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1.207 Octopus Ink Fried Rice

-Cycle 1, Item 207-
31 July 2010

-Korean-
Octopus Ink Fried Rice

* * * *

at Beolgyo Maeul (벌교마을)

-Oksu, Seoul-

This wasn't a meal per se but rather the denouement of a meal called yeonpo tang (연포탕), an octopus stew (see 1.194 Yeonpo Tang). Towards the end--after the octopus has squirmed to death in the boiling broth, after the tentacles have been cut into pieces and consumed, after the heads have been cut into pieces, releasing the ink into the broth, and consumed, after most of the now-black and gooey broth has been consumed--the remaining sludge at the bottom of the pot is mixed with rice and other condiments as a finishing touch. It tastes better than it sounds.

My kid's favorite meal, bar none. Fortunately for him, not so much for me, the restaurant is 1 minute from home.

1.205 Linguine alla Puttanesca

MEAL 1.205
29 July 2010

-Italian-
Linguine alla Puttanesca

by me at home

Oksu
Seoul

* *

You ever get that feeling, following a recipe for the first time, like "this can't possibly be right"? That's what I was feeling as I was making this, following the recipe for the first time. It also probably didn't help that I'd never had puttanesca before, so essentially I was going by the photo in the cookbook.

[Someday, I'll go back and gather together the dishes that I've made from the recipes in this particular book.]

1.206 Capellini in Saffron-Tomato Broth


-Cycle 1, Item 206-
30 (Fri) July 2010

-Italian-
Capellini in Saffron-Tomato Broth

2.0

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

4 things:

1. I'm calling it a "broth" because that's what the recipe calls it. It starts off similar to a typical tomato sauce, though with the addition of saffron and a higher proportion of vegetable stock, but then the whole thing is pureed at the end to produce a smooth, soupy, broth-like texture--a technique that I'd never tried before but one that I'll certainly revisit soon enough.

2. Unfortunately, the flavor wasn't quite there. Frugality is partly to blame, as I was stingy with the saffron, loudly touted as the world's most expensive herb (thanks, Lisa!!), not willing to risk more than half a pinch of my treasured stash on an experimental dish. But the bigger bad lies in the inherent qualities of the local tomatoes, which tend to be more watery and acidic and less sweet (than, say, the roma tomatoes that I used back in the States), imparting a slightly and not-entirely pleasant herbaceous note when cooked into a dish. To be fair, various high-end supermarkets offer plum tomatoes, as well as heirlooms and other fancy varieties, but they're expensive for one thing and for another not readily if ever available in the stores where I usually shop.

3. Most important, I'm so in love with myself that I finally managed to get that coiled, whatever-it's-called look to the pasta. I didn't do anything different than before, just took a fork and spooled the noodles in the pot--yes, I'm sure there's an actual technique to this, and I would appreciate someone showing me how, but it's not important enough for me to go out and learn it on my own--so maybe it was simply the nature of the angel hair, which held together ever so obediently even after it was placed on the plate.

4. Chiffonade. Fresh basil, BTW.

1.203 Oyster Sauce Clams with Cauliflower and Zucchini

MEAL 1.203
27 July 2010

-Chinese-
Oyster Sauce Clams with Cauliflower and Zucchini

by me at home

Oksu
Seoul

* * * *

I wasn't planning on doing this again, not so soon at anyway (see 1.189 Oyster Sauce Chicken), even with clams as a new main ingredient. But I was home, thinking about what to do for dinner, contemplating a simple vongole for me and the kid with a handful of clams sitting in the fridge, when suddenly MtG called, sounding bored and hungry, so I invited him over, and my wife suddenly decided to come home early, and now I had 3.5 mouths to feed, but not enough clams for 3.5 servings of vongole, though I did have some leftover tofu, and some ground pork, enough for a plate of mabo, which doesn't really go with vongole (although, come to think of it, there's no specific reason beyond prejuduce why the two couldn't go together), so why not see if clams hold up well in the good-ole oyster sauce (see, no reason beyond prejudice to assume that mabo and oyster sauce would go together). It works with clams, yes, but the dish definitely works better with a main ingredient that picks up the sauce.

