Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Republic of Korea

Cherry blossoms galore!

Gyeongju... How I love thee...

So here's a little preview of what we saw during our day in Gyeongju, a city about 40 minutes from Pohang. I will add some more details about the city later, but here's a little eye candy for you!

The entrance to the tomb of a member of royalty during the Silla Dynasty (57 BC-935 AD)

Another pagoda, not sure which dynasty it is from...

Here's Rich in front of Cheomseongdae, the oldest astrological observatory in the Far East

It was 65 and sunny, so of course, yes, umbrella weather...

I only got one shot at this one since he was running past us. Luckily I got a picture of this little boy with his pinwheel. Cutest thing ever.

The pond in Tumuli Park


Monday, April 4, 2011

Kimchi Jjigae

So my first shot at Kimchi Jjigae went splendidly. It was really fantastic, and had just the right amount of spice to it, without being too spicy or overwhelming. What is so interesting about this dish as well is that it's a very classic and common Korean recipe, but there was just SOMETHING about it that was very reminiscent to me of my gramma's kitchen. I haven't been able to put my finger on it quite yet, but some underlying flavor transported me back to when I was 5 years old, hanging in my grandmother's kitchen, eating goulash and buttered white bread.

I guess homey food just transcends culture.

Also, I again snagged the recipe from Beyond Kimchee, and then added some Korean radish and cabbage that were in my fridge. That lady over there is a genius! Thanks again for the delish recipe!

Here it is, boiling away on the stove in the one pot I had big enough to contain it.

And here she is in all her glory with some delicious white rice. Ahhh... I wish we wouldn't have gobbled it all up so quickly, I could go for some riiight now!

And with the extra white rice I had lying around after this feast, I made some bulgogi burger rice balls, which were super easy, with some day-old rice, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, and chopped bulgogi hamburger. Yummm!

White rice, sesame seeds, and bulgogi, how can you go wrong? What a delicious little dinner I made for myself tonight! And check out that hideous yellow wallpaper in the back. It really pulls the room together. Not.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I made something else! I did it!

So I've been contemplating making these for a while, but have just now had the time and ingredients to do it. They're hard to explain, but think battered and stuffed rice. Yumm. The original recipe I found on another blog dedicated to homestyle Korean cooking, called Beyond Kimchee. I would highly recommend it if you're interested in taking a shot at Korean cooking. She made her's with some delicious cheese and ground beef, but I changed a few things. As previously mentioned, the price of cheese here is ridiculous, so I skipped that. I also just picked up some bulgogi hamburger patties today at E-mart, so I chopped those up and added that instead.

Deeelicious bulgogi hamburger!

Then came the kimchi, which I chopped and added to the bulgogi hamburger while the rice cooked. When the rice was finished, I added some sesame seeds, and let it cool a little, so it could be handled. Then I formed them into triangles, like the recipe instructed, dropped them in some egg, and battered them with panko.

The filling on the left and my sesame rice on the right.

They fried up nicely, and very quickly. They were yummy golden nuggets when they were finished. Now, I don't know if this is a common recipe in Korea, but I gotta say, it should be!! These were soo good, even without the cheese. I ate mine with ketchup (of course), but could only finish one, they were so big and filling. The other is now in the fridge, and will probably become a yummy midnight snack later!

The finished product, perfect with some ketchup.

Things we've been doing lately...

So, as of now, we're still battling some kind of nasty cold or flu or SOMETHING. We're doing lots of coughing and sneezing and blowing of noses over here. I gotta say, working with kids in a different country with different germs really can take a toll on your immune system. I should be damn near invincible soon, I've been exposed to so many different germs...

I made some curry last week with some Thai red curry paste I inherited from another teacher that just left. I didn't know how much to add, and the instructions were entirely in Korean, so I guessed and put more than a little, and a little less than a lot. Well, it was too much. That curry was so spicy, Rich said it was almost inedible. Now yeah, it was really spicy to me, but it was doable, so double curry time for Jaime! Besides it being really spicy, it was pretty delicious. I added some shrimp, tofu, vegetables, and coconut milk. With a big dolop of sticky rice in the middle, it was juuuust right for me! What can I say, I must have been baptized in chili powder and Tabasco. Thanks dad!

