Sunday, 28 August 2011

Shake that Dosirak Lunch Box!

Sunday evening has come around again and I thought I would share a little insight into a quirky Korean dish. A little while ago our school director took us out for a Korean BBQ.  There aren't many other eating options open after we finish school at 9:30pm and although I don't mind sitting amongst the BBQ fumes, I am always uninspired by the vegetarian options namely rice, kimchi or tofu soup. The samgyeopsal BBQ is always all about the pork.
On this occasion to my surprise and delight, our director ordered me a ''lunch box'' treat or a Dosirak. It is basically rice, fried egg, kimchi and shredded vegetables in a stainless steel flat box or "lunch box". Our director said this really is something you might have expected a little Korean boy to take to school some decades ago.

Basically, you  lay the groundwork by roughly cutting up the egg with your spoon. You then replace the loose tin lid and shake that little box as hard as you can. You should be careful to clamp the lid down with both hands or risk launching the contents across the room. The egg yolk coats the rice and veggies and creates a delicious creamy flavour. It is definitely a great addition to the BBQ and a nice alternative to the meat.



A hearty and healthy lunchbox, and a bit of pre-digestion exercise. Shake that Dosirak!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Epic Dessert Time - Serious Pudding People Only!

Back by popular demand, the makers of the 'Epic Breakfast Lasagna' return to make an 'Epic Dessert' in honour of our departing brotein ringleader - Brendan. The idea of a dessert lasagna was formulated so that us girlies might actually be interested in joining in and helping to conquer anything under this grotesquely glutinous food bracket.

We will all miss Brendan greatly when he leaves next week. He has brought healthy foodspiration and protein education into our lives and this indulgent 'cheat weekend' was the perfect send off!

Brendan in the planning stages.
The ingredients were all handmade with love and of top quality. Here is a birds eye view:

Let's take a closer look...

Peanut butter cake

Chocolate chip cookie

There was also a banoffee and other cementing layers added to help the mighty thing stay together. As we all looked on, the layering commenced with Paul's shortbread base topped with a layer of jam. By this time I was already forward planning and getting the brews on the go. Those who usually take sugar were hesitant to add to the upcoming hit.

Next was the peanut butter cake, loving baked by Mr Hoare. This was topped with sliced bananas and homemade toffee sauce. We were nearly reaching the rim of the tin after only three layers! By this point us girls were getting it in the ear for trying to interfere with the aesthetics of the design.

Next came Leslie's brownie and a custard layer. The custard was cold and a bit lumpy but it did a lovely job of sticking the bits together. The scent of sugar was wafting in the air!

Then a strategically balanced cookie and ganache layer was dropped on top. The ganache would act as a glue to paste the freshly baked meringue on as the final layer...

The final stage was a dressing of marshmallows and ganache and then it was baked in the oven to melt the whole thing as one!

Reactions were needless to say, ridiculous, and there was rather a few groans of delight and disgust. Not one of us finished our portion and Tom and Brendan tried to power through a HUGE great lump, adding more cream, ice cream, chocolate sauce and gulps of tea! Coffee seemed to be the only thing strong enough to break through the sugar! It was delicious but utterly sickening at the same time.
Here are a sample few pictures of the results!

It was quite difficult to get the thing out in one piece and therefore not as pleasing on the eye as one would have liked. You can however see each layer and the chocolate sauce permeated each layer into a chocolate sludge!

Yey! Couldn't sit still most of the day! The sugar was too much! A hell of a diet cheat day that one!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Tudari - Japanese Restaurant Chain, Masan

Tom and I decided to go for some dinner out last weekend. It is not often that we eat out anymore now we have our oven and we are trying to eat healthily, but after a very lazy weekend we wanted to make something of our Sunday evening. A couple of people had mentioned a new Japanese restaurant in Samgye - Tudari - so we gave it a go. I didn't look at the menu too carefully as it looked like they had a mix of seafood and vegetable options. turns out I was pretty wrong there. The restaurant is quite new and it seemed like half the things on the menu were not available, including most of the seafood options. The woman really didn't recommend herself well to us as instead of suggesting something when we asked which items had no meat, she just shrugged and kept pointing at the meat!! Goddammit!

