is also great as a party menu because you can prepare everything ahead of time and just cook it right after your guests arrive. Recipe here is a modified and more accurate version as some parts don’t have any exact measurements and they also use some ready made sauces that are not easily available outside of Korea.

Servings 4                   Cooking Time: 40 (prep 30 min)                    Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 lb (450 g) very thinly sliced beef – prime rib eye for shabu shabu
  • 1 napa cabbage
  • 1 – 2 package perilla leaves (25 – 30 leaves)
  • 3 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 3.5 oz (100g) 1 pack Brown Beech Mushrooms (Buna Shimeji)
  • 3 oz (85 g) 1 pack Enoki mushrooms
  • 6 oz (170 g) 1/2 pack bean sprouts
  • 2 green onion
  • 1 pack of Konnyaku or Miracle Noodles
  • 1 lemon (for sauce)
  • For Stock
    • 10 Cups (2.5 quart, 2.3 liter) water
    • 1 piece dried kelp (다시마 dashima) about 4 x 3 in (10 x 7 cm)
    • 15 pieces dried anchovies
    • 1 big piece of radish ( palm size, 1 in (2.5 cm) thick)
    • 1/2 onion
    • 2 dried shitake mushrooms
    • Season to taste later with 1 Tbs dark soy sauce, 1~2 tsp sea salt
  • For Sauce
    • 1 Tbs regular dark soy sauce
    • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
    • 1 Tbs lemon juice
    • 1 Tbs chopped lemon peel
    • 1 Tbs chopped fresh garlic (optional)
    • 2 Tbs anchovy stock (from above)
    • 1 Tbs maesil syrup (plum extract syrup) or 2 tsp sugar
    • 1 Tbs chopped Korean green chili pepper or any other green chili
  1. Soak dried shitake mushrooms in warm water to fully rehydrate.
  2. Start stock by adding water, radish, anchovies, kelp, dried mushroom, onion to stock pot. Bring to boil and quickly lower to simmer. Simmer (should NOT be bubbling) for at least  30 min and season with 1 Tbs soy sauce and 1~2 tsp sea salt to taste. It should taste slightly under seasoned. Cool.
  3. Clean, wash cabbage and rip out the outer bigger leaves. Drain.
  4. Clean perilla leaves, bean sprouts, green onions and mushrooms. Shitake, Enoki, Brown Beech Mushrooms go in this recipe because they maintain great texture even when cooked. Shitake especially has great flavor!

    Ingredients for Shabu Shabu Mille Feuille (Shabu Shabu Nabe Style)
    Ingredients for Mille-Feuille Nabe (shabu shabu)
  5. Now let’s make some shabu shabu mille feuille (thousand leaves)!! Start stacking by layering cabbage leaf -> perilla leaves -> shabu shabu beef. Like So –
    Layering cabbage, perilla and beef for mille-feuille nabe (shabu shabu)
    Layering cabbage, perilla and beef for mille-feuille nabe

    The beef slice used here is what’s sold as Chadolbaegi (see my Know your beef cut! post for more info on Korean beef cuts). Usual Chadolbaegi cuts have more fat but this one didn’t. The original recipe uses both chadolbaegi (brisket cut against the grain) and rib eye cuts. I only wrote rib eye in the ingredients list because I found these chadolbaegi slices can get a little tough since there is little fat. If you want to have tender, melt in your mouth beef slices, use well marbled rib eye or tenderloin instead.

  6. REPEAT cabbage -> perilla -> beef until you have 2 sets and then top with cabbage.
    nabe mille-feuille stack with rib eye
    shabu shabu mille-feuille stack with rib eye

    Mille-feuille stack with cabbage, perilla and beef - completed for Thousand Leaves Nabe
    Mille-feuille stack with cabbage, perilla and beef – completed for Thousand Leaves Nabe
  7. Cut the cabbage stack into about 2 to 2.5 in (5 – 6.5 cm) slices. Adjust width according to how deep your pot is.

