Making Kimchi Gimbap with Wild Chives

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I often make gimbap (김밥: rolled sushi) or jumeokbap (주먹밥: Korean onigiri) for lunch.  It is simply easy to make and convenient for those who are eating it.  I recently made a simple gimbap with chopped kimchi and dallae (wild chives) for my dad’s lunch which turned out to be a great spring-themed dosirak.

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Making Sundae Gukbap with Leftover Korean Sausages

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Living as an ajumma in Korea makes you an expert at utilizing leftovers to make delicious creations.  I am technically no ajumma but practically in charge of the housekeeping of my parents’ place for the time being so it is always my concern to clear out the fridge and minimize leftovers.  So indeed it was like a homework when one night my mother brought home leftover soondae from her dine-out with friends.

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Daeji Bulgogi: Juicy and Spicy Korean Stir-Fried Pork

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Another dish that I made on my mother’s birthday was daeji bulgogi (돼지불고기: stir-fried spicy pork).  I had my own recipe for this classic Korean comfort food but today I decided to follow a new recipe presented on a TV show called o-neul-mwo-meok-ji (오늘뭐먹지?).  A cooking show on Olive TV is one of my favorite shows nowadays.  It is hosted by Sung Si-kyung and Shin Dong-yeop, two of the hottest TV personnels in Korea.

The one that I recently watched showed Sung making spicy daeji bulgogi for Shin on his birthday.  I realized that his recipe called for a broth as he attempted to make juicy bulgogi with a bit of “soup”.  My version is not soupy at all as I simply marinate the pork and then stir-fry it.  I found that the problem with my recipe is that sometimes the sauce will burn due to lack of liquid.  Sung’s recipe easily solves this problem by adding ladles of broth while stir-frying.

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Seaweed Soup on My Mother’s Birthday

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Beef and seaweed soup for my mom

February 23rd was my mother’s birthday.  Like a surprise gift, my sister flew in from Toronto just in time for celebration and for the first time in many years all four of our family members have gathered at our childhood home in Daejeon.  It felt nice and a little sad at the same time as I was reminded that as we grow up it is difficult for us to spend time with our family like we used to.

I have decided to make a nice saengil-sang (생일상: a birthday meal) for my mom this year.  The first and the most important thing for a birthday meal is indeed a bowl of miyeok-guk (미역국: seaweed soup).  In Korea, birthday boys and girls are served with seaweed soup as to celebrate their entrance to the world.  It is known that seaweed is beneficial to mothers who have just given birth because it helps with breast feeding.  The old traditions of serving seaweed soup to new mothers have lived on and nowadays many people consider seaweed soup as a must-have on a birthday.

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Got What It Takes to Love Cheong-Guk-Jang?

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My cheonggukjang soup with dallae

Living in Korea, you might have not yet tried cheonggukjang but I am sure you have smelled it.  Cheong-guk-jang (청국장: fast-fermented bean paste) looks similar to dwenjang (된장: fermented bean paste) but we all admit that it smells hell of a lot stronger.  Even some native Koreans do not enjoy cheonggukjang due to its strong, distinctive odor.  Of course, I am not one of them and in fact cheongukjang jjigae (청국장찌개: soup made with cheonggukjang) is one of my favorite recipes to make at home.

Unlike dwenjang that takes months of fermentation, the advantage of cheonggukjang is that it can be consumed within few days.  Because cheonggukjang is made by fermenting whole beans it also contains more nutritions.  So it’s true that the smell of cheonggukjang could be unbearable for foreigners but I can assure you that the taste and the nutritional value will be worthy.

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Making Holiday Foods: Skewered Beef and Vegetables

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After the harsh labor on Lunar New Year’s Day I passed out and slept through most of the day on February 20th.  Now I understand why there is such thing called myoung-jeol who-yoo-jeung (명절후유증: holiday aftereffects) in Korea.  In the past, holiday celebrations were held in much larger scale and women who were in charge from prep to cleanup must have suffered physically and emotionally throughout the holidays.  Well, lucky me that nowadays at our family the traditions are kept minimal.

I would like to share one of the holiday foods that I made from scratch (for the first time!).  Sanjeok Kochi (산적꼬치: skewered & pan-fried marinated beef and vegetables) found a place on my menu as the recipe looked easy at first.  I soon realized that skewering takes time and skills but in the end I was glad that I chose to make this for my first charae-sang.  The mini skewers looked nice and tasted great as well making a wonderful holiday addition.

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Spring is Here (Almost). Try Seasoned Shepherd’s Purse.

In Korea, you may realize that winter has passed by the change of your dinner menu.  As the springtime comes, Koreans enjoy consuming bom-na-mul (봄나물: wild spring herbs) such as naeng-i (냉이: shepherd’s purse), dal-lae (달래: wild chive), sook (쑥: mugwort), and so on.  Koreans believe that foods that are in season are the best for one’s health and spring herbs are filled with nutritions that help you regain your strength and appetite.  Nowadays, popular herbs are available year-around as they are grown in greenhouses instead of being collected in the wild.

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Fresh shepherd’s purse from local marketplace

I love using naengi in many of my Korean recipes.  I could even get them in Canada at Korean grocery stores and would add them to my dwenjang jjigae (된장찌개: Korean miso soup) although they are slightly pricey.  Here in Korea, I could get a small plastic bag filled with fresh naengi for only 1,000 won.  What a steal!

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