On a side note, I've decided that I really don't like clams. I love their flavor in broths (like, say, vongole), but I don't like the clam meat itself. Not too pleasant to look at, gritty at times, suspect at times. And the shells, they require the use of fingers and a separate plate to collect the empty ones. Just not worth it.

1.204 Kimchi Jeon


-Cycle 1, Item 204-
28 (Wed) July 2010

-Korean-
Kimchi Jeon

2.0

from Bindae Ddeok Maeul (빈대떡 마을) [takeout]

-Bundang, Gyeonggi-

I stopped by my parents' place in Bundang to drop something off and found my father home alone making ramyeon for dinner, my mother not yet back from an overnighter in Japan. Being the less-than-dutiful son, I hadn't given any thought to what my father would be doing for dinner that evening, but, had I stopped to think about it, the idea of him cooking for himself would not have been among the considerations.

In fact, come to think of it, this very well might have been the only time ever that I've seen him cook. Well, there was this one time in elementary school--when my mother was away for some reason, and my father made me hot dogs for lunch, which I still remember was an exciting prospect at the moment that he handed me the brown paper bag, I actually said the words "hot diggity dog!", but it didn't turn out so great a few hours later, by lunch time, after the hot dogs had turned cold, not so hot diggity--but I didn't see him make the food that time, so it doesn't count.

Anyway, on this evening, I told him that I'd be right back, went across the street to a restaurant that specializes in various jeon, got a couple of kimchi jeon, brought them back to the apartment, and shared them with my father, along with a cup or five of makgeolli (막걸리).

1.201 Dak Galbi

-Cycle 1, Dinner 201-
25 July 2010

-Korean-
Dak Galbi

at Ong-Jang-Gol ^

Gapyeong
Gyeonggi-Do

* * * * *

Despite the name, dak (닭) (chicken) galbi shares little in common with its pork or beef counterparts, which I've discussed in prior posts (see 1.001 Pork Galbi, 1.081 Pork Galbi, 1.091 Pork Galbi, 1.167 LA Galbi). First, chicken galbi has nothing to do with ribs, or even breast meat, really. Second, it's spicy, based on red chili paste or gochujang (고추장), as opposed to the sweet sesame-soy marinade. Third, the dish includes vegetables, typically onions and cabbage, and sometimes rice cakes or noodles. Fourth, it's usually cooked in a large iron skillet, where rice will be added at the end and fried in the remaining oil and tidbits to finish off the meal. Thus, chicken galbi is a completely different animal.

I tend to avoid chicken galbi. It's usually too spicy. It takes too long to cook the chicken through. During that time, constant stirring is required to prevent sticking and burning. In the event of ordering additional portions, the raw ingredients are thrown into the same skillet, resulting in a chaos of chicken pieces that are of varying degrees of doneness internally though indistinguishable from the outside. And I've never been a big fan of the fried rice thing; I never understood the attraction of eating rendered fat and blackened veggies.

That said, however, I'm willing to drive out of my way for the chicken galbi at this place, which I discovered during the course of my camping trips in the Gapyeong region of Gyeonggi-Do. It's located on a hillside about 5 kilometers from the highway. Each table, which comfortably seats 8, is essentially an immense brick oven with a stone cooking surface on top and a wood-burning furnace underneath. The wood comes directly from the surrounding land, which is owned by the proprietor. As for the food, the chicken is perfectly seasoned and balanced between spicy and sweet. Instead of the typical raw veggies, they use kimchi, which adds depth. To keep the flavors consistent throughout the meal, the table design allows for the oil and burned excess to be scraped off into a refuse gutter--nice. They do the fried rice thing, of course, but it's light and clean, seasoned on its own. If the food itself weren't enough, their own brand of "wine," which homemade from pine needles but, somehow, tastes like lemonade, is the perfect accompaniment to the spicy chicken. Awesome.

