4.168 Köttbullar with 3D Mash

-Cycle 4, Item 168-
22 (Sat) June 2013

Köttbullar with 3D Mash


by me

at home

-Oksu, Seoul-

with Wife, Dominic, Ian, the brother-in-law's family, and a cousin-in-law's family

Korean-Swedish Cooking Exchange, Part 5 (see previously 4.069 Kroppkakor in Zucchini-Picada Cream Sauce).

The occasion was a long long overdue dinner for one of the wife's cousins.  He used to work for a national drugstore chain and applied his employee discount towards buying diapers for Dominic and even delivered them to us.  (Anyone who's raised a child understands the profound significance of discounted diapers in steady supply.  For anyone who hasn't but needs to get a gift for someone who just has, I recommend diapers, as many as can be afforded, as many as will fit in the car.)  While years have passed, this would be the first opportunity to show him our appreciation.  Apparently, the cousins in that family don't hang out together, ever, even though they all claim to be close.  

The romaine salad in balsamic vinaigrette (2.5) was not really Swedish, I guess.

Neither were these pan-seared scallops and shrimp in garlic-butter-gin sauce (3.0); I later cooked some spaghetti and tossed it in the leftover sauce.

3D Mash (3.5)

Köttbullar (3.5)

Being a special occasion, I decided to do köttbullar (see generally 3.292 Swedish Meatballs).  I've found that the very idea of Swedish cuisine, being so exotic here in Korea, is a sure-fire way to impress the locals, even before they taste the food; then again, they're probably less impressed once they taste it.  "Köttbullar," I'll say nonchalantly--although, frankly, I have no idea how to pronounce the term--"they're Swedish meatballs."  Oohs and aahs.  Also, with 4 kids to feed, including a baby, I couldn't imagine anything better than soft meatballs in creamy sauce.  And they're so easy to make in quantity, in advance.  They work as hors d'oeuvres/appetizers/main/anju.  I'm so glad that I now have this dish in my repertoire, especially for party situations.

"Swedish" Pickled Cucumbers (1.5)

As far as the cooking exchange is concerned, however, I admit that the köttbullar could be considered something of a copout.  I mean, it was the first dish that I attempted in the series (see 3.291 Swedish Meatballs), and the meatballs were again paired with pancakes in the third installment (see 4.007 Raggmunk with Köttbullar).  By contrast, Gustaf always makes something new, usually several.  But I just didn't have the wherewithal to be ambitious in the slightest.  At the last minute, I did make some quick "Swedish" cucumber pickles from an online recipe (see's recipe for Swedish Pickled Cucumbers), which turned out okay--a standard vinegar-sugar-salt combo--though I don't see what would make them particularly Swedish.  And in my defense, I served the meatballs to immense success this time with my now-signature 3D mash, which synergizes with anything, especially anything with a rich sauce (see most recently 4.164 Scampi with 3D Mash in Shrimp-Bay Sauce), like the luxuriously creamy pan gravy here.  So, in the end, overall, it was a good meal.

- - - -

Back in Sweden, it just wouldn't have been a cooking exchange without Gustaf putting me to shame.  With all my years of experience entertaining and cooking for guests at home, I know how much effort is required to get everything right and on time.  As such, I've come to regard dinner parties as the worst set of circumstances to experiment with unfamiliar recipes, recipes in an unfamiliar cuisine, multiple recipes, so I tend to stay comfortably within my wheelhouse when guests are involved and leave the experimentation to quiet evenings when I'm alone or only the wife and kids are present.  And yet Gustaf somehow seems to manage.

Below, Gustaf's photos from his latest overachievement, along with his comments (in blue) and my annotations (in grey).

I recently made jeyuk bokkeum (제육볶음) for a dinner I had with some friend.  As you probably can tell, the other dishes included gyeran mari (계란말이) (which I feel is getting better for every time I make it), my home-made kimchi (김치), and some hobak jeon (호박전).  The hobak jeons look kinda crappy, I will admit that, but I blame that on the fact I outsourced the making of them to some of my dinner guests.. Which I guess wasn't that great of an idea :(

Jeyuk bokkeum is a classic/common/popular stirfry of pork and onions and other veggies in gochujang (red chili paste), typically done with cheap, thinly sliced meat, but pork belly (as here) would work even better; surprisingly, the dish has never once been featured on the blog (I do like it on occasion, but I rarely/never eat it for dinner, more of a cafeteria lunch thing).

