Archive for ‘Korean Food’

March 4, 2012

A made up gourmet sounding dish

They say that art imitates life and life imitates art. In this case, the art being cooking and life being a conversation on iMessage. Ok, so that made a lot more sense in my head… moving right along.

The inspiration for this dish came from a conversation about my previous dish- kimchi pancake. Namely, this conversation:

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I’m all about turning my short comings into new ventures.

Shortcoming = no flipping skills.
New venture = scrambled kimchi pancake fried rice.

I have no pictures to show you that… kimchi pancake is not the same as egg. See, egg… it separates and joins. With no problems. Kimchi pancakes. Do not.

But I wasn’t about to give up. So I tried raw kimchi instead. REDO.

Fry onions + garlic.

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Add sliced mushrooms + chopped kimchi.

Add cooked rice.

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Aside: I cooked rice for the first time… in the cutest pot! It came in a box that said “passionate about food” I may not be a lot of things but I most certainly am passionate about food!

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Mix rice with kimchi/mushrooms/onions/garlic and set aside.

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Make pancake in small pink frying pan.

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Small kimchi pancake.

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My dad asked me if I named the dish and then made it or if I made the dish and then named it.

He knows me all too well.

So what was supposed to be scrambled-kimchi-pancake-fried-rice… turned out to be this:

Spicy kimchi-mushroom fried rice in a crispy kimchi pancake crust with green salad and strawberry sauce.

Sounds fancy shmancy, no?

TA DA

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Presentation: I totally made this dish up because I like kimchi. And because fried rice and kimchi pancakes are really the only things I know how to make right now. So this dish can be served the way it’s pictured above- rice dome lined with kimchi pancake crusts. Or separately. Or with a whole pancake on top of the dome. Or a whole pancake underneath the dome. Or the pancake cut up into long strips so it looks like fries… you get the idea. Let your imagination run wild!

Side story: if y’all were wondering why I stayed away from cooking all these years, here’s why: one day 12 years ago, my bro and I were hungry. Neither of us were old enough to drive (well, that never stopped me but my bro usually did)

Anyway, moms and pops were both out and there was nothing in the fridge so I decided to make roti. I called up one of my aunts for the recipe. Made a few rotis and satisfied our hunger.

When my dad came home, there was one roti left. Naturally, my dad got all excited (it was the first time I’d made anything) so he sat down to eat his daughter’s very first attempt at roti.

I left the kitchen and came back a couple minutes later to finish cleaning up. Not only had he finished eating, the plate was in the sink and he was reading a newspaper.

“Father, you finished it that quickly!?”

“Oh yes, it was delicious! Thank you.”

I washed up the dishes and reached for a paper towel to dry my hands. And then. I lifted the garbage lid to throw in the paper towel.

I don’t have to tell you what I found in there.

Friends & family of young amateur cooks: if you’re going to throw something out, at least do a proper job concealing it! Don’t shatter young dreams.

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March 2, 2012

Housewife-in-training: Kimchi Pancake

Of all the Korean dishes I’ve tried, kimchijeon (kimchi pancake) has definitely been one of my favs. So I was craving some the other day and asked one of my co-teachers if she knew of a place nearby where I could get some. And she was all “it’s SO easy to make- make it at home!” (I don’t think she realized that I owned no pots/pans/cooking utensils OR that I’d never turned on my stove at that point)

From the day I moved to Korea until today, I’ve eaten out every day, all day.

I’d like to think there are a few things I’m good at. Cooking… isn’t one of them.

Fast forward to today. I went shopping… Pink stuff motivates me. How cute are those measuring cups!

 

 

This is me being all “LOOK AT ME. I could do the food network thing if I wanted to!”

 

 

And this is what the batter looks like.

 

 

Take 1. So today I learned that I cannot do the flip thing. And I probably shouldn’t try. Because this is what happened when I tried. I ate bits of the edges and threw the rest in the garbage because it wasn’t thoroughly cooked. (Aside: the edges tasted amazing… it’s what had me going.)

 

 

Take 2. I decided to be less ambitious and make smaller pancakes but had poured too much oil in the pan. To get rid of the excess oil, I decided to drain it in the sink. Only problem being the pancake… ended up in the sink too.

 

 

Take 3. They say 3’s a charm. Nailed it.

 

 

TA DA:

 

 

It was sooooooo good. I didn’t know I was capable of making something this delicious. Granted, kimchi pancakes are pretty hard to screw up.