1.200 Gim Bap


-Cycle 1, Item 200-
24 (Sat) July 2010

-Korean-
Gim Bap

3.5

by Kim JA's nanny

at Sanjang Recreational Park (산장관광지)
[campsite]

-Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-

Gim Bap (김밥) is a Korean rice dish.  It consists of vegetables (e.g., carrot and spinach and burdock root and radish) and meat/fish (e.g., beef and/or ham and/or fish cake and/or (artificial) crab meat) and egg and rice, all rolled in a sheet of dried laver and sliced into cross-sections.  While similar in appearance to a Japanese-style sushi roll, gim bap doesn't include vinegar in the rice.  The name means "dried laver (kim) rice (bap)."   Each bite represents a self-contained well-balanced meal (without dairy, though some versions do include cheese).  The number and variety of the individual ingredients make preparation extremely time and work intensive, thus symbolizing care and dedication when done at home.  Once everything is ready to go, however, rolls can be quickly assembled in mass quantity, especially at snack shops and quick-fix eateries.  Easily wrapped in a sleeve of aluminum foil, no utensils required, and best at room temperature, gim bap is the food of choice for picnics, meetings, and other situations requiring convenience, arguably one of the most popular food items in Korea on a daily basis.  In many ways, it's not unlike a burger.

The gim bap featured here is remarkable for the single-layer precision of the rice, which allows the other ingredients to shine.  Not at all conventional, but the smaller size is great for kids.  Always a welcome contribution to our camp outings.

1.199 Clams with Chilies in Soy Vinaigrette

MEAL 1.199
23 July 2010

-Korean-
Clams with Chilies in Soy Vinaigrette

by other

at home

Oksu
Seoul

* * * *

1.198 Negi Toro Maki

-Cycle 1, Dinner 198-
22 July 2010

-Japanese-
Negi Toro Maki

* * * *

at Sakanaya
(Chelsea Premium Outlets)

-Yeoju, GyeongGi-

My favorite roll (maki), negi toro maki, consists of diced scallion (negi) and minced fatty tuna (toro). Although I'm not the biggest fan of toro per se, which I find to be a bit too rich (both in taste and price), the sharpness of the raw scallion cuts through the fat to make a perfectly balanced combination of fresh and rich.

Sakanaya is a kaiten sushi restaurant, in which customers directly take plates of sushi and other items moving past them on a revolving conveyor belt, each color-coded plate tallied up at the end. In Korea, the system is referred to as "hoejeon-chobap" (회전초밥), which literally means "revolving" (hoejeon) + "sushi" (chobap). Most plates at most places are at least 3,500 won and anything worth eating is around 5,000 won and anything good comes close to 10,000 won, which means that, for example, 10 pieces of standard tuna would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 won (5 plates x 5,000 won). The negi toro maki featured here was 5,000 won. Still, Sakanaya is one of the better dining options at this mall, an outlet mall located way out in the middle of nowhere. And my kid likes to grab things off the belt.

1.197 Beef Shabu Shabu


-Cycle 1, Item 197-
21 (Wed) July 2010

-Korean-
Beef Shabu Shabu

* * *

-Seongsu, Seoul-

A fairly traditional rendition of shabu shabu (see most recently 1.040 Seafood Shabu Shabu), though not a very good one.

Then again, my parents had invited me to dinner, just me, with the ulterior purpose of scolding me for some perceived slight that my wife had committed, so I really didn't have much of an appetite.

1.196 Chicken Curry


-Cycle 1, Item 196-
20 (Tue) July 2010

-Japanese-
Curry Rice with Chicken & Potatoes

2.5

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

Much better than last time (see previously 1.166 Currey Rice with Mushrooms).

1.195 Sea Cucumbers in Oyster Sauce

-Cycle 1, Item 195-
19 July 2010

-Chinese-
Sea Cucumbers in Oyster Sauce

* * *

at ^

-Cheongdam, Seoul-

At 35,000 won, plus VAT, in a fancy restaurant with high ceilings and dim lighting and a mini terra cotta warrior reproduction at the entrance and a faux waterfall by the stairs and a wine list featuring Petrus, I was hoping for more from this dish. Actually, one or all of those affections should've been a clear indication that I would be disappointed. In Seoul, the Cheongdam neighborhood, home to the Gucci flagship store and Maserati dealership, is about as posh--and as superficial--as it gets here in Korea, particularly when it comes to restaurants. It's all about decor and concept, which apparently leaves little time to worry about other details like, say, taste. The nouveau-riche get an opportunity to feel good about themselves, to convince themselves that they're experiencing something special, that they're spending their money to good end. Some of the places that I've been to in Cheongdam are soooooo unbelievably bad; and yet, a quick glance at the design reveals, sadly, how easily people--or rather, that exclusive club of people who are both privileged and dumb enough to expose themselves to such experiences--are duped by the drapery.

