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2.146 Fried Rice a la Dak Dori Tang

Cycle 2, Dinner 146-
31 (Tue) May 2011

-Korean-
Fried Rice a la Dak Dori Tang (닭도리탕)

* * * *

by me
(based on leftovers of Nanny 2's dish)

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife

This employed the exact same philosophy as with yesterday's familiar/new creation. The only difference was that the fried rice this time incorporated leftover dak dori tang, chicken braised with potatoes and carrots in soy-sesame sauce, a dish that I discussed in a prior post (see 2.110 Dak Dori Tang).

An excellent way to use up leftovers while getting something extra out of it (I suppose like making meatloaf sandwiches the next day).

2.145 Fried Rice a la Jjuggumi Bokkeum

Cycle 2, Dinner 145-
30 (Mon) May 2011

-Korean-
Fried Rice a la Jjuggumi Bokkeum (쭈꾸미볶음)

* * * * *

by me
(based on leftovers of Nanny 2's dish)

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

This is both familiar and new.

It's familiar in the sense that it starts with jjuggumi bokkeum (쭈꾸미볶음), octopus stir-fried with vegetables in a spicy-sweet soy-gochujang sauce--a popular and well-recognized Korean dish. Variations of the dish, some of which feature substitutions of the main ingredient with a different cephalopod, been discussed in previous posts (see 2.005 Jjuggumi Deopbap, 2.027 Naki Jjim, 2.085 Ojingeo Bokkeum with Steamed Rice). The jjuggimi bokkeum here, leftovers, had been made by our nanny earlier in the evening and eaten by the rest of the family before I arrived home.

It's also familiar in the sense that it employs the common Korean method of mixing plain rice with the remaining sauce and bits and pieces of a dish to finish off the meal. Many of the meals throughout the blog have included this final step, though only a couple occasions have been represented directly as such (see 1.207 Octopus Ink Fried Rice, 1.362 Beef Shabuki Porridge).

However, this is new in the sense that jjuggumi bokkeum and fried rice have never in my experience been combined in quite this manner. And it wasn't just mixing rice in with the leftovers--I first scrambled the egg, then fried the rice in oil separately, added the octopus and other vegetables in stages, and spooned the sauce in at the end--a bona fide process that resulted in a novel culinary creation, albeit a derivative one, that tasted and felt like something else.

2.144 Samsuki Tang

Cycle 2, Dinner 144-
29 (Sun) May 2011

-Korean-
Samsuki Tang (삼숙이탕)

* * * *

at Haeseong Hoe-Jip (해성 횟집)

-Gangneung, Gangwon-

with Cho JH, Kim KH, Lee HS, MtG, Yun YH, and Wife

In keeping with our tradition of wrapping up a camping trip by sampling a local delicacy at a famous restaurant in the area, we made a few inquiries and settled on a restaurant called Haeseong Hoe-Jip (해성 횟집) in Gangneung Central Market (강능중앙시장), about 15 kilometers from the mountain range where we'd spent the previous night. The restaurant offered but two dishes: al tang (알탕), a soup (tang) made from fish-roe (al); and samsuki tang, a soup (tang) made from a fish of that name (samsuki). None of us had ever heard of samsuki, so we were intrigued.

Despite the signs on the exterior, the restaurant doesn't offer other menu items.
(Yeonhee's first order of business, always, is to run for the ladies' room.)

In front of the restrooms, an unmanned table sells wads of toilet paper for 50 won each;
on an honor system, change is provided.

Clockwise from bottom left: MtG, Jinhee, Kiho, me, Wife, Yeonhee
[photo courtesy of Lee Hosup]

Our curiosity paid off. The broth was spicy, garlicky, intensely rich in fish flavor, totally refreshing. (For the sake of comparison, we also ordered a bowl of the al tang, which seemed to be made from the same stock and thus more or less identical to the other but with less fish flavor.) The fish, chopped up into small chunks, was clean and white in taste, a bit chewy in texture, and surrounded by cartilage and black skin and spiny bones, much like a monk fish. The innards (featured prominently in the photo), from some other unidentified fish, I found to be unpleasantly devoid of taste and nauseatingly spongy, though my companions seemed to enjoy them. (One of us asked, "Are these fish brains?" Another replied, "Fish don't have brains that big.") Overall, the dish was worthy of the hype and worth the extra drive.

