Jobchae, Japchae, Chapchae…its all the same thing.

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Beef Dishes, Main Course, March 2011


There is a little Korean restaurant in the City Market that has the BEST food and every time I am in the market I have to get some. Even if I am on my way to a restaurant elsewhere for supper! (yes, that happened twice last week!)

I love Love LOVE their japchae with sweet beef. I decided since the market is uptown and I rarely get there and since I dream about the japchae almost every night (sad I know….oh how our dreams change as we get old…er) I must learn how to make this lovely dish! PS- The Japchae does not ALWAYS take a starring role in my dreams, sometimes a drool worthy man is hand feeding me the japchae….sometimes I just see the sign for “Kims Korean Food”….ok, the explanation does not seem to make the admission any less strange.

For a definition of japchae I will defer to Wikipedia:

Japchae is a Korean dish made from cellophane noodles (called dangmyeon), stir fried in sesame oil with various vegetables (typically thinly-sliced carrots, onion, spinach, and mushrooms), sometimes served with beef, and flavoured with soy sauce, and sweetened with sugar. It is usually served garnished with sesame seeds and slivers of chili. It may be served either hot or cold.

This dish is served at Korean parties and special occasions, with seasonal vegetables added.

Japchae is most commonly served as a side dish, though it may be a main dish. It is often served on a bed of rice; together with rice it is known as japchae-bap, bap meaning “rice.”

Thank You Wikipedia!!!


I found that making japchae is not overly difficult. Its quite simple actually. The most difficult for me was finding the ingredients. The veggies were easy…onion, green onion, mushrooms, carrot, spinach and garlic. The Korean ingredients were a little more difficult to find since I live in a tiny little community. Oh well, off to the market for me! (YAY!!!! more japchae at Kims!) I picked up the sweet potato glass noodles at the Korean store in the market as well as the package of sesame seeds, the dried shiitake mushrooms, some really good sesame oil and soy sauce.I also bought Bulgogi marinade but this is not necessary. I LOVE beef bulgogi and thought it would go nicely with the japchae. Make sure your beef is super duper thinly sliced. I get the butcher to do it for me. The guys in the market at Deans meats are AWESOME!!!! If you are making bulgogi then get the beef into the marinade to soak overnight. If not then just slice it and put it into the fridge to add to the stirfry pan later.


I found a wonderful and easy recipe to follow online at:

It also has an instructional video which was awesome!!!

So what you will need is:

Next step is to get your dried shiitakes into some warm water to soak for a few hours. Once they are soft and pliable then squeeze out the extra moisture, slice them and set aside for later.

Slice up the rest of your veggies so they are all ready for the frying. Slice the mushrooms and onions thinly.

Slice the green onions in 2 inch pieces. Slice the carrots in matchsticks.

Next you should cook your noodles. In a boiling pot of water add your glass noodles and cook for 3 minutes. You will be able to tell if they are done if you take one noodle out of the pot and taste it and it is still firm and chewy but not hard and crunchy. It should be similar to an al dente spaghetti noodle.

Remove your noodles from the water and place in a large mixing bowl. Add about 2 Tbsps of sesame oil and 1 Tbsp of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sugar (about 1 tsp) to your hot noodles.

Do not drain the water because now you can add your spinach to the boiling water and get it cooked quickly. It only takes about 2 minutes for the spinach. Just until its wilted. Now you can drain the water. Rinse your spinach well to remove any dirt. Squeeze out any excess water and chop the spinach.


Next add the chopped spinach to the mixing bowl and drizzle a little more sesame oil and soy sauce.



Next add a tablespoon of olive oil to a hot frying pan and saute your carrot sticks about 2 minutes, just until slightly softened. You don’t want to overcook them and make them mushy so just keep tasting them until they are cooked slightly. Add to the mixing bowl.


Repeat the process with the mushrooms and onions (you can cook these together). Add the oil to the hot pan, saute for 2 minutes, until the onions are getting translucent.  Add to the mixing bowl.

Repeat again with the green onions.

It might be time consuming to cook all of these vegetables separately but since they all have different densities it is the only way to ensure they are all cooked properly. It will only take about 6-8 minutes to do and it will make all the difference in the world to the final product.

Next its time to cook your beef. Again heat the pan and add olive oil. Now this is where my recipe differs slightly from the recipe I got online. I fried the beef strips until done and then added 2 chopped garlic cloves.  Cooked 1 minute more and added everything to the mixing bowl.






