Even if not surrounded by Koreans on a daily basis, some things you learn quickly as a Korean learner and one of them is to not pour your own soju. Although I have to admit to having done that once or twice…
The other day I was home alone with my mum since my father was out for dinner with a friend. We opted for some easy food with smoked mackerel on rye bread (pretty Danish), but since it wouldn’t be considered odd to have snaps (a Danish type of alcohol that comes in many varieties and is not unlike vodka) with such food, I suggested we had a bit of soju to go with it since 1) we rarely have alone dinners, 2) soju is not as strong, 3) I’ve had that bottle for aaaages since you’re not supposed to pour your own, which means you need someone to drink it with.
Her first reaction was to give me a look that was pretty much equivalent to “it’s Tuesday…?”. The good thing about bottles with screw caps, though, is that you don’t have to empty it in one go.
What really got on her very rational nerves, though, was the “don’t pour it yourself” part. What to say but “superstition says I won’t get married if I pour my own… then I would have to live here with you and dad… forever…”. Obviously I will move out next year regardless of my civil status, but she immediately reached for two glasses. HA!
Did she like soju then? “it’s really not bad”.
Last week I met my other LP after about three weeks where we couldn’t match our schedules due to work commitments. On Friday we finally managed to meet for coffee, cake, and a chat at a little café where she gave me my birthday present: a cooking book called Momofuku. This book is downright amazing and I cannot wait to work my way through it.
On my way home I carried it in my hands because I didn’t want to cramp it into my bag, and it caught the attention of a fellow commuter who suddenly exclaimed “can I ask why you have that book? those are my favorite places in New York. I ate there just last week!”. The food must have been really delicious for a Dane to strike up conversation with another Dane on a train station 😉
At the language meeting we tried to speak more freely in Korean over coffee and while taking a walk afterwards. Although I don’t understand everything that she says, the idea is to get exposed to a lot of spoken Korean, and if I really don’t understand something, she will just formulate the sentence differently in Korean. When I got home, I was mentally exhausted because it takes so much effort for me to listen, understand, and at least try to come up with an answer in real time. Texts and e-mails are much more forgiving, because you have more time to think, but what is the point if you’re unable to speak?
I remember visiting a friend in a small city near Manchester 13 years ago after her family moved back to the UK. After a whole day of speaking English and focusing so much on what was going on around me, I had a headache every night. Her mum took my English education very seriously while I was there and gave me a little notebook to carry around with me to note down words I didn’t know. When we were driving from one place to another she would test my vocabulary and pronunciation. Although it was tough I learned a lot from that experience so I’m pretty confident I can accomplish the same with Korean. I’ll just interpret the feeling of exhaustion as a sign that I learned a lot 🙂
A while ago I received a care package from my Korean friend 현. She sent me a box containing various snacks that she likes, thinking that it will probably be a while before I get to taste them in Korea.
I really appreciate it, and as I’m munching away on one of the snacks, I will write a short review for those of you out there who might not have the opportunity to go to Korea for a while to come.
First snack review: 땅콩강정!
Peanuts and glutinous rice, a winning combination!
It is a snack based on peanuts and glutinous rice, and I really like them! they are nutty (yes, I have a keen eye for the obvious) and a bit sweet, but in a balanced way. They are not overwhelmingly sweet. They are quite crispy, and there is no way you will be able to eat this in a stealthy way. If you are not the sharing type or you find these are too good to share, you should be careful where you eat them!
As you can see from the picture they seem quite light and porous so if bringing them along in a bag, be careful where you put them. Calorie-wise they are quite dense, but then again – it’s a snack!
I’m normally the snacking type, but these are good!
Surely not when it comes to eating them, but today I made a stash for the freezer. It’s one of my very few days off and after two months of eating the same lunch at work, I thought I would make something for the freezer, something I can bring with me when not feeling like having my normal lunch. Cue 만두 binge.
I even made the 만두 skin! Some four hours ago it seemed like a brilliant idea to make a double portion ~ 600g of flour, two types of filling, and two ways of folding to be able to tell them apart. 4 hours later I’m downright tired of standing up, chopping veggies, mixing veggies, kneading dough, rolling out the wrappers, filling them, and finally folding them.
I ended up not having space for two of them in the freezer, so I decided to make alternative pot-stickers: first fry them until golden, and then steam them in madeira instead of water. Quite delicious.
My mum just bought a cooking-/feel-good book based on a collection of recipes from many different people around the world. I looked through it, and found out that a few of them are from a Korean woman currently living in England. One of her recipes is kimchi fried couscous! It seems that all over the world cuisines are mixing and new concepts are seeing the light of day. We may be inspired by Korean cooking, but they are obviously also inspired by others 😉
I usually manage quite well with chopsticks. Until I met the flat metal variety… Emphasis on flat.
Apparently I have a well functioning, but less-than-correct technique that has worked for years with round chopsticks that does not work with the flat ones. You can get pretty and decorated flat ones, but what is the point in setting a nice table if you then eat like a brute?
I’m basically re-learning how to feed myself in a civilised manner. Me vs. chopsticks: 0-1. It doesn’t end here!
What about you guys? Do you go hungry when you come across flat chopsticks or is it all the same whether they are round or flat?
I have a thing for cooking and sometimes I go into Korean cooking mode and subject my family to various dinner experiments. So far the family has liked it, but I continue to wonder how Koreans manage to cook so many dishes per meal.
For others who would like to try the wonders of Korean home-cooking, check out the following links:
Korean Bapsang – a Korean mom’s home cooking
Since it’s pumpkin season, I will try my luck with stuffed pumpkin pancakes this upcoming weekend 🙂
Do you often cook Korean food?
What is your favorite dish to cook?