    cutting mille-feuille stack for thousand leaves hot pot (nabe)
    cutting mille-feuille stack for thousand leaves hot pot (nabe)
  8. Layer the bottom of the pot with bean sprouts. Add more or less bean sprouts to adjust the height of the stacks. Turn stack sideways and fill up the pot from the edges and work your way towards the center.  It looks most pretty when the stacks fill up almost to the top of the pot and the stacks are staggered.
    filling up pot for mille feuille hot pot (nabe)-
    filling up pot for shabu shabu mille feuille (nabe)

    filling up pot for shabu shabu mille feuille nabe-
    pot almost filled for shabu shabu mille-feuille nabe with center empty
  9. Now, add mushrooms in the center.

    easy and pretty shabu shabu mille-feuille nabe -
    easy and pretty shabu shabu mille feuille nabe
  10. Add anchovy stock until the ingredients are almost covered and top with some gonnyaku (miracle) noodles.
  11. Cover and bring to boil on med high heat. Uncover and keep cooking on med high heat for 10 min or until the cabbages are soft.

    mille feuille nabe (shabu shabu) boiling with green onions and gonnyaku noodles added
    mille feuille nabe (shabu shabu) boiling with green onions and gonnyaku noodles added
  12. While you wait, peel and chop some lemon skin. Also squeeze fresh lemon juice. To the lemon peel and juice, mix in soy sauce, vinegar, sugar or maesil extract, stock, chopped green chili and garlic.

    sauce for mille feuille nabe with lemon, soy sauce, garlic and green chili
    sauce for mille feuille nabe with lemon and soy sauce

Now you are ready to serve!!!

individual serving of mille-feuille nabe (shabu shabu) with broth
individual serving of mille-feuille nabe (shabu shabu) with broth

Above is an individual serving of Mille-Feuille Nabe (Shabu Shabu) with broth, garnished with fresh perilla and enoki mushrooms.

Serving suggestions

  • For a party, assemble the ingredients ahead of time in the pot and also make the stock and keep them separately refrigerated up to a day. Take out the pot and the stock about 1 hr before and bring to room temperature. 10 min before guests are ready to eat, boil the nabe or cook at the table.
  • Serve the sauce in individual sauce bowls so guests can dunk in the sauce before eating.
  • Either buy or serve creamy peanut sauce in addition.
  • Kimchi or a spicy, garlicky dish goes great with this nabe.
  • Some people may prefer to have more meat – double up on the meat for extra meaty flavor.
    Mille Feuille Nabe (shabu shabu) ready to cook -
    Mille Feuille Nabe (shabu shabu) ready to cook

    smaller mille-feuille nabe with sauces
    smaller individual serving size mille-feuille nabe with sauces


Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae 해파리 냉채 ) with starflower

Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage petals
Korean Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae)
Korean Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) with cucumber, carrots, shrimp and meyer lemon.

Really? Jellyfish?? Can you eat jellyfish? Yes, of course. Why not?..I don’t think it’s that different than eating squid..I am pretty sure that I tasted jellyfish even before I knew what it was. And don’t worry about the jellyfish poison, the tentacles are all removed before they are packaged.

If you eat the jellyfish without thinking about it, it is pretty darn good. It actually doesn’t have any strong flavor but has great texture; it’s a little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy. It’s kind of like chicken cartilage.  I think it’s one of those things where you either love it or you don’t. My husband is not a jellyfish or cartilage guy but I love both!

If you can’t get jellyfish or you just don’t like it, omit the jellyfish.  Cheonsachae (천사채) can be also be a great substitute because it has similar texture and not much of a particular flavor. Cheonsachae (Angle Noodle or Seaweed Noodle) are Korean half-transparent noodles made from the jelly-like extract left after steaming kombu, without the addition of grain flour or starch. (wikepedia). Both jellyfish and Seaweed Noodle are very low calorie food, so it’s also great for your diet!

Korean Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) is an essential dish to any Korean party menu. Especially in the summer, served cold, it pairs wonderfully well with rich foods like Kalbi and other grilled meats, fried dishes like Yache Twigim and/or various Jeons like Beef and Perilla. You will agree with me that a respectable Korean banquet is never complete without Jeons!! Although I kind of think Jeons take a looong time to make and you end up with just one dish.

Anyway, jellyfish salad is also a great dish to prepare beforehand, keeping chilled in the fridge and you only need to assemble when the guests arrive. I LOVE dishes like that, don’t you? When preparing a party menu, it’s not a matter of how many dishes you have, it’s how they all work together.

