Saturday, 30 April 2011

Green Fingers

Korea is a very green fingered nation. If you walk around our little town of Samgye, you will see that the old women use every possible nook and cranny of soil or wasteland to plant all manner of leaves, lettuces and beans. 

By the river
Carefully tended to.
Planting on wasteland, not such a bad idea. Not brave enough to try it myself. This is actually just outside our house.

I thought I would have a go myself but not only do I have no idea what I am doing, we don't have any outdoor space other than a ledge out the balcony window. I don't want to upset any ajummas by stealing someone else's turf, so I set up some pots out in the sun just out the windows. 
I have planted some leafy green and purple lettuce which just started to sprout, some so far 'fruitless' pumpkin and marrow seeds and four small tomato plants which are doing very well. They are sprouting yellow flowers which I assume will turn into fruits. I may sound like a grandma but I am very excited!


I also planted some rosemary and strawberry plants which are going strong but there is no sign of anything too exciting yet.

We have searched high and low for some herb seeds as we are trying to cook with fresh herbs where possible, but there is a limited selection so no basil just yet but we will watch that space.

I will keep you informed of any horticultural developments! 

Thursday, 28 April 2011

I love PORK (heart)

So one of my students came to school wearing this ridiculously Korean sweater on Wednesday and I had to share it with you. Not only does it perfectly portray the Koreans love of pork, it also demonstrates Konglish comedy found in direct translation and Korea's complete inability to understand the vegetarian. 
"It is a pig, it is very tasty! I love PORK(heart)!" - The meat cuts are totally inaccurate but that is what gives it charm. 
Thanks Ann for making me smile.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter!

I was so pleased on Sunday morning that I had waited it out and saved my delicious Cadbury's Easter egg! I very much enjoyed the creamy chocolate goodness.
Korea does not provide for such occasions! I also made a batch of hot cross buns to celebrate.

I found a pretty decent recipe on the net and they came out much better than last year!

Hot Cross Buns
625g plain flour
45g butter
Tsp salt
Tsp ginger
Tsp cinnamon
85g sugar
Lemon juice
1x 7g sachet of yeast
1 egg
300ml tepid liquid (I used half milk half water)
125g raisins.

1. I combined all the dry ingredients and rubbed in the butter.
2. Add the egg and yeast which I dissolved in the warm milk.
3. Knead the dough for 10 mins and left it to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.
4. After proving, I beat the air out the dough and kneaded 12 small dough balls.
5. Combine some flour and a little water to make a pastry crust and stuck crossed strips on the bread using milk.
6. Bake the buns for 15mins on 200c.

Actually came out really well! Yummy.
We enjoyed them with some lurpack we found by chance in Lotte which seriously made my day!

Sunday, 17 April 2011


So having lived in Korea for over a year, I have realised that it is criminal of me not to have documented a single one of our many Samgyeopsal visits.

Samgyeopsal is the Korean bbq experience and one not to be missed. I am not under any illusions and know that the samgyeopsal restaurant is a meat eating domain, but I still enjoy it and love to experiment with vegetarian alternatives.
The idea is that you first order your meat, favourites of which are the marinaded galbi and regular thick bacon strips. The raw meat is brought to your table instantaneously along with an astounding array of side dishes, kimchi and lettuce leaves for you to munch your way through. Although I obviously don't eat the meat, I order a portion of dwenjan jjigae (a soy and tofu stew) and make my way through a ton of barbecued kimchi!!! (traditional fermented  cabbage).

The idea is to take strips of pork and cut it up using tongs and scissors. You then lay out a lettuce leaf, add some grilled garlic and kimchi with a dollop of soybean paste and then top it with your meat and a few beansprouts. You then wrap it into a little parcel which you scoff in one juicy mouthful.

Alternatively you dip your cooked meat (or kimchi) into the vinaigrette and onion dressing using your chopsticks along with a small amoutn of mixed salad. It's an incredibly healthy meal.

There are also some truly wonderful salads and accompaniments which can include squid, a scrambled egg pot, whole chillies, fish and even pineapple if you are lucky.

One rather interesting point though is that in this style of restaurant, it is assumed at all times that the foreigner has no barbecuing ability. Therefore the ajummamas frustratingly take over at every opportunity and usually ends up dumping the cooked pieces of meat onto my little meat free corner.. mmm yummy meaty fermented cabbage.

Samgyeopsal is usually a social event and sometimes the table can become very busy with dishes, beer bottles and soju!

It is a very Korean affair- not just a bbq, a Korean bbq!! The best part is the cost. A full meal including beer or soju will not usually set you back more than 10,000 won a piece (5 whole English pounds)!!!!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

St Patrick's Day Stew

For some reason on St Patrick's day, the Irish in each and everyone of us comes out to play.
Us Waygook (foreigners), more than most, love to celebrate anything remotely western. Especially when it involves potato, dumplings and non-Korean alcohol. Hite, soju and kimchi somehow just would not cut this holiday.

So we agreed that Grat, the half Irish fellow that he is, would cook up a traditional stew and a veggie one to boot with lots of potatoes, gravy and chunky vegetables. He did an excellent job as you can see!

We opened some cans of Guiness and red wine for those who couldn't stomach the calories and we had ourselves a mini Ireland in our apartment.

I made some homemade dumplings using Crisco!! An American lard substitute (first time for everything), flour and water to make a dough. I added some rosemary and baked them in the oven until browned.

Leslie also made a fabulous soda bread. Needless to say we were all very full.

We finished off the Irish theme night through the wonders of YouTube. We watched Riverdance, Stavros Flatley, Westlife, Bewitched and Corrs videos into the night and ''Paddied'' it out with some fiddly old tunes.

Now what holiday can we invent to eat a ridiculous amount of cheese?? Another Korean rarity!