I should've known better, but it was my father's birthday, and my mother, who is the family arbiter of what constitutes success in an evening out, likes drapery.

It actually wasn't quite that bad per se, mediocre at best, just not worth the price. I mean, I wouldn't object to eating there again, so long as I'm not paying, not even for the valet.

1.194 Yeonpo Tang

-Cycle 1, Item 194-
18 July 2010

-Korean-
Yeonpo Tang

* * * *

at Beolgyo Maeul (벌교마을)

-Oksu, Seoul-

A rather cruel dish, yeonpo tang (연포탕) involves dumping live octopus into boiling broth, watching them squirm to death, chopping their tentacles into bite-size pieces, which are dipped in soy sauce and eaten, and then finishing them off by cutting their heads open to release the ink, which turns the broth into a black pool of gore.

My kid, 3 years old, completely goes nuts for it, every part of it, especially the watching them squirm to death part (fortunately, he has demonstrated no other acts of cruelty to animals nor displayed other sadistic traits).

1.193 BBQ Pork Bellies

MEAL 1.193
17 July 2010

-American-
BBQ Pork Bellies

by other

at Daegaya Meat Camp
(campsite)

Gyeongsang-Bukdo

* * * *

1.191 Pizza with Mushrooms and Black Olives

-Cycle 1, Item 191-
15 July 2010

-Italian-
Pizza with Mushrooms and Black Olives

* * * * *

at The Pizza Peel

-Itaewon, Seoul-

In a prior post, I discussed the diverging styles of pizza in Korea, with American on one side and Italian on the other (see 1.120 Arugula Pizza).

The Pizza Peel represents the latter category and makes a fine case for doing it the old-fashioned way. Owned and operated by a Canadian expat, who reportedly learned his craft in Italy, the small restaurant focuses exclusively on pizza and calzone, offered on a humble one-page menu, made on-the-spot with fresh hand-tossed dough, flash-cooked in a wood-fired oven, and served on an actual pizza peel. The finished crust was among the best that I've ever had: light and chewy in texture, savory without a touch of grease, perfectly seasoned and full of flavor. A touch scorched on the bottom from the extreme heat of the oven, but the blackened bits added character. Reasonably priced, the customized pizza here started at 12,000 won with the addition of black olives and mushrooms each 1,000 won, for a total of 14,000 won. Definitely worth it.

And worth going back for more.

1.189 Oyster Sauce Chicken with Bokchoy and Broccoli

MEAL 1.189
13 July 2010

-Chinese-
Oyster Sauce Chicken with Bokchoy and Broccoli

by me

at home

Oksu
Seoul

* * * *

An old standby (see 1.010 Oyster Sauce Chicken with Bokchoy and Broccoli, 1.077 Oyster Sauce Chicken with Bokchoy and Cauliflower) with a new and improved twist: instead of deep-frying the chicken, I simply splashed some olive oil on it and seared it in a cast iron grill pan. Not only does this save time and energy, it's healthier and results in a lighter (and better) dish. Although an improvement on my last attempt, which received 5 stars, I give this one only 4 stars due to predictability--already the 4th iteration thus far, second only to schnitzel with 6. I don't know why I photographed it here without the sauce.

