So, ten years can go by fast. Especially when you eat delicious food. On this ten-year anniversary of Yellow Inkling, I will stick to the heart of it: food. I've chronicled many things here in this small part of the internet, but one thing has stuck - I really like to eat.
As devoted readers know, the thing I love most other than reading and writing is cooking and eating. And during my two years in Korea I've experimented quite a bit with Korean cooking.
Here are some of the many things I've learned to make while living in the Land of the Morning Calm:
My first kimbap - pretty ugly, but also quite tasty. Lesson learned: make sure your knife is sharp before you slice.
My first mulnaengmyeon - cold noodle soup. It was delicious, but I learned to not cook the noodles as long next time.
My first ddeokbokki - rice cake in a spicy broth. This also turned out well, but the next time I added quail egg, which hit the spot.
My first dotorimuk - a kind of tofu-like-consistency "jelly" made out of acorn starch. This is an excellent and cheap source of protein. Eaten with lettuce in a salad with a soysauce dressing can be delicious. Mine did not turn out well. In fact, I thought it was gross and only ate about a third of this block. Lesson learned - use more starch when cooking and cook for a longer amount of time before allowing to set. This was my biggest failure in Korean cooking.
My first fried flounder - easy peasy and delicoius. Here we ate it with another bowl of cold noodle soup.
My first ssambap - meat wrapped with rice and greens. This was also when we started consuming Korean drinking vinegar (also shown in the picture). We got hooked, drank too much of it and then had to take a break. haha.
My first jjajangmyeon - Chinese-Korean black bean noodles. These turned out pretty good, though not as good as our favorite jjajangmyeon joint (duh). In my opinion, the dish is too much work. In Korea, you can buy a big bowl of it for like 3 bucks. I say just go buy it instead of breaking your arm chopping everything.
My first kimchi bokkeumbap - kimchi fried rice. It turned out great. Lesson learned: the key to good kimchi fried rice is the kimchi itself. This will dictate how good it tastes. I've made this so many times now I can make it in my sleep.
My first cheaters bibimbap. Other than a balls-amount of chopping that will kill your arm, it's easy. I call this cheaters-bibimbap because I cooked most of the veggies altogether. Traditionally, they are cooked separately and then placed artfully over rice with an egg at the center. Whatever, this tasted bomb anyway.
My first big batch of jeon. I'd made jeon before, but this was the first time I made pumpkin jeon and kimchi jeon. Jeon is basically pancake fried in oil. You can put anything you want in it. The kimchi jeon (the red one) was my favorite, but the pumpkin and green onion were also good. Lesson learned - cooking jeon in one massive pancake (like the green and red one) will save a lot of cooking time. Afterward, just cut up with kitchen scissors.
My first kimchi jjigae - kimchi stew. It was delicious and it was balls-easy to make. Lesson learned: like chili in America, it tastes better the next day. The longer and slower it cooks the better.
Fried tofu with yangnyeomjang (sweet-spicy sauce) - I made fried tofu in America, but learning how to the Korean sweet-spicy sauce was the key here. Fried tofu with the sauce is often served as banchan (side dish), but we eat lots of tofu so sometimes I use it as the main protein. Lesson learned - mince the garlic well and make the sauce before or while frying tofu. This helps incorporate the flavors better and then you can serve the tofu hot verses luke-warm.
My first quail egg jjangjorim - so delicious. Lesson learned: cook on low heat a little longer and use lots of lots of garlic. Later on, I also started added mushrooms and never make it without them now. So good and so easy.
Not Korean, but my first time making eggnog pancakes. Being in Korea for a couple Christmases, I started to miss eggnog. So, I made my first batch of eggnog from scratch and then used some of the eggnog to make delicious, Christmas morning pancakes. Lesson learned: why make normal pancakes when you can make eggnog ones?
My first kimchi - I can't live in Korea without making kimchi. It just wouldn't be right. It turned out pretty good. Lesson learned: I will probably use less fish sauce next time and more red pepper flakes.