Buying fish in the market.

In writing this post, I wanted to provide a better description of the fish itself. I couldn't find a translation in the Korean-English dictionary. Hoping to get a visual, indeed an actual photo, I ran an image search on the internet and discovered that 23 of the first 28 images related specifically to Haeseong Hoe-Jip, either photos of the dish or the side dishes or the entrance or interiors of the restaurant--but nothing on samsuki per se; the same held true for the next few pages, so I gave up. Apparently, the very existence of samsuki resonates solely within this particular establishment.


Earlier that morning, we had awoken to find the entire mountain range completely engulfed in fog. At parts along the trail, we couldn't see farther than 10 meters ahead. It was an entirely different experience than what we had encountered on the way up, but fascinating in its own way. Awesome.

[photo courtesy of Lee Hosup]

The Wife, clad head-to-toe in black with a white base layer (no, I didn't dress her in my own image),
earning her the nickname "The Nun."
[photo courtesy of Lee Hosup]

Me, way cool.
[photo courtesy of MtG]

[photo courtesy of Lee Hosup]

2.143 Smoked Duck with Buchu and Perilla Leaves

-Cycle 2, Dinner 143-
28 (Sat) May 2011

-Korean-
Smoked Duck with Buchu and Perilla Leaves
in Onion-Wasabi Dressing

* * * * *

from some duck restaurant
[takeout]

at an undisclosed location
[campsite]

-Seonjaryeong, Gangwon-

with Cho JH, Kim KH, Lee HS, MtG, Yun YH, and Wife

Exactly 365 days ago, on a trip organized by Backcountry Camping to this same mountain range, MtG and I first met Jinhee and Kiho and Hosup and Yeonhee. From the mouth-watering food at the campsite (see 1.144 Barbecued Yang-Nyeom Galbi-Sal) to the awe-inspiring trek on the following afternoon through the colossal windmill forest along the verdant hills of the region, we shared an unforgettable experience that would propel us toward becoming the closest of friends, along with Ictaek (which is another story altogether), in the shortest of intervals. During the past year, I had dinner with at least 1 member of this group (not including MtG) on 57 occasions, and another dozen or so meetings after dinner for drinks; the number of get-togethers without me among the other members, who all live/work in the same vicinity and don't have families, is probably at least as many; thus, on average, we have met once every three days. And no, we're not quite yet sick of each other.


From left: Jinhee, Yeonhee, me, MtG, Kiho, Wife
[all photos below courtesy of Lee Hosup]

Seonjaryeong (선자령) is a strictly regulated national preserve, where any activity beyond walking along the established trails is prohibited by law and punishable by fine of up to 500,000 won. Even smoking and eating are technically illegal. Last year, we had slept at an estabished campsite located at the base of the mountain and trekked through the course with daypacks the next day.


From the midpoint observation deck, a view of the East Sea (obscured by fog).

On the first anniversary of that trip, we returned to the scene with a plan to make the sequel a bit bolder. This time, we decided to carry our gear into the mountains, find a secluded spot somewhere in the woods, and spend the night in true backcountry fashion.

Summit.
From left: Kiho, Jinhee, Me, Wife, Hosup, Yeonhee

My wife, who is not a core member of the group, surprised everyone by agreeing to join us on the trip. While she is by now a semi-seasoned car camper, the most difficult outdoor challenge that she had faced to this point was camping without electricity. She had never been mountain climbing or even trekking. And she certainly had never strapped on a backpack larger or heavier than the one she used to carry books in high school. But she came through like a star, never once wavering, never once flagging, never once complaining.


As with last year, the hike up the mountain was spectacular, though somewhat obscured by fog. At the top, the range levels off into a rolling green plateau studded with windmills that generate energy from the ocean winds coming in from the East Sea about 10 kilometers away. In addition to the visual impact of the windmills, the audial and physical sensation of walking under them as they rotate and swoosh overhead is exhilarating.

