Visit to Korea 2017 

Oh boy, where do I even begin? 

We get to visit Korea (yes, South Korea) only once every 2-3 years. I’m from Busan, the second largest city in Korea. This time, we were there for my sister’s wedding so we stayed around Busan the whole time. Seoul is fun but I think I’ve come to like Busan more. I definitely enjoyed every single moment, every bite. 

Well, right after we got off the airplane, we went to Geoje Island for a family trip. We lucked out with this beautiful resort, Hiclass Geoje
Playing in the pool means HANGRY people!
There’s nothing like stuffing your face with BBQ meat and soju on a vacay!
On our way back from Geoje Island, we dropped by this restaurant for some FRESH seafood. In addition to sashimi, they also give you so many side dishes, aka banchan. The things in the above picture are: sea pineapple (sea squirt), conch, “live” octopus in sesame oil and sea cucumbers. They sound kinda horrifying but aren’t that bad😉 

So, now, I’m just gonna list all the things we ate in Korea😂 

Dwaejigukbap: pork and rice in pork-base broth. Busan is well-known for having awesome DJGB!
Guksu: Korean style noodle soup. It’s quite easy to make it at home but I have a go-to place in Busan. Never disappoints. 

Fruit cakes are a thing in Korea I’d say. Cakes are so pretty that I sometimes don’t even wanna eat them😂 Do they taste as good as they look? Heck yeah. 
앙꼬절편, some super famous rice cake! In Korea, things change very fast. There are a few VERY trendy items whenever I visit Korea. This time, at least in Busan, this thin rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste was a hit!
Mommy’s hangover soup! This dried pollock soup, aka bugeoguk (‘guk’ means soup), is the ultimate remedy for bad hangovers. My mom loves to add ground black pepper at the end. 

Kimchi pancake and makgeolli! The salty, crispy kimchi pancake goes perfectly well with the sweet rice (alcoholic) beverage. It’s pretty easy to get korean style pancakes in the States now. I definitely recommend you order one of these next time you are at a Korean restaurant. 

Handmade dumplings. You easily run into these big batches at any market places. 

Speaking of markets, I just LOVE walking around them and looking at all these delicious snacks, sauces, etc. 

Tempura style snacks: battered and deep-dried. Everything tastes great when fried!

Tteokbokki, rice cake and fish cake in spicy gochujang (red chili paste)! If you dip that deep-fried stuffed pepper in the red sauce and have a big bite, I guarantee you that there will be a party in your mouth. One of my favorite street food dishes!

Korean beef BBQ….! We went to this butcher’s/restaurant, where you pick your own meat. You take what you have picked upstairs and they give you this tableside grill along with a variety of side dishes. Locally grown Korean beef just melts in your mouth. 

Duck BBQ! No marinating, no seasoning. Just some fresh duck meat and lots of garlic!
Bar food aka anju. One great thing about drinking in Korea is that you keep eating while drinking. Your bar food selections are amazing too. This seafood noodle soup was perfect with our sake! Also, you can drink pretty much all day/night in Korea. A great place for party animals. 

Just another typical breakfast scene at my parents’. You get a bowl of rice and several side dishes. I think I ate so many veggies even without trying. I already miss her food😭

Sashimi bibimbap and gukbap (‘bap’ means rice). We went to this old, quaint village by called Huinyeoul Cultural Village by the ocean. Right before we walked around the hilly alleys, we went to this restaurant and had an amazing lunch. Not too heavy or light. Fresh fish and lots of vegetables. 

Then, more street food! Hotteok is like a mini pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts. My brother-in-law’s favorite snack it is. Dakgangjeong is Korean fried chicken covered in spicy sauce. They are usually in a bite size so it’s easy to eat them while exploring busy streets of Korea. 

S. O. J. U! This liquor is found everywhere in Korea. Super cheap. Each city has its own so it’s another fun to try different kinds.

Rice gelato! Yes, I said rice. Centum City is a huge mall located near Haeundae beach. There, I found this mysterious flavor and I fell in love right away. The combination of tiramisu and rice flavor was oddly satisfying!

Cakes, cakes and cakes! Too pretty. 

All-you-can-eat korean buffet! You pay $25 and just go to town. Amazinglicious!

Mom’s bulgogi lunch! 

My aunt’s scrumptious gimbap…! This is one of the things that I definitely miss a lot. I don’t know what she does to it but we all love her rolls. Very addicting!

