More food posts. I can’t stop myself.
After I wrote my piece about how restaurants here typically work, some of my friends started asking me what my favorite Korean dishes are (the answer is all of them).
So here you have it: some of my favorite Korean dishes (in no particular order).
A soup with broth made from ox bones that typically has some noodles and slices of beef. You season the soup yourself with salt, pepper, and green onions and can add rice to the soup if you want. It has a unique and comforting taste and is amazing with 깍두기 (kkakdugi, a type of kimchi made with white raddish instead of nappa cabbage).
FATTY PORK BELLY BBQ. Need I say more? You grill it yourself at the table and smell like pork for the next week, no matter how many times you shower. The smell sticks in your hair and to anything cotton you may have foolishly worn to barbecue. But it’s always worth it. On the right of this picture, you can see grilled kimchi which is also delicious.
Okay, so technically this is Japanese, but I’m going to let it count because you can get it everywhere here and it’s magnificent. Tonkatsu is pork cutlet, breaded with panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and fried. It is typically served with a shredded cabbage salad, 밥 (rice) and, of course, 김치 (kimchi). You can also get chicken katsu which is the same dish but uses chicken instead of pork.
순두부찌개 (Sundubu jjigae)
Sundubu is a stew made out of 두부 (dubu aka tofu), vegetables, and often contains beef and a variety of seafood. It is prepared and served in a stone bowl and when you get the dish, you crack an egg right into it and it cooks itself within the stew. It is usually fairly spicy but you can ask for varying degrees of heat depending on where you are. You eat it with rice and revel in its amazingness.
물만두 (Mul Mandu)
There are endless variations on mandu (dumplings) but the one that I can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day of the week is mul mandu (boiled mandu). Regardless of what is inside (meat/vegetables), mul mandu will never get old. All I need is a plate of these, some 깍두기 (kkakdugi), some rice, and I’m good to go.
A stew made with Korean short ribs (galbi) that often has raddish, carrots, and other vegetables in it. The meat falls right off of the bone and the broth is out of this world when you put it over rice.
We were served this on our first day of the field trip and I had to explain to some of my peers how to do it. You are given a stone bowl of rice and you scoop it out into a separate bowl, leaving the rice that sticks to the sides of the bowl. You then eat your meal like usual and, at the end, you pour hot water or 보리차 (boricha, roasted barley tea) into the bowl so that the rice that has been cooking on the sides of the hot stone bowl can be scraped off. You can see that it has been cooked to a crispy and delicious consistency and eat it with a spoon.
My peers kept asking things like “Soooo like…we’re eating rice and water?”
To which I said “No! Well…technically yes…but no. It’s way better than that. Nooroongji is the best.”
“But it’s just rice and water. It doesn’t taste like anything.”
They didn’t seem to get that it’s mostly about the texture and the fact that, no matter what they say, it does taste awesome.
It should be noted that there are twenty other dishes that I would have put on here but I thought I should only give the ones that I’m pretty sure I couldn’t live without. Most of these dishes can be bought in the cafeterias here at school and all of them are easy to find at most any restaurant just outside of the campus. The only one I haven’t seen as frequently is 갈비찜.
More life updates in bullet form:
- This weekend is the Republic of Korea vs. Democratic Republic of Korea soccer game. I got tickets in about the 20th row (so we’re not too close to the pitch, but we’re still close enough to enjoy) and right on midfield. Needless to say, I’m very excited.
- It is becoming exceedingly difficult to be a good student here. There are so many distractions and I only need a C for my credits to transfer to Georgetown. That being said, I can’t bring myself to not do the work or to not study and try to do well in the classes. I am in class from 11am until 6pm from Monday – Thursday so it gets a little exhausting when you’re in a foreign country that has so much to offer.
- To go along with the point above, it’s midterm week! ALREADY. HOW.
- I am currently trying to decide whether or not to drop my history class.
- Recently discovered Rachel Rostad’s “To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang“. I must say that I agree with a good portion of it.
- I still fear the rain. It can strike at any time and I am now perpetually in rain boots, a rain coat, umbrella in hand, with my books and computer in plastic bags within my book bag.
- I’ve become so aware of the fact that I spend too much money here.
- This past weekend I went to the War Museum (pictures to come), which was moving and well designed. I recommend it to anyone in Seoul!
- I also saw my first 4D movie! Me and my friends went to go see Pacific Rim in 4DX which means that it’s in 3D and the chairs move according to events in the movie. For example, if someone splashes into the ocean, you might feel a spray of water on your face, or if someone gets hit into a wall, you’ll feel a little pressure behind your back. The chairs vibrate and move around accordingly and it’s immensely entertaining.
- I only have three and a half weeks left here and I’m in denial. I don’t know if I ever want to leave.