Korean Kitchen Hacking: Lasagna almost totally from scratch

Korea has gotten much better for finding foreign products than when I started this blog. But some stuff is still difficult to find. One thing I have never made in Korea is lasagna. That already requires a good bit of work even if you do have ingredients on hand. What got me started was finding lasagna noodles at Home Plus. They’re partnered with Tesco in the UK, so they have lately become the best bet for finding western products at a decent price.

So I had the pasta. I also have an oven, which admittedly, isn’t as common as you’d think in Korea. One of the best investments I’ve ever made. Since ovens aren’t common, oven accessories aren’t that common either. It wasn’t until I decided to make lasagna that I realized how hard it was to find something like a Pyrex dish. I looked in Home Plus, E-Mart, and New Core Department Store. No luck. We went on G-Market (like Amazon). It took some searching, but we found Pyrex dishes. I bought one that would suit my purposes.

The following is not a recipe. It’s a journal entry of what I did. Here goes.


I first had to make the ricotta. You can get ricotta at the supermarket now–for around W10,000 for a tiny tub. I didn’t want to spend W75,000 to make this lasagna, so I got some heavy cream and made my own. (recipe here)


There we go!


Next I made some Italian sausage. Why use plain old hamburger beef when you can do sausage? Besides, pork is much cheaper than beef in Korea. I based mine on this recipe. If you have any fennel around, which you can find at the foreign markets in bulk, you can make Italian sausage with ground pork from the Korean butcher. I just replaced the paprika with gochugaru.


While the flavors were getting to know each other in the sausage, I roasted some peppers for the sauce.


This is the easiest way to make tomato sauce. I threw the roasted and peeled peppers in a food processor with a couple canned tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Gave that a whir.


Browned the sausage. House started smelling good at this point.


Added the tomato sauce and some oregano. Seasoned it, and let is simmer for an hour or so.


While that was simmering, I whipped up a simple bechamel (brown some olive oil and flour, add milk, salt, and a little nutmeg, whisk constantly on medium heat until it bubbles and turn it off).


Grated some Romano I found at the supermarket.


Gave the noodles a boil.


Then I layered all the bits together.


Added a few packets of “pizza cheese.” Then I put it in the oven for 45 minutes.


And here it is.



A little for me.


And Jian liked it, too.


If you really want to know, the whole thing took five hours from start to tummy.


Author: ZenKimchi

Joe McPherson founded ZenKimchi in 2004. He has been featured and sourced in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, KBS, MBC, SBS, Le Figaro, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Harper’s Bazaar Korea, The Chosun Weekly, and other Korean and international media. He has consulted for "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain," The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles,” and other projects in the UK, Canadan, and Australia featuring celebrity chefs such as Gizzi Erskine and Gary Mehigan. Mr. McPherson has written for multiple Korean and international publications, including SEOUL Magazine, JoongAng Daily, The Korea Herald, Newsweek Korea and wrote the feature article for U.S. National publication Plate magazine’s all-Korean food issue. He has acted as dining editor for 10 Magazine and was on the judging panel for Korea for the Miele Guide. He spoke at TEDx Seoul on Korean food globalization, at TED Worldwide Talent Search on the rise of Korean cuisine, and in New York City on Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. The company ZenKimchi International organizes food tours for tourists and corporations and acts as a media liaison for foreign and Korean media and local restaurants and producers.

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  • Hannah


    • http://zenkimchi.com ZenKimchi

      It was GOOD. Need to do that again.

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