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!

Shilla Bakery – Annandale, VA

Are we tired of the same bagels from Harris Teeter? Have we had enough cupcakes from M Street? Then, here’s something new to meet our bakery cravings!

20130622-195109.jpg
Shilla Bakery
7039 Little River Tpke
Annandale, VA 22003
(703) 333-2001

20130622-195156.jpg

Some bakeries are meant to be just for pick-up baked goods for your busy morning. However, this place gives you that option PLUS it’s a cool place to hang out with your friends.20130622-195202.jpg

Not only do they have different – meaning that this might not be for “everyone”- but also they serve various coffee drinks and my favorite Korean dessert, patbingsu! It’s shaved ice with sweetened red beans and condensed milk. This might sound very foreign but once you go patbingsu, there’s no turning back! Highly recommended if you are somewhat food-adventurous 😉 20130622-200009.jpg If you go there early enough, you get to taste their breads for free! We went there around 9 am today and they put out so many kinds to try. They cut up the bread into small pieces. Some last all day but they are the best in the morning when they just come out of the oven. If you like what you taste, you can buy it. If you don’t, you can just get their Illy coffee and walk out! Do some people totally take advantage of it and just eat quite a bit without paying a dime? Oh yes. 🙂 20130622-195228.jpg

Their cake choices are quite delightful too. One thing I’ve noticed here in the states is that cakes are not that “pretty”. They don’t need to look beautiful but I am sometimes so amazed how some cakes look just boring. Shilla bakery has cakes that are really “Korean”: lots of fruits, lots of decorations. 20130622-195218.jpg

Next time you are in Annandale, drop by and treat yourself!

Kimchi Stuffed Chicken Thighs

How does this dish look? Whatever you think, it’s beyond that! 🙂

Here’s a little behind-story of how this dish was born! Main ingredients are kimchi and chicken. Kimchi is a traditional Korean food but this dish is not traditionally “Korean”. Actually, I gotta thank my husband – ex hotel chef- who created this awesome dish for the Korean Food Cooking Contest held in Seoul, Korea in 2011. There were a lot of “foreigners” who cooked great dishes but his kimchi stuffed chicken thighs were the most loved dish by the audience, who were mostly culinary students. Since then, it’s been HIS dish and I am totally stealing it this time because I did it on my own with a little personal touch!  :p

*** Recipe ***

1. Get a couple of chicken thighs and debone them.

2. Pound them flat, if necessary.

3. Sautee some chopped kimchi. Depending on your preference, add veggies and/or cooked rice. I put some zucchini (to add more color) and rice.

4. Spread the cooked kimchi onto the flat chicken thighs and roll them.

5. Season the outer part of the chicken thighs – the hubby used sweet Thai chili sauce but this time I used bacon, which turned out to be really good.

6. Put them in the oven for 25-30 minutes (380°F) COVERED.

7. Get rid of the cover and broil them for about 5-10 minutes (both sides) so they get that sexy color!

Tada~ You see what I am saying about that sexiness here??!! Let them sit for a couple of minutes before you slice and plate them.

You can do so much with this dish in terms of presentation. I cooked some cauliflower to go with it. The hubby made some tangy salad last time (first picture above). Get creative and amuse your senses! Enjoy!

 

 

Samgyeopsal, Ultimate Meatlovers’ Dish

Samgyeopsal!

The picture up there said it all. Pure delight in your mouth. Every single person in Korea has had this and vegan population in Korea is pretty insignificant probably because samgyeopsal is so irresistible!! You can’t go vegan with this meat cooking right in front of you!

;

What’s cooking on the pan:

– Meat: Go to any Asian grocery store (in my case, I go to H-Mart) and look for “sliced pork belly”. It is basically thicker bacon meat that’s not cured or smoked. Frozen samgyeopsal works just fine too.

– Garlic: Slice garlic cloves and just throw them in the pan with the meat. No rules.

Kimchi: Yup. Kimchi it is. Even if you might like the strong taste of kimchi normally, you will be pleasantly surprised with the amazing taste of cooked kimchi. Trust me and try this.

– Pan? Your regular non-stick frying pan works fine but if you want to get a little fancy, try your breakfast griddle! It seems that someone made it just for samgyeopsal without telling anyone this secret! *Warning: lots of grease!

;

;

“Triple-S” Salad – Spicy, Sweet and Sour!

It’s got all the flavors that you can imagine. Just grab a bag of any lettuce at the supermarket. I usually get red leaf and a mix of other greens. All you have to do is to toss it with this mind-blowing dressing!

Pepper flakes (2) + Soy sauce (2) + Fish sauce (1, optional) + Honey(1) + Vinegar (2) + Sugar (2) + Minced Garlic (1) + A hint of sesame oil

After tossing it nicely in a big bowl, if you are into a nice presentation, sprinkle some sesame seeds! ALL DONE!

;

;

SoMac! = Soju + Maekju (Beer, in Korean)

A complete Samgyeopsal meal is finally served with some SoMac! Soju can be purchased pretty much at any ABC store in Virginia for $4-$6 a bottle (it’s kinda sad because it’s less than a dollar in Korea). 😦 Anyway, watch these people make SoMac. ->; So Cool! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL6oWNgAZNs

;

No exaggeration. Not a month goes by without Samgyeopsal in Korea. If you have a regular job, not a week goes by without it. This is meat lovers’ ultimate pilgrimage so you should try it some time. If it’s too much headache for you to do it at home, go find any Korean style BBQ restaurant. It is one of those things that you can’t really mess up! 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 🙂