Is this the last 빙수 bingsu of the year?

What could be better on a hot afternoon than a bowl of green tea pingsu – green tea flavoured shaved ice, sweet aduki bean paste, and rice cakes?

pingsu

It’s still pretty hot – 27 degrees today – even though we are supposed to be in autumn. So we went to a cafe that specialises in pingsu to enjoy the cold dessert before the weather gets cold. Although it still feels hotter than a British summer, I know that winter will be here soon so this could be my last pingsu of the year!

seoul cafe

The plastic display in the window of the cafe (below) presents what seem to be the two signature desserts of the cafe: green tea pingsu and original pingsu (served with condensed milk). The three bowls underneath are filled with raw aduki beans.

pingsu cafe2

There are all kinds of bingsu available these days. Some are served with ice cream and fruit and cream and look like a fruit sundae. Anything can be added really – chocolate chips, marsh mallows … the list is endless.

Pingsu type desserts – shaved ice with fruit – have been  available since the Joseon period (1392-1910). (Japanese kakigori is a very similar dessert.) Our pingsu was served in a traditional brass dish which made it feel more authentic.

녹차빙수

We also ordered a kind of 떡 deok rice cake dessert which we were warned would take ’8 minutes’ to prepare. (the time given was very specific but I didn’t check if it actually did take exactly 8 minutes) Anyway, we agreed to wait the 8 minutes and were served this warm rice cake called injeolmi 인절미 made from glutinous rice and coated in bean flour topped with pin nuts, walnuts, almonds, jujube, and aduki. As always the dessert for two came on one plate with two forks. The warm and soft chewy rice was comforting and the toasted nuts on top gave a festive touch. Made me think it will soon be time to get the Christmas tree out!

deok4

 

Is it OK to eat 라면 Ramyun for Breakfast?

ramyun vs marmite

Shin Ramyun or Marmite? Which do you prefer for breakfast?

I was back in England over the summer holiday visiting my family. Over the years we’ve  got a lot more adventurous with cooking. In the 70s and 80s we stuck to Scandinavian and British food. But these days the cupboards are filled with an assortment of ingredients from all over the world. And when I’m home we often make a Korean meal for dinner. But whilst exotic or spicy food is perfectly acceptable for dinner, BREAKFAST in our house HAS NOT CHANGED over the years. And I don’t think it ever will. There are some things in life that are so taken for granted, so obvious and natural, that we don’t even think about them. And when I was growing up the idea that cereal, toast with marmalade or Marmite, and bacon and eggs (on special occasions) were the only foods that any sane person should be eating for breakfast were, in my mind, FACTS. You can’t beat a thin (and I mean thin) layer of Marmite spread over a warm, buttery slice of toast. :)

But something must have changed. Because these days I sometimes wake up yearning for a bigger kick start to the day. I want something spicy. I want a packet of… yes, this is true… Shin Ramyun. :o Continue reading “Is it OK to eat 라면 Ramyun for Breakfast?” »

Dadam Korean Restaurant

soju

This week we went to Dadam 다담 a Korean restaurant with a more swanky, sophisticated  menu and atmosphere than the average sikdangs we usually go to! The interior had a simple design in rustic materials and colours.  But there was an air of luxury too – napkins had the restaurant’s name embroidered on them in Chinese characters. And I liked the decadent touch in the bathrooms where individual towels were provided instead of standard paper towels or those embarrassingly noisy air driers.

The menu was in Korean but they obviously have a lot of foreign customers as I was promptly brought an English menu (on an ipad!) They had a huge range of soju from all around Korea so first we ordered a soju from Jeonju called 이간주  - the ingredients include rice, pear, and ginger. (there’s wine too)

I really enjoyed the whole experience here but I did have an issue with some of the food… Continue reading “Dadam Korean Restaurant” »

2013 Food Diary in 12 Pictures

 Here I’ve picked 12 pictures that show a variety of the food that over the past year – for various reasons – I considered worthy enough to take a picture of! (I don’t always remember to take a snap. I’ll try harder next year.) Anyway, in no particular order, here’s the list.  

1. According to traditional Korean medicine, we should eat COLD food in winter and HOT food in summer (see samgyetang). So here’s some icy makguksu (cold buckwheat  noodle soup) to get us going in the winter of 2013. The broth has a savoury, vinegary, mustard flavour with sesame seeds and seaweed. Yum.

SONY DSC

 

Continue reading “2013 Food Diary in 12 Pictures” »

What’s the difference between sesame and perilla?

perillasesame

sesame and perilla plants. Sometimes we just call them both sesame. But actually they are totally different plants. So which one is which?

Since I’ve been writing about the drama Dae Jang Geum lately, I think it’s suitable to do a post on Korean food too! And by coincidence last weekend we went to Yanggu where the fields are full of plants and veggies essential for Korean cooking. Yanggu is about 2 hours from Seoul. It’s very rural with cool clean air – a joy after the concrete summer heat of Seoul! And this is where I got to take a closer look at sesame. Continue reading “What’s the difference between sesame and perilla?” »

My favourite Korean food

Today we went out and had my all-time favourite Korean dish 낙지볶음 nakchi bokkum – spicy stir-fried octopus – for lunch. There are restaurants all over Seoul that specialise in this dish and we’ve tried MANY of them. Jongno district is particularly famous for nakchi bokkum. But after seven years living in Seoul, the Banpo branch of 유정 낙지 is STILL my favourite nakchi bokkum restaurant.

They serve 8 dishes here and six of them contain octopus. (So this is not the place to go if you don’t like octopus!)

The restaurant serves 산 낙지 san nakchi (raw octopus) (below), 낙지 볶음 nakchi bokkum (spicy sir-fried octopus (below below), 어린이용 낙지 o-rin-i-nakchi (non-spicy version of stir-fried octopus), 낙지전골 nakchi jeongol (spicy octopus stew – I should point out that the octopus is still alive when it’s put in the stew and cooked at the table), 낙지파전 nakchi pajeon (octopus pancake) 감자탕 kamja tang (potato and pork rib soup) 조개탕 cho-ge tang (clam soup) and 낙지손만두 nakchi son mandu (octopus and pork dumplings – the menu just says octopus dumplings but dumplings in Korea ALWAYS contain pork too!)

san nakchi

For a starter we had 산 낙지  san nakchi – raw octopus with sesame and salt dip and raw veg with soy bean paste dip. The octopus is so fresh it’s still moving on the plate.

nakchi bokkum

낙지 볶음 nakchi bokkum has lots of spicy garlic and chilli. The dish comes with a pair of scissors to cut up the nakchi into edible pieces as it’s cooked still almost whole! Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water :)

nakchi bokkum

The dish is served with rice and bean sprouts. So you can mix the nakchi bokkum with the rice or simply eat it separately.

soju

A bottle of soju is optional ….

nakchi bokkum restaurant

Lunchtimes on Sunday are quiet but weekday evenings are pretty busy.

This is the place I like to go to when I’m having a bad day and need cheering up. Nakchi bokkum here just makes me feel better about everything!

Over the last seven years many of the restaurants that we like have closed down. But happily this place still seems to be going strong. Touch wood. ;)