food


Tomorrow is November 11th which means Peppero Day in Korea. I’ll be buying a giant box because they are only available this time of year.

It’s also the start of the G20 meetings in Seoul.

FYI: plan on not going to or near COEX because the security is extreme.

Now it’s not like I have a lot of time on my hands, but making yogurt at home is not as hard as it sounds. All you need is a food thermometer, milk, a single serving of yogurt and someplace to keep milk warm and clean for 6 – 12 hours. The dusty old rice cooker is perfect for the job, especially since crock pots/large ovens/bread machines are not commonplace in Korea. I like controlling the sugar content since it’s impossible to find unsweetened yogurt at the market.

Homemade Yogurt

1000 mL milk

100 g plain yogurt

optional: sugar, jam, vanilla, honey, and so on.

Take the milk to 118*F in the rice cooker (unplug) and then thoroughly stir in yogurt. Check the temperature every few hours (do not stir!), the ideal temperature for yogurt is 100*F (plug it in for a few minutes if needed). Anywhere from 6 – 12 hours later the milk will transform into yogurt, even if completely unattended. The longer it sits at 100*F the thicker and tangier it will taste. Transfer into container for the fridge, add your optional flavoring. Let cool the yogurt cool overnight before eating. It will keep for about a week.

It’s difficult to find a savory snack on the supermarket shelf. Most crackers and chips are sugary sweet.

When scanning the shelf for a snack with my toddler, we found “고래밥/gorae bap/Whale Food.” While still slightly sweet, it’s actually a salty snack.

Hooray for a savory snack option!

Bread options are getting better in Korea but it was still hard to find English muffins outside of American fast food retailers (McD, Dunkins). Nearly tempted to try baking my own, they magically appeared at E-Mart. They come whole (not pre-cut) and are quite tasty, unlike other Shany products. Look for them, sold four for 1,400W (less than $1.40 USD).

Often there is no time to plan or prepare a proper lunch. Especially with two under 2. This is my latest go-to lunch that the toddler and I can both enjoy.

Tofu Pancake

1 slice of tofu (about the size of a serving of pound cake)

1 egg

1 clove garlic (mashed, optional)

1 packet of matchstick mushrooms 팽이버섯 (chopped up for toddler)

some flour or 부침가루 (less than 1/2 cup)

some cooking oil

Blend everything together using hands. One tablespoon smooshed into the fry pan makes an appetizer-sized pancake. Try to flip over just once using medium heat.

On my way to Korean language class I saw kimjang/김장 or winter kimchi being made on the sidewalk.

Quite a sight at the community center.

This week has been very cold in Korea. Weather forecasts snow today. It’s hard for me to leave the warmth of ondol/온돌 floors to step outside into the freezing air. Managed to make one trip out to pick up things to beat the cold ~ or catching one that is.

Gyool/귤 have lots of vitamin C, are tasty and practically free this season. I got a 4kg box for 5,000W ~ that’s less than $1 per pound.

Also required this winter is a face mask to guard against the H1N1 flu. Just about every other person on the street is wearing one. Not quite sure if a mask is effective since I keep having to remove mine to keep my glasses from fogging up.

Feeling guilty about all the packaging on the tiny packets of laver/김 with only seven slivers of seaweed, I finally learned how to cut the big sheets neatly from my aunt. Here’s the lesson in three photos:

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Snip the bag open at the seams to catch the crumbs. Cut the sheets in half lengthwise, then into thirds (or fourths).  Voila, just the right size laver and they can be kept in an airtight container for a few days. Saves money and the environment.

Persimmons are in season now. There are three kinds at the market right now. The soft, mushy ones are called yun-shi/연시. The crunchy, squat ones are called dahn-gahm/단감. And the conical ones that need to ripen like an avocado are called hong-shi/홍시.

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Tip: Persimmons could cause constipation if you eat the lighter colored flesh right beneath the leaf topper. Take a pair of ever-present kitchen shears and snip it away while you’re at the sink or use a knife to remove that part.

Baby enjoys eating yun-shi but certainly can’t eat too many. I used the excess (10 are 3,000W at the neighborhood market) in a banana bread recipe and the result was a scrumptious molten lava persimmon cake.

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Molten Lava Persimmon Cake

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. vegetable oil or butter

1/2 c. brown sugar (no need to halve since I already reduced the amount)

2 eggs

2 1/3 c. overripe persimmons (approximately 5-6 yun-shi, remove skin)

Add wet ingredients to dry, mix well. Bake in individual ramekins for best presentation at 175*C for 30-60 minutes depending on the size of container…It will smell so good you have to take it out and eat it when it is ready to be removed from the oven. They keep well in the fridge and are still yummy warmed up in the microwave.

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