Gangneung Kimchi Making (김치)

A few weeks ago while eating delicious Sundubu Jiggae at the 400년집 초당순두부 (400 Years House Cho-dang Soft Tofu) in Gangneung, I had the opportunity to learn how to make traditional style Korean kimchi!

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Kimchi is Korea’s traditional side dish – if you’ve ever been to Korea, or even to a Korean restaurant you’ll know that it is eaten in, and with, almost everything! Kimchi stew (jiggae), Kimchi Pajeon (pancake) etc, as well as by itself as a tasty side dish.

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Kimchi is made by fermenting different vegetables and adding seasonings – there are many different varieties depending on the time of year, and location. For example in coastal areas of Korea, such as Hamgyeong-Do, sometimes oysters or fish are used to season the kimchi and in inland areas, such as Chungcheong-Do, they have to rely on using more salts to give the kimchi its flavor. IMGP8021

Napa kimchi is the most common cabbage kimchi, it is the one which I learned to make in Gangneung recently. Usually kimchi is made in each home, and the recipe varies slightly depending on the family – Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that their mother has the best recipe!

The basic ingredients are cabbage, water, salt, garlic, green onion and red pepper. The ingredidents are all prepared then fermented in special kimchi pots. You can easily find many recipes online – here is an example from a great Korean cook I met a few years ago : http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/easy-kimchi

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I had a great time learning the traditional way of preparing kimchi in Gangneung, and even sampled some while preparing, it tastes great (a bit spicy) even before fermenting! As well as being really tasty and great accompaniment to all meals, kimchi is also a super food! So eat it often for great health benefits!

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Gangneung Soft Tofu stew – (순두부 찌개)

In Korea, one of my favourite dishes is Sundubu jiggae – which is a soft silken tofu soup with some seafood and various vegetables. It can be quite spicy sometimes, but I love it!

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I’ve tried a lot of Sundubu Jiggae dishes in parts of Korea, as well as Australia, which have all been delicious, but friends that I have from the Gangneung area have always boasted about Gangneung having the best soft tofu soup in the country and insisted that I go there to try it, so while I was in the Gangneung region I had to finally taste it!

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One of the most famous places to eat Sundubu Jiggae is the 400년집 초당순두부 (400 Years House Cho-dang Soft Tofu) restaurant, which is a cozy little restaurant in a traditional house with a nice and peaceful country-side setting.

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The restaurant is located at 195-3 Ma-dong, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea – which is close by (but not within) the 초당순두부마일 – the Chodang Soft Tofu Village of Gangeung.

While at the restaurant I found out that one of the main reasons why this Sundubu is much tastier here than in other areas, is because of Gangneung’s location on the east coast of Korea. The people making tofu can use the salt water from the East sea during the congealing process which makes for really beautiful soft and light tofu!

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When you’re in the Gangneung region, try the soft tofu! It really is the best in Korea!

Korean Beef – Hanwoo (한우)

Hanwoo / Han-U (한우) is Korean beef that is born and raised in Korea with maintained stable traits and blood lineage. Beef is common to eat in Korea, however due to the limited space, and mountainous countryside, a lot of the beef that is eaten in Korea is actually imported from other countries, such as Australia.

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Hanwoo is quite different to the beef that is imported – it has a much more marbled fat pattern throughout the cuts, and is eaten fresh as it does not need to be frozen and imported. For these reasons, its much preferred (though more expensive) for Koreans.

One of the most famous areas for premium Hanwoo is in the Pyeongchang regions of Korea. I just took a trip to Daegwallyeong  (대관령) which is a pass in the Taebak mountain range of the Pyeongchang region, in eastern Korea.

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A well known restaurant for tasty, fresh Hanwoo is Daekwallyeong Hanwoo Town, the largest Korean beef restaurant in the region. The restaurant is located quite close to the ski-resorts of Pyeongchang (address: 376/46, HOENGGYE-RI, DAEKWALLYEONG-MYEON  PYEONGCHANG-GUN  GANGWON-DO ) and definitely recommended if you are in the area!

