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Feb 28 2011

Top Chef Korean Food Challenge

Published by under Foodie Events

We recently participated in a taping of Top Chef Korean Food Challenge produced by Cathlyn Choi, Host and Producer of Cathlyn’s Korean Kitchen cooking show. It was quite a surprise that we were contacted by a representative from Korea Herald Business to be one of the six honorable blogger judges among 3 main judges. The event was held on February 10th at the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center where it was set up with lighting and camera equipment to film the live cooking show. The entire experience was really fun and interesting, especially getting to be behind-the-scenes to see how a cooking show is filmed. This special 1 hour program is scheduled to be broadcasted on PBS on April 7, 2011 at 9PM PST.

This amazing event is part of buzz KOREA , the global campaign of Korea Tourism Organization organized to introduce Korean culture to the world, especially Korean cuisine. Which is why Cathlyn Choi challenged 3 teams of 2 chefs from select restaurants to each prepare a popular Korean dish that was randomly selected by the chefs on the show. Each dish, which was created in 30 minutes, was judged on originality, taste, and presentation – and let me just say, I was extremely impressed with the level of skill and creativity that each chef presented for our tasting pleasure. It was visually appealing and flavorful and brought Korean cuisine to a whole new level.

Pictured here in front of the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, ready to eat and judge!

A wonderful medley of Korean dishes were set-up for the cast and crew to enjoy before filming began. This was more like a buffet, really.

Daniel also accompanied me on our trip to San Diego for the taping, but he did not sit in as a guest judge. Instead, he pigged out on the Korean food for lunch. Who wouldn't?

This event was produced by Carma Media & Entertainment in cooperation with Korea Herald Business in Los Angeles. The crew was great!

The contestants consisted of 3 teams from 3 different restaurants: Villa Saverios (Tijuana MX), Bluewater Grill (Tustin/Redondo Beach) and Marine Room (La Jolla).

Here is a picture of Cathlyn Choi, host and producer of Cathlyn's Korean Kitchen. She is America's only Korean celebrity chef and television personality who is currently producing Season 3 of her cooking show called "Cathlyn's Korean Food Challenge." It is expected to premiere on KOCE/OC, the PBS Channel, in June.

The three main judges were Barbara Hansen, editor of LA Weekly, James Kyson Lee, best known for his role of Ando Masahashi on the NBC television series Heroes, and Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee, author of Quick and Easy Korean Cooking.

I sat with my two fellow blogger judges: Jenn from Just Jenn Recipes and Fiona from Gourmet Pigs. We had a blast trying the chefs' unique creations of the classic Korean dishes.

The other guest bloggers included Lori Lynn from Taste of the Eyes, Veronica from Food Glorious Food OC, and Anita Lau from Diary of a Mad Hungry Woman.

The first team that went was the Red Team, which consisted of Chef Javier Plascencia and Chef Adria Montano from Villa Saverios in Tijuana, Mexico. They randomly selected these Korean dishes to prepare in 30 minutes: Dak Galbi and Kalbi jjhim.

This is the beautifully plated Dak Galbi, which is a Korean chicken stew. Chef Adria Montano put a very zesty Mexican spin on this Korean dish and made it look extra elegant.

Chef Javier Plascencia created Kalbi jjhim which is Korean braised short ribs. The sweet marinade of the meat was so tender and flavorful. It was actually one of my favorite dishes.

The main judges tasted the food on camera and provided their input and comments on the first team's dishes. Their feedback was very insightful.

Next up, the White Team prepared their selected Korean dishes: Bibimbap and Tteokbokki.

Chef Bernard Guillas whipped up an interesting version of Bibimbap that is plated in a way that probably none of us have ever seen before! Chef Bernard also presented the classic dish in a hot stone bowl, but we were presented with a small plated Bibimbap with an adorable fried quail egg. It's culinary genius!

Chef Ron Oliver from San Diego made this Tteokbokki dish. I don't know what's harder - to spell it or to pronounce it! Tteokbokki, also known as Ddeokbokki, or also Nyebokki, is a popular Korean snack food which is a braised dish of sliced rice cake, meat, eggs, and seasoning. The rice cakes had a nice chewy texture with a surprising kick of spiciness.