In the woods, without the collective lights of civilization,
darkness after sunset is immediate and absolute.

The reality of camping far the beaten path poses several practical problems. Water, or lack thereof, is the most serious concern, especially for Koreans who need a lot of it to cook broth-based foods (e.g., ramyeon) and to rehydrate after a long night of boozing. Fortunately, our site was located near a stream, and we had packed a purifier. Another thing is that forest floors tend to be littered with rocks and tree branches and weeds and thorns and mud and all kinds of nature's crap, none of which makes for a pleasant sleeping surface, even with a mattress. And on a mountain, there's also the incline. Fortunately, we found a clearing in the forest that was relatively even and suspiciously free of debris, making us wonder what lay beneath the surface. Insects and other pests can also be a problem in dense vegetation. Fortunately, it was still too cold for mosquitoes, and everything else seemed content to leave us alone. Then again, Yeonhee would tell us the next morning that she didn't sleep a wink after hearing us talk about racoons and snakes and boars and ax murderers and aliens.

In commemoration of last year, Yeonhee reprised her galbi.

All in all, it was the greatest camping experience that I've ever had.

2.142 Yangnyeom Galbi


-Cycle 2, Item 142-
27 (Fri) May 2011

-Korean-
Yangnyeom Galbi

3.5

at Samwon Garden (삼원가든)

-Sinsa, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, and Nanny 2

Galbi (갈비) is a type of Korean barbecue.  In its original and complete and purest form, galbi consists of beef short ribs that are butterflied off the bone and marinated in a sweet soy-sesame-garlic marinade and cooked on a grill over coals. The term "galbi" literally means "ribs" but, when used alone without additional qualifiers in a culinary context, it usually means this dish as just described; technically, the long form could be something like "sogogi (beef) yangnyeom (sauce/marinade) (as here) galbi (ribs) gui (grilled)," though nobody would ever refer to it as such.  

In several previous posts, I've described other dishes that come close to varying degrees: yangnyeom galbisal (양념갈비살), a shortcut form (literally, pun intended) that involves slicing the meat into small pieces in lieu of butterflying (see 1.144 Grilled Yangnyeom Galbisal); LA galbi, an American form that involves cutting the ribs laterally across the rack (see 1.168 Pan-Fried LA Galbi); galbi jjim (갈비찜), a braised dish that cooks whole short ribs, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and other vegetables in a similar soy-based sauce (see 2.030 Galbi Jjim); and even pork galbi, which is almost identical with the obvious difference in species (see 1.091 Grilled Pork Galbi).

Like most good Korean barbecue in Korea, galbi is prohibitively expensive due to the astronomical cost of domestic beef, hanwoo (한우).  At Samwon Garden, a landmark restaurant that's on the pricier side, but by no means the priciest, the galbi costs 55,000 won for a 150-gram portion, which includes the bone and the marinade.  Ouch.  Here, we opted for the cheaper American beef galbi at 39,000 won for a 160-gram portion.  Still ouch.  Someday, I should do a blind taste test to see if the extra cost is worth it.

After all, the American beef is quite good as it is.

2.141 Baekban

-Cycle 2, Dinner 141-
26 (Thu) May 2011

-Korean-
Baekban

* *

at Suninjae (선인재)
(Ajou University School of Medicine)

-Suwon, GyeongGi-

solo

In various posts prior, I've discussed both the baekban form in general (see 1.058 Nurungji Baekban), as well as some of the side dishes present here. Clockwise from top left: dak dori tang (닭도리탕) (see 2.110 Dak Dori Tang), ggakdugi (깍두기) (radish kimchi), crab meat & cucumber salad, "spam" jeon (전) (not actual Spam by Hormel) (see 1.066 Assorted Jeon), kimchi-sundubu guk (김치순두부국) (see 1.315 Clam-Sundubu Jjigae with Steamed Rice).

