2.328 Seolleong Tang

-Cycle 2, Item 328-
29 (Tue) November 2011

Seolleong Tang


at Deo Keun Jib (더큰집)

-Nonhyeon, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

Seolleong tang (설렁탕) is a Korean soup.  It consists of beef and noodles and rice in a milky white broth made from boiling miscellaneous beef bones for several hours.  In fact, the name of the dish derives from the Chinese "seol (설)(雪) = snow" + "nong (농)(濃) = intense/deep (applicable to color and flavor);" for reasons that I'm too lazy to determine, the "nong" has since evolved into "leong (렁)," but some older restaurants still use the original term.  It's similar to galbi tang, which involves a clearer stock made of rib bones.  Sliced scallion, plus salt and pepper and chili powder, are usually added to the broth in amounts according to personal preference just prior to eating.  The dish is one of the most popular and most common soups in Korean cuisine, a classic example of comfort food.

It was just the thing to help me get over what might've been food poisoning the day before.

Deo Keun Jib (더큰집) is a local landmark of sorts.  Open 24 hours.  They also offer barbecue dishes. Everything is available to-go in convenient takeaway packaging.  The basic seolleong tang is 8,000 won, which isn't cheap but also isn't entirely expensive.

Both the kimchi and leeks are provided at the table on a self-serve basis.

2.327 Rice & Egg Porridge

-Cycle 2, Item 327-
28 (Mon) November 2011

Rice & Egg Porridge

* * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-


Hygiene is one thing that I failed to mention in my post yesterday on the essential criteria for a sushi restaurant. I don't know for sure if food poisoning was the problem, or if Little California was in fact responsible, but I fell deathly ill a few hours after I'd eaten there. The wife and kid, having eaten at a Korean noodle shop next door, had safely sat by while I loudly and ironically proclaimed the virtues of budget sushi.

I always eat rice & egg porridge when I'm sick.

Someday, hopefully, the wife will learn to make it for me.

2.326 Salmon/California Roll

-Cycle 2, Item 326-
27 (Sun) November 2011

Salmon/California Roll

* * * *

at Little California
(iPark Mall)

-Yongsan, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

The essence of a sushi boat restaurant, or any establishment where the sushi is offered via some manner of cyclical per-plate system, is that the items are cheap and varied and plentiful. And preferably good.

This new conveyor-belt sushi restaurant in iPark Mall, which is part of the shopping complex connected to Yongsan Station, fulfills all 4 of the aforementioned standards. Every plate was 1,800 won regardless. While none of the offerings was especially rare or remarkable, the choices were reasonably diverse. As the plates were topped with lids, each level was stacked with multiple items to ensure variety. And everything was pretty good.

We were at the mall to catch the first holiday movie of the season, Arthur Christmas, which was also pretty good.

2.325 Seafood Paella

-Cycle 2, Item 325-
26 (Sat) November 2011

Seafood Paella

* *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

Meh. It could've been helped with a touch more saffron, reputedly the world's most expensive spice, which I possess in sufficient amount, thanks to Lisa, who brought me a few grams a few years ago, a precious supply that I've been hoarding ever-so stingily, while waiting for the apocalypse, apparently.

2.324 Gwamegi with Chogochujang in Seaweed-Perilla-Laver Wraps

-Cycle 2, Item 324-
25 (Fri) November 2011

Gwamegi with Chogochujang
in Seaweed-Perilla-Laver Wraps

* * *

by Jinhee

at Jinhee & Kiho's home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Dominic, Cho J, Kim K, Lee H, MtG and his girlfriend, Rider and his girlfriend, and Choi S

Gwamegi (과메기) is herring that's been semi-dried through a repeated cycle of freezing and thawing, traditionally undertaken outdoors during the winter for a period of around 10 days. Pike mackerel (as here) is a common substitute. Either way, the fish being inherently fishy in flavor and fatty in composition, the partial dehydration process intensifies the fishiness while leaving the surface greasy to the touch, rendering it somewhat unpalatable and unpleasant to some.

My first experience with gwamegi, everyone at the table was curious to see how I'd react. Although I didn't enjoy it particularly, I also didn't find it to be particularly objectionable. The texture was chewy yet slightly soft, as a fish jerky would be, and the greasy residue simply felt like a light coat of oil. The fishiness was masked/offset/balanced by the layers of additional ingredients in the wrap, including the sour-spicy chogochujang sauce and the minty perilla leaf, as well as the briny seaweed and laver. Then again, anything tastes fresh compared to hong-eo hoe (홍어회) (see 1.229 Samhap), which was also on the table.