Traditional Haepari Naengche only uses cucumber and jellyfish and only uses vinegar for the sour taste. But I have a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree in my back yard and I just love the freshness a lemon brings to the dish, so I added some lemon. And it came out even more delicious! Many newer recipes add more colorful vegetables like red bell peppers but I decided to add carrots as my twist to the dish. I think carrots add more substance and texture that can stand up to the jellyfish pretty well.

Servings: 4               Cooking Time: 1 hr (inactive 45 min)            Difficulty: easy


  • 6 oz (170 g) salted jelly fish (haepari)
  • 1 english cucumber, julienned
  • 2 small or 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • Dressing
    • 1 T rice vinegar
    • 1 T sugar
    • 2 tsp dry oriental mustard + 1 T water
    • 1 T meyer lemon (2 tsp regular lemon)
    • 1 tsp salt
  1. Korean Jellyfish usually comes in a bag, heavily salted for preservation. Rinse jellyfish with water couple times to get rid of all the salt and let it soak in cold water for about 45 min.

    Rinsed jellyfish for Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
    Rinsed jellyfish for Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
  2. While the jellyfish is swimming in water, julienne cucumber. A technique that many Korean chefs use is to first peel away the outer skin and flesh part of the cucumber, omitting the seeded center.
    Korean cucumber julienning technique
    Korean cucumber julienning technique – peeling outer layer
    julienning cucumber using Korean technique
    julienning cucumber using Korean technique

    It is called “dolyeo kkaki( 돌려깍기)” in Korean which means to shave in circular fashion. I am usually not a huge fan of fancy cutting techniques just for the sake of being fancy but this one has a purpose because it keeps only the very crunchy part of the cucumber.

  3. Julienne carrots into similar sizes. I used yellow and purple carrots here but you can use whatever carrot you like.

    carrots and cucumber julienned for jellyfish salad
    carrots and cucumber julienned for jellyfish salad
  4. I am using pre-cooked frozen shrimp here again. Just thaw and then halve the shrimps lengthwise.
    Sliced shrimps for Korean jellyfish salad
    Sliced shrimps for Korean jellyfish salad

    You are welcome to use fresh shrimp if you’d like, just cook, peel and slice similarly.

  5. Make the oriental yellow mustard paste by mixing 2 tsp dry mustard powder with 1 T water.
    Korean yellow mustard (Gyeoja) made from Oriental Mustard powder
    Korean yellow mustard (Gyeoja/Kyeoja) made from Oriental Mustard powder

    Leave it alone for 4-5 min or more for the flavor to fully develop. If you’re too lazy to make the paste, use the yellow mustard tube but be prepared to use lot more of the paste because the flavors are just not as full bodied and strong as the powder.

  6. When the jellyfish has been in the water for over 40 min, boil some water (3 cups?). Rinse and drain jellyfish into a steel or silicone colander (because you will be scorching the jellyfish with boiling water). Pour boiling water onto the jellyfish evenly and they will shrivel up like this!
    Jellyfish flash cooked with boiling water
    Jellyfish flash cooked with boiling water

    Be careful and DON’T COOK the jellyfish!! Just SHOCK it so that jellyfish (haepari) gets even more crunchy and less chewy. Some recipes use jellyfish without this step and it will still be OK but I think this really gives a better texture.

  7. Season jellyfish with 2 T vinegar and 1 T sugar and marinade for at least 10 min. You can leave in the fridge overnight and  it will taste even better the next day.  NOTE:: Sometimes jellyfish can smell a little bit. What to do if the jellyfish smells a little bad? Add some extra lemon or even add a bit of gingerale or sprite to the marinade to help get rid of any unwanted smell.
  8. Make dressing by mixing mustard, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and salt and set aside.
  9. Serve chilled, either all the ingredients separately and mix with dressing at the table
    different ways of serving Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
    different ways of serving Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae) with meyer lemon slices and borage flowers

    or toss everything together and serve. Hope you enjoy it with your friends and family this summer! Let me know how you like it!!

Few more things..

