Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Not really. I had such a great year teaching, traveling and having fun in Korea. I didn’t leave my heart behind completely, but it feels like something’s been missing since I left. Unlike many of my friends who went straight home after finishing their contracts, I decided to extend my time abroad and stay in the Philippines. I haven’t been home in over a year now, but I don’t feel ready to go back quite yet.

I’ve been thinking about Korea a lot lately – wondering at odd hours of the day what my friends must be doing (deskwarming, hanging out downtown, or drinking in any combination). Wondering if my students miss me or if their beloved Maria Teacher has been replaced ㅠ_ㅠ (I hope not!). Wondering what new cosmetics must be out. I could go on. Instead, I’ll make a list of things I miss from my life in the 대한민국.

Korea Miss List:

  • 제 친구들 – My friends!! I met so many great people and I miss seeing their goofy, drunken faces. Just kidding, we weren’t always drunk, right?
  • My co-teacher – She is such a great person. I miss her! Seriously, I was crying on the bus ride to the airport after she dropped me off ㅜ_ㅜ.
  • My students – I loved being a teacher. Not trying to gloss over the stress and frustration I often felt while teaching in Korea. But, my experience was overwhelmingly positive and most of that is thanks to my students.
  • Foods – Let me make a brief list: kimchi, samgyeopsal, samgyetang, kimchi jjiggae, doenjang jjiggae, Korean wings and fried chicken, bibimbap, freakin banchan, kimbap, rice cakes, ddoekbokki, street snacks
  • Egg Tarts – Not what Korea is famous for, but I always used to hang out at the egg tarts place with my pals after dinner.
  • Shopping – Because let’s face it, where did half of my salary go every month.
  • Cosmetics – There are so many and they’re so cheap! I’m also obsessed with cosmetics and Korea just made it worse.
  • K-pop – The soundtrack of my life in Korea. What’s new nowadays??
  • K-dramas – DUDE what’s new nowadays??
  • Nature – Never thought I’d say it. I kind of like nature now thanks to Korea.
  • 4 Seasons – I think it’s a nice concept.
  • Internet – I miss the high-speed internet!
  • Mobility – It’s pretty easy to travel in Korea. I can’t travel as easily here in the Philippines so I feel very limited.
  • Hair salons – I need a trim! I miss Ji-won at Serrano!
  • Korean – I miss hearing Korean! I feel like following around the Korean students I see here. I know, that is just creepy. I won’t do it 😛
  • Traveling – There was always somewhere new to see or return trips to Seoul or Busan. I felt like I could do anything I wanted at any moment.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things. I’m so glad that I took a chance and went to Korea. I learned so much and I have lots of great memories and stories to share with everyone when I finally return home.


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Seaweed Soup

Have you eaten seaweed soup?

In Korea, this is a common question to ask someone on their birthday. 미역국 miyuk guk, or seaweed soup, is considered a nutritious food, particularly for women that have recently given birth. Korean women ‘take a rest’ (or sanhoo jori) for one month after giving birth.  During this time, new mothers eat the soup to help replenish their system and regenerate the blood that they’ve lost.

To commemorate their child’s birth, mothers usually prepare seaweed soup on their son or daughter’s birthdays. Though, it’s not only eaten on one’s birthday; we usually have seaweed soup during lunch at school. So on the days that it’s served for lunch, students who happen to have their birthdays on that day will say, “the school is wishing me a happy birthday by serving seaweed soup!”

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Jeonju – Land of Bibimbap

Jeonju. Famous for bibimbap, historic buildings and Korean traditional paper. We took the 2.5 hour bus ride from Daegu early in the morning with my generous co-teacher as our guide.

Our first stop was lunch (of course) at a famous bibimbap restaurant. My co-teacher told me that the restaurant is famous because the woman who works there has a certificate from the government for making the special Jeonju bibimbap. The bibimbap was served in a brass bowl that clanged loudly when I mixed everything together with my brass spoon and chopsticks. The rice was boiled in a special broth mixture and was topped with various local vegetables.

Certifiably delicious!

