Monday, July 30, 2012

Drug Kimbap (마약김밥)

On a long walk the other day with one of my good friends, I ended up in Gwangjang Market (광장시장) near Dongdaemun. If you've never visited this market, then you need to head over there. Last winter, C and I enjoyed some fantastic bindaeddeok and pumpkin porridge at the market, and last weekend I tried the famous drug kimbap 마약김밥.
As the name suggests, these are addictive
You've probably seen these little mini kimbaps before, but apparently the original purveyor of this quick snack is in Gwangjang Market and everyone else copied their ideas. They are quite tasty, especially with the wasabi-esque dip. Inside the kimbap is carrot, radish, and leeks. Although I wouldn't say it is worth it to go to Gwangjang just for these little buggers, if you are already in the area, they would make a quick and cheap lunch.

To get to 마약김밥, go to exit 7 of Jongno 5 Ga and walk straight til you can take a right into the market. You'll see this sign at the first main market intersection.
They are apparently the original

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Second Hot Day of Summer: 중복

Korea is a very food-oriented society, and there are certain times and places that you should eat certain food. While this can sometimes be annoying (like when my co-teacher tells me I shouldn't eat noodles for dinner and I'd better eat rice or meat), it also gives great reasons for going out and trying new things. Although I have eaten many different things in Korea, there are still plenty of things that I have to try. Anyone have any recommendations?
As I mentioned last week, we are in the middle of the hot days of summer. Last Saturday was the second special day (중북) so I went out with my friend Cam for some delicious samgyetang (삼계탕). Although this is a signature Korean dish, I think this is only the second time I've eaten it in a restaurant (it is a bit pricey). It was well worth the money, however, for the feast we were presented with:

Samgyetang is one of the foods that are apparently good for 이열치열. This is a oriental medicine practice that recommends eating hot food in the summer so your internal temperature and your external temperature reach equilibrium. We were eating in an air-conditioned restaurant, so that probably didn't happen...
This soup is made with an entire chicken (!) stuffed with rice, jujubes, ginseng, and other morsels. There was even a clam at the bottom of the bowl. In some places, you can get half portions, but unfortunately luckily, we had to eat a full portion. Of course, it is served with side dishes:
Samgyetang is a must eat while in Korea. Although it is a little weird to eat it when you are hot and sweaty, it is also available in the winter. This would be a perfect dish if you felt a cold coming on... if only it had some noodles.

If you want to try making it at home, try Maangchi's recipe. She is pretty much the coolest Korean cook. It really isn't that difficult to make. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday Night in Suyu

What started out as a group of Suyu people having some jello shots and beer turned into a very Korean party at my place last Friday. Magaly brought up the idea of having jello shots, and C ended up making them. They looked glorious:
We made them with paeksaeju, which is a very weak sweet tasting alcohol; they were much better than the shots I made for BH's b-day party, which were made with Chinese fire water. C also prepared a watermelon with Korean rum and soju. It was quite strong, but it was eaten.
C looking cute with a melon
As I mentioned earlier, on Friday I went out for dog meat. I brought some of that back and it was one of our snacks we had with our drinks. When BH got off of work and came to the party at around 11, he brought along some squids and octopuses. Alive. So he let me try chopping them up and we had live octopus. 

Apparently, I didn't do the best job. However, it was fun to handle octopus for the first time. After watching BH do it masterfully, I think I'll be able to do a better job next time.

Live squid, live octopus, and dog meat with a bunch of Korean alcohol. All we need is noraebang. 

Eating Dog for 초복

We are in the middle of the hottest days of summer, or 복날. During 복날, there are three days that are the supposed hottest days. Last Wednesday was 초복, the first day. Traditionally, there are certain foods to eat to strengthen the body and give you stamina during these blistering days. While I didn't get any of this special food on Wednesday, on Friday, I went out with the men of my school for 개고기찜- braised dog. Like samgyetang (chicken soup) and eel soup, dog is eaten during the summer to keep you going when the heat is keeping you down.

Our restaurant was really out in the countryside near Uijeongbu. It was nice to get out of Seoul proper, but, of course, this meant sitting on the ground. Ouch. It really was out in the middle of nowhere, and the dilapidated restaurant would have made a great setting for a horror film.

Dog is usually served with a dipping seasoning, and this braised dog was also served with some greens. Truthfully, I thought the greens were the best part of the meal. Sometimes I miss being a vegetarian...

This is the second time I tried dog and for the second time it was just ok. The meat itself has a bit of a gamey taste and there is a lot of gristle. I tried to be adventurous and tried some of the organs (kidneys and livers), but, unsurprisingly, I didn't enjoy them. I really wanted some rice to fill up my stomach, but I figured that it wouldn't be the most masculine thing to ask for, and this was the men's night out.

Of course, we drank soju with the dog and before we knew it, all the elder men at the table were drunk. Like standing up and singing drunk while the principal was falling asleep at the head of the table. The younger guys were designated drivers, and you could feel that the all were antsy to leave at around 8 pm, but the older men were taking their sweet time. Finally, around 8:45, we all had one last shot of soju and headed back to Seoul proper.

