One of my friends on the Christian Unschooling group I frequent made the comment that we seemed to be eating well since we got to South Korea.

Boy was that the understatement of the year!

Every time I walk anywhere – there is tantalizing smells wafting from local mom & pop’s, foreign restaurants, street vendors, and bakeries.

I had this sort-of secret goal of slimming up a little when we left the states – since we wouldn’t have a car and all.  But this is proving to be a more difficult task than imagined!

It doesn’t help that I get requests from friends for pictures of food. 🙂

So I thought it would be fun to show you some of the tasty things we have tried since we got here.

Bulgogi

Bulgogi

This was one of the very first Korean dishes I tried, and also the first one that Jay showed me how to make. It’s pretty easy – thinly sliced beef marinated overnight and then grilled or pan fried until medium rare.

It melts like butter in your mouth. The marinade is a sweet, garlic blend with ginger and soy sauce.

Kimbap

kimbap

Kimbap was a thing of legend in my mind. I had heard so much about it and seen so many videos about this Korean version of a rice roll that I had to try it for myself.

The individual ingredients do NOT sound like they would be good together. Of course there is rice, pickled radish, carrot, egg, a spinach-type veggie, some weird brown thing, SPAM, and sometimes processed cheese inside a seaweed wrap.

We found a tiny shop near our rental agency that makes fresh Kimbap rolls for 1,700 won, so we bought a few and took them home. They are the perfect to-go food. You can eat them warm or chilled and they just pop right into your mouth. You can’t really taste the SPAM (I’m glad, cuz I’m not a huge fan). I like them. They don’t taste like sushi AT ALL so don’t even try to compare the two. This is a food in a class all it’s own.

Kimchi

You are probably wondering the million-dollar question. Have we had any Kimchi yet? Of course!

We’ve had regular kimchi, plain (non-spicy) kimchi, cucumber kimchi, and kimchi in almost everything we’ve tasted. I just haven’t gotten a good picture of plain ole’ kimchi yet. I do have a picture of Kimchi Jiggae – my new favorite soup:

Raven Kimchi Chigae

Raven didn’t believe us that the Kimchi Jiggae was spicy.

Various weird pastries

paris baguette

Red bean paste with cream cheese, chocolate chip twist, coffee, and sweet potato pie pastries

Which do you think sounds weirder: red pean paste-filled sugar donut OR tofu green tea chewisty?

Because we have tried both – and some other weird pastries.

The kids were immediately drawn to the giant Dunkin Donuts down the road from our apartment. They would beg us to take them for donuts despite our warnings that they might not be “American” donuts.

We caved in one night and told them we would get a dozen for breakfast the next morning. Most of their selection was pretty normal – frosted with pretty colors and sprinkles. But there were a few odd choices.

Then one day we found another chain bakery – Paris Baguette. I guess they have these in America somewhere? Not in Kansas that is for sure.

I’ve found out one thing I don’t care for over here – red bean paste. It’s not very sweet, and it has an earthy aftertaste. I don’t hate it, but I certainly don’t want a whole donut filled with it.

My favorite pastry so far? The one up in the picture that has a lattice top. It’s sweet potato pie flavored with a crumbly crust. Amazing.

Mandu

friend mandu

Fried mandu

We actually just got to try mandu yesterday – after a long excursion on a bus where we missed church and ended up just having a public transportation learning day.

Mandu is basically just a Korean dumpling. They can be steamed or fried, or put into a soup. There are lots of different kinds. Raven had the fried mandu up above.

I had Kimchi mandu:

kimchi mandu

Someone pointed out that they looked like little brains. Spicy kimchi brains!  LOL

Denna and Gaius had some cheese mandu. Here are pictures of them eating:

girls eating mandu

gus eating mandu

Bibimbap

bibimbap

Literally “mix mix rice” – this dish can either be served hot or cold. Denna likes it cold because it comes with sprouts and tastes like “a salad” (her words).

I like the hot version, in an earthen pot. You stir up all your ingredients (egg, rice, kimchi, veggies, etc) and eat it. It’s very filling and a very nice comfort food.

Grilled Octopus

Another surprising food that I enjoyed – and Raven coaxed me into – is grilled octopus. We kept seeing these street vendors cooking octopus legs on hot coals. One day they let us try some. Raven bravely bit in and told me to take a bite. It’s chewy and different, but it warms you up and it’s cheap – 3,000 won for a bag plus a few grilled rice cakes thrown in.

grilling octopus

Grilling the octopus on hot rocks. The round things are rice cakes.

Part of our learning adventure here is trying new things, so I guess grilled octopus can go on our list of “tried it, liked it”.

grilled octopus and rice cake

What other foods should we try here? What is the weirdest food you have tried and actually liked?

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One Response to Savoring the flavors in South Korea

  1. Tammy says:

    yes, they do look like little brains! LOL!

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