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Only the most premium grade (1++) is served here. In my photos you can see the perfect marbling on the beef! The beef has an incredible flavour and just the right texture and chewiness. A way that I like to eat the beef is to bbq it along with some cloves of garlic, wrap them both in a sesame/perilla leaf (깻잎) and lettuce leaf with some spring onion and maybe some SammJjang depending on what accompaniments are served and pop the whole thing into my mouth…add some soju…맛있어요!!

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If you’re in the Pyeongchang region (or even just in Korea) pay the extra and try the Hanwoo!

Korean Tangerine Tea (귤차) & Honey Citron Tea (꿀유자차)

Now that the winter really has arrived in Korea, and Tangerine’s are in season during these  winter months, Tangerine (귤) Tea (차) is the perfect drink to accompany the freezing cold weather and keep you healthy and prevent a cold!

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I was first introduced to 귤차 in winter last year when my friend invited me to a café in Seoul and recommended Tangerine Tea, as it had freshly been made and I had never tried it before.

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As a gift, my friend bought me a jar of the fresh tea so I could make it myself at home, and introduce it to my friends and family. Around this time of year, many people will make their own 귤차 in their home using tasty Jeju Island tangerines. A benefit of this is that you can control how much sugar and other ingredients are added to the tea, so you can make it to your own specific taste (and how healthy you feel) – if you’d rather buy it, lots of café’s and markets sell jar’s of their home-made tangerine tea which is very delicious and quite cheap.

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Another similar style tea that I enjoy in Korea is Honey(꿀) Citron(유자) Tea (차), as with the Tangerine Tea, honey citron tea can be made at home, bought from café’s in jars, or an instant version can also be found in sachets in the supermarket, which makes it quick and easy to make at home. I prefer to have it fresh, but sometimes it’s not possible, so these options are a good solution.

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Its really easy to make – just pour the contents of the sachet into a coffee cup, add hot water, and stir! Yum!

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Both귤차 &꿀유자차 are sweet and refreshing and high in vitamin c which is great for colds, headaches, fever and help with sore throats!

Samwon Garden (삼원가든) in Seoul

Recently I visited Samwon Garden in the Gangnam district of Seoul, Korea. It is a large, first-class restaurant, serving fresh and tasty traditional Korean food in a beautiful garden atmosphere.
The restaurant is tastefully designed and decorated, with charming and elegant wooden furniture and interior, in a traditional Korean style.

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The Samwon Garden restaurant specializes in delicious traditional Korean meals – especially famous for it’s Bulgogi and Galbi. The menu boasts a great range of beef dishes as well as many enjoyable Korean & Japanese beverages. In true Korean style, the dishes are accompanied by a number of enticing side dishes and wonderful service.

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Check out the menu and information at their website: http://www.samwongarden.com

Address:
623-5 Sinsa-Dong Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, Korea.

Spicy pork dish (돼지고기 고추장 볶음) @ Bokjeong Restaurant (복정식당) in Samcheongdong (삼청동)

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A very delicious Korean dish! In the Samcheondong area of Seoul in Korea, I was really impressed with this restaurant복정식당 (Bokjeong Restaurant). 

The meal I tried was a spicy pork dish called돼지고기 고추장 볶음, which consists of some spicy pork, rice and side dishes, and when all are combined together on a perilla leaf ( 깻잎) is one of the best foods I have ever tried.

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In the cold weather, Persimmons are in season, so for dessert I enjoyed some tasty frozen persimmon to finish off this meal.

The Bokjeong Restaurant sells many delicious Korean meals, for reasonable prices in a cozy restaurant in one of the trendy and artsy neighbourhoods of seoul.

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Subak Bar (수박 바)

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Subak (수박) means watermelon in Korean, and Bar (바) means… bar. And this favourite ice cream of mine is exactly that. It’s shaped and tastes like a real piece of watermelon – the pink bit, green bit, and seeds all have their own flavour and tastes so similar to the proper thing! I am addicted to these in the summer time – you can easily find them at all convenience stores around Korea, and they’re very cheap… I like to eat them while taking a relaxing walk by Cheonggyecheon on a hot summer day!