Uiryeong’s Famous Rice Cake Wrapped in Herbal Leaf

The district of Uiryeong(의령) in South Gyeongsang province sounded unfamiliar at first. Must be just one of those small towns without much worth seeing, I thought. I quickly realized how wrong I was when I stepped into the marketplace of Uiryeong-gun.
Line-ups.
Where are all these people come from and what are they so anxiously waiting for?

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Bite-size rice cakes under the covers of leafy blankets

Thanks to my above-average height I was able to peek above the heads that are all facing the same direction. We are all looking towards the inside of a small room of a building at a corner of the market. Inside, it’s a group of women in work cloth and aprons sitting around a large table. They are busy working with a big mound of white batter. This is where they make the mangae-dduk(망개떡), or rice cake wrapped in mangae leaves. Continue reading

The Village of Handmade Tofu in Gangneung

Lunch on our second day in Gangneung was an unexpected one. Unlike other coastal cities, Gangneung’s signature dish is not of a seafood but the simple, handmade tofu. There’s a small village on the beach that is dedicated to making this special tofu and it is known as Chodang Tofu Village. Just a brief research pointed us to head towards this destination so indeed the lunch menu was an easy choice. But I had doubts even as we were on our way. After all, tofu is just tofu. How special can it get?

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No sauce needed – looks bland but good as it is!

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Chestnut Jelly with Chestnut Rice Wine (and Chestnut Seafood Pizza!)

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Chestnut jelly soup – who would have thought?

If you are a hardcore Korean foodie then you probably have tried traditional Korean-style acorn jelly (or muk: 묵).  Making jelly out of acorn or other starchy vegetables has a long history in Korea in which the jellies became an important source of food for peasants to get through starvation.  The jellies are almost flavorless but they have unique texture and some nutrition so are often used as a topping for salads or bibimbaps.

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Wild Thistle Rice for Lunch at Say Department Store

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Wild thistle rice served in hot pot

I had a great lunch date with my beloved cousin this afternoon.  My cousin is a brand new mother of almost-hundred-days old baby girl.  It has been hard for her to get out of her apartment, but today she has spared some time for me as the baby is being looked after by grandmother.

My cousin and her parents live close to Say Department Store in central Daejeon.  She suggested that we go for a hansik (한식: Korean food) restaurant in the mall as I love Korean foods.  The place is called Pulipchae Hansang (풀잎채 한상), literally meaning “a table full of wild grass”.  As the name suggests, the menu features many vegetarian dishes that are considered healthy Korean meal – just like gondraebap (곤드레밥: wild thistle rice) that is one of my favorite.

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Easy Homemade Vegetarian Bibimbap

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Nowadays, we only prefer barley rice at home.  I add Job’s tears as well because I have read that it is effective for skin troubles such as eczema.  Barley rice is not as sticky as regular Korean steamed rice and it is great for making a bibimbap.  If the rice is too sticky it will not mix well with other ingredients.  In my father’s generation, many Koreans did not have enough to eat and lived in poverty.  Many families sustained themselves with barley rice as it was cheap and easily accessible.  Without meat or fish, people would take fermented bean paste and mix it up with barley rice.  The grain might symbolize the hardship that our parents went through, but now it is also recognized as a healthy diet.

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