P.S. All you need is kimchi, flour and water. I used grapeseed oil so it’d make the pancake crispier. And green onion for garnishing- optional. For the first batch, I tried equal parts everything which made a pretty thick batter. The second time I kinda just threw stuff in and it came out a thinner consistency. I liked the second batch better because it was crispier but I think it’s all up to personal preference.

December 9, 2011

Baby Blankets: the edible kind & the wearable kind

Our director is all about stocking up the teacher’s kitchen with lots of goodies. Like the other day, we had these bun things stuffed with vegetables. No I’m not the kind of girl who gets excited about buns. Or vegetables. And this stuff doesn’t even look appetizing.
But what I ALL ABOUT about is microwaveable stuff. Especially yummy microwaveable stuff. This bun Is the mostest softest thing you’ll ever eat. Its like an edible baby blanket.  I know that probably created some weird imagery in your mind. But I don’t know how else to describe it. If you haven’t realized already, my vocabulary isn’t that extensive. Or scholar-like. My point is, this stuff is delicious. Which brings me to my next point…

I feel like family here. So our director used to get pork/beef stuff for the other teachers… until they realized they clearly picked the fussiest eater on earth to add to the team (i.e me). So the logical thing to do would be to buy meat stuff for the other teachers… and vege stuff for me, right? Wrong. The other teachers eat vege too. (like with that bun stuffed with vegetables instance)

Just when I thought it was just my director being all accommodating, Kayla has also jumped on the bandwagon. Pretty much everything we have during school hours is Tia-atarian. And I feel bad. And I’m sure there will come a point where they’ll be like forget Tia and her fussiness. But until then? Until then, I’m gonna bask in all this LOVE.

Speaking of love, Kayla told us about this really fuzzy and soft cardigan that she had found.  That was a Saturday. Tuesday most of the teachers had one, each in a different colour. And last week? Last week I got mine. It actually does feel like a baby blanket… and its SO warm. and SO soft.
I feel like they’ve officially initiated me into their inner circle. That’s riiiiiiiiight guys. I’m one of them now. OFFICIALLY.
Do the happy dance.
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December 1, 2011

Peace Signs, Raspberry Wine & Girl Talk

We bonded over seafood stew and raspberry black wine, Victoria’s Secret and Brad Pitt, Korean words and their English translations (thanks to Naver). And if there’s one thing I learned that night, it’s this: girl talk is the same everywhere. If it wasn’t for the restaurant buzzer on the table or the Korean music blasting through the speakers, I might’ve mistaken the dinner for one with my girlfriends. At home.

I work with a bunch of awesome girls who’ve welcomed me into their little circle with open arms and have made me feel so at home. We went out for dinner and drinks. AND started the night off in style…

Peace signs, beer and seafood stew

And this was my absolute fav dish. Cajun chicken salad with kiwi sauce.

And then we decided to head on over to this place for drinks:

Ordered some dried fish (they actually weren’t that bad!) and yes, that’s Kayla cutting the fish with scissors. That’s totally normal here!

And no night is complete without a kiwi soju appearance!

Cheers to GIRL TALK and a great girls’ night out :)

November 30, 2011

Reasons Korea and I were meant to be… Part 3

1. You know that awkward moment in the restaurant when you’re on a date trying to impress the lady… she changed her mind and now wants a martini just as the waiter walks away. (I may or may not have been that lady… on numerous occasions)

And now you need to flag down the waiter. And you try. And you fail. Miserably. Like you look like you’re trying to land an airplane? Well. I present to you the Korean restaurant buzzer.

They have these at EVERY restaurant and they work like a charm. Press button. Wait 1.78 seconds. Waiter appears. It’s like maaaaaagic. And your airplane flagging days? Over.

2. If it isn’t apparent by all my other blog posts, let me make it official by including it here: I LOVE Korean food. the way to Tia’s heart? through her stomach. no doubt. And Korea’s got it down pat. Whoever said it’s difficult to be vegetarian/pescatarian/chickenatarian in Korea clearly never tried. It’s possible. And delicious.

Here’s evidence.The most heavenly thing on earth. (remember when I said that cake is getting a second date? I keep my word.)
The cake comes with a knife. Korea thinks of EVERYTHING.
Lady at Paris Baguette also asked me if I wanted candles. I should’ve said yes because then she and the other lady proceeded to have a conversation in Korean that probably went like this “she’s buying a WHOLE cake for herself!?”
Andddd I’ve fallen in love with Korean street food. Can you say. FRIED. STUFFED. GREEN. PEPPER?
3. How am I ever going to leave this place? It’s going to break my heart. I just know it. (I know that wasn’t really a reason. Stop judging me. I like it when things come in three.)
November 20, 2011

My (first) Short, Sweet Korean Wedding!

