Monday 21 January 2013

Trying Korean Cooking : Tteokbokki in sweet & spicy sauce

My version of Tteokbokki (Korean Rice Cakes in Sweet & Spicy Sauce)
Of late, I've really been bitten by the Korean/Hallyu bug. First it started with a few innocent and curious views of Korean movies. Then it slowly moved into interesting Korean Variety shows; mainly Running Man. Then Korean K-Pop music. And finally this odd crave of Korean food. And the one thing that I was craving the most was Tteokbokki

I've heard of this rice cake dish before but have not seen it until it's repeated introduction/promotion on the Running Man TV show. A popular Korean snack food that is just mainly rice cakes cooked in gochuchang sauce along with fish cakes. So far I've tried twice locally from 2 different Korean chefs and I loved it!

Kim Chi, Pre-made Gochuchang sauce and Rice Cakes. Korean Grocery shopping damages.
So when I discovered the Korean supermarkets at Sri Hartamas, I told myself I gotta try making them myself. Honestly, I went ballistic with the groceries and giving my best asking for advise in my broken Korean language. Fortunately, the Korean store owners were very helpful and we basically understood each other with limited Korean and English combined. 

Basically the most important thing you need is the rice cakes itself. A good moderate size of 20 pieces is good enough to serve for 2. Though they are many shapes and sizes for rice cakes, a moderate size one is usually the one to go for; as it's easier and faster to cook.

Throw the rice cakes into the pan of boiling water and bring it to boil. Not much water is needed as it will later be used to reduced into the sauce. No salt is required. I added sliced mushroom for the little extra and a little olive oil. While boiling, constantly stir the rice cakes so it wouldn't stick onto the pan.

Then add on chopped onions and garlic into the mix. The next most important ingredient is the gochuchang sauce itself. I've bought the ready-made sweet & spicy mix and added a bit of my own flavour by adding in Thai Chili sauce and dried herbs. 

Just heat up the stove a bit more, constantly stir it and cooked until the sauce is reduced to own liking.

Tteokbokki is served best immediately and hot. Sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds for the finishing touch. I also added in the kim chi for the extra Korean finishing. Save to say, I made a pretty close Tteokbokki resemblances from the ones I tried from real Korean chefs. Perhaps next round I should try experimenting with my own version of sauces or further study the use of pure gochuchang sauce.

Bon Appetit!

The finish product. 

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Brooks PureDrift (Men) Review - A Quick look at that "Yerrow-yerrow" shoe

Yup, I know it's kinda late but I kinda purposely left it last minute just right before the official launch of the new Brooks PureDrift this early January 2013. Yup, a birdie told me it's gonna be real soon within this 1-2 weeks or even earlier. Keep your fingers crossed!

But of course, a few of us reviewers had the chance to earlier review the shoes. I've previously mentioned this in my previous blog entry on the unboxing of the PureDrifts. Link here.

The first time I laid eyes on it. 
In this blog entry, I'm gonna review basically the feel and expectation of the shoe. For more technical parts of it, please do review them in this link of my previous entry of this shoe.

The Brooks PureDrift from the Pure Project 2 series. 
First and foremost, I have to give a huge thumbs up for it's awesome striking "Yerrow" (Yellow, I prefer to use the more street word) colour of the shoe. Of course there are other choices of colour but this is by far the most striking and coolest. I always have this notion if I ever get lost or disappeared in some forest or something; at least I have something striking to stick out (like a sore thumb...ahem). But that of course is the aesthetics points of it.

I've previously mentioned before that I would test the shoes in various conditions. So far I've tested it on a few training runs (on road and treadmill) , a couple of running events and a wet test. Yes, that is running in the rain with the Drifts.