I’m a big fan of bibimbap so I thought it was delicious! My co-teacher liked it as well, but she admitted that she couldn’t taste much of a difference. I really liked the texture of the rice (not mushy) and the crispness of the vegetables. Definitely a quality meal.

Later, we passed by the Pungnammun Gate but it was closed for renovation. It’s the last city gate that remains of the original four that surrounded the city.


After lunch, we went to the Gyeonggijeon Shrine to see the portraits of King Tae-jo, the founder of the Joseon dynasty, and his successors.

King Sejong??

Sorry I don't know which emperor he is

Next door was a model of traditional living quarters. The buildings and walls were built pretty low since the average height during the Joseon dynasty was smaller than it is today. Well, I felt right at home.

Traditional village building

Then we walked across the street to see the Jeondong Cathedral.

Went to church

Another special quality about Jeonju is the effort to preserve traditional architecture. Some residents purchased multiple lots in the Hanok Village to build their homes. The government provided some money to subsidize building costs to residents interested in remodeling their homes in the traditional style.

A view of the village

We walked around the Hanok Village, which has nicely paved streets and even a small stream running along the walkway. The shops and restaurants were themed and well-decorated. It was clear that a lot of time and money went into planning this place. It seems like the government invested a lot of money to create an almost idyllic environment to showcase the best of traditional Korean architecture.

Main street


Many of the homes are beautifully constructed with expensive, custom-made wooden gates and clay roof tiles. A few of the homes are open to the public.


A peek inside

Another traditional craft that we saw was 한지 hanji, which is Korean paper made from mulberry bark. It’s surprisingly versatile since it can be made into ties, clothing and even socks.

Ties made from paper

There are gift shops, museum exhibits and even rooms dedicated to showcasing this unique paper craft. An entire room full of paper. Beautiful but hazardously flammable.

Paper cutting designs

Making 한지

We had an enjoyable day walking around Jeonju. The highlight of our trip was eating bibimbap in the region where it originated. And seeing these cute babies wearing hanbok!

Ready for Chuseok

Have a great Chuseok holiday everyone!

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Cooking 101

Since I moved to Korea, I haven’t cooked at home very much since I have a hard time planning my meals in advance. And sometimes the food I buy ends up going bad before I have a chance to use it. It’s relatively cheap to eat out, anyway. But, I won’t be discouraged! I’m not very good at cooking anything, really, but I have this enthusiastic desire to learn how to cook Korean dishes.

Future dream

I found a website called Maangchi that has easy to follow recipes for a variety of Korean dishes. The lady who runs the website seems so sweet ^^! She posts videos showing how to make each dish. There are lots of pictures too. Very useful for anyone interested in learning how to make Korean food at home. Though some of the ingredients may be hard to find.

So far, I’ve only made super simple, non-meat dishes since I haven’t tried to buy meat yet since I’ve been here lol. I just uhh don’t know how to buy it from a butcher.. I’m used to buying meat pre-packed and clearly priced :(. It doesn’t help that I won’t know how to tell the butcher what kind of meat I want and how much. Pathetic, I know. But, I’ll get over this stupid fear I have of buying meat soon. I want to make more stuff at home!

I’ve made:

  • 된장찌개 Beanpaste Stew
  • 김치전 Kimchi Pancake
  • 김치볶음밥 Kimchi Fried Rice
  • 두부부침양념장 Fried Tofu in spicy sauce
  • 계란 말이 Rolled Omelet
  • 계란 찜 Steamed Egg

These dishes are easier to make than they seem. It’s just a little bit hard to get the flavor right the first time. Sometimes, I don’t follow the recipe exactly. For example, I used Bisquik instead of flour to make the kimchi pancake so it turned out a little fluffy haha.


I’m trying really hard to work on my cooking skills so that I can host really awesome dinner parties in the future! But, really I just want to know how to feed myself so I don’t have to eat out all the time. It’s also really satisfying to eat a meal that I made myself :D!

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Things I Want from Home

Can’t get or can’t afford these things in Korea so I’m having them sent to me.