On our end of the judging table, we had to score each chef's dish from a scale of 1-5. We were also filmed eating, but did not have to speak our comments on camera. Whew!

And lastly, the final Blue Team from Orange County prepared probably the two most difficult dishes to do in 30 minutes: Kimchi and Gu Jeol Pan. Good luck fermenting Kimchi in half an hour!

In case you were wondering, we were drinking a variety of Korean alcoholic beverages and wine while we waited for the chefs to complete their cooking.

Chef Graham Norton made a unique interpretation of Kimchi. He created a Kimchi salad that had a lot of ingredients throughout the dish, including Asian pear, sardines, and raspberry vinegar. Quite an eclectic bunch of ingredients to say the least. I wasn't too fond of the flavors nor the plating, as it looked like a mess. But I do have to give him the Bravery Award for taking on this frightening and difficult task of making Kimchi in 30 minutes on camera. Bravo, bravo.

The last dish we got to try was Chef Brian Hirsty's Gujeolpan. This classic and elaborate Korean dish consists of nine different foods assorted by color and ingredients. It's bad enough trying to make one dish in 30 minutes, but to make this poor chef do nine dishes is beyond me! He managed to pull through with sweat and tears to get this accomplished. All I can say is that the Blue Team definitely got the short end of the stick when they randomly selected these choices for the competition.

After the cooking and judging was complete, Cathlyn announced the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Yes, that's right - everyone came home a winner with a nice prize. And of course, that's a wrap!

I took a picture with Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef Ron Oliver after the taping. If you are in the San Diego area, make sure you check out their restaurant, Marine Room in La Jolla.

Overall, this meaningful event was a lot of fun to participate in as a guest judge. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to learn and try different Korean dishes through this experience, and be able to share this with our readers. We would like to sincerely thank Jin Kim and Alex Choi for their efforts in helping us be a part of this event. Korea Tourism Organization is excited to share the beauty of Korean culture and cuisine, so creating the Top Chef Korean Food Challenge was a brilliant idea to introduce this campaign to the world.

A voting event will be arranged on www.buzz-korea.com as a second part of the competition. They will have people vote online to choose the winner starting March 2nd. In addition, there is a competition for the best posting from the bloggers that participated in the judging. We hope you enjoyed the recap of this event and will deeply appreciate your vote for us! But our main message here is to spread the beauty of Korean cuisine! Tune in on April 7th, 2011 at 9PM PST for the premiere of the show on KOCE/OC, the PBS Channel. Please check your local listings here .

12 responses so far

Feb 21 2011

February Giveaway – Saporoso Balsamic Vinegar


A few weeks ago, we received a special product from House of Balsamic to try out one of their aged balsamic vinegars of Modena, Italy. The distinctive flavors of the Saporoso brand balsamic vinegars are truly remarkable because you can really tell it’s been aged with complex yet delicate tones of sweet and sour. We wanted to share this high-quality balsamic vinegar with one lucky winner for this month’s giveaway. To enter for your chance to win this bottle of organic balsamic vinegar, valued at $22 with compliments of House of Balsamic, here are the details:

  • Leave a comment letting us know how you like to eat your favorite balsamic vinegar. Do you have it as a dressing in your salad, drizzled over a nice steak, or mixed with strawberries? We’d love to hear how you prepare and serve it!
  • You must be a subscriber of our food blog in order to win
  • Extra points given to those who are also a fan on Facebook and followers on Twitter (click on the links to be routed to our pages)
  • US residents only
  • Contest ends Monday, February 28th at 11:59PM PST
Disclaimer: In compliance with the FTC Guides, updated 10/5/09, this article has material connections.  The Food Addicts (TFA) received no fees for hosting this giveaway on behalf of House of Balsamic.   House of Balsamic will provide 1 bottle of Saporoso Balsamic Vinegar to the winner free of charge;  1 bottle was also provided to TFA at no cost by House of Balsamic to facilitate the review process.  TFA does not endorse the company mentioned above.