Bare in mind that in all my test, I've worn socks with it and left the sock liner in it as I felt the 4mm drop was just the good amount of "barefoot" feel I like and the socks were just more for sanitary reasons and comfort. The only time I can go without socks are with the Vibram Five Fingers.
First time trying the Brooks PureDrift during the DR Handicap Run.
Running along side Seng Chor, the Vibram Five Finger Kaki.
Photo courtesy of Mien Yee.
The first time I tried them on was during our DR Handicap Run back in October. I've worn them for a few times but I've yet to run in them yet. The first initial feeling that it's really lightweight and it has a very similar feeling like my previous Adizero F50 but also has a snug and low profile feel of KSO Vibram Five Fingers (but not as much).

So at ease, so lightweight that you float when you run.
Photo courtesy of Mien Yee.
The PureDrifts were surprisingly comfy during my 8km run and there is a definite feel of a great lift off from heel /mid foot to toe. This also lead to a tendency of wanting to go faster which was much easier than a heavier shoe.

Testing on treadmill.
Note the clumsy pounding as I was adjusting to as the heat started 30 minutes into it.

Other trials after that was on random road training. Running on tar road is pretty good and I had no issues with it except the occasional midfoot pain whenever I run on something flat. This is very evident especially running on a treadmill. In my personal opinion, the Drifts are not so great on really flat surfaces and I actually had so much pain on my midfoot that I had to stop several times. Other reviewers had commented it does have a "burning sensation". Besides that, I had no issues as long as I'm on the road.

I've used the PureDrifts on 2 running events; namely Malakoff 2012 and Chandrikala Run 2012.

Longest distance ran with the Drifts. Malakoff KL12KM. Grinning smile (pain)
Photo courtesy of Victor & Elaine.

During Malakoff, the Drifts were initially fantastic during the first 7-8km but the burning pain and sensation started right after that. So I can only theorize is that  because I'm a heavier runner, I pound a little more than usual hence the reaction. No problems with the shoes; just a matter of getting used to it.

Chandrikala Run 2012. Soaking wet but still feeling awesome.
Photo courtesy of KF Chong.

Chandrikala Run was a fantastic time to test out the PureDrifts. It was a short 5K Run and it was pouring cats and dogs. Already soaked wet but surprisingly still comfy with the shoes. Because the way the shoe is wrapped around the feet tightly, the shoes are unable to soak in much water and it's still quite well ventilated. Albeit wet, there was almost no sensation of sogginess and I was still able to feel the lightness of the shoe when running. Pretty impressive.

All wet but still feeling smashing alright. 

During all this period with the shoes, I've come to realise that I'm working a lot of running muscles. This experience is very similar to when I was training with my Vibram KSO.

So here are some highlights from my test :
1. Excellent lightweight shoes. For those who prefer minimalistic shoes.
2. A unique barefoot feel. For those who also are experimenting or transitioning from minimalistic to barefoot.
3. 2 for the price of 1! Sock liner can be removed and customized. So you can have either a minimalistic shoe or a near barefoot shoe.
4. A very good wrap feel around feet; so it feels like you are one with the shoe. Almost nude-like.
5. Great for short distance races; especially for people like me who don't like to lug a heavy pair of trainers for such distances.
6. Great shoes to train your running muscles (especially the calves) and helps you naturally land mid foot instead of heel.
7. Excellent colour! Of course, I love the Yellow one so much but there are other colour variants available.

All in all, it's a pair of excellent running shoes and it would be another great collection to the current Pure Project Series users AND also to new users experimenting/ transitioning to minimalistic shoes.

For more info, do check out Brooks Malaysia.

Monday 7 January 2013

MPIB 2013 Race Report (Sorta?)

The start of MPIB 2013
First run of the year. To those who participated MPIB 2013, how did everyone do and how did you feel?
I've heard many had done PBs for this route or distance. Congratulations and good for you. A great way to start the year. For those who hasn't, fret not as there are many more runs to come and always remember that running is a sport of passion. The most important thing is that you ENJOY the run rather than just care about how fast you could finish. No puns to the former either. Fast is good; given the right reasons.

