The strange food I have grown to love
12.07.2011 27 °C
As one would expect, the food in Korea is very different to what we are accustomed to at home. I was a little worried coming over here considering I am not the most adventurous eater, but it seems as though I have attained a when in Rome type of attitude. I told myself I will try anything once (I draw the line at dog) and if I don't like it then my first try can be my last. This has allowed me to try many foods that I would have quickly turned away from in disgust.
Rice - 밥 (Bap)
Once upon a time I really enjoyed white rice. Well Korea has quickly made it something I greatly dislike. Koreans eat rice with EVERYTHING. I have never been served a Korean meal that does not include a lovely colorless and nutrionless bowl of white rice. I don't think I will ever eat white rice again once I leave Korea.
Sometimes if you are extra lucky, your rice is purple... though this is rare.
Seaweed - 김 (Gim)
I remember trying dried seaweed once at home and I thought it was absolutely disgusting. Some how my attitude towards seaweed has changed and I love it. I prefer dried salted seaweed. It is a great alternative to chips, especially since Korea fails miserably at making chips. For some reason they think chips should be sweet, even cheetos in Korea are sweet.
Kimchi - 김치
Koreans can 'kimchi' just about anything. The most common is cabbage. The cabbage is fermented and doused in a spicy sauce. Koreans eat kimchi with every meal. When I first tried it I was a little unsure about it, it has a very distinct taste, not one that you can compare to any food at home. I have grown to love kimchi, and my meals feel incomplete with out it.
Kimchi Jigae - 김치 찌개
Kimchi jigae is one of my favorite things to eat in Korea. It is a spicy soup made with vegetables, kimchi, and tofu. It is served in a little black bowl and it is still boiling like it is on the oven once it is placed in front of you.
Pork Cutlet - 돈가스 (dongas)
Dongas is delicious, but terrible for you. It is breaded deep fried pork cutlet. It is usually served with rice and vegetables. It seems to be a popular choice among Koreans. This isn't a surprise since most of their favorite meals are deep fried. Koreans love deep fried chicken. When I ask my kids what their favorite food is, the answer is always chicken. When you walk down the street in Korea you can be sure to see at least one chicken place per block.
Rice Omelet - 오므라이스 (Ohm rice)
Koreans do not eat eggs for breakfast like we do at home, but they still find a way to fit them into their meals. Ohm rice seems to be one of the only main dishes that contains eggs. It is like an omelet, but instead of being filled with delicious cheese and vegetables, it is simply filled with rice and topped of with mayonnaise and ketchup. Definitely not my favorite, though kimchi ohm rice which is filled with spicy rice is pretty good.
Dumplings - 만두 (mandu)
Mandu is just like the dumplings you get at home, though you see them more often here. My favorite mandu is filled with 김치 (kimchi), they can also be filled with 고기 (meat), noodles, or vegetables.
Rice Cake - 송편 (Songpyeon)
Songpyeon is a dessert made from sticky rice and red bean. The rice is kneaded and mixed with water, which causes it to have a somewhat doughy texture. Red bean looks a bit like a kidney bean but it is sweet, and it can be found in a lot of Korean desserts. You can even get red bean popsicles! I have only recently acquired a taste for this strange snack, but now I really enjoy it.
Dukboki - 떡볶이
This is yet another Korean food that revolves around rice. It consists of pieces of soft rice cake mixed with fish cakes (from what I am told fish cakes are like the fish version of a hotdog). Sometimes there can be ramen in it too. All of these things are mixed in a spicy sauce. It is delicious and loved by all my students.
Salad soba is probably the closet thing to a salad you will find in Korea. It is so delicious and one of my favorite meals when I am not in the mood for Korean food. It is salad with ginger dressing and soba noodles on the bottom. When you are done your meal, which includes free refills on anything, you get a bowl of ice cream. The owner is really friendly and loves when we come into the restaurant. The atmosphere and the meal make it a great place to have dinner.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
This is my favorite non-korean meal. You get to make your own spring rolls. First you put all your vegetables and meat in a big bowl full of boiling broth in the middle of your table. While that cooks you dip your rice paper in hot water to make it soft. Once everything is ready you fill the rice paper with meat, vegetables, and sauce. Once you have had enough of the spring rolls, they will cook rice noodles in the rest of the broth. If that isn't enough they cook egg and rice in the pot after... just to be sure that nothing is wasted. You definitely feel like you have gained ten pounds after this meal!
The first time i went for clams I was brand new in Korea. I was a little unsure of what to expect as we walked up to the restaurant since it looked a little dingy with tarps everywhere covering tables rather than walls. I was pleasantly surprised by how great this meal was. They serve you lots of raw open shelled clams, which you cook at your table in garlic butter. Other interesting seafood is included, such as shrimp with eyes, though we preferred playing with them.
Gimbap - 김밥
The best way to describe gimbap is like sushi without the seafood. It is almost the Korean version of a sandwich. My favorite gimbap is 고추김밥 (gochu gimbap) this gimbap is filled with hot peppers and hot sauce. I can handle spicy food, but sometimes this can be too spicy, it burns your mouth and makes your tongue feel numb, but I still love it. My other favorite gimbap is 참치 (tuna) it tastes just like a tuna sandwich would taste if it were wrapped in 밥 (rice) and 김 (seaweed)
Chicken Butt - 닭똥집
Yup, you read that right... chicken butt. This was not something I ate willingly and truthfully the first time I tried it I left the restaurant having no idea what it was. My friend Sarah saw them on someones table and insisted that they were mushrooms so she order them despite the waiter insisting that they were not mushrooms. We tried them and quickly realized that the waiter knew enough English and he knew that these chewy weird tasting things were not mushrooms. After one taste we had all had enough. You would think that you wouldn't find this type of food frequently but a couple weeks later I tried it again not knowing, but my friend who loves it quickly told me it was chicken butt. I haven't had any it since then, and I don't recommend it to anyone.
Bullfrog isn't something I found in Korea. This odd meal was eaten while I was on vacation in Shanghai. When people say frog tastes like chicken they aren't lying, it really does. It looked like we were eating chicken wings, it was actually pretty good! Much better than chicken butts!
These are just some of the things my dad has to look forward to trying while he is here. Only two more days till their are two Gladstones in Korea... a very scary thought.