This is one of favorite ways to eat good quality balsamic vinegar. We drizzled some Saporoso Balsamic Vinegar over asparagus that we roasted in the oven at 450-degrees for about 10 minutes, along with some thinly sliced red onion. It was seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The results are superb!

68 responses so far

Feb 17 2011

Spicy Beef with Thai Basil

Published by under Cooking at Home,thai


Here is a really simple recipe that is quick to make and tasty to eat! Our friends are always asking us for really simple go-to recipes that doesn’t require a lot of fancy ingredients or complicated steps. All you need is some beef, veggies of your choice, ingredients for the sauce, and of course, thai basil leaves. That’s what makes this dish so refreshing. The herb has small leaves, purple stems and a subtle licorice or mint flavor, which is commonly used in many Thai and Vietnamese dishes. We had planted Thai basil in our garden before, but it never grew to its potential. We are determined to grow a bigger yield of Thai basil this summer so we can make many more dishes with this exotic herb.

Luckily we had some spicy Thai chilies growing in our garden, so we picked two of them for this dish. If you know your chilies are extremely spicy, just use one!

We used about 1 lb of flap meat, but use whatever stir-fry beef you prefer. Cut it into thin strips. Saute the meat for 3 minutes, then add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 3 shallots, and 2 chilies.

Since we had some mini bell peppers left in the fridge, we used this to add color and texture to the dish. Here we used about 1.5 cups of sliced bell peppers. Toss this together with the rest of the ingredients for another few minutes until the meat and peppers are just tender.

In a separate bowl, mix together these ingredients to create the sauce: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1.5 tsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp mirin, and 1 tbsp cornstarch. Mix it well and then pour it into the pan to coat the meat and vegetables. You will see the sauce thickening up. Add some cracked pepper.

Turn off the heat and toss in about 1 cup of Thai basil leaves. Don't cook the basil or it will turn black.

This is a great dish to serve with rice. Use this recipe as a template for your own stir fry adventures in the kitchen. You can change up the meat and use chicken or shrimp, and use broccoli and carrots instead of bell peppers. The cooking time is ridiculously fast so you can have dinner ready in no time. Hope our friends who likes fast and easy recipes enjoy this one!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Spicy Beef with Thai Basil

Here are some related posts we’ve done in the past:

Beef Pad See Ew – Thai Rice Noodles
Basa Fish in Wine Sauce
Thai Beef Salad

21 responses so far

Jan 11 2011

January Giveaway – Gourmet Almond Brittle from Clarine’s Florentines


Who can resist such a delicate European cookie? We definitely did not! When Clarine’s Florentines offered to send us their famous Almond Brittle on Bittersweet Chocolate for a review and giveaway, we were elated! Sure we get a lot of different products to review, but this in particular was unique. We loved how Clarine, a passionate foodie like us, decided to take the leap and start her own business in 2007 and created Clarine’s Florentines, now located in Berkeley, California.

We received two packages of these handmade cookies that were beautifully wrapped with 6 signature florentines inside. These delicate cookies consist of thinly sliced natural almonds, butter, sugar, honey and cream, baked to a golden brown brittle and then dipped in Guittard chocolate. It has a wonderful caramel flavor with a nutty crunch from the toasted almonds. We enjoyed it simply as a sweet indulgent snack, but it would also go well with a nice scoop of ice cream.

If you are wiping your drool right about now, then we suggest you take a stab at entering this month’s giveaway. Clarine has offered to send two packages of these gourmet Almond Brittle treats to one lucky reader. Once you try it, you can really see how passionate she is about her products and the care and pride she takes in making each cookie. You can also order them directly on her website to cure your own cravings, or as special gifts to loved ones.

Enter for your chance to win two packages of Clarine's Florentines European style cookie.

To enter, be a subscriber of our blog and leave a comment letting us know why we should pick you as a winner! We’ll choose the most creative comment because we’re sure it will be well-deserved! Contest ends Tuesday, January 18th at 11:59PM PST. The winner for the most creative comment goes to Cath! Congratulations and hope you enjoy your goodies from Clarine’s!

