My kimbap brings all the boys to the yard! And they're like, it's better than yours!
One thing that has grown since relocating to South Korea is my love for food and cooking. South Korea offers some of the best cuisine I have have ever tasted. The ingredients used here are fresh, colorful, and somewhat unique to Southeast Asia. Living alone here, I am more inclined to cook meals for myself. Either that, or eat at restaurants on a daily basis. Since the beginning of the year I have made a conscious effort to cook more and learn how to cook Korean dishes.
Initially, I would jot down recipes that my Korean teacher told me, during my weekly lessons. But then, I began visiting the home of a close church family twice a month. When we meet, my friend teaches me how to cook Korean dishes in Korean. As a result I have gained more confidence in my cooking skills and Korean vocabulary. In this blog post, I want to share some of the dishes I have already made!
In the name of evolution lets begin with some of the first dishes I made last year.
I started off simple with Penne Pasta. I'm not gonna lie though, I still struggle with not over cooking pasta noodles. *Kanye Shrug* And the tatse wasn't to die for. I don't think pasta is my thing,
The next dish I tried my hand at was a bit more simple. Mashed sweet potatoes. The hardest part was simply peeling and cutting the potatoes. But this one turned out well enough, that I've done it a few times.
At the beginning of the year I made it my mission to cook more. As a result I purchased a multi-cooker. I set out to cook a nice dinner and invite my friends over. I found a recipe I that seemed simple enough and hunted down the ingredients at my local mart. My friends came and we enjoyed the meal together. They liked it..at least that's what they said. Honestly, I think I was a bit heavy-handed with the soy sauce, but they didn't mention it.
Next was tteokbokki (spicy rice cake). But I made this one twice. The first time I didn't use a recipe and it was an epic fail. The second time, I got some tips from my Korean teacher and it turned out pretty good!
A couple months after making the tteokbokki, I asked a friend at church if we could meet to study Korean. She offered teach me how to cook too! And the rest is history! The first dish we made together was Japchae, one of my favorites. The reason I love this dish is because of the unique glass noodle and vibrant colors of the vegetables.
Next, I learned how to make bulgogi, but I have yet to try this recipe on my own. So this picture is the one I took at my friend's home after we cooked it together. The most valuable thing I'm learning while cooking these dishes is that it's all about personal taste. Outside of the major steps, you can jazz up or tame down anything to make it fit your palate. If you look up any of these photos on Google Images you will see the variety of choices made by the cooks.
Just last Saturday I made some bibimbap (mixed rice)! It lasted me about five days and even had my freinds over on separate days to enjoy it with me! It was a hit, and I was reminded why it was my favorite dish before moving to South Korea. The presentation helps too! The meat sauce here is seasoned in red pepper paste, garlic, and soy sauce. Its the main sorce of flavor. But I think I was heavy-handed with the soy sauce again. Fortunately, I learned I can add a little brown sugar to counter it. Yay cooking hacks!
An honorable mention is one of the easiest Korean dishes to make: Kimchi fried rice. This recipe was also a quick one I got from my Korean teacher. And its my go-to when I want to cook Korean food, without too much effort or ingredients. The key is in the kimchi!!
And speaking of Kimchi...I had the opportunity to learn how to make kimchi two weeks ago! My same friend made the reservation at a restaurant in my city. The class was mostly foreingers from the local university. We learned how radish kimchi and cabbage kimchi is made. It was a really fun experience! Check out some of the photos below!