To be fair, he had been eating fresh squid, not dried squid, which doesn’t have the same strong smell. But if I had just been eating mac and cheese he’d be insisting I brush my teeth.
Korean food and recipes
Twice a week the Soondae Ahjussi visits nearby with his soondae truck. Now I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like soondae, but I’ve had a change of heart and now I quite like it! I don’t like eating it at open markets where it can have a strong smell and looks like it’s been sitting there for a while…haha, I can still be picky. I only started liking it after trying it at this soondae truck because it’s so fresh and there are different flavours. Hugh has always loved it though and it’s one of his favourite foods.
Soondae can also be romanised as “sundae” but I think that spelling can cause some problems for foreigners who are expecting ice cream…
The thing is, he learned how to make kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) from me, and I learned from Maangchi!
When we lived in Sydney there were times that we’d eat kimchi jjigae for a week because we were so obsessed with it. We’d get really good quality pork and add in extra stuff. I think the good memories we have for that time make us long for that type of kimchi jjigae too.
My mother in law (and so then my sister-in-law) make a simpler, thinner, healthier kimchi jjigae and cut all the fat off the pork and don’t add any sugar or much sesame oil. While it’s better for us health-wise, we do miss the way we make it. Hugh is going to make it sometime because he is longing for that taste.
Also, because he can make kimchi jjigae well, Hugh is convinced he is a “master chef”, although he can barely make anything else…
We were at a Japanese restaurant the other day so the chopsticks were bigger and rounder than Korean metal ones. I felt very clumsy using them. Korean ones can be a pain to get used to, because they are flat and small, but once you can use them well it feels more precise and it’s hard to switch back.
So much watching people eat on Korean TV.
We’ve been in Seoul for another project and got home last night. Will be trying to catch up on videos and comics over the weekend. (Fingers crossed, still dealing with some health issues).
Since there isn’t really a baking culture in Korea, for some Koreans (my husband in particular) tasting real home made cookies can be like a religious experience. In Korea, cookies (or biscuits in Australian/British English) are just store bought ones and even ones in cafes are not that good. Whenever we are in Australia Hugh demands more and more cookies. There are a lot of people living at my parents’ house so he was very concerned about other people eating the cookies. Several times I caught him trying to hide the container of cookies in our room.
It’s also interesting comparing childhood experiences with Koreans in regards to cooking. For example, baking is a relatively safe activity to do with children and my siblings and I were able to bake and make cakes and cookies from an early age. Since most homes in Korea don’t have ovens, it isn’t possible to get children baking at a young age and other types of cooking (stove top cooking) are more dangerous for young children. Not only are baking skills not learnt early on in Korea, but even buying simple baking items like measuring cups and wooden spoons can be difficult.
Did you learn how to bake when you were young?
This was amusing to me because usually I’m the one that is horrified by weird food combinations in Korea, but this time he was annoyed by an unusual combination. To me the hotteok tasted really good, it was nice and savoury. But for him it was sacrilege. He insisted that hotteok is supposed to be sweet. There are definitely more unusual combinations of Korean food in Seoul, but the strange combinations of Western food has infiltrated all of Korea. Like the sugar on garlic bread, or corn and broccoli on pizza, and don’t even get me started on Italian food.
Also the mixing of Korean and foreign food can go horribly wrong. The word “fusion” used to seem exciting and promising to me, but these days it makes me shudder. I’ve had way too many bad experiences with fusion food.
He was so outraged by this hottoek. He even tasted it and said it tasted terrible, but to me it was pretty good! Hopefully there is a little bit more understanding between us about what it’s like seeing your culture’s food combined in a weird way.
This japchae hotteok is sold in Hongdae and we spent quite a lot of time in Hongdae on our recent trip to Seoul. Here is the first vlog from our trip:
This is the latest craze in Korea.
While I’m sure lots of people genuinely like them, we found them to not live up to the hype.
There are always many crazes in Korea, much more than in Australia, which I think relates to them being a small country and the way society is here. Many things that are not actually that good, especially foods, become very popular for a while and then disappear again.
I’ve also heard that the way products come to being popular in Korea can be different to many other countries. For example in another country there may be snacks made by a very small company, a start up company, but their product is so good that word of mouth spreads and they get bigger. The snack or food becomes popular because it’s good and the creators of it believe in their product and are passionate about it. In Korea, there are very big companies that dominate all industries, so when they want to make a good snack they can just throw money at it and create something and sell it whether it’s good or not. Smaller businesses don’t stand a chance against them. So if someone out there has made an actual good version of honey butter chips, it’s too difficult to promote against these huge companies that control everything.
Have you tried these chips? What chips do you think are nice in your own country?
Well at least he is optimistic!
Also check out our vlog from the weekend where he tries to kill me with ice (actually it looks worse on camera than it actually was). This is what happens when we are cooped up inside for too long and finally allowed out.
Even though I know logically there are lots of food that are hard to get in Korea, especially if you live in the countryside, my brain seems to love dreaming about them. And for some reason I’m reveling in an avocado and sour cream shower… strange because I don’t always eat those foods together.
I’ve heard people say that their avocado experiences in Korea have always been disappointing so it’s one of the reasons why I don’t really try. In Australia I’d eat them almost every day, so I think chasing that past life may just make me homesick while trying to come to terms with a bad quality avocado.
However, sour cream is obtainable in Seoul so I may try to bring some of that back to the countryside.
But it seems that the longer I go without some of my favourite foods, the more ridiculous the dreams get. What ridiculous food dreams have you had?
Here is our vlog from Saturday as well. You can see some of the kimchi making. If you want to see the vlogs as they are uploaded, make sure you subscribe to the vlogging channel.
That’s why we have a bread maker… because we don’t have an oven…
So as I’ve mentioned, normal Korean homes don’t have ovens. It slipped my mind when I asked for an oven mitt. Of course there isn’t one! There are other things for handling hot pans on stove tops of course but for some reason not in our house… even the tea towel we used was one that I had sent from Australia as a gift. I really miss having a drawer full of fresh clean tea towels! The things you end up missing while in another country…
When we do eventuality get our own place I will be able to have tea towels!
You can see some of the bread making in yesterday’s vlog.
It would be great if you subscribed to the vlogging channel. It’s free!
Yes we have conversations about tea. Yeah Aussie girls! (With British heritage). Cuppa just means “a cup of tea”. I drink so many cups of tea.
Also, speaking about the word “tea”, when Mr Gwon first stayed with my parents, he got confused because my mum also calls dinner “tea”. And then to be more confusing, my nanna called lunch “dinner” and dinner is “tea”. And then we also drink lots of tea!