One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” –Henry Miller

Saturday, October 2, 2010

An American Acquaintance with Korean Food

 As requested, I've added some photos of the things I've attempted to cook while I've been here. Those kimchi dumplings above, try not to be too impressed. I got those in the frozen food section. haha
If you've ever lived abroad (or even if you haven't) you probably know what I mean when I say that the first day in a foreign grocery store is like trying to put a complicated new toy together using a foreign instruction manual. That being, you will probably recognize MOST of the pieces (though there are a few.. wow, where does that go?), but it still feels impossible to navigate until you've played with it long enough to get your bearings.

Today was my first run to the grocery store. I was there for an hour and left with 1 bag of groceries. I paced the aisles: inspecting, identifying, comparing prices, trying to familiarize myself with the goods.

That may sound silly to you, but food is so much apart of a culture that it's easy to take for granted how strongly we identify with a particular cuisine. You might be thinking that you don't have a particular cuisine that you're partial to (as I did), but I'm here to tell you that you do. Because the fact is that even if you eat "ethnic food" you probably don't cook with authentic food, using authentic brands that are written in another language.

I have to play a game with myself. I have to decide, first, how adventurous I'm going to be and, second, how I'm going to find foods that resemble foods from home so that I can cook them.

Today, I decided to go for it. I was a little adventurous. If I wanted to, I could have walked out with Korea's version of corn flakes, yogurt, noodles, bread, peanut butter, jelly, milk, and some fruit and vegetables and called it a day (all of which I did buy), but I tried to grab some Korean items too.

So here's some of the Korean items that I threw in the mix:
*Frozen Kimchi dumplings (so I'm not making my own, but still Korean). If I haven't explained Kimchi yet, it's cabbage that sits to ferment and is spiced with chili peppers and other spices. It's a staple to every Korean's diet. Supposedly most Koreans have 2 refrigerators: one holds kimchi and the other is for everything else.
*Dried Shrimp: I still haven't figured out how I'm going to eat this one, but I had to try it.
*Soybean Oil: a vegetable oil equivalent.
*Chili Pepper Paste: This is their salt and pepper. It's used a lot for seasoning.
*Rice: a must

Tonight was also my first night cooking. You can tell me what you think, but I give myself a 6 for effort. I'm a little limited on cooking supplies and I only have a stove top and a toaster oven, so keep that in mind. I heated some rice that I seasoned with chili pepper paste and topped with some cooked carrots and onions. Two hard boiled eggs on the side. Not bad. It's "American Introduces Itself to Korean."


  1. Put the shrimp in the rice or with some noodles? saute them up a bit first with some oil to re-hydrate them maybe...


  2. Try out with some tips from the locals that way you will be able to grasp what the real taste should be like

  3. You should start taking pictures of the dishes you make and posting them here :-)

    Btw, I shoulda known the title of your blog had something to do with food. Hahaha!

  4. Thanks for the tip, Brian! Sounds like you're learning quite a bit about food. That's awesome! Keep it up!

    Laxmi, I'll try asking my co-teacher for some tips =)

    haha! You know me too well, Jen. Of course it did =)