So what are the purple flowers in the water bowl and also on top of the jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)? It’s Starflower (aka Borage)! A new exciting discovery for me!! A great find at my local Whole Foods. They where selling this in a pot this spring, I brought it home and planted it. Did you know that these cute purple flowers are edible and taste like cucumbers?!! It’s actually eaten in salads and as tea in Mediterranean cuisine. So I added some Borage petals to my Haepari Naenchae for added cucumber flavor and for added prettiness. :))

Borage plant growing in my backyard
Borage plant growing in my backyard
Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage petals
Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage (starflower) petals


  • Prepare jellyfish and cucumber, carrots separately, a day ahead of any party.
  • Additional ingredients to add – cooked egg strips (jidan), imitation crab meat.
  • Add freshly chopped garlic on top and some red chili pepper oil for extra zing!

Mint and Basil Hottoek?!

Korean Sweet Pancake (Hotteok/Hodduck) with
Pink Vine Rose in my back yard
Pink Vine Rose in my back yard
Kale growing in JJ's garden
Kale growing in JJ’s garden

Really?? You may think that’s the strangest thing you ever heard…well, just follow my story a little bit…

Warm and sunny spring days are now in full force in our lovely California and I can even feel the summer around the corner. And unlike the last two years, when I dreaded the coming of the hot muggy (OMG, I get hot just thinking about it!) summer in Korea, I am very much looking forward to summer this year. Why? Because summer sun means my vegetables and fruits will be growing by leaps and bounds in my garden! Growing and picking your own fruits and vegetables makes me sooo happy. If only we had enough water in California…

Anyway, I was looking around my garden the last week and saw all my beautiful herbs in addition to my veggies and thought…what if I used these amazing herbs in making hotteok!!?? Why not??

I started to experiment and believe it or not they all actually work!! Some better than others because herbs with robust flavors needed to be used sparingly. But Oh MY… I was SO HAPPY that it worked and equally happy that I could take these pretty photos of Korean hotteok/hoddeok/ hottok with these beautiful fresh herbs.

So first, what herbs come from my garden?  I’m sure you probably don’t need help with identifying these most common herbs that can be easily grown in your garden: rosemary, basil, mint, sage and lavender. But I bought this slate board and chalk recently….and I always wanted to do something like this :) – so here it is! Whether you need it or not – haha.

Chart of common garden herbs: rosemary, basil, lavender, mint, sage
Chart of common garden herbs: rosemary, basil, lavender, mint, sage

In order to make my herb Hotteok/Hoddeok/Hottok (Korean sweet dessert pancake) all you need to do is chop rosemary, slice mint, basil and sage very thinly. For lavender, take off the tiny flower blossoms and buds from the lavender flower. Add each of these herbs with the sugar filling.

Mint sugar filled hotteok/hodduk (Korean sweet dessert pancake)
Adding Mint to sugar filled hotteok/hodduk (Korean sweet dessert pancake)

When cooking hotteok in the pan, put herb to the uncooked side before turning it over. And you will have a very pretty and colorful hotteok with delicate flavors.

Korean Sweet Pancake (Hotteok/Hodduck) with
Korean Sweet Pancake (Hotteok/Hodduck) with mint


Rosemary Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancake)
Rosemary Hotteok (Korean Sweet Pancake)
Lavender Hotteok (Korean sweet dessert pancake with fresh lavender blossoms)
Lavender Hotteok (Korean sweet dessert pancake with fresh lavender blossoms)
Sage Hotteok/Hoddeok/Hottok
Sage Hotteok/Hoddeok/Hottok
Basil Hotteok/Hoddeok (Korean sweet dessert pancake)
Basil Hotteok/Hoddeok/Hottok (Korean sweet dessert pancake)

Now you ask – what’s my favorite? I would say it’s the basil. I ate the basil hotteok with some extra fresh basil on top and it was really amazing!! Well, I hope make these with your loved ones this weekend (or next) and like them as much as I did :)



Hotteok (호떡)- Korean Sweet Dessert Pancake

Korean Sweet Pancake - Hotteok/Hodduck (호떡)
Korean Sweet Pancake - Hotteok/Hodduck (호떡)
Korean Sweet Pancake – Hotteok/Hodduck (호떡)

At the corner of every neighborhood in Seoul, especially in the winter when your nose and fingers are so cold, they feel numb…. you will always find a cart on the street that sells this piping hot Korean sweet dessert pancake called Hotteok/Hodduk (호떡). If Korean ice bingsoo is a must have cool-down food in hot summers in Korea, this warm and syrupy hotteok is a must have food for the freezing cold winters. The moment you bite into this pancake, the hot cinammony syrup will ooze into your mouth. Chewy dough with the fried crispness on the outside and the sweet sugar syrup with bits of nuttiness makes it one of my favorite Korean snack/dessert since childhood days.