Whenever I happen to sit down for a meal in the cafeteria at work, which is rare, and the cafeteria puts out slop like this, which is common, I wonder what the foreigners think. In the past few years, the sight of non-Koreans roaming the halls of the medical school has become somewhat commonplace with the growing influx of researchers and technicians from abroad, mostly India, Pakistan, and certain countries in Southeast Asia. They can be seen in the cafeteria at meal times, usually gathered together at a corner table and brown-bagging it (especially those wearing Muslim garb, which is understandable since the cafeteria obviously isn't halal and many of the items served contain pork or shellfish or other prohibited products), but every so often with a tray of the daily offering. And I wonder what they think about the food.

2.140 Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu

-Cycle 2, Item 140-
25 (Wed) May 2011

-Japanese-
Tonkotsu Ramen with Chashu

* * * * *

at Gamamarui

-Sinchon, Seoul-

with Kim IT and MtG

Among the main categories of ramen, the tonkotsu type consists of a thick, milky broth made from boiling pork bones, meat, fat, and other piggy goodies for an extended period of time, ideally 3 days if done right, resulting in a rich, intensely pork flavor. Toppings typically include bean sprouts, scallions, garlic, and ginger, all of which balance out the creaminess of the broth. In some cases, the dish is additionally topped with meat, such as sliced barbecue pork chashu (from the Chinese "char siu") (as here).

This small ramen joint in Sinchon does it right, nearly to perfection, the only drawback being a slightly over-porky aftertaste. Clearly, the owner tries to get it right, from the food down to every last detail in the establishment: the ticket vending machine (so the chefs don't have to touch money), the imported Japanese sauces, the handcut bamboo chopsticks. Overall, an excellent and authentic ramen experience.


After dinner, my friends insisted that we drive out to the riverside park and perform a ritual to bestow good luck on my new car: Land Rover Discovery 4 TDV6. The ritual--which is something like a christening ceremony for boats but precluded from being called as such due to its shamanistic origins--involves offers of food and booze and money to the spirits and bowing and entreatments for safe journeys and dousing the tires in the booze. The participants finish off the food and booze, while the owner of the vehicle keeps the money (which offsets the initial purchase of the food and booze). A win-win.

2.139 Grilled Shrimp and Cheddar-Jack Tacos with Tapatio Salsa

-Cycle 2, Dinner 139-
24 (Tue) May 2011

-Mexican-
Grilled Shrimp and Cheddar-Jack Tacos
with Tapatio Salsa

* * * * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Dominic

Getting my hands on Tapatio Hot Sauce for the first time in over a month, I had no choice but to go Mexican (even though Tapatio goes with everything).

The brand, produced in Southern California and ubiquitous in restaurants (mostly Mexican) throughout the region, is available for overseas purchase on-line at a cost of US$20 for 24 bottles in the 50-ml size--shipping is additional $120. My buddy MtG ordered a box and gave me a couple bottles.

2.138 Bagel Sandwich with Cream Cheese, Lettuce & Tomato


-Cycle 2, Dinner 138-
23 (Mon) May 2011

-American-
Bagel Sandwich with Cream Cheese, Lettuce & Tomato

* *

by Wife

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

A milestone: the first post featuring a meal prepared by the wife! (The last time that she made something for me was over 4 years ago, during my recovery period from tonsillectomy, which prompted her to learn how to cook egg custards, bless her heart.)

Having arrived home late, I was holding a bagel and contemplating what to do with it for a simple dinner, when she suddenly popped out of nowhere like a fairy godmother and volunteered.  I don't know what possessed her.  Intrigued, I placed the bagel on the countertop and silently walked away and plopped down in front of the TV in the living room.  About 30 seconds later, she called out, "What goes in a sandwich?"  I replied, "Surprise me."   This was the result: cream cheese and (unseasoned) tomato and lettuce on a cold, dry, stale bagel (I would've toasted it and slathered it in mayo and mustard).  Taste and texture aside, I actually enjoyed it, even though it wasn't really very good, and I wouldn't want to repeat the experience.