We ended up ordering a seafood soup filled with fish cake skewers or odeng as they are called in Korea (오뎅). The soup was really tasty and quite spicy, but I usually only choose this as a last resort in restaurants as the odeng have a really bizzare texture and I am not sure what bit of a fish they are actually made of. Odeng is a really popular snack and street food in Korea and is served in many restaurants in this way.

We also ordered a mixed platter. When it came it was the meatiest meat fest I have ever seen. There were a couple of fishy options including some marinated squid, a shrimp and some really disconcerting crunchy baby octopi. I did try these options but there wasn't a lot to go at. There were however meat balls, chicken, pork, and various other things wrapped in bacon. We ordered a plate of asparagus which also came wrapped in bacon! doh!

There were some really hard and bitter green berries which looked like they might be gooseberries but they really weren't! There were two things we were unsure of so we looked them up in our phone dictionary, one was chicken hearts (tiny tiny) and the other said something about amniotic fluid which got Tom all freaked out thinking he was eating placenta! Placenta of what I have no idea!

It was quite fun deciphering what everything was, but it wasn't really a enjoyable eating experience for me or Tom really. It was also a little expensive for the amount of food we received, costing around 40,000won for the two of us with one beer.


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Cheonggyecheon Stream and Kwangjang Food Market - Seoul

We enjoyed a massive three day vacation this week and we really tried to make the most of it! We won't be getting another one until mid September which seems mighty unfair while the public school teachers enjoy rather a lot more time exploring over summer!
Tom and I headed up to Seoul with our friends Mark and Ashley and although we missed our bullet train by 5 mins (we saw it pulling out the station from the taxi) we managed to get up there for the early afternoon  with a standing ticket. Ashley and I spent rather a lot of our next pay cheque in the clothes shops of Myeongdong! On Sunday, we headed down for a washed out but very fun rock festival held at Jisan. There was a torrential downpour and we had fun and games trying to get back to our motel in Seoul afterwards. We also forgot our phone, lost Mark and Ash and eventually ended up paying 90,000won with a random Korean man to get a taxi back to Seoul as all the buses were full until morning!
What an adventure!

Anyway, after a very busy couple of days we took a day to explore one area of Seoul namely the Cheonggyecheon Stream area in the centre of Seoul. The stream itself used to be a decimated shanty town in the 1960s before being paved over and turned into a motorway. Dust and emissions in this busy area eventually ruined the road and in 2003 work commenced to revamp the old waterway. It is now a really pleasant place to take a walk and the stream provides a natural haven within the city. While we walked along there were many office workers dipping their feet in the water for a cooling respite from the humid weather. There are 22 bridges and 12 subway stations along the way so the walk takes a great deal out of you. We walked from the west to the east and ended up half way at Kwangjang market. What a find!

Kwangjang market, according to the rubbish tourist information woman, is like any other market. ''The guide book is exaggerating - it's nothing special'' (great way to promote your country to foreign tourists by the way!!!) It was however well worth the visit. Not only was there a maze of fabrics flamboyantly patterned to rival any of the old women's shirts in Masan, but there was also a food stall area with over 200 active and bustling vendors!

There were raw seafoods, savoury pancakes, and a whole host of other traditional Korean foods including a tray of pork bits and a snout!

Spot the pig snout

There was also a make-your-own bibimbap vendor where you could select your veggies from the large bowls on the counter and mix them in with your rice, whatever you fancy!

Bibimbap self service vendor

We decided to sample a few different stalls.
We went for nokdu bindaetteok- a savoury pancake made from mung beans which tasted like a hashbrown.
We also had some tteokbokki - spicy rice cakes in a red pepper sauce.
Gimbap - sushi style vegetable rolls.
Tom and Mark ordered some sundae - noodle and blood sausage served in an intestine...
...and finally some roasted pork - from a pigs ear. I am sure there was a bit of brain in there.

nokdu bindaetteok

Gimbap and Tteokbokki

Sundae and pig face
We washed it all down with some fermented rice wine - makkoli!
Tom was the only one who really went for it with the blood sausage but it was really interesting to see the traditional foods in a bustling and busy market. The pictures don't do it justice! If you are ever in Seoul, you should definately check it out!