My husband also LOVES hotteok. He will eat it hot or cold,  for breakfast, as a snack, as a dessert and maybe even as lunch- if I let him. :) He ate 3 hotteoks in one sitting as dessert just now and was mumbling to himself that his breakfast menu for tomorrow is now decided. It will be.. hotteok!! ;)

As much as I love hotteok, in recent years it has been hard for me to eat them often because I always had indigestion problems.  I don’t have celiac disease but still gluten bothers me a lot of times. Certain types of gluten foods eaten a certain way (e.g. plain hard roll on an empty stomach) will create problms for me and definitely give me indigestion, gas and even diarrhea afterwards. Sorry, not the best topic for food blog but I had to be real~ ;)

Towards end of my stay in Korea, I discovered a sweet flour hotteok mix from hansalim (한살림)  which was much better for my digestion. There are popular big brands that claim it’s a sweet rice flour hotteok recipe but it actually only has about 3-4% sweet rice flour which is basically nothing. The hansalim hotteok mix that I like has more than 40% sweet rice flour and we actually like the dough better. It comes out more crunchy on the outside. So after several tries, I created this recipe that tastes just as good and also is just as easy on my stomach.

Before we get to the recipe, a short history lesson on Hotteok.  The hotteok pancake has been around since the late 1920’s in Korea, originally made and sold by Chinese refugees who arrived on boats into Incheon. There are similar yeast dough pancakes in Chinese cuisine which are savory using ingredients like chives. But somehow this sweet variation with sugar filling gained the most popularity in Korea and have stuck around for almost 100 years. These days, there are hotteok with with pumpkin and sunflower seeds called ssiatt hotteok/hodduck (seed hotteok) and even some with cheese in them.

Makes: 10  4″ pancakes      Cooking Time: Inactive (3 hrs + 10 min) +  20 min   Difficulty: Medium

  • 1 cup (130g/4.5oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (130g/4.5oz) sweet rice flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup (177 ml/ 6 oz) water +  optionally 2~3 T more
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • vegetable oil for frying (at least 6 Tbs or more)

For stuffing

  • 1/2 cup unbleached sugar (brown sugar is also good)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  1.  Add 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp dry yeast to 3/4 cup warm to hot water. Let stand for 10 min. (This is to proof yeast) Water should be around 120~130 °F (48~54°C) which is a bit hotter than hot bath temperature. Since it’s instant dry yeast, you can just use it as part of the dry ingredients but I found that it works much better if you mix it with water first.
  2. Measure and mix all dry ingredients (flours and salt).
  3. When the little yeast guys have all come alive and are bubbly, mix 1 and 2.

    proof yeast by adding yeast to sugar water
    proof yeast by adding yeast to sugar water
  4. Mix yeast sugar water with the flour mix. Dough should be fully wet and sticky. Wetter than pasta dough. Depending on how dry your flour and/or weather is, you may need to add more water. It doesn’t have to be exact so it’s OK if you end up making it too wet. Error on the side of the dough being too wet than dry.Hotteok Dough mixed, before rising
  5. Let dough sit for 3 hrs in room temperature or keep in the oven with light turned on if your room is too cold (below 20°C/68°F). Dough should double in size when ready.Hotteok dough fully risen -
  6. Prepare sugar stuffing by mixing sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Chop walnuts finely.
    Cinnamon sugar filling for hotteok (Korean sweet dessert pancake) -
    Cinnamon sugar filling for hotteok (Korean sweet dessert pancake)

    If the nuts are too coarse, it can create holes in the hotteok dough as you press it down during cooking. Peanuts are cheaper than walnut so that’s what most street vendors use in Korea. If you like peanuts or any other nuts better,  go head and use that.

