09 September 2004

Ojingo Deopbab

Today's lunch is ojingeo deopbab (오징어덮밥), or spicy stir-fried ojingeo with steamed rice. Ojingeo is cuttlefish, the smaller cousins of the squid.

Let's get the side stuff out of the way first.

Here's the bowl of soup that came with the meal. Seaweed soup which is typcically salty.

The side dishes that accompanied the meal.

Stir-fried carrots, cucumber, cabbage and canned luncheon meat (spam) and seasoned with sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seed. Not bad.

Stir-fried dried shrimps with long beans. Nice.

This is the spicy stir-fried ojingeo with steamed rice. Notice the rice is cutely decorated with a pinch of black sesame seeds. KRW5,000.

This stir-fry of sliced cuttlefish comes with a healthy dose of chili paste and chucky cuts of carrots, onions, leek, spring onions and topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

The cuttlefish packs a nice chewy and crunchy texture. Definitely not for those in dentures!

I like the chunky cuts of veges and the chili sauce is awesome - spicy yet sweet and goes very well with the plain rice. Conclusion - very nice, but be prepared for some tedious chewing.

06 September 2004

Celebrity Chefs

I never knew this foodie tv channel called Food Network/FoodTV existed prior to my arriving in Seoul. Yes I've seen the occasional cooking shows here and there, but none where the entire station is dedicated to all things food 24x7. These days, it's firmly set on my remote's favourite channel setting.

I first got hooked watching Jamie Oliver on The Naked Chef. These days, I no longer give a blank look when someone mentions John Burton Race or Gordon Ramsay, or squint and shrug at the mention of Nigella Lawson, known in some blogging circles as the gastro-porn queen!! (that one cracks me up everytime).

Food Network's celebrity chef list.

I also get the occasional expert tips from one Chef Jeff (anonymous), who leaves cooking tips here and over at marmot's blog. From his writing, it can be deduced that he IS a professional chef.

Lately, I've been hooked on Australian Neil Perry's Food Source series. I especially like the Food Source Asia episodes.

This post came about from an e-mail I had just received from Chef Benjamin Christie who, coincidentally, also hails from Down Under. Talk about strange coincidences. Check him out at www.benjaminchristie.com. It continues to amaze me that someone would even bother writing to me after visiting my blog. For this, I am thankful and have made new friends along the way.

And just for the record, I'm not a chef nor involved in the food business in any way. It's just a passion I have. Cheers!

02 September 2004

Tang Bok Bab

We're going Chinese today, ala Korean style. For lunch is tang bok bab (탕볶밥), which is a combo of fried rice and sweet sour pork.

The name itself is a combination of tang soo yuk (탕수육 - sweet sour pork) and bokeum bab (볶음밥 - fried rice). Combos like these are popular and on any typical chinese menu you'll find a combination of these 4 items:
- bokeum bab (볶음밥 - fried rice)
- tang soo yuk (탕수육 - sweet sour pork)
- jajang myeon (짜장면 - jajang noodles)
- jjam pong (짬뽕 - seafood noodles)

Needless to say, you don't necessarily have to order them in combination and can have each of these on its own. So instead of half and half, you get a full portion.

This is the tang bok bab. KRW6,500.

The side dishes are pretty standard as far as chinese takeouts go. You get the kimchi, yellow-coloured radish pickes, pungent large onions and a thick black gooey paste which tastes indescribably awesome. Anyone knows what sauce this is? My tastebuds sense some prawns/shrimp in it, but I could be horribly wrong. Do tell .....

The complimentary soup is a spicy cabbage soup. Tastes pretty much like what you'd find in a packet of Korean instant noodles.

The combo of fried rice and sweet sour pork.

The fried rice is simpe but delicious. It's got some minced pork, diced carrots, garlic, onions, eggs and seasoned with light soya sauce and sesame oil. It comes with spoonfuls of jajang sauce (that's the black sauce in the photo) and topped with sesame seeds and an omellette+carrots+cucumber+crabstick.

The sweet sour pork is universally well known by now. In Korea, they're not exactly "cheap food" by any standard and can cost between KRW10,000 to KRW20,000 per plate at most sit-down chinese restaurants.

Pork fillet strips are marinated, floured and then deep fried in hot oil and set aside. A sweet sour sauce made with tomato puree, vinegar, sugar, onions, carrots, cucumber and fungi mushroom and thickened with corn starch is then poured onto the pork strips.

I must admit that I've had better sweet sour pork than the ones I had today. The pork strips just weren't crispy enough and the sauce is somewhat bland and lacked the "oomph" needed. There was just no kick to it. I know Korea can do better as I've had some pretty awesome sweet sour pork in a couple of Seoul's restaurants. Maybe I'll try from elsewhere next time, hopefully with better results and blog it for you guys.

So concluding for today - fried rice nice sweet sour pork not so.