1.188 Mul Naeng Myeon


-Cycle 1, Item 188-
12 (Mon) July 2010

-Korean-
Mul Naeng Myeon (물냉면)

2.5

at Pyeongyang Myeonok (평양면옥)

-Nonhyeon, Seoul-

Mul naeng myeon (물냉면) (MNM) is a Korean noodle soup.  It consists of noodles--either buckwheat or potato starch--in a chilled broth--either beef or fish or white radish kimchi.  The toppings usually include slices of beef and/or pork, pickled radish, cucumbers, Asian pear, and half of a boiled egg.  Some diners add dashes of vinegar and Korean mustard (similar to wasabi but yellow), giving it a cool tartness.  The name of the dish literally means "water (mul) cold (naeng) noodles (myeon)." Despite the sweeping definition, it's not to be confused with other Korean chilled noodle soups, such as kimchi mari guksu (see generally 1.011 Kimchi Mari Guksu).  Furthermore, anywhere MNM is available, so too is its cousin bibim naeng-myeon, which consists of the same noodles served sans broth in a spicy red chili pepper sauce.  Naeng-myeon in Korea, both the mul and bibim varieties, can be found either in specialty restaurants or in barbecue restaurants that serve the noodles at the end of the meal.

MNM falls into 2 distinct styles, each of which has its loyalists, usually exclusive of the other.  Although both are essentially the same in that they consist of noodles in chilled broth, with more or less the same toppings, they differ remarkably in the texture of the noodles and the flavor of the broth.

One is Hamheung (함흥)-style (HHS), after the city, currently in North Korea, from which it purportedly originated.  The noodles, made from potato starch, are extremely chewy, to the point of being rubbery, necessitating a few preliminary snips of scissors before they can be eaten, even though they're thin, thinner than angel hair pasta.  The broth tends to be tangy, making it more immediately recognizable and therefore more accessible to the masses.  This is the style of MNM that has come to dominate both the domestic and international markets in recent years.  Unless otherwise noted, MNM is now HHS by default.

The other is Pyeongyang (평양)-style (PYS), also after the northern city from which it purportedly originated.  The noodles, made from buckwheat, are more doughy in texture, and thicker, not quite spaghetti but close.  The broth is beefy but totally dry, devoid of sweetness, seemingly insipid at first sip.  Some would argue that this style represents the real deal.  Indeed, restaurants specializing in PYS do appear to be predominantly patronized by older clientele, old people, who perhaps cling to lingering memories of "authentic" MNM from the north prior to the Korean War.  

Recently, I've become a convert to PYS  but it was a struggle getting there.  Like people born after 1951, I grew up preferring HHS.  My parents, both of whom were born in the north prior to 1951, had always insisted that HHS was crap.  But in my first experiences with PYS, I couldn't get past the texture of the noodles and the taste of the broth.  Somewhere along the way, no specific turning point, reason or time, I began to find HHS intolerable: the noodles made me gag, literally, and the broth was just too sweet and sour.  Maybe I just got old.

Pyeongyang Myeonok, as the name would clearly indicate, specializes in PYS MNM.  By most accounts, it's one of the best in the business.  Maybe it's too hardcore for me, but I'm not a huge fan.  

1.187 Jeonbok Juk


-Cycle 1, Item 187-
11 (Sun) July 2010

-Korean-
Jeonbok Juk

* * * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

As I explained in a prior post, I make jeonbok juk (전복죽) as an alimentary panacea when a loved one is ailing (see 1.097 Jeonbok Juk). This time, the wife.

I don't have a clue as to how the dish is made traditionally, if a traditional method even exists. The only significant experience that I've had with jeonbok juk beyond my own was in Jeju, where it's a local specialty. There, they incorporate the black guts of the abalone, which gives the porridge a dark greenish hue and a slightly bitter flavor. A simplified version of the dish is commonly served in a tiny bowl as an individual appetizer in Japanese restaurants here, but that hardly counts. It's offered at juk chain restaurants (e.g., Bon Juk (본죽)), but I've never had the pleasure. And as far back as I can remember, I don't recall anyone, not even my mother, making it for me at home.

My version would probably be regarded as a bit unusual by any standard. I start by sauteing thinly sliced abalone and minced leeks in sesame oil, soy sauce, and black pepper. Then, minced onion, celery, and cabbage. Rice, usually cooked (for convenience). Chicken stock. Corn. White pepper. Egg white. Just prior to serving, an extra dash of sesame oil. Salt, if necessary. Garnish with diced scallions, sesame seeds, and sometimes crushed laver.