  • Peanut Butter
  • Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Wireless router
  • Pistachios.. trail mix 😦
  • Body Shop products (they’re ALWAYS on sale back home)
  • Vitamins
  • Patrón (haha jk!)
  • Photos
  • Apples to Apples (cards only)

Korea has almost everything I need and want and I could survive without these things, but it’d be nice to get a package from home full of stuff I like. I’m normally not a very sentimental person, but I think sending/receiving a care package is a very nice gesture.

I bought cute stationary to write letters to everyone. So, if you want a letter, fb me your address. Or I’ll be sending you a msg for your address. You better write me back, too!

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My To-Do List

As you all know, I love lists and I love making lists of lists. I make lists of things everyday! I was reading  fellow EPIK teachers Gina and Joel’s blog entry about the list of things they want to accomplish during their year in Korea. I have one written in my handy-dandy notebook and I didn’t think to post it on my blog. I think it’s a great idea to put it out there and see if anyone else is interested in joining me or knows how I can make these goals happen.

Travel in Korea:

  • Seoul: multiple trips to shop, experience the night life, visit museums, historical sites
  • Busan: see the beach, eat seafood, PIFF (Pusan International Film Festival), aquarium, visit other tourist areas
  • Gangwon: visit friends from orientation, winter sports, see the beach
  • Jeju: see what the hype is all about, eat seafood
  • Gyeongju: see Seokguram Grotto and other historical sites
  • Pohang: see the beach, eat seafood
  • Daejeon: see the sights
  • Visit every province in Korea: Gyeonggi, Gangwon, Chungcheong, Chungcheongbuk, Jeollabuk, Jeollanam, Gyeongsangbuk, Gyeongsangnam, Jeju
  • Temples: Donghwasa, Haeinsa,

Travel outside Korea:

  • China: Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai. Visit friends, shop, eat some freakin yangrouchuarrr and jiaozi!
    Likelihood: Very High
  • Japan: Tokyo and wherever I can get in a short amount of time. Visit friends, shop, eat
    Likelihood: High
  • Philippines: visit family, touristy areas,  buy snacks and candy
    Likelihood: Definite
  • Thailand: perhaps in May unless they don’t lift the State of Emergency. I’d go as long as there isn’t a full blown revolution.
    Likelihood: postponed
  • Australia: not sure if I’ll have time
    Likelihood: Still an idea
  • US of A: California, of course! In my roommate’s wedding! Bringing back stuff I can’t get or can’t afford in Korea.
    Likelihood: Definite


  • Learn enough Korean to order food (including over the phone), shop, and get around without fumbling or making a fool out of myself.
  • Learn to cook a Korean dish.
  • Go to a Korean spa (naked). Get my whole body scrubbed.
  • Go to a nightclub.
  • Learn the choreography to the latest Korean pop song.
  • Get a Korean hairstyle…maybe!
  • Eat the infamous dog and live squid dishes. I had the tiniest piece of live squid, so maybe I would do it again with a bigger, more lively piece.
  • Eat a traditional Korean home-cooked meal.
  • Do some volunteer work.
  • See a sports game. Soccer, baseball, tennis, figure skating.. anything!
  • Start a research project. Nerdy, I know.
  • Umm work out and stop eating so much. I know this will never be crossed off.
  • See RAIN!!!! I can’t believe I missed my chance!
  • Steal a Big Bang Lollipop 2 poster from a cell phone store. Or buy one.
  • Sing a whole song in Korean at a 노래방.
    Yes, my friends, I finally did it! Thanks to Secret Garden!

I'll settle for this one!

I can’t find the promo posters of TOP or G-Dragon online. I’ll have to go with this one then! Poster for my wall!

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Food Part 2

Okay here are another bunch of pictures of some of the stuff I’ve been eating. Hope you enjoy!

Kkultarae –  This was a dessert served to Korean kings back in the day. It’s made of honey and malt. It looks really interesting, almost like a cocoon because the honey is stretched into long, thin, white strands and wrapped around crushed peanuts and walnuts. It’s usually kept in the refrigerator to keep cool. I brought some back for the teachers at my school. They really appreciated it!