Disclaimer: In compliance with the FTC Guides, updated 10/5/09, this article has material connections.  The Food Addicts (TFA) received no fees for hosting this giveaway on behalf of Clarine’s Florentines.   Clarine’s Florentines will provide 1 prize pack to the winner free of charge;  1 prize pack was also provided to TFA at no cost by Clarine’s Florentines to facilitate the review process.  TFA does not endorse the company mentioned above.

21 responses so far

Dec 14 2010

Turkey and Ham Rice Porridge (Congee)


This post is extremely overdue, but better late than never, right? This recipe is dedicated to all those people who want to use up their final leftovers of turkey and ham from Thanksgiving – and I don’t mean the actual meat itself. This is when you get down to the bones of the turkey and ham but still want to obtain just one more meal out of it before tossing it out. Making rice porridge (otherwise known as congee , jook, or cháo) is a great way to stretch your leftovers. You’re basically cooking down the bones and creating a flavorful stock that will be the soup base for the porridge. Not only that, but the little pieces of meat still stuck on the bones will be so soft that it it will be quick and easy to pull apart to add to the porridge. We made a huge batch of Turkey and Ham Rice Porridge and shared it with our family who willingly savored and enjoyed the soup. Keep this recipe in mind for next year when Thanksgiving rolls around or even for Christmas if you plan to serve turkey and ham. We are all about stretching our leftover ingredients to the max!

Take your leftover turkey and ham and put it in a large stock pot. To this, add some chopped carrots, onion, and celery. Then, fill it up with water until all the bones are covered, about 20 cups. Bring this to a boil and reduce to simmer for 2 hours. It should reduce to about 16 cups of stock.

Next, strain the stock and remove the bones and vegetables. Put the stock back into the pot. Now, take a fork and shred the meat off the bones and set aside.

Bring the 16 cups of stock to medium heat and add 2 cups of jasmine long grain rice. Reduce to simmer and cook for 1.5 hours or until soup has a creamy consistency. Be sure to stir once in awhile so the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Add the shredded turkey and ham back into the pot and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Some people prefer their rice porridge to be very liquidy, so add a little bit more water until desired consistency.

To serve, garnish with green onion, cilantro, and fried onion. This simple and soothing rice porridge is a great meal for breakfast, which is very customary in Asian cultures. Why waste the leftover turkey and ham bones when you can make another satisfying meal out of it? And of course, you don't need to feel under the weather to enjoy this comforting soup.

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Turkey and Ham Rice Porridge

Here are some related posts we’ve done in the past:
Duck Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Sauce
Ramen with Duck Stock
Toscana Soup with Homegrown Kale

9 responses so far

Dec 09 2010

Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Rib-Eye (Chao Nian Gao)


When it comes to weekday meals, we love to make something simple, quick, and tasty – and definitely enough to eat the next day! One of my favorite go-to meals are stir-frys because it incorporates a lot of vegetables and usually a choice of meat. Typically we make a dish like this with rice noodles, similar to our past dishes like Pad See Ew or Pancit . But to change things up a bit this time around, we are using rice cakes, also known as rice ovalettes. Some other common terms are Shanghai rice cakes or Chao Nian Gao. A complete meal with carbs, veggies, and meat all combined together with soy sauce and oyster sauce is what we like to refer to as comfort food. And believe me, it’s comforting to know that you are not spending hours in the kitchen after a long day at work! Just heat up the wok or large pan and throw all the ingredients together for a fabulous Chinese stir-fry dinner without all the excessive oil and fat from the restaurant!

The rice cakes (ovalettes) come packaged either dry or fresh. The one we bought is fresh and vacuum-packed, so it lasts a really long time in the fridge. The texture of these rice cakes is known to be chewy and dense. It actually somewhat reminds me of the Italian gnocchi. It is most popular in stir-frys, but can also be eaten in soup.