1.185 Blowfish Stew


-Cycle 1, Item 185-
9 July 2010

-Korean-
Blowfish Stew

3.0

at Geumsu Bok-Guk

-Sinsa, Seoul-

Geumsu Bok-Guk is a Korean restaurant.  Specializes in blowfish, particularly stews, either spicy red or light white, but also as sashimi and other methods of preparation.  Located in Sinsa, the place with the gigantic blowfish on the storefront.

The stew is quite good. 

1.186 Yusanseul


-Cycle 1, Item 186-
10 (Sat) July 2010

-Chinese-
Yusanseul

* *

from Bogyeonggak (보경각) [takeout]

at my uncle's cabin

-Hoengseong, Gangwondo-

Yusanseul (유산슬) is a Chinese dish.  In the original Chinese, the name refers to a "quick deep-fry + light braise () (liu)" of "three () (san)" ingredients that are "thinly sliced () (sa)."  I've never seen the dish outside of Korea.  In the Korean-Chinese tradition, the three ingredients include a meat, typically pork; a seafood, typically sea cucumber and/or shrimp; and a vegetable, typically bamboo and/or mushroom, either/all button/enoki/oak; all of which are just stir-fried, usually in oyster sauce.  When done right, it's silky and savory--one of my favorites.  When done wrong, it can be slippery and stinky--as here.

After yangjangpi (see most recently 1.092 Yangjangpi), yusanseul is the second dish to be featured in this blog's on-going Top Seven Most Popular Chinese Dishes in Korea series.

A last minute overnighter to my uncle's cabin with no food prep forced us to scrounge provisions in the nearby town, which includes a small Chinese joint.  I'd bet that the place makes yusanseul maybe once a year at most.   

1.184 Spicy Grilled Eel

-Cycle 1, Dinner 184-
8 July 2010

-Korean-
Spicy Grilled Eel

* * *

at Jigeul-Jigeul (지글지글)

-Sinchon, Seoul-

A common type of restaurant in Korea is the meat buffet. It offers an array of beef, pork, chicken, and seafood to be barbecued/grilled at the table, "Korean BBQ-style," along with rice, noodles, and side dishes. Popular among college students, or young people in general, with big appetites and light wallets, the prices are usually cheap, almost suspiciously so, anywhere from 8,000 won per person and up.

This particular establishment is owned by Kim Ictaek (김익택), a member of Backcountry Camping. MtG and I first met Mr. Kim on our first outing with the group in February, when we went to Guleop-Do (굴업도) (see 1.053 Franks & Beans). As we were parting ways at the conclusion of the trip, Mr. Kim gave us his business card. He seemed like a nice guy, so we'd been meaning to go but never got around to it. Then, a few days ago, we encountered Mr. Kim again on our trip to Jangbong-Do (장봉도) (see 1.179 Chili-Cheese Dogs). With other members of Backcountry Camping, whom we had grown close to in the intervening months, we all met up at Jigeul-Jigeul--our first meeting outside of a camping environment.

1.182 Roast Chicken

MEAL 1.182
6 July 2010

-American-
Roast Chicken

by me

at home

Oksu
Seoul

* * *

1.183 Grilled Samgyeopsal


-Cycle 1, Item 183-
7 (Wed) July 2010

-Korean-
Grilled Samgyeopsal

2.5

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

Nothing particularly remarkable about the meal, "just another last-minute grilling of pork bellies from the freezer" as featured in prior posts (see 1.028 Grilled Samgyeopsal; 1.039 Grilled Samgyeopsal).

However, this photo is definitely my favorite thus far. Completely unplanned, and unusual in that, while Koreans often wrap their grilled meat in greens (see 1.005 Samgyeopsal), it's usually not romaine lettuce, a relatively new veggie here. I had a few leftover leaves that needed to be finished off. I never would've imagined that romaine could in itself finish off a presentation to such dramatic effect.

