On the shelf: treats from the Korean grocery
Every month or so, I make the trek to the Dark Side (aka Kowloon) to shop for ingredients at the Korean enclave on Kimberley Street. After a quick lunch at one of the many restaurants there, I head to my usual shop, New World Mart (5 Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2369 5074), which has all the ingredients I need to make kimchi and other Korean dishes. The problem is that most of the signs are only in Korean, but the staff can usually help out, in English and Cantonese. And if there's a brand I prefer, I look for the company's logo on the packaging.
From the refrigerated section, I get a jar of tiny salted shrimp (right), which, when combined with Korean fish sauce, gives a deep, seafood-y intensity to kimchi. It sells for HK$30 for a 200 gram jar.
I like the Chung Jung Won brand of Sunchang gochujang (left; red pepper paste from Sunchang village, North Jeolla province, South Korea). CJW also makes doenjang (fermented bean paste) and ssamjang (flavoured pepper paste, used for ssam - food wrapped in lettuce leaves). At HK$95 for a 500-gram tub, it's more expensive than the other types of gochujang, but the flavour is more balanced and less sweet.
Without soondubu (soft beancurd) you can't make soondubu chigae (soft beancurd stew). I've tried other types of soft beancurd, including Japanese and Hong Kong brands, but my favourite for this dish is - naturally enough - from South Korea. The Pulmuone brand of soft beancurd (below; HK$45 for a 350-gram pack) comes as a tube. You just slice it in half and squeeze out the contents into the bubbling bowl of chigae, then break it up with a spoon. Don't try cutting it into neat pieces with a knife - it's too delicate.