Using our new glass bowl set, I arranged all of the ingredients so it's easy to see what is needed for this recipe: 2 lbs of rice cakes (soaked in water for about 30 minutes), 7 cups of sliced napa cabbage, 1 lb of sliced ribeye (marinated right before cooking in 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, and 1 tbsp garlic), 1/2 onion sliced, 1 cup shredded carrots, 2 tbsp green onion (for garnish), 1 tbsp minced ginger, and 1 tbsp minced garlic.

First, cook the rib-eye in some oil until almost cooked through. Remove from the pan so it doesn't overcook and set aside.

In a wok, cook the onions with the ginger and garlic until fragrant.

Next, add the napa cabbage and carrots and cook through for about 2-3 minutes.

Next, drain the rice cakes and add it to the wok and cook for about 3-5 minutes. The heat will soften the rice cakes.

Finally, add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 cup oyster sauce, and 1 tbsp sesame oil. Toss the rib-eye in the wok and mix together. Taste and adjust for seasonings. We added some freshly cracked pepper.

Garnish with the green onion and looks like dinner is served! We like to have our dish of Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Rib-eye with hot green tea, just like at the Chinese restaurant. Substitute the rib-eye for any kind of meat you have, like chicken, pork, or shrimp. For the veggies, you can use bell peppers, broccoli, bok-choy, or any other favorable vegetable you prefer. It's a really basic and simple dish to prepare, and you'll have a blast working out your jaw because these rice cakes are a little tough and chewy, which makes the texture so much fun to enjoy! Have fun sprucing up the ingredients and let us know what worked for you. Hope you like our version!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Rib-Eye

19 responses so far

Nov 23 2010

POM Wonderful Pomegranate Dinner Party


Pomegranate season runs from October to January, so the abundance of pomegranates is plentiful during this time of the year – so plentiful that the people at POM sent us two cases of fresh pomegranates and goody bags to host a dinner party for our friends. POM Wonderful is the largest grower of pomegranates in the United States with over 18,000 acres of pomegranates in Central California. Pomegranates are extremely healthy and high in antioxidants, vitamins C and K, potassium, iron, folate, and fiber! So as you can see, this fruit has gotten widely popular in the recent years.

We were happy to be selected to host a fabulous party with a delectable pomegranate-inspired menu that we created with ingredients we had at home. But to make things more interesting, we decided to have our friends come with an alcoholic drink recipe that incorporates pomegranate juice which they made and shared at the party. Basically, we’ll handle the food, they’ll handle the drinks! We were definitely surprised with their creative and tasty creations, not to mention the cute names they made up for their cocktails! To add to the fun, we had a little competition to see which couple can remove the most pomegranate arils in 3 minutes – and boy was the competition fierce and close! We will also show you how to open a pomegranate in 6 easy steps so you will no longer be intimidated to open this fruit! See the recap below of our wonderful POM party and hopefully you can get some great inspiring ideas for the upcoming holiday parties!

I took this photo on my camera phone when I received the shipment from POM. Each case had about 20-22 fresh pomegranates, which was absolutely nuts! We didn't need that many for the party, so we gave some away to family and friends. Thanks, POM!

Since I wanted to be festive, I prepped our dinner table with some pomegranate decor that is simple, elegant, and literally cost nothing! I took some fun-shaped glasses and filled them with some pomegranate arils. I also had some gold Christmas ribbon which I taped around the base for color. To top it off, these branches of red berries were picked from a bush near my office, HAHA! Remember, use your imagination with things you have around the house to decorate so you don't have to spend money!

Our guests started with a Cucumber Orange Salad on a bed of Napa Cabbage with an Orange-Pomegranate Vinaigrette. We sectioned an orange then squeezed the remaining juice for the vinaigrette. Then added a dash of pomegranate juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil to complete the dressing. It's light and refreshing!

We prepared Bow Tie Pasta Salad with a Pomegranate-Poached Salmon topped with Crispy Salmon Skin. First, we took the skin off the salmon, then poached the salmon in pomegranate juice and then shredded it to add to the pasta. Then we took the salmon skin and pan fried it until it was crispy, which we used as the topping of the pasta salad. We also added fresh dill, bell peppers, and red onion. The dressing was a simple combination of apple cider vinegar, POM juice, honey, dijon mustard, and extra virgin olive oil.