Eating dog is declining in popularity due to the increase in dog-owners and young people viewing it as somewhat old fashioned. Some of my co-workers declined eating dog, which I understand. I, on the other hand, don't have a special place in my heart for dogs, so I really can't find the difference between eating a dog and a chicken. And looking at the way these dogs were living (with a decent amount of space and their own dog houses) I would argue that these animals had a way better life than chickens. Look at how happy these guys looked:
If you want some more facts about dog eating and the debate surrounding it globally and in Korea, I would definitely recommend reading Ask a Korean!'s post titled Dog - It's What for Dinner. Some people get really emotionally charged over the idea of eating dog. To them, I say 너나 잘하세요 (kind of like a sarcastic 'you worry about yourself'). Dog meat is meat. Beyond the emotional attachment and eww factor, why wouldn't you eat it? I'd be curious to hear people's opinions. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Steamed Bok Choy with Ginger

I've mentioned how I've been cooking to share with my co-workers, and this is a dish that has worked well. I find it a little bland, but if you are cooking for Koreans, it's pretty easy on the palate.

Steamed Bok Choy with Ginger:

6 Bok Choy Clusters(?)
1 large tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1) Wash the bok choy. Chop the bok choy, separating the stems from the leaves. Roughly chop the leaves.
2) Heat the olive oil on medium high. Add the stems, ginger, and soy sauce. Stir the ingredients, then cover and cook for three minutes (perfect amount of time to enjoy listening to the perennial classic Gee by Girl's generation)
3) Add the chopped leaves and cover and cook for another five minutes. How about some Busker Busker while we wait?
4) When the bok choy is a nice bright shade of green, season with salt and pepper. Congrats! You've finished! And you've heard some good K-pop as well. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My first time eating 약초밥

About once a month, I find myself eating something in Korea that I've never tried before. Today was a real feast: 약초밥 or herb rice. I headed out for dinner with my school near Bukhan mountain, sat on the floor of the restaurant, and the waiter asked '성별 어떡해 됐어요?' This loosely translates to what is the gender ratio of our group. I was immediately intrigued and asked my co-workers why this was important. Apparently, the herbs in the rice were prepared differently for men and women. If I'm horny tonight, I guess I'll know why... 
The dinner started out with some great side dishes: water kimchi, fried yam (마) and ddeok (rice cake) salad. Nyum nyum nyum. 

Being a hungry and growing boy, I devoured as much as I could without looking like the pig at the table. Well, I probably did look like the pig at the table, but luckily I can play the foreigner card. Next up was TONS of 반찬 (side dishes). These dishes were re-filled when empty and particularly well seasoned.
Greens with kimchi
Raddish kimchi
Potatoes and eggplants with sauce
More 반찬, tofu, and soybean soup
Smoked pork for protein
Chicken salad with cabbage, pickled vegetables, and some grass-like herb
 Next came our rice. The female version of the herb rice is the picture on top, and I have to say it definitely looked tastier and had a better aroma. Mine was fine though.

Like a lot of Korean meals, 약초밥 is enjoyed by just picking at the various side dishes and eating it with rice. It was definitely a balanced way to eat and an adventure with each bite. Although this would make a great vegetarian meal, we also ordered some tteokgalbi, which was good, but overshadowed a bit by the amazing sides.

Once we were all getting to the point of being uncomfortably full, we ate our 누룽지. When you eat rice in a hot-pot, you can add boiling water to the pot to get all the grains that stick to the pot. The taste is a little burnt, but I imagine it adds a bit of nostalgia to the meal. And it ensures you are completely full.

Ah, company meals. Awkward, but always delicious and good for my wallet. 

Empty dishes and big smiles ^^

Sunday, July 15, 2012

MV Monday: Gangnam Style by Psy

Psy's music video for Gangnam Style just came out yesterday. The music video is ridiculously awesome. I particularly like it because the dances are so dorky and amateurish... it looks like something that I'd make with my friends (like Party Rock Hong Kong). Psy (born Park Jae Sang) is an interesting artist. He was educated at Boston University and Berklee and made his debut in Korea back in 2002. He is known as the Bizarre Singer because of his style and appearance. I can dig that.

I used to live in the Gangnam area, so let me assure you that it isn't full of horses or garbage flying in the air. It is definitely one of the affluent areas of Seoul. Psy poking fun at it makes this song all the more enjoyable. Plus, I feel like I can actually learn the dance for when I hear it in the street. Bonus points.

Oppa is Gangnam style
Gangnam style
A girl who is warm and humanle during the day
A classy girl who know how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee
A girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes
A girl with that kind of twist
I’m a guy
A guy who is as warm as you during the day
A guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down
A guy whose heart bursts when night comes
That kind of guy
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh
A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensable girl like that
I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh
On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two
On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two
You know what I’m saying
Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Party Rock in Hong Kong

I went to Hong Kong and Macau back in February, but this music video was put on the back burner for a while... I'm not really sure why. When C and I finally go down to editing it, it only took about a couple of hours. It's pretty silly and low quality, but we had a lot of fun making it. Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

MV Monday: Younha's Run

I love this new song: Run by Younha (고윤하). Sure, it is kind of just another love song, but check out the music video.