Let’s start this post with a… !   !

Ya. Uh. I saw this shop on the drive to the wedding. And the 11 year old inside me giggled then prompted me to take a pic. Blame it on the ah ah ah eleven-year-old!

My awesome awesome director got hitched on Saturday- my FIRST short sweet Korean wedding. Get it? It’s a play on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” No? Doesn’t work? Ok… moving right along.

So Korean weddings are really short. The ceremony lasts about half an hour and then everyone eats. Did I mention that watching the ceremony is optional? As in, you can walk in… greet the groom/groom’s parents. Walk over to the bride’s room. Say what up And then peace out. To the buffet. Like. SERIOUSLY?! And that’s what most guests did. People would also get up and leave. Talk. Walk around. WHILE THE BRIDE AND GROOM WERE EXCHANGING VOWS!

I heart Korean weddings. Only as a guest though. I’d feel gypped as the bride. I mean if I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life. And running around like Bridezilla in the months leading up to the wedding then I better get (at least) a WHOLE day of undivided attention. And not a moment less.

Traditional Hindu Tamil weddings last a day… but recently the trend has been to borrow additional events from our Hindu friends up north like the mehendi. This is also one of the reasons I secretly hope to have a Gujarati or Punjabi wedding. These weddings last up to a week! (and come pre-packaged with days and days of undivided attention) Like hellllllooooooooo, where do I sign up! And uh Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m totally kidding. OBVIOUSLY.

Sorry, let’s get back to the wedding I went to and not my own hypothetical wedding…

Here is a pic of all the lovely ladies I work with (there’s a few more who couldn’t make it) What’s that? Is there anyone you know? Of course there is! Kayla is standing to the far left. I think she’s the only one I’ve written about so far… but the others are just as lovely. LOVE them all :)

So like I said before, you walk in and greet the groom and his parents. Here’s a pic of my director and his parents at the entrance to the hall. His mom is wearing the traditional Korean dress: a hanbok.

You also go and check out the bride. She sits in a room on the other side with a photographer ready to snap pictures of her and the guests. (It’s kinda like the brown wedding group photo op post wedding. Only difference being the koreans do it pre wedding and don’t invite the groom to this party.) We passed on that one, the photo op I mean. Because, well… we didn’t really know her. She looked gorgeous and I absolutely loved her dress. Especially the back of it.

Here’s a pic:


Next up… the ceremony starts and this part is like most church weddings in the West. Although, there are no flower girls or bridesmaids. And it’s not in a church.

AND this part really bugged me: the bride doesn’t get a grand entrance. Let me explain. So in this pic the groom is standing right in front of her. He walks down the aisle, bows and then takes his place at the front. (as opposed to the groom waiting at the front before the bride even enters the room) THEN she just walks down the aisle with her father. There is no opening of doors or a grand revelation. Or anything like that. I would’ve been like REDO please. As in just pretend you didn’t see me and let me walk in again. I digress. Again. Sorry!

Here’s a pic of them making it officially official. Doesn’t she look like a fairytale princess right out of Disney?!

I don’t have any pics of the bride or groom from the front – only videos. And I have no idea how to upload videos yet. So when I figure that out, I’ll update this post :)

Then. It’s time to EAT. (granted, most people were already eating as the bride and groom were making it officially official) But Kayla and I stayed til the end. We walked over to the hotel restaurant and this was the view (if you look closely you can see mountains!)

The buffet consisted of a variety of korean food – everything looked and smelled absolutely delicious!

But of course everything was either pork or beef and I wasn’t up to the challenge of eating raw seafood so I stuck to veggies. I had kimbap, kimchi, tofu, soup and noodles. It was SO good. I was so full I didn’t even go to the dessert table. Ya. You read that right. This is why I always say: Eat Dessert First!

And that was it. To be a little sentimental for a moment, (hey, I just witnessed two people commit themselves to each other…and sure I didn’t understand a word but that’s beyond the point. wedding = free pass to be emo) I just want to say that I’m so glad my first korean wedding was my director’s. He’s honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I wish him and his new wife all the happiness in the world. <3

After the wedding the other teachers and I decided to drive back to Chilgok and hang out for a bit. We went to this cute little coffee shop with the cutest name:

Andddddd here’s random photo of the day. I call it… I whip my hair back and forth.

