Elwood 5566

Land of the Rapidly Swelling Belly

Posted in 'Westernization' of Korea, Comparative, Food and Drink by 노강호 on September 21, 2015

I suppose, after almost ten years living in Korea that you begin to take things for-granted. With the arrival of summer and many teenagers wearing skin-tight, knee-length shorts, I’d forgotten just how skinny so many boys are. And to compound matters, I’ve just returned from the UK where every other teenager is a lard-arse. Statistically the average Korean, weighing around 124 pounds, is one of the lightest in comparative world statistics. The current average weight in the UK is 152 pounds. Despite this, Koreans are gaining weight quicker than most other nations and I’m not surprised because western style junk-food has invaded Korea at every level. It is fairly common knowledge that once a food store opens in a neighborhood, that over time the average weight of people in the immediate area increases. Well, in the last year the block on which I live, which previously had one MacDonald’s and one Dominoes Pizza, now has four more western style junk-food outlets. Yes, you read correctly! Four! In less than a four-minute walk I can pass two MacDonald’s, a KFC, Lotteria and a Dominoes Pizza. And unlike the UK, every one of them delivers to your door. The newest MacDonald’s, actually directly in front of my one-room, is open 24/7. And with the block itself and the blocks immediately around it housing around 10 private academies, you can imagine that everywhere I look I see Korean kids stuffing burgers in their faces.

‘Minute-food’ in a Korean market

The trend for western style food is just as voracious in supermarkets. My local E-mart, four minutes walk from my one room and also housing a MacDonald’s, now has cooler cabinets filled with microwaveable pre-made meals. Food I cooked 8 years ago, such as numerous fish stews where you bought a pack with all the fresh ingredients, squid, octopus, live shellfish, tofu, vegetables and a packet of spice paste, (and this is only one example) have disappeared and now the same cabinet contains a wide range of ready-made stews and soups in plastic packets. And there are totally new additions: curries with nan bread, racks of ribs, packs of Peking duck. Even one of Korea’s most cherished soups, and one of the easiest to make, samkaetang (ginseng chicken), has been conveniently packeted.

Meanwhile, in small convenience shops I can buy chocolate that wasn’t in Korea ten years ago. Some 8 years ago in the UK several chocolate manufactures were being criticized for producing the most enormous bars of chocolate. Bars which in my childhood were 3-4 inches long are now 5-6. Mar’s and ‘Snickers’ were examples of the sizing-up of confectionery. I don’t know what happened about the debate but I do know that not only do you only ever see the super-size bars in the UK, but Snickers is now available in most Korean ‘corner’ shops.

Then there’s the size of meals – now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a glutton, I love eating and I can eat lots but when I now return to the UK I’m staggered by portion sizes. I do once remember shocking some Koreans buy buying the entire family of five a pot of ice cream each in Baskin Robbins, something they considered outrageous. It wasn’t even a big pot but the smallest dinky one, probably containing one scoop. I’m used to eating between 5-7 scoops on my own and I don’t consider this particularly gluttonous. Koreans will share a five scoop pot between as many people able to sit around the table. In the UK, a normal size portion of cod and chips would feed a Korean family. The cod, always a foot long, hangs over the edges of the plate and the mountain of chips, piled on top cascade onto the table.  Indeed, there are  usually so many chips they tumble off the plate and if you add a roll, mushy peas and curry sauce, not only can you enter calorie-overload but need another plate. Actually, it would be easier to eat British size fish and chips from a bucket!

Over the years I’ve often written about the absence of fatties in bathhouses! Well, they have definitely arrived and I usually there are people proportionately fatter than me and often they are kids. While many kids, especially boys are super skinny, a growing number are pudgy, soft and in the bathhouses and naked usually look like pillows.

20150614_174910

Red bean paste filled bungoppang. In this case, and uniquely, its crab rather than the traditional fish shape. Far less calories than a mega-Snickers and with some roughage.

Meanwhile in the UK the weight-debate is almost exclusively perceived as a problem concerning individuals who are always deemed lazy, lacking will-power, emotionally weak while the solutions presented are mostly more of the same guff, new diets, exercise, changes in lifestyle, etc. Watching the fattening up of Korea it becomes very clear the process is deeply rooted at a social level and is about the food fads we buy into via advertising. Gary Linneker for example, a famous UK footballer, spent years advertising Walker’s crisps (potato chips) to youngsters and many high-profile celebrities, often sporting icons, advertise beer and soft drinks. And of course, both MacDonalds and Coca-cola advertise through major sporting events such as the Olympics. Then we have to consider the effective of Hollywood and the constant barrage countries like Korea face when American (western) cultural values are constantly pedaled  It was only 10 years ago in the UK that the government sanctioned candy companies producing coupons on bars of chocolate that could be used by schools to buy sporting equipment. Oh, and then there was that insidious chemical refreshment Sunny D, that swept through the UK the coupons of which supplied school basketballs.

