Jules Does

Jules Does K-Pop Academy Homework: Cooking Korean Food

Posted on: October 2, 2014

Below is my homework for Week 2 of the K-Pop Academy, in which I attempt to cook a Korean meal. Enjoy!

Before we begin, please enjoy this entirely ridiculous Super Junior music video, starring Sunny from SNSD. I guarantee it will be the only video you will ever see featuring a vomiting cartoon dog, a man on the toilet talking to an anime character, and grown men with ponytails.

I love cooking. I do it every day. Inexplicably, hitting things with a knife and tactically burning meat really relaxes me and helps me take my mind off other things, like how I got rained on on the way to work, or that embarrassing thing I did a few years ago (DO NOT ASK). So I was super excited when one of our homework options for Week 2 of K-Pop Academy was to cook a Korean dish! It had to be something that we’d never cooked before, so I got out the lovely Korean cookbook my friend gave me for my birthday, Chung Jae Lee’s Korean Cookbook: A Twist on the Traditional.


Then, because marriage is about compromise, I got my husband to pick a dish that he thought looked good and one or two sides (for the proper Korean experience). We decided on duck breast with rice, basil mushrooms, kimchi and sesame spinach.

As I mentioned, I don’t often cook a great amount of Asian food from scratch, usually because it seems to involve lots of esoteric ingredients that I don’t have or can’t find, and then it only uses about half a teaspoon of the stuff and the spice/bottle/paste is left to moulder at the back of the cupboard. However! This is not universally true! The great thing about these recipes is that they didn’t involve a lot of ingredients that were particularly difficult to find. This may be in part down to the fact that I’m getting better at navigating Cambridge’s Korean food store, but also because everyone has onions.

So, I’ll list the ingredients for this meal first, and then show you how to prepare it. The ingredients list is really long, so you might just want to skip to the bottom.

Ingredients (all taken from Korean Cookbook: A Twist on the Traditional by Chung Jae Lee

For the duck marinade

100ml water

20ml Korean soy sauce

50g palm sugar

1 cinnamon stick

4 bay leaves

4 meaty duck breasts, skin on

For the sauce

300g (roughly 300ml) cream

1 bunch Thai basil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 tbsp butter

2tbsp palm sugar

For the spinach

1 bunch spinach

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tbsp Korean beef stock

1 clove garlic, crushed into tiny pieces

2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

For the mushrooms

400g Swiss mushrooms (button mushrooms would do)

1 tbsp butter

3 tbsp Korean soy sauce

3 tbsp soju or sake

1 tbsp ground ginger

3 tbsp sugar

100g Thai basil

2 tsp unsalted butter

5 tsp sugar

600ml thickened cream

For the rice

500ml boiling water

1 cup white rice

pinch of salt

(I bought the kimchi from Seoul Foods, which was brilliant and saved literally weeks.)


1. Put on some suitable cooking music. This should always be Step One.

2. Put 50g of the palm sugar in a saucepan with the soy sauce and water and bring to the boil. Try to take a picture that makes the mixture look totally disgusting.



3.When the mixture is boiling, add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature.

4.Become bored by waiting, take out the duck breasts from their packaging and allow them to breathe a bit on a chopping board. Arrange them like the Black Flag logo because this is how you amuse yourself.

Hahaha. Oh dear.

Hahaha. Oh dear.

5.Decide that the marinade is cold enough and add the duck breasts to the bowl, Swish them around a bit so that they all sit in the marinade. Take a picture that makes the whole deal totally disgusting (you’ll see a theme appearing).

Taking pictures of meat is making you feel a bit like a serial killer.

Taking pictures of meat is making you feel a bit like a serial killer.

6.Realise that you didn’t buy enough cream to make the basil sauce for the mushrooms. Curse loudly while Googling substitutes for cream. Be grateful that you aren’t a vegan and decide just to use milk.

7. Realise that 100g is a *lot* of basil. Decide to halve the recipe for the basil sauce.

8. Almost knock over a whole bottle of soy sauce and remember that you’re supposed to be tidying as you go.

9. Lose the butter.

10. Find the butter.

11. Chop the basil finely and wish you had herb scissors. Heat the butter in a small frying pan and fry the basil.

12. Add the milk and sugar, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Convince yourself that it's supposed to look like an omelette for rabbits.

Convince yourself that it’s supposed to look like an omelette for rabbits.

13. Keep discovering small lumps of palm sugar on the counter. Be mystified as to how that could have happened.

14. Start to warm your oven to 220 degrees Celsius for the duck, or 200 degrees Celcius if you have a fan oven.

15. For the mushrooms, combine the soy sauce, soju, ginger and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.

16. Find the biggest frying pan in your house and put the butter for the mushrooms in it. Double the quantity of butter because you managed to buy truly gigantic mushrooms from Ocado. Melt the butter, then toss the mushrooms in the butter until coated, and allow to cook.

17. When the mushrooms start to smell amazing, add the basil sauce and the ginger soy mixture and bring to the boil, then let simmer for as long as you have other things to be getting on with, which you do.

18. Boil the water for the rice in the kettle, then add to a saucepan with some salt. When the water is boiling nicely, add the rice, cover, and turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let it cook for 15 minutes. Remind yourself to call your mother to thank her for teaching you how to make perfect rice.

19. Combine all of the ingredients for the duck sauce in a blender (thank you again, Mom) like a disgusting, backwards salad. Blend until consistent but still a bit chunky.



20. Put the blended sauce into a pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

21. Or, you know, boil for three minutes instead so it’s a big foamy mess. Brilliant.

22. Put the duck skin-side up in a roasting tin lined with foil. Get rid of the marinade in the manner of your choosing (i.e. contemplate drinking some and then remembering how much of a bad idea that would be).

23. Put the duck in the oven for 10 minutes or until the skin is crisp, then turn the oven off and let the duck sit.

24. Begin to panic slightly.

25. Chop the kimchi on a board and put a little bit in a pretty bowl.



28. Pull it together and put some boiling water in the pan for the spinach.

29. Cook the spinach in salted water until wilted, then drain thoroughly. Return to the pan, and add the oil, sesame seeds, garlic and stock. Put the spinach in another pretty bowl and pretend you have everything sorted.

30. You forgot about the mushrooms; now it’s time to remember them. Turn the heat off and put some of the mushrooms into another pretty bowl, as well as some of the sauce.

31. Survey your astounding mess.

Be the queen of your messy kingdom.

Be the queen of your messy kingdom.

32. Get your lovely husband to lay the table.



33. Put some rice and one of the duck breasts on each place and pour over a little sauce. The extra sauce can go in a bowl for dipping.

34. Wait hang on there’s enough sauce to feed an army here. Decant the rest of the sauce into the first coffee mug you see and forget about it for now.

35. Put the plates on the table, along with the little dishes containing the kimchi, mushrooms, spinach and sauce.

36. Serve with a bottle of wine and two little cups of soju.

37. Take a picture and pretend that everything went exactly to plan.




Lovely husband and lovely food (both of which are less pixelated in real life).

38. Enjoy!

39. Afterwards, wash all of the dishes and wipe down the surfaces because you deserve to live in a clean and tidy place. Throw away the duck juice, marinade, mushroom sauce and duck sauce, but in the compost bin so you don’t feel so wasteful. Don’t forget to splash water all over yourself!

40. Dessert (you earned it)




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