Now if you are just using sliced beef, fry it the same way in a hot pan with olive oil but you need to then add 1/2 Tbsp of soy sauce and 1/2 Tbsp of granulated sugar to the beef in the pan before then adding to the mixing bowl.

Now using your hands (I tried using spoons, forks, everything …my hands worked best!) mix everything together in the bowl. I then added a little more sugar and soy sauce….about 1 Tbsp of sugar and 1 or 2 tsp of soy sauce. Mix well. Place your serving in a bowl and top with sesame seeds!

This was sooooo yummy! I will make this many, many, many times over. DOn’t worry Mr. Kim…I will still come and get my fix when at the market!!!

ps- fussy 14yr old boys, more than likely, will not eat this. This is OK. This reheats fabulously. Believe me, I have been eating it every day at lunch for a week!!


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick


Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Chicken Dishes, Main Course, March 2011



I have been traveling to Jamaica since 1999 and absolutely adore the culture, the people, the music and especially the food. The Jamaican people love to cook for guests and show their appreciation for the local vegetables, meats and spices found on their island. They also love to teach visitors how to cook their local cuisine.

Some dishes are simple and take few ingredients, others are complicated and fussy but all have immense flavor and all are made with love.

This is one of the most diverse dishes and is found from tip to tip of the island. Every family makes it their own way and the variations are limitless. I have had brown stew chicken no fewer than 20 times and each time its delicious and different. Last time I was there, in November, I had THE BEST brown stew chicken ever. My friend Kristi hosted a dinner at her apartment and her friend Ren did the cooking. Without question this man had skills in the kitchen. Between the flavor of the dish and his knife skills I was thoroughly impressed and kept peeking into the kitchen to see the steps and to see the progress of supper (you KNOW this girl can EAT!).

For the past few months I have been searching for his recipe and this is the closest I could find. I followed a recipe found on and applied the techniques I watched Ren use in Ochi (except for the blender thing he tried…unsuccessfully!)

This version of the recipe is thick and rich and sweet and spicy. I have dreams about this chicken…it is strange and sad and weird but let me tell you it is worth every moment of contemplation.

What you will need:

1 whole chicken (about 2-3lbs) or you can use 5-7 bone-in chicken breasts (skin removed, cut in half)
3 Tbsps lime juice
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of green onion
1 habanero pepper, chopped very small
1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 inch of ginger, grated
3 tomatoes, diced
2-3 Tbsps oil (vegetable or olive oil)
3 tablespoons of flour, stirred in to 1/2 cup of water
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 3 teaspoons of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of browning (Kitchen Bouquet)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 cups of water





I realize there are a lot of ingredients and this is going to take a little while but trust me, it is worth it.

Start by washing the chicken with lime juice. Drain off any excess. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper (and if you are lucky enough, some Jamaican All Purpose Spice)



Add all of the diced and chopped and grated veggies. Onion, green onion, habanero, green and red pepper, thyme, garlic, tomatoes and ginger. Let this marinate for at least one hour. I let this marinate in the fridge for almost 5 hours! It may seem excessive but let me tell you, the chicken soaked up all the flavors like it was BORN to do it.



Mix well. Massage the spices and veggies into the chicken.





Once the hour (or 5 hours) is up scrape all the vegetables and spices off the chicken. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes or until the outside is slightly browned and the chicken is sealed.


Remove the chicken from the pot and drain off the oil. Heat the pot (med-med high) and add the butter. Add in the veggies from the marinating. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes break down.


Add the soy sauce, the browning and the water. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.



Take the flour added to the water and whisk well (I use my Tupperware gravy maker to get all the lumps out). Add this flour slurry to the pot, stirring briskly. This is going to thicken up the mixture to a rich, deep gravy.




Add the chicken back in and stew for at least 30 minutes.




Now for the side dishes!

One of Jamaicas best known side dishes is Rice & Peas. The peas are not actually peas, but instead are usually red kidney beans or sometimes pigeon peas. The rice is always white long-grain. It sounds bland but its not, it is packed with flavor using spices and other vegetables to add a kick.

I have made this using dried beans and it wasn’t very successful. I didn’t wash them well enough and/or soak them long enough and it ruined the dish. This time I used canned beans and it was just perfect.

What you will need:

1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of rice
2 stalks of green onion
1 clove garlic, smashed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tbsp oil (vegetable or olive)
1 habanero pepper (whole, do not chop up)


Drain the liquid from the can of beans into a measuring cup and add the can of coconut milk and enough water to make four cups of liquid.


Place liquids in a pot with beans, onions, garlic, thyme and oil, bring to a boil.



