4.048 The Wife's Mother-in-Law's Birthday Hansang

-Cycle 4, Item 48-
22 (Fri) February 2013

The Wife's Mother-in-Law's Birthday Hansang


by Wife

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, Mom & Dad

In celebration of her mother-in-law's birthday today, the wife took it upon herself to put together a dinner feast.  It was the first time in 7 years of marriage--the first time in 38 years of life, actually--that she attempted anything of the sort.  Previously, the closest that she'd come was preparing an appetizer at our housewarming party for my relatives not long after the wedding.  As far as I'm aware, she's never cooked a single dish for her own parents, ever.   

The meal was quite impressive.  All the dishes laid out on the table at once, rather than brought out as a series of courses, such a spread is referred to in Korean as "hansang (한상)" = "one (han) table (sang)."  Korean meals are hansang as a general rule (see for example 2.289 Hanjeongsik), from daily meals at home for the sake of convenience to royal banquets for the sake of spectacle.   My mother was very pleased, I think.  Happy birthday!

Setting fire to the kitchen and enjoying herself while doing so, apparently.

Some hits, some misses, but overall a success.  The main dishes were gyeran jjim (see generally 2.305 Gyeran Jjim), kimchi jeon (see generally 1.204 Kimchi Jeon), tangpyeongchae (see most recently 4.043 Tangpyeongchae), and the piece de resistance galbi jjim (see generally 2.030 Galbi Jjim).  The side dishes included spinach namul, gosari namul, and of course kimchi.   Steamed rice was served with miyeok guk (see generally 2.219 Hwangtae Miyeok Guk), which is traditionally prepared as the birthday breakfast soup, but we live too far from my parents to make that possible from a practical perspective.  Finally, the birthday cake took the form of a home-made carrot cake, not Korean by any stretch, but neither is the concept of a birthday cake to begin with.  My father said that he expected an even grander spread on his birthday in July.

The wife's gyeran jjim (egg custard)--the first dish that she ever learned to cook, for me--is usually exquisitely soft and silky, but she left it in the steamer for a bit too long amidst the last minute chaos, rendering it dull and dense. 

Undercooked at the nanny's insistence that jeon, for some inexplicable reason, shouldn't be crispy (I wasn't present at the time to raise an objection), but it tasted okay.

My secret contribution to the meal, the tangpyeongchae was a sure thing, the recipe having been perfected through multiple trials during the week.

Because the galbi jjim was so good--a solid 5 stars--everything else fell into place.

Clockwise from bottom: kimchi with gosari and spinach namul, both by Nanny 8, both okay.

Frankly, miyeok guk didn't really work in relation to the other dishes, but it was unavoidable.

Carrot cake (sans icing), my latest foray into baking.


  1. as i began reading the preview into this meal from your prior tangpyeongchae entry a few days ago, i thought to myself "oh no she's going to have to keep doing this. forever." and i forgot that it's not an annual event - it's at least a twice a year event, gleaming from your dad's response. well, it sure looks great and she seemed to enojoy it. now SY is officially a better daugher in law than i will ever be. :) don't tell my husband.

  2. i have a feeling that SY thinks this meal has bought her at least another 7 years, as far as her mother in law is concerned.

    is this all it takes to become "officially a better daughter in law"?? man, no wonder i'm such a prized son in law, since i do something like this all the time.