2.323 Tuna-Corn Jeon

-Cycle 2, Item 323-
24 (Thu) November 2011

Tuna-Corn Jeon

* * *

by Wife

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-


Perusing through one of the wife's "for kids" cookbooks, I happened across the recipe for this dish, which makes use of the 2 ingredients that our kitchen has in abundance. We always have corn in the freezer because it's Dominic favorite ingredient. At the moment, we have a ton of canned tuna in the pantry because my school gives the employees a gift on Chuseok, usually a choice between some food item or kitchen appliance or gift certificates worth 40,000 won (at present), and I've always gone with the cash, but I forgot to fill out the form this year, so they sent me the food item by default, which happened to be a gift set comprising 18 cans of tuna and 4 cans of "luncheon meat" (our nanny took the meat).

This nontraditional jeon (전) was an interesting way to use up at least 1 can. Made according to the recipe, however, the strong flavor of the tuna turned out to be a bit overpowering, maybe even somewhat fishy. The addition of diced scallions or onions or some other aromatic could balance things out. It's worth another shot, if only to use up another can.

2.322 Linguine con Spinaci with Bacon and Mixed Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

-Cycle 2, Item 322-
23 (Wed) November 2011

Linguine con Spinaci
with Bacon and Mixed Mushrooms
in Cream Sauce

* * *

by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife and Dominic

Whereas many pasta cream sauce recipes call for bacon or pancetta or some form of smoked pork product, I don't really get it. My primary objection concerns texture, the cream itself being heavy enough without the additional rendered fat. I like bacon and pancetta and other smoked pork products very much and use them a lot but never again in cream sauce.

2.321 Mackerel Jorim

-Cycle 2, Item 321-
22 (Tue) November 2011

Mackerel Jorim


by the new maid

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-


Exactly what I said before about this dish (see 1.045 Mackerel Jorim with Pan-Fried Tofu), only without the tofu.

Lately, we've had a new maid around the house. (Our previous domestic help, Nanny 2, quit for the 3rd time about a month ago to get some rest and spend time with her son, who recently moved to Seoul from Shanghai.) The new maid has come in three times on a part-time basis, including today, 8 hours each day. As far as I can determine, the only two chores that she's capable of, or at least willing to do, are washing the dishes and cooking. I suspect that she does the dishes just so that she'll have an empty sink to facilitate the cooking. Today, after she'd left, I returned home in the evening to find the bathrooms uncleaned, the floors unvacuumed, and the laundry unlaundered save for a single load still running in the machine; but, on the stove, in addition to this mackerel dish in a saucepan, I found a stockpot filled with 12 liters of stock--12 LITERS--TWELVE FUCKING LITERS. Aside from what to do with all that stock, I have nowhere to store it. She's a good cook, both the mackerel and the stock and the other things that she's made have all been good, but that's really not what we hired her for. I thought that I'd been clear on the parameters of her employment with us, but apparently a follow-up mission briefing is in order.

2.320 Gyudon

-Cycle 2, Item 320-
21 (Mon) November 2011



by Wife

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-


Donburi () is a broad category of Japanese dishes (see generally Wikipedia on donburi).  In essence, a donburi comprises a meat of some sort and simple vegetables/aromatics (e.g., carrot, onion, scallion), as well as an egg usually, simmered together in a soy-dashi broth and served over steamed rice.  Comfort food, Japanese style. The term derives from the large bowls in which donburi are served.

Gyudon (牛丼) is a classic example of donburi.  It consists of thinly sliced beef and onions and egg--typically, the mix is topped with a raw egg yolk just prior to service, though that obviously isn't the case here.  While "gyu" () = "beef," the "don" is an abbreviation of "donburi," which is how most donburi dishes are labelled.  

The wife has a good palate, which means that the dishes that she's attempted thus far have mostly tasted pretty good (see most recently 2.299 Dotori Muk Muchim), but her lack of experience becomes evident when the dish requires any bit of technique.  Like this gyudon, it came out something of mess but tasted okay.

2.319 Gwangeo Hoe with Chogowamago Sauce in Lettuce Wraps

-Cycle 2, Item 319-
20 (Sun) November 2011

Fluke Sashimi with Chogowamago Sauce in Lettuce Wraps


at Drama Hoe Town (Daecheon Seafood Market)

-Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-

with Cho JH + Kim KH, Choi SW, Lee HS + Yun YH, MtG + Noh SJ, Yong I, et al.

Hoe (회) is raw fish in the Korean tradition.  As described below, Korean hoe may be distinguished from Japanese sashimi in three ways: the types of fish consumed, the dipping sauce, and the side dishes.  Raw fish is as popular here and embraced as part of the national cuisine as it is over there.

In Korea, the standard dipping sauce for raw fish is chogochujang (초고추장).  It consists of vinegar ("sikcho") (식초) and red chili paste ("gochujang") (고추장).  The powerful sour-spicy combination drowns out whatever is dipped in it and makes it all about the sauce rather than the fish.