Add rice and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to Medium-Low. Place habanero pepper on top of liquid and cover tightly for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked. Remove pepper, thyme and green onions before serving.


The second side dish is a Cabbage salad (or more commonly referred to as “Veg”)

What you will need is:

1 Green cabbage

2 medium Carrots

1 Cucumber

1/2 cup sugar (I use 1/4 cup white and 1/4 cup brown)

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup Oil (vegetable or olive)

1 cup boiling water


Shred your cabbage VERY fine.




Use a peeler and peel your carrots and then continue to peel in long thin strips. Use only the outside of the cucumber (not the seeded center). Cut the cucumber in thin, fine slices and add to the cabbage and carrots.

Mix together the sugar, vinegar and oil.




Add to the cabbage mixture.


Place veg into a tupperware container. Pour boiling water over veg. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.


Drain and squeeze out extra liquid. Refrigerate until needed.


This seems like a lot of work. Its more than a box of Kraft Dinner, for sure, but it is an authentic dish with lots of flavor and full of nutrition. Its worth every second of preparation. Let me know if you think otherwise!




Dee and Steph C….be ready for a MEAL tomorrow. God Bless my girls at work that agree to be my guinea pigs!!

Someone better be providing me with a beverage!



love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick


I had a little mini dinner party tonight for one of my fave couples, Jen and Matt. I decided to make my Brown Stew chicken. Matt had never had Jamaican food before and Jen had a less than favorable experience with resort food in Jamaica. NOT the more authentic JA cuisine. I was a little nervous that they would not like it. I think they did. By the time we finished eating we were all stuffed to the gills (not to the fault of the half dozen cupcakes we ate AFTER the stewed chicken! lol)

I tried to get an artsy-fartsy picture but of course Matt, the jokester, just HAD to put his mug in the photo!


The recipe is still a keeper!



First time perogies. TAADAA!!!!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Main Course, March 2011



This is more of a preparation post instead of a cooking post. Maybe someday I shall attempt to make a homemade perogie but since I had never even EATEN a perogie before today I was thoroughly confused how to even prepare one let alone create one.

One of my best friends talks about perogies all the time…she loves them. I thought since she doesn’t have HORRIBLE taste then maybe I would like perogies too.

After numerous BBM messages (ps- I ADORE my BB Torch!) and a 20 minute back and forth question and answer period I thought I had the idea down as to how to prepare these little pockets of dumpling potatoey goodness.

I ventured out into the wild to forage for pre-made perogies and I hit the jackpot at Costco. A 2kg box of them for under $10! wootwoot! Now lets hope I like them or the local soup kitchen may have to go “Polish” and serve all my perogies with a big batch of sauerkraut and some sausage. Pyszne!!!!

I had read online that the most popular filling for perogies in Canada is potato and cheddar cheese so that is what I purchased (ok, that was the only kind that was there but I was happy with my choice). In Poland the favorite filling is potato, farmers cheese and fried onions. Jewish Kreplach (their version of a pierogi) are filled with meat and potatoes and served in a chicken broth in the form of a soup. That sounds yummy and I may just have to try that with a few of my 2 kilograms of perogies.

So my friend told me the best way to cook perogies is to boil them in water first. This can be done from frozen. Get a large saucepan and salt the water generously. Bring it to a boil and add your perogies. It only takes a few minutes for them to rise to the top and float. Take them out of the water and set them aside.

Next in a frying pan, on high, add chopped bacon. Fry until almost crisp. Remove bacon bits from pan and add some butter/margarine. Get pan hot again and melt the butter, then add your boiled perogies. Fry until golden. I used a separate small frying pan and sauteed some slivered, sweet, white onion with salt and pepper. You can probably do this in the same frying pan but I was afraid that adding more butter to the pan might make my crispy pierogi coating soggy if I did.

Plate your perogies, add a big dollop of sour cream, your fried onions and the bacon bits.

You are ready for a pierogi-fest!!! Speaking of which, I may have to plan next years vacation for Whiting, Indiana. They ACTUALLY have a Pierogi-fest every July!!










love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

No more picking out the Shreddies! Bits & Bites.

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Appetizers, March 2011



Growing up I always found that eating Bits & Bites with my sister was the best. I hated the Shreddies (and the Cheese Nibbys) and would only eat the Cheerios and the pretzels. She hated the pretzels so it was almost a match made in heaven. Except for the fact that she ALWAYS got into my stuff and would fake out my parents saying I hit her when I didn’t. Looking back I guess that is what little sisters are for. A source of great pain and angst but also a forever friend and confidante.