Oh and for some reason, the guys that make kkultarae on the street are really lively. They can speak English and Japanese, maybe even Chinese. They have chants and entertain the crowd while they make desserts. Check out the video I found on youtube. Not my video, okay! Some other person from California.

Sweet, crunchy, and chewy!

Street food – not sure what it’s called, I’ll update after I find out. Got this one downtown since my friend was craving one. Costs 700원 about 50-60 cents. It’s a hot dog on a stick dipped in seasoned batter then fried. Pretty good snack.

The corndog's cousin. Or as Peter called it, a "battered sausage" hmm not sure about that one...

English teachers’ dinner – we had bulgogi somewhere near school. VP paid for all of us. Yeeeahh free dinners are the best!

Bulgogi mmm

Rice mmm

Costco -Yes, there’s a Costco in Daegu! Tempted to get the “Triple Threat” but I wasn’t that hungry. So I tried the Bulgogi Pizza and the churro. Pizza was pretty good but the churro didn’t have enough sugar 😦 sad!

Half-eaten Bulgogi Pizza. I almost didn't take a picture. I interrupted my meal just to take a picture for this blog, gosh.

Needs more sugar!

Dog soup – Yes, I ate dog, don’t judge me! Not all Koreans like dog or have even eaten dog. But, it is still a common enough dish that it is served in some Korean restaurants. The meat is sliced into small, thin pieces like pork or beef and it’s cooked in a sort of stew. The meat comes from dogs raised for their meat, not just any dog off the street. It didn’t really phase me that I was eating dog because it didn’t taste strange. It tasted like MEAT. Therefore, I enjoyed my meal.  (I know some of you must hate me now!) 😀

Dog soup

woof! lol see it's good! I ate the whole thing!

Pizza – I ordered a pizza just to try it out. Okay, that makes it sound like I ordered it over the phone. I walked to the pizza store and ordered it there, then walked home with it. I got a cheese pizza but when I opened it, I realized it was a cheese and corn pizza. Not what I expected but it tasted good so I didn’t mind!

Deluxe Cheese Pizza + Corn

Shabu Shabu – took my co-teacher out to eat since I got my paycheck that day! I also got my cell phone that day!

Shabu shabu

18 번완당집 – In the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) Square in Busan. My co-teacher recommended this restaurant, which specializes in 완당 wandang. Wandang is like the more commonly known wonton soup. I also got the 유부초밥 vinegar rice in bean curd wrapper, kind of like inari. The food was great and prices were good! 5,000원 for the 완당 + 면 and 3,000원 for the 유부초밥. The restaurant makes all the 완당 fresh. So fresh you can watch them make it right there next to the cash register!

완당+면 wandang and noodles

Half-eaten again! 유부초밥

삼겹살 – Samgyeopsal (literally means three fold flesh) is sliced pork belly.. I think. My school administrator took me to dinner to try some samgyeopsal and have some beer. Then his wife and daughter met us there and we ate some more. Ahh, this is the life!

삼겹살 kinda looks like bacon. No wonder I liked it!

Gorilla Burger – Went back to Gorilla Burger for some lunch on my day off with my friend, Bethany. Last time, I had a hot dog so this time I tried a burger and the chili cheese fries. I got the Oasis Burger: fried egg, hash brown, bacon, and of course a beef patty. Sounds good right??

Chili cheese fries

Oasis Burger > Sausage McMuffin

Should be called Brunch Burger haha

Bethany got the Classic Burger.

TGI Friday’s – I know, I know… Friday’s in Korea of all things to eat? I should be sick of Fridays by now after going there for EVERYONE’S birthdays and for happy hour and because it’s the only place open in La Jolla after 10pm. But, the food here is actually pretty good! Costs more than back home, but not that much more expensive after you add tax and tip. And the Friday’s in Korea is the only place I’ve been to that charges tax extra. At least they have an appetizer, main course, dessert and drink set menu for 17,000원.

TGI Friday's in Daegu >x100 TGI Friday's in La Jolla

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