The cinematography is great. Add in ET and a whale and how could you not love this video?

This is the first single I've heard from Younha. Apparently she is really popular in Japan, where her songs have been used in animes and dramas (this video looks a lot like something you would see in Japanese animation, doesn't it?).

Her newest album, Supersonic, was released last week (July 3rd). Something about this song isn't as K-poppy, and I love that. Many of her other songs are slower ballads, nice in their own way, but she also has some rockier and jazzier tracks. I'll be keeping an eye on her for sure. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Journey to Jawol Island (자월도)

To celebrate fourth of July, M organized a trip to an island off of the coast of Incheon. Since we had been to Muuido back in May, we decided to try another island a bit further off. 10mag had an article with some options, so we wound up going to Jawoldo (자월도) because the beach looked mighty fine.

Too early to be friendly
We set out from Suyu at 6:45 (after a quick McDonalds breakfast). We transferred to line 1 and got off at at Dongincheon station (동인천). From Dongincheon, we walked into the underground shopping market, took exit 7, and then grabbed bus #12 toward Yeonan Ferry Terminal (연안부두). We just barely made the 9 AM ferry. (There are also ferries at 8 and 2 pm. I recommend reserving tickets)

The ferry was a quick one hour ride and brought us to the pier where our 자월짱 pension (kind of like a lodge) picked us up and brought us to our rooms.
We couldn't have asked for better weather. Combine the shining sun with the greenery of the island and the calming sea and it was a recipe for a pretty great weekend. 

Most of our time in Jawol was spent on the beach; I'm not the biggest beach person, but it was nice to spend some hours just relaxing in the sun. I was applying sunscreen about every hour, but I still managed to get burnt. C'est la vie. 

Digging holes
We wandered a bit and eventually made the mistake of trying to go swimming. Apparently, one side of the beach is fine. The part we swam in, however, was full of barnacles and sharp rocks that you couldn't see through the muddy water. If you go swimming here, I would recommend swimming in shoes or you'll be limping the next day. My feet are flayed right now. Awful.  

Beautiful view, but not for 11
After some mishaps finding a dinner place, including being refused at one place which had an amazing view because our party of 11 was too big, we finally settled for a kimchi jjigae place. There were some mishaps and too much food was ordered, but what we ate was good, even though the owners seemed more concerned with getting our money than  providing decent service. We did do a tiny bit of karaoke though:

The night finished with soju and fireworks and in the morning we had eggs and bacon. It was pretty good practice for next weekend, where we will be spending two nights at a pension in Boryeong for the mud festival. Hopefully the mud will protect me from sunburn. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

MV Monday: Love is Energy

Today's K-pop song is just a catchy, up-beat tune from Chi Chi.

I love these music videos with the English and Korean subtitles. ^^

This is a good summer hit and will be fun to hear in the clubs. Then again, it is a bit repetitious. I got it. Love is energy. In your heart. But that's what makes songs catchy, huh? Their relationship with this (assumed) guy is a little strange. He has all these secrets, he doesn't return your calls, he doesn't understand how you feel, yet you know you'll be in love forever. If only it were that simple.

The dance is basic and fun; the hand dance above the head has to be my favorite part. Super cute. I don't like the dub-step bridge, though, or the dance during the bridge. It just didn't fit into the song. Even though these dub-step sounds are getting big in pop music, it doesn't work for me. After the bridge, the key change is also really awkward. 

I'm probably not going to download this song, but I'll be happy to dance to it in the clubs or when it is playing in the streets.

Pinch Penny Pizza: Some of the best pizza in Seoul

I would feel bad if I didn't share this newish pizza restaurant near Mia Samgeori (미아 삼거리) on line 4. Like many good things, it was a random find. I was with three good friends looking for brunch, but our place was closed. After awkwardly asking a convenience store where to find pizza (I said "피자어디예요?" which literally means "where is pizza?"), we came upon this New York style pizza joint.

It's great. And cheap. The 15,000 won 18-incher definitely fed all four of us and you can get sodas for 900 won. With free refills. What sets this pan crust pizza apart is their great sauce and perfectly cooked cheese. It's a bit oily, but that 'Oh, this tastes like what I'm used to' oily flavor.

Unfortunately, they don't deliver. It is a relatively new establishment, so hopefully they'll start delivering in the near future. They also have hot dogs and you can buy single slices. 나이스
Now, here is the tricky part... directions. If you go out of exit 2 at Mia Samgeori you will see a Macdonalds on your left. Walk behind the Macdonalds to the Angel in Us Coffee. Take a right down this alley:

Walk through the alley and past this biking guy if you are lucky.

 The road will kind of veer to the left, but keep going. You'll see Pinch Penny Pizza on your left. Yay! ^^
Phone number: 02 988 7475