  7. When dough is ready, heat about 3 Tbs or more of oil in a pan over medium heat.
  8. Pour about 1 tsp of oil in your hand and rub both your hands so they become nice and slippery. Take about a golf size worth of dough in your hand and spread out with your hands until it’s a little bigger than your palm. Add 1-2 tsp of the sugar mix into the center of the dough and close up the hotteok – making it into a little round parcel.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  9. Add hotteok parcel into the pan by flipping the hand to drop the pancake onto the pan, with the smooth side (side that was stuck to your palm) facing upwards. Oil a wide spatula by dunking it in the pan. Press the hotteok and slowly flatten it until the diameter becomes about 4 in/10cm wide. If you press it too much, you will end up with a hole and the sugar content will leak and get messy. It’s OK if that happens, no biggie.

    dropping hotteok into oiled pan -
    dropping hotteok into oiled pan
  10. Fry the pancake in oil for 3-4 min until edges start to brown. Lower heat if it starts to brown faster than that. You don’t want the heat to be too high because you want sugar to melt inside to become all nice and syrupy.

    Hotteok (Korean Sweet pancake) frying in oil -
    Hotteok (Korean Sweet pancake) frying in oil
  11. Serve warm with some nice green tea or cold milk for kids!

    Korean Sweet Dessert Pancake - Hotteok/Hodduk (호떡) with cinnamon sugar syrup filling insde
    Korean Sweet Dessert Pancake – Hotteok/Hodduk (호떡) with cinnamon sugar syrup filling insde

BE CAREFUL when eating hotteok hot because the filling can be really hot and you may even burn yourself so let it cool for couple minutes before you eat it.


Leftovers can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 days. Refrigerate to store longer. Taste best when reheated in a pan or in microwave.

Hotteok Variations

  • Make a more chewy hotteok by using 2 cups all purpose flour instead.
  • Make a healthier hotteok by using whole wheat flour instead. Dough comes out less glutinous so knead it in your hand before making the hotteok to increase the gluten.
  • Make a more modern, fusion hotteok by adding fresh herbs to them. Stay tuned for my next post to see how that’s done!
  • Use different kinds of nuts or seeds for the filling.

“Mock” Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon

Mock Kimchi Rice with Bacon
Mock Kimchi Rice with Bacon and Sauerkraut
Mock Kimchi Rice with Bacon and Sauerkraut

In addition to traditional, authentic Korean recipes, I decided I should also share some modern recipes that have Korean flavors but not necessarily traditional and also non-Korean recipes that are worth blogging about. As long as they taste yummy, why not? Right? OK, so hope you will all follow me on this new journey of mine.

This recipe is great if you have no access to Kimchi but you are craving for the taste of it. As my siblings (3 sisters and 1 brother) all live spread out between Korea and US, we try to have family reunions every couple years so that we can be all together, even if it’s just for few days. It has actually been several years since our last reunion due to various reasons but when everyone comes, our group gets as large as 20 including my mother. We  all love cooking and love eating much more! So… each family take turns shopping and cooking for everyone else.

This works out great most of the time except we usually have problems ending up with too much groceries at the end of the stay. We always joked that we end up shopping enough food to feed ourselves for a month when it is just a week! Towards the end of our vacation, we may have 3 – 4 meals worth of food out on the table at one sitting and would tell each other to “eat.. Eat.. EAT!!!”. We all probably gain a few pounds by the end these vacations…still those were happy times… ;)

Now, because each sister has a different style of buying groceries, we made it so that no one goes shopping alone. At least two with different styles always grocery shopped together so they will balance each other out.  One sister likes to buy more than less, another likes to buy less than can see how that goes..haha…And I won’t say who is which. So, which end of the spectrum do I belong to? In the middle of course!! Well, to be honest, probably not. I am probably towards buying more because if there’s one thing I hate is not having enough food for people. :) As I always say, it’s better to have leftovers than have everyone eyeing the one last piece on the plate. Oh btw my brother also loves to grocery shop but he is usually interested in buying snacks – or should I say junk food?

Now, let’s talk about the menu. We all have very international tastes and we go from cooking Mediterranean Couscous to Paella but the Korean blood in our bodies require that we feed our stomachs with some kind of a Kimchi dish. And one year, when there was no Korean grocery store to be found, my sister #3 made a dish with sauerkraut, bacon and rice that was surprisingly Korean in its flavor but without any Kimchi used. Sauerkraut has that sour fermented taste just like Kimchi minus the strong smell and then the flavor of bacon is more prominent with sauerkraut than kimchi so I think this is just a heavenly combination. I always wanted to cook this dish and finally got to cook it recently.

