Admission: Yes, I own a MasterChef recipe book, a thoughtful Christmas present from dear friends.
But no, I don’t watch MasterChef Australia, or reality TV.
All that intense real-life emotion magnified by dramatic violins (“Yikes, I didn’t cook/dance/sing/build that raft perfectly, my world has ended”)? Um, I wish you luck, but I’d rather snuggle up in bed with a sci-fi novel. And yet…
The Korean Cooking Contest for Non-Koreans
“Hey, you should enter this! It’s right up your alley.” Those were the fateful words of M.O.T.H. (Man Of The House).
Sixty obsessive Double Kimchicken Peanut Butter Pies later, I rather suspect M.O.T.H. now deeply regrets uttering those words.
Those words fuelled my latest hare-brained caper: entering a Korean cooking contest filmed and to be screened by MBC, a major Korean TV station, to 50 million people during Chuseok, the Korean mid-autumn festival holidays.
This is the video included in my first-round application. I daresay you will find it heaps more entertaining than, say, Delia’s How to Cook, erudite as she is.
Besides showing how the pie is made and its myriad uses, you’ll also see:
~ special guest appearances by pint-sized, chipmunk-voiced people,
~ my best tip on chopping onions,
~ a vegetarian version, and
~ a Korean tradition that came way, way before The Rainbow Diet.
Kimchi in everything!
M.O.T.H. saw the contest details first:
~ Contestant must be non-Korean.
~ Contestant must use kimchi in an original creation.
M.O.T.H. was right, as usual. This truly was right up my alley. I’m guilty of regularly sneaking kimchi into non-Korean cooking, just for kicks.
Speaking of which, did you know that the venerable Le Cordon Bleu once featured a Korean-French fusion dish combining kimchi with camembert? Just like 2 negatives make 1 positive, I suppose 2 funkies make 1 yummy.
I can use kimchi to enhance at least 10 non-Korean dishes.
At a recent party, with an evil glint in my eye, I made my friends guess the secret ingredient in what’s usually a traditional Middle Eastern food. They all liked the taste, but didn’t guess the surprise ingredient.
You don’t even have to make a pie
The pie filling is one of my favourite and oldest ways of using kimchi in non-Korean cooking. It is:
- easy to make – I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it, and my taste-testers are legion (see Practice Runs below), and
- versatile – a hallmark of my cooking. The video shows you at least 4 other ways to use it, each one speedier than making a pie. And it’s dead easy to make a vegetarian version too!
In primary school, I learnt a Chinese idiom: 一不做, 二不休. Literal translation: Either don’t do it, or don’t rest.
It is similar to “In for a penny, in for a pound”, but with a more industrious slant. And so it was with my competition pie.
I must’ve made about 60 pies in 6 shapes before the cooking contest. I’ve given pies to:
~ Korean/Singaporean/Malaysian friends,
~ the camera crew who are great pals,
~ university mates,
~ my neighbours on both sides,
~ my builder,
~ my children’s classmates, and
~ my boxing partner.
The top consumers? My ever-supportive children, who enthusiastically hoovered up every pie I served, as if it were their first. ♥ ♥ ♥
I got through round 1 to enter the Australian final, which saw me take part in a filmed 1-hour live cooking competition with M.O.T.H. and another 14 contestants.
With M.O.T.H.? Yes, my husband was a fellow competitor! He took a less obsessive approach, but that’s because he has a proper job and can’t spend afternoons repeating time trials of his Sambal Belacan Kimchi Seafood.
His sensational-tasting dish is another example of the 2-funkies-make-1-yummy-dish philosophy. (Belacan is an odiferous paste made from fermented shrimp. It is so potent that I sequester my stash in 2 ziplock bags – inside an airtight jar.)
Below: M.O.T.H.’s Sambal Belacan Kimchi Seafood
Below: I garnished my Double Kimchicken Peanut Butter Pie with Australian and Korean elements.
~ On the Aussie side is my attempt at making a waratah, NSW’s State flower. The real thing looks like this.
~ On the Korean side is a fanned-out ponytail radish kimchi: do you remember from the video why it is so named?
For the phenomenal prize-winning entries, see here.
More Korean food posts
- Korean winter warmers
- Korean meat marinades
- Don’t call a Korean woman a pumpkin
- 1 bulgogi, 5 ways
- Making baechu kimchi – from scratch
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~ leave me a comment on the Question Of The Week: What is the weirdest food combination you’ve encountered?