Lastly, meals served on Korean Air! In-flight meals are usually awful but I actually do enjoy eating what Korean Air serves. On the way to Korea, the lunch was bibimbap with seaweed soup. On our way back, it was rice served with doenjang (korean miso, if you will) and veggies. 

Our trip to Korea this time was a bit too crazy between the wedding and some personal issues. I am not complexly confident that I ate everything I wanted to. However, it’s always so much fun to go out there and spoil myself with endless eating and drinking. What’s surprising is that I somehow lose weight despite all of that..! I guess it’s the lifestyle. 

I did have a great time in Korea, but it’s good to be back home with my kitties. So, Korea, till next time!

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Memorial Day at a beautiful log house in West Virginia!

Memorial Day weekend this year was extra special, for we went to West Virginia with a bunch of friends. We ate, ate and ate, starting from kimchi soup to s’mores! If you are tired of your everyday brats and corn on the cob, go to H-Mart and buy some galbi marinade for your meat. 🙂

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It was my first time ever to go to West Virginia and it was awesome! We used AirBnb again, which makes a lot of sense if you have more than a couple of people in your group. While we were busy stuffing out faces, we did get to do some fun things too: horseback riding, hiking, fishing, star watching and some boozing in the hot tub!

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I have a feeling that we might end up doing the same thing every Memorial Day weekend from now on. I know I had lots of fun when I still have that John Denver song in my head: “country roads~ take me home~ to the place~ I belong~” 😉

Walked 5K, gained 5lbs!

The girls at work decided to participate in Race for the Cure this year. So many people came out to support breast cancer survivors, patients and the families! It was quite a scene. 🙂

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Knowing that we would be hungry after walking a 5k (3.1 mile), we had asked my hubby to cook us lunch! 😉 (Thank you!)

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Homemade guacamole and chips, pasta salad (andouille, grilled zucchini, summer squash, red bell peppers, cheese, basil-garlic oil, parsley, red wine vinegar, etc.), pulled pork (with homemade barbecue sauce) and cabbage-carrot-apple coleslaw on Hawaiian rolls, corn on the cob and Korean short rib BBQ (HT Merylin) aka Galbi! Of course, there was lots of boozing involved as well: margaritas, red and white wine!

After a series of multiple foodgasms, we were all in some serious foodcoma lol 😉

Lots of laughs, delicious food and good company; couldn’t ask for a better weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Pit is the $h!t!

I usually try to avoid franchises and look for a hole in the wall and underrated mom and pop restaurants in new places. When I asked people for the best BBQ in Raleigh, NC this weekend, they all gave me this name, “The Pit.” I was a little reluctant to go at first cuz that’s what EVERYONE recommended but, oh boy, didn’t that place just blow my mind.

The Pit
328 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 890-4500

They give you complimentary biscuits and hush puppies to begin with. Each item on their menu looked amazing but they offer this three course family style all-you-can-eat option so we went for it. You get to choose two appetizers, two entrees, two sides and a dessert.

Here are things we got.

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Fried green tomatoes, cornbread, collard greens, fried okra, baby back ribs, pulled pork, sweet tea and banana pudding!

I gotta say that it was the best BBQ that I’ve had in the last decade! The meat was cooked perfect. I am usually not a “saucy” person but I was pretty much licking the baby back rib sauce off the serving plate at the end of the night.

I can’t help emphasizing how great the banana pudding was. OMG is my review. I’d never tasted any desserts that delicious in my whole life. One item you must try!

So, please spread the word! All of us deserve some amazing food! When in North Carolina, go dine at The Pit!

Happy 4th! Happy tummy!

How was your 4th? Mine was full of yummy food!! Homemade sausages were the best! Reuben brats, cheddar brats and italian – precooked in beer bath and grilled. “Cooler” corn. Eastern shore shrimp and clam boil. S’more. “Mountain pies”. And yes, that all happened in a day! Special thanks to the Boscos 🙂 Their food is money! 😉

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Bulgogi (beef) – Scrumptious but simple enough to make!

The picture is from the website of a famous Korean franchise restaurant called “Bulgogi Brothers.” They haven’t opened one in the States yet unfortunately. 😦 What you see up there is Bulgogi Bibimbap. “Bul” literally means fire, “gogi” meat, “bibim” mix and “bap “rice. It’s self explanatory except for the ‘fire’ part. That came from how it’s cooked and for more information, click the link above. 🙂 Because I am too excited to reveal the recipe that’s so easy! There are more than a few different kinds of Bulgogi’s but this one is the most common and easiest one that you can make. The key is to get all the right ingredients. After that, it’s a piece of cake!