The main course (my favorite) was Pork Ribs with Honey Pomegranate Glaze and Roasted Onions. We baked the 5 lb pork spare ribs in a 300-degree oven for about 3 hours. During that time, we took pomegranate juice along with some sugar, garlic, honey, and chili flakes and reduced it by half. Once it's thickened, we brushed it on the pork ribs at the end of the cooking time. It produced a succulent flavor that is both tangy and sweet and definitely finger-licking good.

For dessert, I made Frozen Pomegranate and Lychee Cups. It's simply preparing raspberry Jello gelatin per package instructions. But to that, I added pomegranate arils and chopped lychee. I poured them into my mini-muffin tin and froze it for about 30 minutes to produce a nice cold treat.

When you bite into it, you can see the lychee and pomegranates. It melts fast, so don't let it sit out too long!

Our guests came with all of their drink ingredients to prepare their fabulous pomegranate-inspired cocktails to share with everyone. Ashley and Aaron are busy with their pretty alcoholic concoction.

Aaron and Ashley's Pomegranate Sunset: 1 ounce orange juice, 1 ounce pineapple juice, 1 ounce Jack Daniels, 1/2 ounce pomegranate syrup (pomegranate juice and sugar), squeeze of lime, and a dash of Sprite. Let's not forget the mint leaves from our garden!

Our friends Sarah and Mark made a Royal Pom cocktail: 1.5 shot gin, 3 shots of pomegranate juice, squeeze of 1/4 lime, some pomegranate arils, and lots of ice! They even got some plumerias from our tree for their presentation!

Kathy and Tim created the Pom Paradise which consists of 1 oz Malibu Rum, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 oz Grenadine, and 1 oz Pomegranate Mango POM juice. Not to be outdone, they went to our front yard and tore off a leaf from our banana tree to style their tropical drinks.

We were definitely impressed with the fancy cocktails that our friends created! It was the perfect addition to our delicious dinner.

After we feasted and drank to our hearts' desires, it was time to start our competition! Three couples, three pomegranates, in three minutes! So who won?

After three minutes, we drained each team's bowl of pomegranate arils and weighed them to see who yielded the most seeds. The winning team literally won by only .1 ounce!

Congratulations Team Mark & Sarah! Enjoy your um... pomegranate apron from POM. :)

Pomegranates are actually very easy to open, as long as you do it right! Many times, people cut right through the fruit which results in red juice everywhere… and I mean everywhere! Not only that, but now you have some seeds that are cut in half, which isn’t so pretty. I’m sure many of you out there are intimidated by pomegranates, or just simply do not want to make such a mess opening up this fruit. Here is a 6-step process on how to open a pomegranate without splattering yourself in red juice.

1. Cut off the top of the pomegranate just below the crown.

2. Once the top has been removed, you will see 4-6 sections of the pomegranate divided by white membrane. With the knife's point, score the skin along each section.

3. Using both hands, carefully pull the pomegranate apart, breaking it into small sections and place it in a bowl of water. By doing this in the water, you will prevent red splashes all over the place.

4. Loosen the arils and allow them to drop freely into the bowl. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top.

5. Use a spoon to scoop out the pieces of white membrane that have floated to the top of the water.

6. Pour the arils and remaining liquid through a strainer. And that's all there is to it! You will become a pro at opening a pomegranate efficiently in these 6 simple steps - without making a huge bloody mess!

As you can see, you can use pomegranates in savory or sweet foods, as well as cocktails! The brilliant ruby red arils will jazz up any dish, so get creative and whip up something inspiring! Thanks POM Wonderful, for sending us a ton of pomegranates and goodies to share with our family and friends! We had a great dinner party with recipes we created that we'll be doing again in the future!

Recipes and step-by-step photos to follow at a later time, but please email us if you would like any of the recipes on the dishes we prepared!

The Food Addicts would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat well, drink up, and have fun! Cheers!

23 responses so far

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