Jeju Local Food: Congee with Conch Meat

You can taste conches nearly anywhere along the coast of South Korea. Interestingly, depends on where you are the species of conches that are commonly available in the area may slightly differ. On the island of Jeju, the conches size of an egg with bumpy shells are known as 뿔소라 (bbul-sora), with “bbul” meaning “horns”. They are consumed raw or cooked in various ways to feed the natives who lacked protein from meat.

Congee with conch meat

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Winter Hiking in Jirisan and the Night at a Mountain Shelter

So far, this winter in Korea has been very generous to us. The weather was unusually warm this year with above average temperatures and only a few snowy days. Highly unlikely for this time of the year. But last weekend happened to be the days that the cold struck back and snow hit many parts of the country. So what better days than the coldest day of the year to hike the mountain 1,915m above sea level?

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Jirisan National Park(지리산 국립공원) is the first national park in South Korea which was established in 1967. It spans across the southern part of the peninsula from east to west over three different provinces. The highest peak is Cheonwang-bong(천왕봉) and it is almost 2,000m above the sea. The weather at such altitude is unpredictable especially in the middle of winter. For a leisure hiker like myself, a 3-day hiking trip in the winter mountains was definitely a challenge of lifetime. Continue reading

Chicken Soup at a North Korean Restaurant in Daegu

Being a Korean-Canadian, I was always fascinated by the topic of North Korea. Everyone has their own opinion and stereotype about the world’s most repressed county but the most interesting insights come from none other than South Koreans. Now that I live in South Korea, I am exposed to more news and stories about North Korea through South Korean media.  After more than 70 years of separation, it seems that down here in south the neighbour up north is no more than a political tool during election season. Some younger generation feel indifferent towards issues in the north and some oppose unification while others have strong opinions toward policies against North Korea.

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A bowl of North Korean chicken soup to relieve all the political tension?

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Ganggyeong: Salted Seafood Town

I remember my first long-distance bike trip in Korea. It was the Lunar New Year holiday in 2016 when the air was still cold and snow hasn’t melted on some of the bike trails. My friend and I rode our bikes from Daejeon to coastal city of Gunsan following about 140km of Geumgang (river) bike trail. The newly constructed bike-only path was well managed and goes through historic sites and attractions in cities such as Buyeo and Gongju. Towards the end of the trip, the path also led us through Ganggyeong, a small town famous for its fermented fish products.

My 3-days bike trip from Daejeon to Gunsan

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Salted shrimps. One container is worth more than 10 million won.

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Must Eat in Korea: Herb Sausages (Sundae)

Back in August I visited 2016 Jecheon International Music & Film Festival. I got to taste a variation of Korean sausage that I had never seen anywhere else before. Because Jecheon is a city famous for its abundant medicinal herbs, a restaurant was clever enough to utilize local products to create a unique kind of sundae (순대).

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Following is a translation of article from VisitKorea
Gaemi Restaurant (개미식당) is located in Namcheon-dong, Jecheon-si in North Chungcheong Province and their speciality is traditional Korean sausage, aka sundae. The couple who own the place decided to change their main menu from wheat rice to sundae twenty years ago. Ever since then, they studied and developed to come up with the unique recipe of herb sundae which had granted them a patent. Jecheon’s herb sundae keeps the traditional method of sausage-making but uses local herbs that the city is famous for. The combination of Korean sausage and oriental herbs involves extracts of around 25 medicinal plants including milkvetch, cnidium, atractylis, and angelica.  Every three days, the herbs are boiled down to extract for over 12 hours in which the result will be added as a base ingredient for sausage filling. There are about 45 other ingredients added to the filling including cabbage, radish, dried radish leaves, chives, carrot, sweet rice, pig’s blood, glass noodle, millet, tofu, bean sprouts, etc.

 

Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday at Musangsa International Zen Center

May 25, 2015 was Buddha’s Birthday and also a national holiday in Korea.  May is a month that is full of holidays – Labor Day, Children’s Day, Buddha’s Birthday.. and not to mention other special days like Parents’ Day, Teachers’ Day and Coming-of-Age Day when the schools and offices may remain open but excitement surely is in the air.  Looking back at how it was in Canada where we did not have as many national holidays I am definitely not complaining.  Just simply amazed at how all these special days were made that ended up followed by entire nation.

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The Famous Byeongcheon-Style Korean Sausage

April has been so far wonderful in Korea.  There were some chilly days with rain and wind that it seemed like spring would only show itself for a little while and never actually come.  Nevertheless, my friends back home tell me that it still feels like winter in Toronto and I am glad that here in Korea I would not need to face long, harsh days of cold.  For the last few days the temperature has been rising and during the day it almost feels like summer is just around the corner.

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A plate of Byeongcheon-style soondae (or sundae)

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