Korean Cooking Competition in Sydney – July, 2013

So after an appropriate gestation – yes, it’s been 9 months – here are the finalists.

This contest was open to non-Korean background Australians.

Sixteen cooks and would be cooks, chefs and would be chefs came together for a chance to chop, fry, bake and stir their way to the land that PSY (almost) forgot – Korea.

The contest revolved around the distinctive Korean ingredient Kimchi and featured a table laid out with some of the various versions of this pickled delight (and yes – you may have thought – like I once did – there was only a single type of Kimchi).

Alas, there are many – “Fresh”, “Aged”, “Ponytail” (which contains no cabbage whatsoever) – the list goes on – Korean cuisine really is endlessly surprising!

Belated congratulations to all the contestants – it was my first time in one of these reality TV cooking contests (Korean TV was there) and was such an intense buzz.

Met some genuinely lovely people that day! :-} Gave me a new appreciation for fellow newbie folk trying their hand in shows such as #MyKitchenRules and #MasterChef. (hash tag appropriate)

The brief was simple – cook a “signature” dish – with Kimchi as the feature ingredient. This produced some fascinating and (at least of the ones I sampled) delicious dishes. Here are the entries – alphabetised by first name.

  1. Chik Foo – Sambal sotong Seoul style
  2. Craig Burbery – KBLT (Kimchi Bulgogi Lettuce Tomato)
  3. David Ralph – Cabbage kimchi consomme with tofu and kimchi stuffed squid with minari salsa
  4. Deborah Morgan –Kimchi and Capsicum Quiche
  5. Jason To Kimchi Chinese Egg Rolls
  6. Jeff Brady – Caramelised Kimchi and Apple Sesame Crumble
  7. Kyria Morgan – Kimchi and Mushroom Potato Bake
  8. Marion Heathcote – Kimchi Chou Farci
  9. Martine Shelton – Chicken and Kimchi Puff Pastry with Kimchi Tomato Relish
  10. Michael Sik – pulled pork and kimchi-slaw slider
  11. Nicole Storey – Pork and Kimchi Pies
  12. Ryan Benson – Korean tasting Plate, Korean Cocktail
  13. Steve Grant – Kimchi Sarma
  14. Teerada Jung – Kimchi Tom Yum Soup and Gochujang marinade prawn skewers
  15. Wee Lynn Teo – Double Kimchicken Peanut Butter Pie
  16. William Hird – Kimchi shakshuka

Unfortunately I was unable to obtain photos of all the entries. If your signature kimchi dish is missing – please email me steve@stjamespharmacy.com.au or tweet @steveskorean or plus me up on Google http://goo.gl/9dwGe7

If you would like to forward a brief description of your dish (140 characters) I’ll post that, too! 

1st David Ralph 2nd Marion Heathcote 3rd Michael Sik 4th Martine Shelton

1st David Ralph
2nd Marion Heathcote
3rd Michael Sik
4th Martine Shelton



Note to this recipe:

Kimchi is an essential part of Korean cuisine.

It is a strong, almost formidable delectation, indomitable like the Korean people themselves.

A hearty taste, Kimchi is an irrepressible force that somehow keeps you coming back for more.

Packed with solid robust flavours it is a food you’ll return to again and again.

So in looking for a signature dish that would enhance the already robust flavour of Kimchi I chose Croatian sarma. A dish of meat,  rice and cabbage rolls served in a reassuring soup.

I was priviledged enough to be taught how to make Sarma by my mother in law – before she moved on to the next life. Sarma is a glorious flavour, and I hope this version is in some way close to that delicious flavour our “grandma” produced time and again. It was truly delicious.

The idea of adding something spicy and salty to an already fantastic tasting dish was with me even then. I have a tragically nostalgic image of my beloved mother in law  “Baka” (Croatian for Grandma) telling me “It’s not  sarma if you add anything to it.”

May her soul rest in peace.

So in combining kimchi with the Croatian technique of making sarma, in creating sarma with some Korean cooking  techniques – I would like to present:

Baka’s Kimchi Sarma




250g Spek – juniper flavoured ham that is both salt cured and smoked, and popular in Croatian cuisine.

250g Pork Neck Mince

250g Beef Topside

Large Bunch Chopped Fresh Parsley

Half head Garlic

200g Arborio Rice (medium grain)

1 egg

1 tbsp vegeta

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp 고추장Korean chilli paste

250g Kimchi – well chopped


20 Korean Anchovies

2L water

2 Tbsp black pepper corns

2-3 Large Smoked Bacon Ribs

100g thinly sliced Kimchi


2 large potatoes – skinned and chopped

50g salted butter, dash of milk


3 large leaves of preserved cabbage “kiselo kupo” or “sour cabbage”


  1. Stock

Chop the anchovy heads, remove intestines. Put into boiling water with mixed peppercorns and smoked bacon ribs. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain the peppercorns and the anchovies, return the remaining stock to the heat.

  1. Mash

Cook potatoes until soft. Mash with milk and butter. Set aside.

  1. Filling

Chop the speck and the gimchi well, combine in a bowl with pork and beef mince, plus the chopped parsley. Add the paprika, vegeta, gochugang and rice. Combine one egg and a generous amount of salt – mix well by hand.

  1. Cabbage Rolls

Use the inner leaves of a large head sour cabbage, cut away the thick middle lining and make 2 squares.

(You can use this cabbage in the soup)

Roll out a tbsp of filling, and wrap in a cabbage roll – is a good idea to use a toothpick to hold it together.

  1. The Dish

Put the cabbage rolls in the soup, simmer for about 15 minutes. Add chopped kimchi and excess cabbage – cook for another 15 minutes.

Remove the ribs, the cabbage rolls – taking the toothpicks out – serve with mash potatoes and a generous amount of soup stock.