November 19, 2011

Birthday Cake & Chopsticks

OH. HEY. What’s that you ask? Oh…nothing…just a box of DELICIOUSNESS. This stuff was literally the bestest. cake. I’ve. EVER. had. It was so fluffy and soft and melt in your mouth goodness. It had a layer of strawberry stuff in between the fluffiness. And even the fruit on top was perfection. You can bet your bottom dollar this cake is getting a second date. CAKE, I’LL BE SEEING YOU AGAIN ;)

Our awesome director got it for us to celebrate Susan’s (co teacher) birthday on friday. And we ate it with chopsticks. I struggled. obviously. but totally worth it.

In Korea, you can have your cake. and eat it too. with chopsticks.

November 17, 2011

My guardian angel footprint is probably HUGE

A friend posted this link (http://www.slaveryfootprint.org/) on fb and I wanted to share with my peeps because, well, awareness is the first step to action. The site asks a series of questions and calculates your “slavery footprint” It’s very insightful and I love it when organizations convey an important, pressing message in a creative way. 

Speaking of footprints, my guardian angel footprint is probably huuuuuuge. And they probably all work overtime too. If you’re reading this GAs, I just want to say: LOVE Y’ALL!!

If you couldn’t tell by that intro, this is going to be one random post so get comfortable and play this:  Yes, this post is so random it has a soundtrack.

Let’s start with FOOD. So before Korea, the only crab I liked was crab curry. Specifically, my mom’s. I wasn’t even that into crab sushi. Insert Paris Baguette. I am in LOVE with this stuff. I could eat it all day everyday. And I do. Ask me what was for lunch and dinner (and breakfast sometimes too!) for the past week. I even walked to TWO paris baguettes one night because the first one didn’t have any crab. I’m determined like that.

The first is mini crab salad burgers and the second is crab salad in a buttery croissant type wrap. Oh! The mouth-watering! Goodness!

Since so many of you have been asking about polyps-deciduous boy (P.D. boy), here’s an update: found out from Kayla that he will be moving to my Harvard class starting next month (ya, all our classes are named after US unis)

Currently I have 4 very bright, outspoken boys in that class. And I’m not sure how P.D. boy will fit in. But I think it’ll be good for him. Also told Kayla the story of how I bonded with him and she was thoroughly impressed. (I think)

Moving right along…I met some more foreign teachers Wednesday night and had this drink:

It’s called Running home run. And if that name doesn’t paint a clear picture, let me just say: Don Draper would have been proud of me.

And here’s proof of my awesome teaching (and drawing skills). 

My director’s wedding is tomorrow! (Saturday) and I’m so excited for my! first! Korean! wedding!

November 13, 2011

Cheers to the freakin’ weekend

If there is a right way to do your first night out in Korea then I’m pretty sure last night was it. Met some pretty cool foreign teachers from all around the world. Okay, so the majority of them were from America. And Scotland/England. That’s all-around-the-world ish enough, right? We started off with dinner then went bar hopping. And ended the night in true Korean style – at a noraebang (Korean Karoke)

Shot of SOJU! (Korea rice wine) This stuff is STRONG and tastes so yummy when mixed with juices. (Pictured here with mango juice)

So I’m pretty sure this little holder thing exists elsewhere in the world but I get excited about stuff like this, okay? HOW COOL IS THAT! (no pun intended) and here’s a fun fact my new friends were impressed with when I mentioned it: 4 degrees is colder than the average temperature in a fridge – 7 degrees.

You know those moments in life when you can’t believe how much you’re struggling? And with such simple things too? No? Never had a moment like that? Ok. Well in that case, let me bring some colour into your life. I’m just going to come out and say it. No sugar coating. I have no idea where I live. I mean I don’t even know how to say my address. So you might wonder how in the world I got home last night? Bar hopping and then getting home in your own town is mission enough. Well, let me introduce to you.. USE #358468 for the trusty iPhone:

Ya, go ahead and laugh. I asked my head teacher to record my address in Korean so that I could play it to my cab driver at the end of the night. And that’s exactly what I did. Laugh all you want. But I got home. Safe. Booyah.

And here’s me living life on the edge this morning (aka breakfast of champions aka I have-no-idea-what-I’m-about-to-eat and hope it’s nothing outrageous)

The important thing is I had a game plan. It was an epic fail. But it was a plan nonetheless.

My plan was to show the girl at the family mart the picture of chicken while nodding yes and point to the picture of the pig while shaking my head no. (the Koreans love their pork- everything is pork) but I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to think to download a pic of veggies before I left home (in the case that they didn’t have chicken) Now I know. And in the meantime, I’m going to pretend this is vegetarian. If you know for a fact that it’s not, please don’t tell me.

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