My Korean Husband

Intercultural Life

Tag: food (page 2 of 3)

Fish cakes

This was early in our relationship. While I had eaten a lot of Korean food I didn’t realise those flat yellow strips side dishes were called ‘fish cakes’. I was so happy that my husband (then boyfriend) was going to cook something for me that I didn’t stop to ask what he meant by ‘fish cakes’. Stupidly, I envisioned lovely golden fish cakes full of fresh fish and mashed potato like my grandmother used to make. Or at least something like thai fish cakes. I was very wrong. I was so preoccupied with making a salad that I didn’t realise what he actually meant by fish cakes until he had finished.

This is what he meant:

Not these:

Oops… I thought he was making the main dish, not just a little side dish with a few strips of the flat fish stuff. It was okay in the end, because I quite like that side dish. But I know for the future to quiz him when he offers to cook something (which isn’t often).

Can someone explain to readers how those sheets of Korean fish cake sheets are made? And what is the correct name for this side dish? There seems to be a few different types so I’m unsure of the correct name.

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Confucianism again. In particular filial piety. The Korea Blog has a good article on filial piety in Korea HERE

This is something that comes up sometimes, especially when we are staying with my parents. My relationship with my parents seems too casual and not respectful enough to my husband. While the interactions with my parents are quite normal for an Australian family, it would be really unusual for a Korean family. Occasionally I get a lecture from him about how I don’t respect my parents enough. And just sometimes he guilt me enough…

My sister and I do most of the cooking when we are home. My dad is quite lazy about cooking but somehow he magically appears when my sister and I were making something for ourselves. Although the ingredients might be right there, he often can’t be bothered cooking it himself, so we quite often would tell him no when he asked for some of what we had just cooked. Doesn’t really bother him either way. Well… can’t say no if you are in Korea. Not just for parents but when anyone older asks for food you’ve just cooked. I’ll explore that topic in a later post though.

In the incident in the comic, I really did sit there thinking about it. I couldn’t enjoy my mango smoothie because of what my husband had said. Even though all the ingredients were right there and my dad could make one himself if he wanted I thought more about it and decided to make him and my mother one too. And then I felt better.

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Letting Food Go Cold

So most of us have probably eaten cold pizza for breakfast or something right? This is different to that. I have noticed Koreans don’t worry as much about food going cold. I’m always hesitant to make generalisations because some things, especially if I’m judging just from my husband, are just a personality quirk and not a cultural difference. Korea however, is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. When there is not much diversity you do get a culture that really has a certain way of doing things. So there are some things we can say is the Korean way of doing it.

This is something I have noticed and I noticed it early on when I first made Korean friends. If hot food is made and cools down, reheating it isn’t a priority. Many times I witnessed a meal being made and the food that was made first (and that I thought should be eaten hot) was left on the table while other food is being made. That food is then eaten cold even though it was originally hot.

The difference to Western culture is that we usually want our food to stay hot or at least warm. Do you remember being yelled at when it’s dinner time because you haven’t come to the table yet and the food is getting cold? Think how often we use phrases like “come get it while it’s hot!”

Koreans, I’ve noticed, can put leftover cold fried chicken on the table and no one is like “You should reheat that!” Once food has cooled down there isn’t much desire for them to heat it up again.

When I was helping my husband’s mother cook dinner while we were in Korea I made a dish, but she still had to make some more so it was still going to be a while before we ate. I started to panic about my dish because I was worried about it getting cold and not tasting as good. I put foil over it trying to keep the warmth in. In the end when it was put on the table it was cold but it didn’t bother anyone.

You may know a Korean who always wants their food to stay hot, but in general not reheating seems to be the norm. Sometimes people who have stayed in Korea might say things like “I never noticed that” about whatever the issue may be. But I think living constantly with a Korean means you pick up on these little things.

Has anyone else experienced this?

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Din Tai Fung

We visited one of our favourite restaurants last night. The Taiwanese Restaurant ‘Din Tai Fung’. It is actually part of a chain with restaurants all around the world but they are known to have possibly the best dumplings (xiaolongbao) in the world. I’ve been going there since the beginning of 2009 and have watched its popularity grow. Three years ago my brother and I could get a table right away but these days there is always a long wait. That’s because the food is so good! I introduced my husband to Din Tai Fung quite early in our relationship. We’ve also visited the Din Tai Fungs in Korea and Japan but I don’t think they compare to the Sydney one. Still good, but I noticed it was only Koreans working in the Korean branch but in Sydney all the staff are Taiwanese or Chinese. Maybe that makes a difference. There are differences in menus depending on what country it is located in as well but all have the most important xiaolongbao.

Waiting for our food.

I’m hungry!



The main website for Din Tai Fung- HERE

And for Australia- HERE


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Making Kimchi

Making kimchi for your Korean husband is stressful. It is something so important to Koreans so there is a lot of pressure to be able to make it. It’s my job to make it – not because my husband is old fashioned and thinks it’s the woman’s job – but because he simply doesn’t really possess any cooking skills. Is this typical of Korean guys? Not at all, many Korean guys are excellent cooks.

So not growing up in a Korean home, I’m immediately at a disadvantage when trying to make kimchi. There is no family recipe passed down, I have no childhood memories of watching my mother make kimchi, and I’m not even sure what really good kimchi tastes like.

I follow recipes but every recipe is different! I feel like it’s going to be years of experimenting before I work out which one I like to use. Some say for anchovies, some say for oysters, some say to just use that fish sauce stuff.

One of the first times I made kimchi my husband was really impressed. He even told other Korean guys how good at making kimchi I was. Unfortunately, that might have been a one time thing. The next time something went really really wrong. I’m pretty sure it was because I didn’t use the right type of salt. It was upsetting. I managed alright the next time but it still wasn’t as good as the time I got it perfect. I haven’t tried in a few months because we’ve been busy with travel and stuff and currently my husband is in Sydney while I am in my home town. He is job and apartment searching. BUT, today I am traveling to Sydney and I will see him tonight!

Once we are settled in Sydney I will have to attempt making kimchi again…

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How do you turn a levelheaded, kind and considerate Korean man into a whiny brat?

Tell him we aren’t having any meat for dinner.

Korean guys really love meat. However, I’m quite happy to go without meat and have gone through periods of vegetarianism. It is a constant battle though and I’m lucky if I can impose one meat free dinner on him per week.

Also, if you are wondering- yes I do all the cooking. But, he does all the cleaning so that works out well. (Except for the vegetarian argument).

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Okay so milo is different in different countries. In Australia it has a more crunchy texture and involves some vigorous mixing to get it smooth. In Malaysia it seems to be pre-mixed and more like just a chocolate milk. In Japan I just remember getting it from a vending machine…

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