*** Recipe (2 servings) ***

<Meat>

You need thin slices of (usually) sirloin. I do have hard time finding this cut of beef at regular supermarkets. If that’s the case, go to H-Mart or an Asian grocery store nearby. They should have it and it doesn’t matter if it’s frozen. Get 1lb of the meat.

<Marinade – unit:tablespoon> FYI, everyone has a different recipe and this is my mom’s.

soy sauce (4-5), water (2), Coke or Pepsi (3), minced garlic (0.5-1), sugar or honey (1), sesame oil (0.5-1)

<Secret Ingredient>

Meat can be really chewy and here’s the ultimate meat tenderizer! Pureed KIWI! Use only half of the whole kiwi, though. Your bulgogi won’t even have big chunks if you put the whole thing – half joking. 😉 If you don’t have a kiwi, you can use half of a pear. This will add a nice tone to your marinade as well.

Now, you can mix everything together. You can put a little ground pepper as well. When you marinate the meat, you can also add onions as in the picture above. Let it sit for a couple of hours. You can even wait a day to cook it. Once you are ready to stuff your face with this deliciousness, cook it on a pan. No oil is needed. Add mushrooms (button mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms are usually good), which go perfectly well with bulgogi. Cook it until it’s ready, which doesn’t take too long.

One thing about my mom’s recipe is that “Coke” part. You can add a little more water instead of that but her bulgogi does taste gooooooooooood. 🙂 Like I said, everyone seems to have his/her own bulgogi recipe so do some experiment and find your own recipe! It’s another fun part of cooking, right? 😉 Serve it over white sticky rice maybe with some kimchi. That’s one complete meal! Enjoy!

Make your own pickles! Don’t forget Soju!

There’s nothing easier than making home-made pickles! The pickled cucumbers are traditional ones that you see in the supermarket. However, the sexy, dark one on the right side is what I call “Grandma Pickles“! You know why they are great? Even my grandma, who is a notorious cook, can make these pickles and they are so yummy! So anyone can make them and they taste heavenly especially with BBQ’d meat! I usually put these pickles on the table when we have samgyeopsal! That’s a cut of pork belly and it’s gonna have to be another seperate post, if not, a book!

Here’s the simplest secret recipe >>>>>> vinegar : sugar : soy sauce : soju = 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 

You can put them all in a pot and boil. When it gets to a boil, turn it off and wait a couple minutes for it to cool down. You wanna pour the yumminess onto cut-up veggies when it’s still hot. Obviously, use a glass jar. 😉

You can pretty much pickle ANYTHING. In the picture are banana peppers (which I love!) and onions. I put a couple of garlic cloves and a few pieces of jalapenos for the flavor as well. My mom sometimes uses carrots, cucumbers and radish too, which are all great. If you don’t like anything too salty, add a half portion of water. 😉

What’s different here is the thing called SOJU! Soju is a what I call “Korean vodka”. It doesn’t really have any strong taste but Korean people for some reason seem to love this. It usually has 20% alcohol and people drink it out of shotglasses, usually in a “bottoms-up” pace. They say “Gun-Bay” or “One Shot” before they empty their glasses. How old you are really matters in Korea so if you are younger, you have to pour soju with two hands. It’s all about showing respect. It’s a dollar in Korea but you gotta pay at least $5 a bottle here in the states, depending on where you are. Most ABC stores in VA carry them so maybe get two bottles and use one for your pickels and the other for some dinner entertainment!

If you do make my GRANDMA PICKLES, keep me posted! Let me know how they come out 🙂

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A Great Way to Enjoy your Steak!

Steak is such an easy meal – compared to other home-made dishes that you actually have to “cook” – but sometimes it’s just not enough. A great way to highlight your dinner (or lunch…. or breakfast? sure, what the heck!) is to fix a nice salad with it. In this case, it was spinach+feta cheese with cut-up onions and tomatoes, which we picked up at a local farmer’s market. The key is the dressing.

We all have a couple different kinds of dressing sitting in the refrigerator but when you want some nice “home-made” dressing, this is how. EVOO+any kind of vinegar+any mustard+salt+pepper+garlic. SUPER SIMPLE! You can start from there and play with what you have left in your pantry if you feel creative that night. Otherwise, it’s a lot healthier than the supermarket dressing that you have.

We used the red wine that had been sitting next to the Keuric machine for ages! Well-transformed and well-enjoyed!

Happy 4th of July! Grill up and get yourself a nice salad with fresh veggies and home-made dressing! Cheers!