Jamie claims this is his "stoned" face cause no sleep the day before.
I didn't participate in this year's edition and I know many of you were very surprised. Well, give me time and I will get back on track. I've a few races coming up in mind but I'll be very selective of which ones I would do. This is just to keep my training fresh and I hope I don't get burned out like I previously did. 

Anyways, I did go to MPIB 2013 as "the kepoh photographer on the bike". Glad to have met so many friends, the usual suspects and new. Of course I was also there to show support to my Dutamas Runners gang.

The usual suspects (photogs).
There is more they weren't around this area.
Since I didn't run in this race, I couldn't comment much about it but it seems that everything went well that morning. A strong turnout of runners already gathered at Padang Merbok as early as 5 AM and the anticipation built till the first gun off.

Ronnie See whizzed through with purpose.
I mainly went to 3 different spots during the race to shoot. First was at the Mahameru Highway (just before entering Bukit Tunku) which wasn't an ideal spot to shoot as I would had thought initially. Just as the female leading runner was passing by, the street lights decided to turn off! My first few shots were all blur and dark; missing out mostly all the lead pack runners. I've no choice but to gostan balik to a brighter spot; which was at the traffic light bridge. It was still early light and lighting is extremely challenging. But I managed to stay on till the last few runners passed.

Yim Heng Fatt aka the return of Sarong Party Boy
with balloons tied to his back.
Flying somewhere? ;)
Next I cycled towards Persiaran Sultan Sallahuddin. The 5KM runners passed by here earlier and there were still some passing through. It didn't take long until the lead packs of the 12KM and 8KM came whizzing through the quiet road. It was a great spot for shots with lovely green background  but I couldn't stay too long as I was viciously attacked by mosquitoes! How I wished I had my repellent with me.

Michelle Looi in her custom made running tee.

With that I headed straight downhill towards Tugu Negara and shot whatever I could from a junction. Less mosquitoes this time. 

Yvonne showing off her proudly earned
4th placing for the Women Open 5KM category.
Midway through, Von texted me "4th place!" and later "Raymond 6th!". Wow! Two DR gang podium winners. Ain't that bad. Congratulations to you both.

Met Yvonne back at the main venue and she had her K4 tag hung around her neck happily greeting me. (ps: She ran with a running dress/ skirt while at it too)

While she went to change, met with the others as well.

All in all it was a great day. I kinda regretted that I didn't join this run but I wasn't really ready for a round of Bukit Tunku considering I hadn't been there since SCKLM. But I indeed had a great day and enjoyed myself. As Jamie put it; the "Bandit Volunteer".
Bandit Volunteer? Me?
Photo courtesy of Kahwai Low. 

So here are the links to my sets of shots from MPIB 2013. And again congrats to all the podium winners!

Set 01

Set 02

Set 03

Set 04

Set 05

And here are some random shots taken with the wonderful peeps at the event.

The ever cheerful and sexay emcee of the day, Julie Wong.
Flanked by champions!

The volunteers! The real "engine" behind the event.
Just wanted to show Tomatoman's cute pose in his podium shot.
He definitely is HAPPY. 
Banyak duri around the roses.
Last shot of the day with happy faces.

Friday 4 January 2013

Happy NY! Found your desire to run?

Happy New Year to all! How was the first few days? Got back into the groove yet and ready to go?

I personally starting back my own training and regime albeit in a much slower pace. The long rest had affected my "tuning" of my heart rate and stamina. Nonetheless, I'm keeping up but also making sure I don't bust my lungs and HR on another hill + tempo run. 

The gym I go to has been unusually packed the last few days; which only means that a lot of people had made resolutions and commitments to have a better and healthier life. Good to all of you, but do stay with your commitments and word. Paying for gym memberships bluntly and not going doesn't make you "feel better" and answerable to yourself. 

To get things started for the year, here is an inspiring talk from Christopher McDougall (the author of Born To Run). This short talk presented at TEDx is a general idea of  running and explores the mysteries of the human desire to run. 

Of course I'm not only implying on running only but also other activities that is beneficial to the embetterment of your health and well being.  

So are you ready to make a move yet? ;)

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