2.137 Gwang-Eo Mul-Hoe

-Cycle 2, Item 137-
22 (Sun) May 2011

-Korean-
Gwang-Eo Mul-Hoe (광어 물회)

* * * * * *

at Jang-An Hoe-Jip (장안 회집)

-Gangneung, Gangwon-

with Wife, Dominic, Cho JH, Han CY, Hwang SE, Kim KH, Kim IT (and family), Lee HS, MtG, Yun YH

Essentially, mul-hoe (물회) is raw fish in a chilled fish broth, usually clear but sometimes spicy (as here). The name literally means "water" (mul) and "raw fish" (hoe). In addition to the fish, the dish also includes other ingredients, such as sliced cucumbers, carrots, onions, dried laver, and is typically augmented with rice or noodles (as here). The types of fish are likely to be those most popular as raw fish in general, such as gwang-eo (광어) (as here) (see generally 2.104 Engawa Nigiri Sushi).


The sign on the front door reads:
"Having sold out of ingredients, we are closed for business. Sorry."

This place, a famous seafood restaurant located along the wharf in the fishing town of Gangneung (강릉) on the east coast, offers a perfect mul-hoe. It was a perfect blend of sweet, spicy, sharp, soft. The fish was crystal fresh. Amazing. I practically licked the bowl clean.

Clockwise from bottom left: KH, HS, YH, IT, IT's kid, IT's wife, JH, CY, SE, MtG, Wife, Dominic

After packing up our gear from Backcountry Camping's 2-year anniversary gathering over the weekend, those of us who weren't in a hurry to get home rendezvoused at the restaurant, where our large-scale reservation had bought out the available fish for the day and literally shut the place down. Our party arrived a bit late, after the others had already eaten, so we were the only patrons in an otherwise empty establishment.

2.136 Diablo Pork Pocket

-Cycle 2, Dinner 136-
21 (Sat) May 2011

-Sui Generis-
Diablo Pork Pocket

* * *

by MtG

at Lu-Jang-Gol Camp Grounds
(루장골 야영장)

-Gangneung, Gangwon-

with Cho JH, Kim KH, Kim IT, Lee HS, Yun YH, MtG,
and various members of Backcountry Camping

On the occasion of Backcountry Camping's two-year anniversary, over 60 members and their families gathered to celebrate over the weekend, some arriving Friday evening with the main events to take place on Saturday and Sunday. It was through this on-line community that MtG and I first met and eventually became close with Jinhee, Kiho, Ictaek, Hosup, and Yunhee, all of whom were present. I brought along the wife and kid, as did Ictaek. My wife, in turn, also invited a former colleague and the colleague's husband and kid. MtG invited a friend from his other on-line community (idiot Mini enthusiasts), as well as the friend's girlfriend. All told, our sub-group comprised 16 men, women, and children.


[photo courtesy of 니케; permission pending]

There was so much food that I can barely remember what I shoved down my pie hole. In addition to the stuff that we'd brought for ourselves, the organizers had prepared 30 kilograms of pork barbecue, not to mention kimchi and side dishes, as well cake and rice cakes for dessert, and 20 cases of beer. Talk about overkill.


[photos courtesy of 아더; permission pending]

One of the things that stood out was this novelty item from MtG. It consisted of minced pork and garlic and onions, seasoned with cumin and other spices, sandwiched between two slices of white bread, encased in a two-sided sandwich griddle, and grilled over a flame. The griddle was a Diablo, a device that cuts the bread into a circular shape and seals the edges in doing so to make a neatly contained pocket. In this case, however, the problem with MtG's execution was that the pork was dry (I would later insist on adding cheese) and the bread was some kind of "milk bread" that didn't go so well with the fillings. But it was still pretty cool.

Incidentally, I've categorized this as "American" because the chef didn't know what to call it, and when in doubt I go with "American."



On a small plot of land adjacent to but not affiliated with the campsite, a mode of accommodation referred to in Korea as a "pension" was available for the not-so-outdoorsy types. Pensions are basically guest houses for rent, often free-standing and constructed in a cabin style, though sometimes combined together in larger building like a hotel. They're wildly popular these days, particularly among families looking to get away to the countryside while having all the amenities of home.


[photo courtesy of 니케; permission pending]


Anticipating rain and cold weather, we rented one. Once inside, my wife and kid, as well as the other moms and kids in our group, didn't budge. They ate their meals separately within the warm and dry confines of the pension, while the rest of us (the men) huddled beneath the tarps on the campsite. Except that I had to shuttle back and forth to deliver food and drinks throughout the evening, it was actually a blessing for me, not having to worry about my family in the mud. All in all, a good compromise, one that we'll surely employ in the future to make sure everyone's happy.