This is especially true when the fish is white and light, as are most varieties eaten raw by Koreans.  In fact, I suspect that the masking effect is intentional, given that fish caught locally in the warm waters surrounding the Korean peninsula (e.g., gwangeo) tend to be relatively lean and flavorless and otherwise a bit fishy compared to deep sea fish (e.g., tuna).

The sauce presented here is a hyped up version.  Add minced garlic ("maneul") (마늘), diced green chilies ("gochu") (고추), and wasabi paste.  Each additional component--commonly available at any sashimi restaurant in Korea nowadays, either on the table or by request--contributes a different dimension of spiciness, making the sauce all the more overpowering. According to my companions, it's the not-so-secret secret sauce that every self-respecting Korean hoe aficionado should know. For convenience, I've named it "chogowamago," a portmanteau of the Korean names for the ingredients.

Earlier that morning, after camping out the night before, we ate breakfast and packed our gear and set off for the dock to catch the noon ferry back to the mainland. Alas, my cushy ride going in wasn't available on the way out, so I was forced to perambulate like the rest of them. When I'm not hobbled by injury, I like island backpacking because it feels like I'm going somewhere but doesn't involve hills.

Having arranged the trip at the last minute, we'd been unable to secure earlier train tickets to Seoul, which gave us 5 hours to kill in Boryeong. An internet search for the best eats in town pointed us towards the local fish market, where we could buy fresh seafood and have it prepared in various ways for an additional charge at a restaurant on the premises, exactly like the system described in my birthday post last cycle (see 1.357 Steamed King Crab), though of course on a much smaller scale. The sashimi and chogowamago sauce was but one part of the feast that ensued. Not too shabby at 15,000 won per person.

2.318 Pan-Fried Smoked Duck

-Cycle 2, Item 318-
19 (Sat) November 2011

Pan-Fried Smoked Duck

* * * *

by Choi S

at Wonsando

-Wonsando, GyeongGi-

with Cho JH, Kim KH, Lee HS, Yun YH, MtG and his girlfriend, and others

The duck was from the brand Sel Duck. Only available on-line and shipped directly to the customer, they claim to slaughter the duck, add seasonings, and package the final product upon order, thus eliminating the need for preservatives. They offer several variations, including smoked, soy, spicy. Ready to cook, 10 minutes in a pan. All pretty good. 15,000 won for a 500-gm package.

A subcategory of camping in Korea is island camping. Along the west coast of the peninsula, the sea is dotted with numerous islets of varying levels of inhabitation where the beaches are largely unregulated and usually open to campers for free. Some of the islets are serviced by ferry to allow fully equipped car camping, whereas the more remote locations can be accessed only by smaller boats and thus necessitate backpacking mode. The greater the difficulty in getting there, the lesser the people, the better. Another plus is that the campsite is typically right on the beach with an unobstructed view of the ocean, which is especially nice at sunset. On the downside, the wind and sand can be a pain, especially when they act in concert.

04:30: We congregate at an all-nite gamja tang (감자탕) restaurant near Yongsan Station
and make merry until our train departs.

05:50: We board the train.

05:55 - 09:55: Along the way, we make merry.

10:00: We arrive at Daecheon Station in Boryeong (보령),
a small seaside city renowned for its annual mud festival.

10:15: After a short bus ride to the ferry station, we find a Chinese restaurant on the premises.

A sorry excuse for jjambbong (짬뽕).

Kiho makes cocktails of soju, beer, and lemon-lime soda,
shaking the concoction in the glass to make it frothy;
he calls it "Milkis" (a local brand of cream soda)
--as evident in the wide shot above, I'm not amused.

10:20 - 11:20: Dubious drinks notwithstanding,
we make merry until the ferry departs.

11:30: We board the ferry.

Flocks of seagulls fly alongside the ferry in hopes that passengers will toss them shrimp chips;
in fact, the ferry station sells shrimp chips for this very purpose.

12:00: We arrive at Wonsando, at which point my bum ankle sprained earlier entitles me
to hitch a ride in the car of someone who knows someone who knows someone in our group,
while the others make the 6-km trek on foot.

12:06: I arrive at the campsite and get first dibs on a prime location on the beach.

13:20: The rest of the group arrives and follows my lead.

14:00: Realizing that the wind and sand won't allow for a comfortable time at dinner,
we attempt to establish a cozier communal area reinforced by tarps
within a grove of trees farther back from the waterline.

14:10: The wind tears the tarps to shreds, snaps the tent poles on one person's tent, sends another poorly secured tent tumbling down the beach, and blows sand into the food and drinks, so we hastily retreat behind a row of cabins before unobstructed nature can inflict any more damage upon us.

14:30 - 02:00: We make merry.