Me and my delicious spicy Thai curry!

Last week was pretty eventful. Monday the head teacher returned to school from his vacation in America, so our time dog-sitting came to an end. It was bitter sweet. I miss that little pooch, but it sure is easier without him around. Him leaving just made me miss my dogs more, especially since he looks like my dearly beloved Kipper, RIP. Also last week, the second of the two teachers we replaced, Reed, left for Thailand, as his year in Korea was just complete. There was a going-away dinner in his honor on Tuesday, and it was deeelicious. The school really does honor and appreciate the hard work the foreign staff does, and dinners like this truly show it. We dined at a Korean/Vietnamese fusion restaurant that featured shabu-shabu (paper-thin sliced beef, boiled at your table), sam-gap-sal (bbq pork), and... here it comes... DIY spring rolls!

Our table, as soon as we arrived, quickly filled with platters of razor-thin vegetables, fresh meats ready to grill, boiling cabbage broth, rice papers, and dipping sauces. It was a feast, and like Korean food should be, a grand event. First, come some (pronouced so-may, a combination of beer and soju, which is like rice vodka) shots. They get poured, and everyone does it in one shot. Whew! Then, you grill the sam-gap-sal at your table, nibble on kimchi, and drink more some. Then, you make the spring rolls, and add the sam-gap-sal meat. Next, the shabu-shabu. After all the meat is done, noodles are added to cabbage broth. After the broth is complete, we cook fried rice in the still piping-hot bowl. Then, more some and conversation for all. So sorry, I forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures. Just close your eyes and IMAGINE it. It's almost as good.

The dinner was delicious, but saying goodbye to Reed was not a happy experience. He was the teacher I shadowed during my training period, and he has serious chemistry working with young children. They're drawn to him, he makes them laugh, and keeps them entirely engaged. I feel really lucky learning from him, and we'll both miss him dearly, even though we knew him for a very short time. As I write this, he's probably eating mangoes on some beach in Thailand. Jealous!

Me and Reed, the night before he left.

We have been listening to The Current online recently, and happened to hear the weather. The weather report went a little something like this, "We've got a beautiful day ahead of us, it's going to hit 30 and sunny. And remember, it's a snow emergency day, so remember to move your cars..." Bahahah! Yesterday in Pohang it hit 70 degrees. I hate to rub it in, but Korean weather-1, Minnesota weather-0.

Last night, all of us foreign teachers and one of the Korean teachers conjugated at the head teacher's house for a little some, pizza, and Wii Mario Kart. It was a fun night, and a good end to our week. It was a great time to relax and just haaang... It should be mentioned however, that pizza here is nothing too impressive. They ain't got nothin' on Brooklyn, or Campus Pizza in good ol' Minneapo.

We also had every intention of going to a Buddhist temple today, but sickness kept us up half the night, so we instead slept in until 11:00am, has a leisurely breakfast, and then mosied our way over to the grocery store.

We did find some great stuff at the supermarket. Aaaah, E-Mart, how I love thee. Groceries here however are surprisingly expensive, especially if you're interested in anything Western. Cheese is impossible to find and/or afford, unless you're the CEO of a Fortune 500. A small bag of mozzarella will set you back about 15,000 won (about $14), and even highly processed cheese (think lower than Velveeta), is about 9,000 won ($8-ish). Yuck. Other things that are veeery pricy: Potatoes. Today, I bought five russet potatoes for about 3,000 won. Now, for an Irish girl like me, that's just unacceptable, but I need my morning hashbrowns man! Peanut butter is very expensive, duh, but other more basic items like eggs and meats are also very pricey. Meat especially. It's not uncommon to see packages of meat selling for 30,000 or 40,000 won. Whew! We now buy very little meat, and consume most of our meat while eating out, which is much more affordable.

Tomorrow I am planning on making some kimchi jjigae, which is a stew with kimchi, green onion, pork belly, and tofu. It is deeeeelicious! It's instant comfort, in a bowl, so hopefully it can help with our colds as well. I'll make sure to take pictures and keep you updated on how it turns out! Also coming soon, pictures of our apartment and neighborhood, for your viewing pleasure!

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