As I've always said, gyeran mari is one of the few Korean dishes requiring technique; practice makes perfect; next time, Gustaf, how about a cross-section shot of the inside, so we can see (a) if you're cooking it properly and (b) what ingredients you're putting in the mix?

I don't know if it's the photo or something about the ingredients in your kimchi, but it always seems to look a bit orange, like kimchi jjigae, rather than red, as uncooked kimchi normally would be; if I could taste any two plates of kimchi anywhere in the world, this would be one of them (the other would be the kimchi on Kim Jong-Un's table).

The jeon looks fine, just a little overcooked (it's not "outsourcing" if makers = eaters).  

I'm glad to see that you've stopped serving milk with Korean food (or did you fill those empty cups with milk after taking the photo?)!

Next time, I promise to do better.



    As always, the food looks really delicious. Here's some comments:

    1. First of all, I'm really glad it's part of your repertoire, and hope you teach someone else to make it. It's always fun to se Swedish food being consumed abroad :)
    2. I have to admit that I don't know what is "Swedish" about the pickled cucumbers. But I guess some people in Sweden eat such dishes, so it could be called "Swedish".
    3. To be honest, I've made 제육볶음 tons of times before. It was actually the first Korean dish I learned to make, which propelled me to try new dishes. And as you probably remember, I've made 계란말이 and 호박전 several times as well. But I've also tried on other occasions to try unfamiliar recipes while having dinner parties, which often can be kinda stressful, and not optimal....
    4. I find that the more fat in the meat = the better the 제육볶음. I've tried other, less fattier cuts of meats on some occasions, which turned out kinda dry...
    5. I will try to remember to take a picture of the cut up 계란말이 next times I make it! And most of the times, I only put minced onion in it...
    6. Not sure what's "wrong" about the color of my kimchi... I don't think I use a too small amount of gojukaru..I'm flattered you really wanna taste my kimchi, and also curious why you want to taste Kim Jong-un's. Is the North Korean one supposed to be the better one?
    7. No, this meal was consumed together with wine and beer... Most of the times when I drink milk to a meal, it's a meal I consume alone..
    8. Btw will you be in Korea in August? It would be fun to meet up, so you can some me some good eats and I could finally give you some lingonberry jam! :)

  2. 1. no one that i know EVER asks me how to make anything, even though they seem/claim/pretend to enjoy the food. they don't even ask what goes into any particular dish. like here, i thought someone might ask about the seasoning of the meatballs, which contained allspice, which isn't a very familiar flavor here, but not a single question/comment.

    2. yeah, exactly.

    3. yes, i've noticed that you've got your own korean repertoire going. i'd recommend learning namul--just the single formula of garlic+salt/soysauce+pepper+sesame oil can be applied to almost anything, as you know. your spreads seem to be missing that one essential element. i've never made jeyuk bokkeum. come to think of it, other than 1 ddeokbokki and 1 sundae bokkeum, i can't recall any dish with gochujang that i've made and featured on the blog--just not a fan, i guess, even though it's one of the three essential/only seasonings used in korean food.

    4. absolutely agree about the fat. but i associate the dish with leaner meat because i usually see it in cheap situations, like cafeterias.

    5. try scallions instead, especially daepa if you can get it, which is how i make it these days.

    6. i never said anything was "wrong" with your kimchi, just that it looks a bit orange. maybe the gochugaru itself is kinda orange? of course i want to try your kimchi!!! (maybe u should send me your recipe, so i can replicate it.) jong-un because, presumably, he has access to the best kimchi in north korea, so i'm curious.

    7. soju, man!!!

    8. yes, i'll be in korea in august. we should definitely meet up!!! i just got this book about korean restaurants older than 50 years. it's going to be my next "mission" on the blog, coming up soon. anyway, we should check out some of the restaurants in seoul. speaking of which, u asked me before about eats in those cities you're visiting: the book features 2 restaurants in Ulsan, including a bibibim/bulgogi place that's been around since 1924 (hamyang jib (함양집)), and an actual WHALE restaurant founded in 1951 (gorae gogi wonjo halmae jib (고래고기 원조 할매집)). LINGONBERRY JAM, yeah baby!

  3. 1. Is that because a) they aren't interested in cooking, or b) are too intimidated to try to make complicated "foreign" food?

    3. yeah, I should try that next time I make Korean food... One should always try new things..