I decided I was going to make my OWN Bits & Bites with all the good stuff that I like….NO SHREDDIES!

I went to the Bulk Barn and found Cheerios, corn chips, crunchits (hard cheezies) and salted pretzels. I really wanted to get some Chex cereal and plain Bugles but they were nowhere to be found. I also picked up some garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and BBQ spice. You can put whatever you like in it….Doritos, goldfish crackers, almonds, chinese crackers, peanuts…whatever strikes your fancy!

Making Bits & Bites is not difficult it is just very time consuming.

First off preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

In a measuring cup mix together 2 cups of canola oil, 2 Tbsps of each of the spices and 3 Tbsps of Worchestershire sauce.

Put all of your chosen snack items in a large roasting pan. Stir the oil mixture well and pour over the snack items and toss to coat.






Bake in 15 minute intervals for a total of 2 hours. Stirring between each interval. Yes….this is annoying but it makes sure each pretzel, each cheerios, each whatever is covered in the spices and stops them from getting soggy.


After the painstakingly long 2 hours is up, let the batch cool thoroughly. Keep stirring every 20 minutes or so until the roasting pan is cool to the touch. You can now package them up all nice and pretty in tins, mason jars or like I do….Ziploc bags! sooooo pretty!





I think I have enough Bits & Bites now to last quite awhile. Or at least until my hooverinator of a 14yr old son comes home from his Dads and has a snack attack.

I am also thinking that some Franks Red Hot added to the batch next time might give it a good KICK! I am also going to increase the amount of BBQ spice, maybe another tablespoon. Customize it to your own tastes.

I DO know that the best thing to go with this snack is an extra large, extra cold ‘Harmonica Virgin’!!!!






love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Harmonica Virgins

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Beverages, March 2011

I know…you are saying to yourself….WTH??!! I said the same thing.

Last night I had consumed a few Rum and Cokes and decided to get on FaceBook and do some chatting and I saw a friend from High School was doing the same thing except her and her friend were trying out different drink recipes (liquor before beer nothing to fear, beer before liquor never been sicker!).

This was her FB status and it had me laughing soooooo hard that I thought I was going to pee a little (remember I was drinking too!):

“xxxxx has perfected the harmonica virgin. We have nailed several virgins. We are who we are. We have been discussing Jersey Shore, and we have come to two conclusions. Firstly, there should be a new Crayola crayon called “Jersey Shore Orange,” and secondly, there is no room in this world for pseudo-orange people. So say we all.”

I thought that that sounded like fun so she sent me the recipes for the drinks they were having…’Adios Futhermuckers’, ‘Lemon Drop Champagne’ and the one that interested me most was called ‘Harmonica Virgins’.

Drink title was inspired by a performance in a middle school musical. The creators are teachers (shhhhhhh!! names must be protected due to morals clauses, blah, blah, blah!) who sat in and assisted on this musical. There was one song that the students sang (with all their might…full of vim and vigor…cracking voices and everything!) that was called “Harmonic Convergence”. To the spectators it sounded like “harmonica virgins”. Go ahead. Take this moment to belt out harmonic convergence….you know you want to!  Thus explains the drink and the title. The teachers needed it. (“Whats up with that virgin song??!!??” ROTFLMAO)

What you will need:

2 oz lemon vodka

1 oz triple sec

1 1/2 oz ruby red grapefruit juice

1 oz cranberry-raspberry juice

1 oz strawberry passionfruit fruitopia

3 dashes of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in shaker and serve over lots of ice.

Ok. Now that is exactly as she had given me the recipe. First off I couldn’t find Fruitopia or Lemon vodka. I bought ‘Fuze’ in the strawberry/melon flavor combination and Citrus Smirnoff. I thought they were pretty close! Secondly when I mixed the drink it was a bit to strong for my tastes. I like girly, frou-frou drinks….if you have a little umbrella then I like that in there too!

So I added a splash more Cran-Raspberry and a splash more grapefruit juice. It was perfect!!! Yummy and smooth and I got to use my martini shaker for the first time!

Thirdly since I used my martini shaker I drank it martini style. Shaken with ice but served without.

I think the next one WILL be served on ice. With a double recipe. I want a bigger glass because they seem to be going down wAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAy too fast.


love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

Thanks to a couple of creative, funny, innovative, frustrated teachers (Who Shall Not Be Named) for the recipe. Oh and thanks for teaching our brats too!