2.135 Cheddar-Jack Quesadillas with Grilled Chicken and Roast Peppers

-Cycle 2, Dinner 135-
20 (Fri) May 2011

-Mexican-
Cheddar-Jack Quesadillas
with Grilled Chicken and Roast Peppers
and Bulliard's Premium Cayenne Pepper Sauce

* * * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

My first experience with roasting bell peppers turned out to be easier and more effective than I'd imagined. Like on TV, I placed a whole pepper directly over an open flame on the gas range. After a few minutes, the thing turned entirely black, completely burned on the outside. I placed it in a bowl and covered it with a pot lid for another couple minutes, giving time for the steam to loosen the burnt skin from the body of the pepper, after which it came off like a charm. The remaining pepper underneath was left with an intense smoky chili aroma along with an added sweetness from the caramelization. Amazing. And so simple.

As I'm going camping tomorrow with my buddies, the plan is to bust out these quesadillas late at night, deep into the drinking process, when the demand for greasy foods is at its peak. When it comes to cooking and camping, I've learned that timing counts more than taste.

Anyway, I only had mini "snack-sized" tortillas on hand, so I wanted to see in advance if they would work in quesadilla form. Folded in half, they actually work better, each being a hand-held individual portion, pretty much like a taco.

MEAL 500!! I can't believe that I've made it this far, never once missing a photo, all photos taken with the same iPhone. (Now if I could only put these powers of stick-to-it-iveness to something more useful....)

2.134 Jolly Roger Fry-Up

-Cycle 2, Dinner 134-
19 (Thu) May 2011

-English-
Jolly Roger Fry-Up

* * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

Arriving home late, I was rummaging through the fridge to see what I could mash together for a quick-fix meal when inspiration struck me at the sight of my kid, who was wearing a t-shirt that depicts, more or less, this very image. In the end, he was a bit disappointed that the eggs didn't look more like a skull, as they do on the t-shirt.

2.133 Cherry Tomatoes


-Cycle 2, Item 133-
18 (Wed) May 2011

-Universal-
Cherry Tomatoes

* * * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

For the purpose of categorizing the meal by national origin, I don't know if this is exactly "American," but I'd imagine that eating a bowl of raw cherry tomatoes for dinner is something that an American would do. [Note: since the initial posting, I've created a BY ORIGIN "universal" category to describe items that could be claimed by any national cuisine.]

I also don't know if I could characterize it as "home-cooked," but it certainly doesn't fit into any of the other source categories. Maybe I should make a "raw, as is" category and endeavor to eat more things that qualify. [Note: since the initial posting, I've changed the BY SOURCE category from "home-cooked" to "by me."] 

In Korea, cherry tomatoes are called "bang-ul" (방울) tomatoes, which means "droplet."

2.132 Hobak Jeon with Soy-Sambal-Sesame Dipping Sauce

-Cycle 2, Dinner 132-
17 (Tue) May 2011

-Korean-
Hobak Jeon (호박전)
with Soy-Sambal-Sesame Dipping Sauce

* * * * *

by Nanny 2

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

Among the many types of jeon (전) (see generally 1.066 Assorted Jeon), my favorite is made with ae-hobak (애호박), a green squash similar to zucchini but a bit sweeter and more pumpkin-like in flavor. The name of the dish is shortened to just "hobak jeon," the "hobak" meaning "squash."

I'm extremely picky about how my hobak jeon is prepared. The thickness of the pieces and the cooking time have to be precisely calibrated to produce the proper crisp and taste in each bite. Too thin or overcooked, the squash is limp, texturally lifeless, not worthy of my attention. Too thick or undercooked, the squash is bitter, inedible.

Nanny got it just right. Worthy of my attention, indeed.

