Korean Paella

The dry air, cooling temperature, and colorful falling leaves season is here.  My first Autumn in Milan so far has been a blessing and I am feeling extremely grateful for everything. I think what made a huge difference is the joining of our new little furry member, Junior.  He is an American Staffordshire Terrier born in June 2016.  I named him Junior in memory of my old dog, Gizmo.  I figure it would sound easier if we just call him Junior instead of Gizmo Junior.  

I didn't have time to explore any new recipes or urge to cook up any fancy dishes since Junior came into our lives.  But it's also because of him, that's how this awesome recipe came along. It's amazing how most recipes are made to adapt different environments.  Oh the wonder of food evolution. 

Normally, seafood or meat are the superstars of paella.  This Korean paella is not.  It is Gochujang that makes the difference.  The paste gives the vegetables and rice a lot more taste.  It's not too spicy because the vegetable broth would dilute the spiciness and create a much more balanced flavor wholly to the dish.  So please give it a try! x

Meet Junior. 

Korean Paella

Korean Paella

Serves: 2 persons

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes


1-2 garlic, finely chopped

1 small onion, diced

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 small bowl clamshell mushrooms

1 zucchini, thinly sliced

6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 handful chopped coriander and some for garnishing

120-150g risotto rice

1 glass dry white wine

1 tbsp Gochujang

1 tbsp soy sauce

400ml vegetable stock

1 lemon or lime, cut into wedges

extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Heat up a large frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat. Cook onion, carrot, and celery for 2-3 minutes.  
  2. Add garlic, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, rice, and white wine. Stir well.  Season.  
  3. Coat rice evenly with Gochujang and soy sauce before adding the vegetable stock.  Put a lid on. Reduce heat to low and simmer for roughly 20 minutes.  
  4. Once the rice is cooked, remove the lid and turn the heat back to medium-high for 1-2 minutes to create the golden caramelized crust aka socarrat.  
  5. Turn the heat off. Garnish with some chopped coriander, a twist of fresh lemon/lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.  

Korean Paella

This Korean Paella with a little heat will keep you warm and cosy this fall.  

Vegetarian Canederli (Italian Boiled Dumplings) with Aged Cheese

Instead of going to the seaside, we celebrated our Ferragosto on the mountain this year.  Marco and I spent a week in Maranza, stayed at this bed&breakfast where his dad usually spends his holidays every year. The place has been around for possibly over forty years, run by grandma Rita who is now eighty-five. She still cooks and cleans, feeds her chicken and prepares a full blown meal for her guests every morning and night.  

And of course, we tried many kinds of mountain food, both sweet and savory while we were there.  One of my most favorites has to be canederli aka Italian boiled dumplings.  The original recipe that was served by Rita used speck(a type of prosciutto) as an ingredient.  I tried a few other vegetarian versions made with some aged mountain cheese at a few other restaurants. I knew I had to replicate this dish because it's such a brilliant recipe to use up our leftover vegetables and stale bread. 

So here is my vegetarian version of canederli and I hope you would give it a go if you have time because the taste is impeccable.  Don’t let its look fool you. 

Vegetarian Canederli with Aged Cheese

Vegetarian Canederli with Aged Cheese


Serves: 2 persons

Prep time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes


100-120g stale white bread, cut into small cubes (easy to absorb milk and get soften)

1 egg

250ml milk

1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, grated

1 medium size carrot, cut into small tiny cubes

1 cup cooked sweet corns

1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped

1 cup formaggio grigio (may substitute with other aged cheese)

1/2 cup grated parmesan

3-4 tbsp chickpea flour or all-purpose flour*

500ml vegetable soup broth

extra-virgin olive oil

*adjust by adding more flour if the dough is too wet or reducing if the dough is not wet.  


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together bread, milk, egg, and season. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to wait for the bread mixture soften up then use your hands to bind everything together.  
  2. Preheat a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat, cook onion for a minute or two before adding carrots, corn, and zucchini.  Reduce heat if needed to avoid burning the vegetables. Season and cook the vegetables for about 10-15 minutes until moist is gone.  Turn off the fire and set the vegetables aside to cool off.
  3. Mix together the vegetables, bread mixture, chopped shallots, formaggio grigio, and 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Compact the mixture into one large ball.  Let it rest for about 50-60 minutes with a towel covering the bowl.
  4. Add flour to the dough and mix again with your hands.  
  5. Form about 6 fist-sized dumplings by rolling each with the palm of your hands.  Make sure your hands are wet when you do that.
  6. Cook these dumplings in a big pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes. Remove the dumplings from the boiling water and transfer to a serving plate. On the other stove, heat up a pot of vegetable stock for serving later.
  7. Serve the dumplings with a ladle of vegetable stock and garnish with some grated parmesan, spring onion, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.  

This is Rita's bed&breakfast overlooking different sizes of hills under the vast clear blue sky.

These are the real free range chickens living outside of Rita's b&b.  And they make some real GOOD eggs.  

First day: we went on an easier trail leading us from the alpine pastures to the mountain tops

We challenged ourselves with a steeper slope the following day and this was the rewarding view after 30 minutes of physical agony. Ugh.

On even days of the month, people could gather mushrooms between 7am to 7pm.  We couldn't get up early enough to hunt mushrooms but they are mostly found in places like this. I was told that they usually grow next to trees where humidity is fairly high with warm temperature.   

These were the mushrooms gathered by some of the other guests of Rita.