    5. Will do!

    6. hmm yeah that might be the reason. Or maybe because I don't use squid? I think I have seen recipes for kimchi which included squid/octopus (I can't really tell a difference between the two). Or because I haven't used radish, although it's included in the recipe... (It haven't been in season and thus not available when I've made kimchi before...)

    Anyway, I will try to remember to send you the recipe when I get back from my trip (I'm going to Germany today). id?

    7. Haha... yeah kinda miss soju actually.. Looking forward to some soju drinking in August :)

    8. Good good! Yeah it would be really nice to try out some new restaurant together! And I will definitely try the two restaurants you mention, especially the whale one! As we've probably talked about before, I'm trying to consume as many animals as possible (rat, ants in Cambodia, dog in Korea), so whale would be cool to at least try once...

  4. 1. i don't know. at times, i wonder if it's because the food isn't very good.

    3. i'm telling you, it's an essential! once you offer a namul on the table, you can truly say that the meal is completely korean.

    6. i look forward to the recipe. i just posted on a different type of kimchi, which was inspired by your example! i so envy that you can just drive into another country!

    7. maybe together?

    8. if u have the time, u should come over to try my swedish dishes. i'd L-O-V-E to get an objective/authentic appraisal!!

  5. 1. I'm pretty sure it's not your food that's the problem, it's them :)

    3. In that case, I'll be sure to make a namul for my next Korean dinner!

    6. The recipe is:

    3 kg of napa cabbage
    1,5 dl of "coarse salt", like sea salt or something similar
    3 tablespoons of grated ginger
    3 tablespoons of crushed garlic
    3 dl of chopped leeks
    about 3 dl of gojukaru*
    2-3 tablespoons of sugar
    2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce

    The preparation is done according to the recipe found in this link:, which is short means:

    1. Trim the discolored outer leaves of the napa cabbage.
    2. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Chop it up into bite size pieces.
    3. Soak the pieces of cabbage in cold water and put the soaked cabbage into a large basin. Sprinkle salt.
    4. Every 30 minutes, turn the cabbage over to salt evenly (total salting time will be 1½ hours).
    5. 1½ hours later, rinse the cabbage in cold water 3 times to clean it thoroughly (by this time the size of the cabbage will have increased dramatically, which I guess is because the salt have "forced" water out of the cabbage).
    6. Drain the cabbage and set aside.
    7. Mix the ingredients mentioned above (with the obvious exclusion of the salt, which have already been used). This "sauce mix" you then mix with the cabbage. Make sure you mix them well. You might need to mix the "sauce" with water or some other type of fluid (I've read recipes which recommend juice etc) to make it mix easier with the cabbage).
    8. But the resultning kimchi in jars and let them ferment (according the recipe, it take about 10 days for it to be ready). Letting them ferment outside of the fridge for some day or so makes the process faster. But considering how hot I guess Korea is nowadays maybe just a couple of hours would be enough?

    *The amount is of course dependent on how spicy you want it. With this amount, the kimchi gets pretty spicy

    6.1 I'll be sure to read that post a.s.a.p!
    6.2 Actually, I took the plane. Sweden being on continental Europe of course makes it possible to drive easily to another country, but living in the center of the country still would force me to spend several hours driving before reaching an international border. I actually kinda envy the Germans, Dutch or Belgians, who can hop into their cars and easily reach another country in often about an hour!

    7. Sure! That would be fun!

    8. I WOULD LOVE TO :)

  6. 6. i'll be making this ASAP. stay tuned.

    7.8. let me know your availability...

  7. 6. Nice! looking forward to it :)

    7.8. I'm arriving in Seoul on 14th of August, staying in the city for about a week from that date, then I'll do some travelling in other parts of the country, I think. I haven't really set any plans in stone except visiting friends. So maybe we could meet sometime in the period 14-21 August?

  8. don't have any plans during that period. since it's your schedule, you should let me know when you'll be available. maybe we could start out by going to a landmark restaurant, either one that i've covered on the blog or something new for the both of us.

  9. How about Friday 16th of August then? Or Sat, Sun? Either is fine.

  10. And a new restaurant for both of us sounds like fun :)

  11. friday is probably best at this point. but we'll see as the date approaches whether i'll be free on the weekend. can't wait! i'll look into some possible candidate restaurants....

  12. nice! if you would be busy the whole weekend, I'm sure we could do it on the coming Monday instead. But let's keep in touch!