Thursday, September 12, 2013

All I Think About is Food

Seriously.  It’s the truth.  I’m looking at the “major” things I did so far this week outside of school and it’s basically been: buy food, make food, eat food.  Riveting I know.  And there really isn’t anything too exotic because I try the seafood: get sick; I try the spicy food: get sick; I try to fried food: get sick… you get the picture.  But look at my food adventures anyways!

First, I had an adventure with tofu.  I didn't actually know for sure it was tofu when I bought it, but it looked like it and had soybeans pictured on the front.  Also, 두부 (‘du-bu’) was a word I had heard before in connection with tofu because, low and behold, it’s the Korean word for tofu.  So I bought two kinds.

I found a super easy recipe for BBQ tofu burgers online and decided I could go with it.  Of course, that also required barbecue sauce.  Now, while I could probably buy actual BBQ sauce (that is, a Western brand) from Home Plus, I was tired and instead hiked a two-minute walk over to my friendly neighborhood One Mart where I was greeted with a wall of sauces for pork and beef kalbi.  Now, I guess one thing you should know about Korean barbecue sauce is that it appears to have the consistency of a vinaigrette.  I found bottles, but seriously: oil-based dark dressing with little seasoning flakes in it.  So I actually bought the slightly thicker beef kalbi marinade.  (My heart longs for you Sweet Baby Ray’s…)

When it comes to actually cooking the tofu, first you have to drain the tofu… solution.  Then you press the tofu.  Ideally it should occur over several hours because more pressing means less water means greater flavor/marinade intake.  Then I sautéed it with some onions and a little oil and poured on the marinade.  After simmering 5 of the 10 minutes it should have (I was hungry!), I warmed my slices of bread, cut up a few slices of tomato, and threw on the remaining lettuce that I bought three weeks ago.  How that lettuce was still fine, I have no idea.  Do they have super lettuce in Korea?

Me squishing the tofu.  This is all I had...

Final product!  My office mates wanted to know where their's were.
I still have no idea what the difference is between the two tofu types.

I also bought cookies.  These ones are awful: they do not taste like chocolate!  Save your money!

These ones are like little ginger snaps.  Yes, they are individually wrapped and while you might think that would mean you would only take one at a time, it actually means you eat about four or five and then feel insanely guilty while you look at the pile of wrappers.  It’s the wrapper pile that makes you stop, not the wrappers themselves.  They are great with milk.  Spend your money!

Now these beauties are like Oreos, but with a light peanut-flavored filling.  They are alarmingly addicting and I should never have them in my house.  Spend your money, but watch your waistline.

I also went out to Home Plus and up the sixth floor where all the restaurants reside, we found this little Korean place that actually makes really good 돈까 (‘don-kkaseu’) which is the Korean equivalent of – you guessed it – Japanese pork cutlet, ‘tonkatsu’.  I got a cutlet with cheese while Rudy got one with sweet potato.  Basically there was a little bit of cheese or sweet potato between each of the slices of cutlet. 

The meal also came with some hot miso soup, yellow pickled radishes, and kimchi (of course).

Then, even though I was stuffed, we wandered over to this coffee place next door called Beans Bins.  It was a very nice restaurant and had nice jazzy music.  There was this adorable little child that celebrated their fourth birthday at a table next to ours (there were only three groups in there including us) who would just smile if I looked at him long enough.

Now, I didn’t actually get a coffee.  Instead we got this:

Can you see the grapes?
The combination waffle.  A Belgium waffle with blueberries and strawberry jelly topping, a side of strawberry ice cream, and whipped topping with half a banana sliced lengthwise and two little grapes.  Yes, two.

After school today I stopped by a hole-in-the-wall food store that I always see my students at.  I ordered this little combo which has wontons with some slightly spicy red sauce and mustard in a little cup on top of an orange slushy.  The kids that were there asked me (in Korean) if I spoke Korean and I was actually able to say “a little” (in Korean) and they all went, “Ooowoooaahhh” and then laughed when I continued to squeeze my fingers closer and closer together.

I went to the One Mart again tonight and got honey mustard so I could make this for dinner:

Most exciting thing about this meal?  I bought the little hot dog/sausages in this package and I realize as I’m cutting them up and throwing them into the pan that they were actually INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED.  I almost ate plastic.  You can get everything and its cousin individually wrapped in this country.  Be forewarned.

This is honey mustard.  Heo-ni-meo-seu-ta-deu.
I also bought grapes from my apple-guy on the street.  He says “Hello!” (in Korean) very brightly to me when he sees me.  Since I’m the only white person around, I really shouldn’t be happy at being recognized or remembered, but hey.  It still feels good. 

The grapes that are most common here are very different from back home.  They are sweet, but the skins are kind of tough to chew.  Consequently, Koreans actually bite the skin open, suck out the inside to eat (with its several crunchy seeds!), and then toss out the skin.  I watched everyone do it at lunch today.  I just eat the whole thing; they probably think I’m weird.  Roughage… it’s good for you.

I paid 5,000W for these.  I will make them last.
I also bought 팥빙 (‘pat-bing-su’) at the One Mart today instead of an ice cream.  Okay, wait, I’ll be honest.  I knew it was a semi-famous Korean dessert, but I actually thought it was more ice cream-like than it was.  Patbingsu is actually shaved ice with sweetened azuki beans (the ‘pat’) topped with some fruit or mochi or other such things.  The packaging was great and it came with a little spoon, but personally I don’t like it.  Definitely a no-go for me.  I think it’s the bean flavor more than eating ice shavings and beans together.  But I know a lot of people who love patbingsu, so don’t let my experience keep you from trying it.

Last, but not least, I made a Shirley Temple with cider and maraschino cherries that the previous EPIK teachers left behind.  And yes, they left behind some mini-umbrellas too.

P.S. - Forgive the un-artistic iPhone-quality photos.  When I want to eat, everything else falls to pieces.

1 comment:

  1. Aaaaaaaaah! You must try REAL bingsu before writing it off...that horrid little bundle of shattered ice chips is NOT bingsu!