1.181 Semi-Fried Dumplings


-Cycle 1, Item 181-
5 (Mon) July 2010

-Chinese-
Semi-Fried Dumplings

2.0

at Jonny Dumpling

-Itaewon, Seoul-

Jonny Dumpling is a Chinese dumpling shop, supposedly.  According to the newspaper articles framed in the window, it's supposed to be pretty good.  Based on this one dish--"semi-fried" refers either to the shallow pan-frying cooking method or the additional crust of some unidentifiable nature attached to half the skin, though otherwise the dumplings seemed like typical if mediocre Korean-style mandu (see generally 1.067 Mandu Jeon-Gol)--I found neither to be entirely true.  

1.180 Cheese Pizza

-Cycle 1, Dinner 180-
4 July 2010

-American-
Cheese Pizza

* * *

from Domino's
(delivery)

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

Exactly what I said before about this same pizza from the same place (see 1.111 Cheese Pizza).

1.179 Chili-Cheese Dogs with Hog's Ass Hot Sauce

-Cycle 1, Dinner 179-
3 July 2010

-American-
Chili-Cheese Dogs
with Hog's Ass Hot Sauce

* * * * *

by me

at Ong-Am Paradise
(옹암 파라다이스)
[campsite]

-Jangbong-Do, GyeongGi-

In the United States, July 4th is one of the biggest days of the year for backyard barbecue. That means steaks, chicken, ribs, burgers, hotdogs--all the best that American cuisine has to offer.

Although I never felt particularly patriotic while living in the States, absence has made the heart grow fonder. Last year, on Independence Day, I was buying a beer for my college fraternity buddy TJ, an officer in the US Army who was stationed at the time in Dongducheon (동두천) near the DMZ, and went so far as to raise a ridiculously corny toast like, "Thanks for serving our country and protecting Korea with your service!" This year, with the 4th of July falling on a weekend in which I'd committed to a camping trip organized by Backcountry Camping, I wanted to commemorate the occasion by sharing a taste of Americana with some Korean friends.

Even more to the point, our intended destination of Deokjeok-Do (덕적도), a small island off the western coast, had been selected by the group's leader specifically because it's famous for the large contingent of American expats who pilgrimage there around this time every year and camp out on the beach to celebrate. The idea, I suppose, was to take advantage of an opportunity for cross-cultural (camping culture) exchange, with me serving as ambassador. Unfortunately, heavy fog that morning prevented the boat from taking off, forcing us and a lot of white people with coolers and sleeping bags to make alternative arrangements. We settled on another island farther down the coast, which required a short 10-minute ferry ride unaffected by the fog. I don't know what the white people did.

In any event, I prepared chili-cheese dogs. The chili had been prepared at home and reheated on-site. The (cheddar) cheese was grated on-site. The hotdogs--Hebrew Nationals, of course--were boiled. The buns were steamed over the boiling hotdogs. I'd also brought 2 bottles of Sam Adams and 1 bottle of Jack Daniels. A complete success.

1.178 Haemul Jjambbong


-Cycle 1, Item 178-
2 July 2010

-Chinese-
Haemul Jjambbong

2.0

at Hwang-Geum Ryong (황금룡)

-Seongsu, Seoul-

Jjambbong is a Korean-Chinese noodle soup.  Consists of flour-based noodles in spicy broth with onions, cabbage, and other vegetables, and usually a few pieces of squid, shrimp, and/or mussels. At any given Chinese restaurant in Korea, 90% of diners are bound to be eating either jjambbong or jjajang-myeon (짜장면) (see most recently 1.172 Jjajang-Myeon). Whereas jjajang-myeon has something of a counterpart in China, jjambbong is generally thought to be an invention of the Chinese immigrants to Korea sometime around the turn of the 20th century.

Hwang-Geum Ryong (황금룡) ("golden dragon") is Korean-Chinese restaurant.  Lies along the route between home and the supermarket.

Popular among the locals for haemul* (해물) jjambbong, though I suspect that the popularity is based largely on the sheer size of the dish, which is served in gigantic bowls so big that the servers bring them to the table on wheeled carts.  Taste is whatever.

*"Haemul," which means "seafood" and is used interchangeably with the term "samseon" (see 1.117 Samseon Jjajang-Myeon), promises a greater variety and amount of seafood.