With this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, I think this may be a perfect dish to make as potluck or if you get tired of eating all the BBQ and want something different.

Servings: 4                 Cooking Time: 30                    Difficulty: Easy


  • 3 cup (20 oz/540g) rice, soaked in water
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or more for spicier version
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp fresh chopped garlic
  • 8 – 10 pieces of bacon
  • 2 cup sauerkraut
  • 3 1/2 cup water (if you like your rice dry and flaky), add more water (1/4 cup?) if you like your rice moist.
  1. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes and drain.
  2. Measure 2 cups of sauerkraut after draining the liquid.
  3. Cut bacon into small slices.

    ingredients for sauerkraut bacon rice
    ingredients for mock kimchi rice with sauerkraut and bacon
  4. In a nice thick pot (cast iron pot is great), add bacon slices. Render most of the fat from the bacon by frying them on medium heat for 4-5 min or until it looks lightly brown and crispy like below.

    Rendering fat from bacon
    Rendering fat from bacon
  5. Discard most of the fat and leave about 2 – 3 Tbs in the pot. (just enough to coat the bottom)
  6. Add sauerkraut, garlic powder and chili powder. Saute sauerkraut with bacon for 1-2 min. Garlic powder and chili powder is optional. Adding them really makes it taste like Kimchi. Skip these if you want, it should still be yummy.
    sauerkraut with garlic and chili powder for mock kimchi rice
    sauerkraut with garlic and chili powder for mock kimchi rice
    Sauteed sauerkraut and bacon for mock kimchi rice
    Sauteed sauerkraut and bacon for mock kimchi rice

    Doesn’t this look exactly like Kimchi?? You will be surprised how much it even tastes like Kimchi!

  7. Now add rice to pot. But WAIT!!  OPTIONALLY, you can set aside about 1/2 cup of the sauerkraut/bacon mix and later use as topping when serving. This allows extra texture and punch of flavor. Spread remaining sauerkraut and bacon evenly in pot and add soaked rice on top. Add 3 1/2 cup of water which should be enough water to cover all the rice. Because we want  sauerkraut and bacon to brown at the bottom, do not mix rice.

    Mock Kimchi Rice ready to cook
    Mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon is now ready to cook
  8. Cover and cook on med heat for 10 minutes. Rice should be boiling. Always smell the pot to make sure the bottom is not burning.
  9. Lower heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes or so until no or very little steam come from the pot.
  10. Turn off heat and keep covered for 3 min more.

    Finished Mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon
    Finished Mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon
  11. And now it’s done! Mix the bottom of the pot with the rice and serve with some of the topping you set aside in step 7.

    Close up of Kimchimari's Mock Kimchi Rice
    Mixed Mock Kimchi Rice
Easy mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon
Easy mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon garnished with perilla leaves

Best places to eat in Korea

Centuries old Koran Roof with rock pine (wason 와송)
Centuries old Koran Roof with rock pine (wason 와송)
Centuries old Korean Tile Roof with rock pine (wason 와송)

While in Korea, I visited many different restaurants and I took pictures of the food without really knowing when or how I will use them. My family members often complained to me with words like “OK… can we eat now?? Are you done??”- whenever I told them they could not eat until I took photos of the food. I had almost forgotten all about this until recently, contacted me for restaurant recommendations in or around Seoul to put on their tour guide. Great!! Yes, I do know some great restaurants in Seoul! Places that locals love to eat and then also some best non-Korean restaurants from all over the world that have some really delicious food.

My list of best places to eat in Seoul, Korea is now on  (Btw, see end of post for more info about

Now that I have the list, I thought I would also share the list (and more) here with my wonderful readers. I hope this list helps you find some good eats in Seoul. Bon Apetit!

Shihwadam(시화담) Restaurant in Seoul, Korea
Shihwadam(시화담) Restaurant in Seoul, Korea

시화담 Sihwadam ( A lovely literary interpretation of Korean food with a modern twist. Quite upscale and expensive but you will be transported to a world of peoms, stories and picturesque foods that are also very delicious. Located in Insadong and Itaewon – which are great area for tourists.