2.131 Grilled Chicken Phat Kraphao with Mushrooms, Paprika, and Cauliflower over Steamed Yellow Rice


-Cycle 2, Item 131-
16 (Mon) May 2011

-Thai-
Grilled Chicken Phat Kraphao
with Mushrooms, Paprika, and Cauliflower

* *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

solo

Phat kraphao is a Thai dish consisting of meat (typically beef, pork, chicken, or shrimp) stir-fried with basil, chilies, garlic, and soy sauce. The "phat" applies generally to stir-fries, while the "kraphao" refers to this particular combination of aromatics.

Here, I took a shortcut via Asian Home Gourmet, a brand of sauce bases that I used for a different dish just a few days ago (see 2.126 Baked Pork Pai Gu Wang). Most of my experiences with the line through the years have been fairly successful, but not this time, the 6th of the blog. Too salty, even with all the additional vegetables.

Incidentally, I didn't buy any of the Asian Home Gourmet products featured on the blog thus far. In a visit to my parents' home sometime last year, I discovered a handful of various packages that were nearing their expiration date. I took them, as my mother said that she wasn't planning on using them in the foreseeable future. I still have a few more. Stay tuned.

2.130 Kong Biji Jjigae with Soy-Sesame Dressing


-Cycle 2, Dinner 130-
15 (Sun) May 2011

-Korean-
Kong Biji Jjigae
with Soy-Sesame Dressing

* * * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

In its most basic form, kong biji jjigae (콩비지찌개) consists of ground soy beans cooked in water. Historically, it was a peasant stew (jjigae) made from the dregs (biji) of soy beans (kong) leftover from making tofu. Modern-day cooks, be they peasant or otherwise, use whole beans. Southern variations often include kimchi and/or pork and/or other ingredients to spice it up, though the Northern tradition keeps it white and simple with soy sauce for seasoning.

I like both, but I'm partial to the white and simple (as here). In a large pot, preferably a thick-bottomed vessel (I use Le Creuset) to avoid caramelizing or burning the sensitive beans during the long cooking process, I start by sweating sliced onions and minced garlic and shredded green cabbage in canola oil until they're soft and wilted. The beans, which are commonly sold in dried form, are reconstituted overnight in water and then blended with (fresh) water into a grainy pulp and added to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste, though it should be left underseasoned if a separate dressing is to be prepared (as here). After about 2 hours on low heat, covered, with frequent stirring, it's done. It can be served as a stand-alone dish (as here) or mixed with steamed rice.

2.129 Seafood Dubu Jeon-Gol

-Cycle 2, Dinner 129-
14 (Sat) May 2011

-Korean-
Seafood Dubu Jeon-Gol (해물두부전골)

* * *

at Kong-Bba-Du (코빠두)

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, and Dad

The most interesting thing about this place is the name, Kong-Bba-Du (코빠두). It's a portmanteau of "kongmul-ae bba-jin dubu" (콩에 빠진 두부), which means "tofu" (dubu) that's "fallen/dunked/submerged" (bba-jin) in "bean juice" (kongmul). Their signature dish is a bowl of hand-made tofu served in a chilled white liquid derived from pressing soy beans. Before this week, the restaurant had been a tiny 2-table hole-in-the-wall located elsewhere in the neighborhood. Last weekend, while I was in the Philippines, the owners suddenly moved to a larger, centrally situated space near the subway.


The Oksu restaurant scene saw a lot of activity while I was away, with the relocation of Kong-Bba-Du, the reworking of Bom-Ae Pin Garden into Di Foresta, as I discussed yesterday (see 2.128 Pizza with Porcini Mushrooms and Basil), and the introduction of an entirely new Italian establishment that I have yet to try but soon will.

Anyway, most of the menu items at Kong-Bba-Du include tofu. Although the dish presented here is called "jeon-gol" (전골), it was more of a jjigae (찌개), a distinction between 2 types of broth-based dishes as described in a series of prior posts (see 1.067 Mandu Jeon-Gol, 1.027 Kimchi Jjigae and Pan-Fried Hairtail). In fact, it tasted exactly like sundubu jjigae (순두부찌개) (see 1.315 Sundubu Jjigae with Clams) but with the tofu inexplicably crumbled and incorporated into the broth. And the amount of seafood was paltry, most of the clams being dead or too sickly to open. At 25,000 won, a total ripoff. But it tasted alright, I guess.