Gondurae Bap(곤드레밥) / Rice with Thistle Leaves
Gondurae Bap(곤드레밥) / Rice with Thistle Leaves

곤드레집 Gondurae Jip (195-16, Sinwon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul)

One of my favorite places to go when I need to eat a great authentic, absolutely delicious, homestyle Korean food. Limited menu (5 items) but their wood charcoal grilled bulgogi and Gondurae Bap (rice cooked with thistle leaves) are Korean food at its best. Very simple, traditional Korean décor with minimal service. Located near Cheonggye Mountains(청계산), it is a favorite spot for hikers on weekends.



Kwangjang Shijang Mayak Kimbap
Kwangjang Shijang Mayak Kimbap (Opium Kimbap at Kwanjang Market) – image source (

광장시장Kwangjag Shijang (88 Changgyeonggung-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul)

A visit to the past when Koreans sold everything thru traditional open markets called shijang. In addition to many clothing/fabric stores, a central food court area sells many traditional foods like Bindaetteok (Korean Mungbeen Pancake) and also the famous Opium Kimbap (마약김밥 Mayak Kimbap) where Opium just refers to the fact that it’s so good, it’s addictive like opium.

토담골 Todamgol (27, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul)

A great place to get a general introduction to Korean food. A good selection of Bibimbaps and other popular Korean menus liks Bossam (Boiled pork with Kimchi) and Dwenjang jjigae (Soybean Stew). They are known to use best ingredients shipped from all over Korea and uses no MSG.

우래옥 Wooraeok (62-29 Changgyeonggung-ro Jung-gu, Seoul)

Open since 1946, original owner was my father’s friend and have sister restaurants in New York and Washington DC. I have been going to this place since I was a little girl in the 70’s and the place was and still is simply the best place to have North Korean style Bulgogi and Naegmyeon (cold noodles in soup) in Seoul.

Jungsikdang chocolate dessert shaped like Korean kimchi urns
Jungsikdang chocolate dessert shaped like Korean kimchi urns

정식당 Jung Sik Dang (11, Seolleung-ro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul)

A two Michelin star restaurant by chef Yim Jung Sik that has taken Korean food to another level by bringing molecular gastronomic techniques into Korean cuisine. Fantastically good Korean fusion dishes that have beautifully delicate presentations.





예당 Yedang (5 Eonju-ro 13gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul)

This place serves really delicious, modernized Korean food using high quality ingredients while doing the best they can to bring nature into their foods. Food is very elegant and the taste is quite complex (in the most excellent way of course). A bit on the expensive side but you will not regret the visit because no matter what you order, everything will be delicious.

Great International (Non-Korean) Restaurants in Seoul

Vatos Urban Tacos in Itaewon
Vatos Urban Tacos in Itaewon and Gangnam, Korea

Vatos Urban Tacos ( – I am not a big fan of fusion food but this place serves fabulous Mexican food with a twist of Korean flavors. A must visit when you are tired of eating Korean food. Their Kimchi fries and Nacho Mama’s Kalbi are dishes you probably cannot get anywhere else in the world.

tofu burger at the plant in itaewon, seoul
tofu burger at the plant in itaewon, seoul



The Plant ( – My daughter took me to this cute tiny restaurant tucked in the back alley streets of Itaewon. It’s VEGAN. I am not a big fan of VEGAN food because usually it just doesn’t taste good. But I was very pleasantly surprised at how good everything was. From yummy soups to tofu burgers to heavenly tea cakes, everything was simply good.

Their menu changes constantly so you get to have the freshest ingredients that are in season. The owners are also very sweet and started out as bloggers – Alien’s Day Out.


Rose Bakery in Itaewon, Seoul Korea
Rose Bakery in Itaewon, Seoul Korea

Rose Bakery 

I kind of stumbled onto this place while waiting for an appointment. It is located right next to Leeum Museum and has a very non-Korean feel to it. Simple french cafe and restaurant that uses organic ingredients for most of their menu.

Love the simple, open decor and love the fact that they give you paper and crayon to doodle on.

Great simple french style foods from salads to sandwiches and fresh bakery of course.

There’s plenty more restaurants to share but I will save the rest for another day. Till then, enjoy~ (

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