I often find the morons who perceive weight gain at a predominantly individual level, and who constantly harp on about personal choice and discipline, a little like those who blame the rise of breathing-problems on the fact individuals choose to breath rather than on the increase of pollutants in the atmosphere.

Of course, Korea has its own fast-food, known as minute-food (boon-shik) but much of this isn’t actually that unhealthy. I wouldn’t put bibimbap and kimpap in the same league as pizza and hamburger and much street food, minute food, is sold in small portions and are snacks rather than meals. In the Korean street where one is never far from a street vendor selling the likes of odeng, and bungoppang, the cost of food is much less than that of western-style fast food places.  Despite this, the big fast-food franchises are never empty. Unfortunately, as Korea becomes increasingly westernized we have to acccept ever increasing waist-lines.

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Fake Cake at ‘Pathetically Bland’

Posted in Entertainment, Food and Drink by 노강호 on July 3, 2012

It’s Friday evening at the end of what is one of the most stressful weeks in Korean education: it’s the end of semester exams. Stress in my school, has been high amongst both staff and students. At the end of the evening, after a few beers with friends, and slightly inebriated, I decide I needed a cake and visited my local Paris Baguette. There’s a PB on every corner in Korea.  It was an exercise destined to disappoint.

Paris Baguette – Pathetically Bland – but it looks great!

5000 miles from Paris and Paris Baguette is about as French as you can get. The franchise, the largest bakery franchise in Korea, has a little picture of the Eifel Tower on its logo and at that point anything French stops. There are only two things I ever buy in PB: one is a choux pastry cake filled with syntho-cream and the other is cheese cake. The choux pastry’s synthetic cream is second best compared to fresh cream and the cheese cake is somewhat of a lottery, I think it depends on the temperature but sometimes it seems to contain cheese cake and at others, simply sponge.

There is no doubt that in terms of visual stimulation, PB is alluring. The array of cakes in the display cabinet is stunning but they’re all totally shit and totally syntho! The cake is a fake, a fraud but I should have known because I’ve written two former posts on exactly the same topic! Fake cream, fake cheese, chocolateless chocolate, the type Americans love and mock essence additives of everything from coffee to blueberry.

The beer has washed away all recollection of former disappointments and swished aside any powers of discernment. At 11.50pm, the choux pastry tray is empty and in the display cabinet there is an absence of cheesecake. However, I’m tempted by a rather delicious looking mascarpone tiramisu.

don’t be fooled – it’s as much a tiramisu as a Big Mac is a burger

From somewhere on the periphery of my awareness, currently dulled by a few too many bottles of Korea’s shitiest beer (was it Cass or was it Hite?), something is telling me to forgo the tiramisu and go and pig out on some fried chicken but the layers of sponge between that thick, yellowy, cheesy cream filling are overwhelming.  I concede.

the art of syntho-cream, bland sponge, chocolate-less chocolate, tasteless coloured powders and bits of fruit

Picking up the boxed cake, which isn’t cheap at around W21.000 (11 UK pounds), I’m struck by how light it is. And once home, with the tiramisu exposed and ready for consumption, I notice how the creamy cheese filling has a spongy texture to it. PB excel at disappointment and even the crappiest fancies of Mr Kipling exceed the tasteless experience of the tiramisu. There was nothing creamy in the cream and certainly nothing cheesy, even mildly mascarpone cheesy. In all, a totally tasteless experience and even the ‘mouth-feel,’ something MacDonald’s excel at, failed. After eating the entire cake, I didn’t even feel as if I’d broken my regular eating pattern: the sponge was airy and light and the cream filling – simply nothing – no taste with a cream-less texture.

Paris Baguette (PB), aka Pathetically Bland

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©Amongst Other Things… 努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

Related Posts on Paris Baguette fake cake:

Castrated Cake and Bollockless Beer (April 1st, 2011)

Chu-Sok Cheesecake (September 26th, 2010)

Transformed by a Weed – Shepherd’s Purse with Kimchi Stew (냉이 김치 찌개)

Posted in Food and Drink, Kimchi Gone Fusion, recipes for Kimchi by 노강호 on June 26, 2012

Key Features: an excellent side dish or main meal, adaptable and healthy

Kimchi Jjigae is one of the most common dishes on the Korean peninsula and while the main ingredients are basically the same, tuna, saury and pork are often added. And you can just as easily omit them! Koreans eat kimchi jjigae all the year around but for westerners used to dreary, dark, grey winters, this stew would be considered a seasonal companion. As with other foods which stew cabbage kimchi, the older the kimchi the better. You can use fresh kimchi but the taste is far richer and with a greater depth if your kimchi is nice and sour.

Like many similar Korean foods, the recipe is very adaptable and you can easily jiggle it about and experiment. This recipe uses shepherd’s purse which while in Korea is probably classified as a herb, in the UK, is most definitely an irksome weed – especially if you are into lawns. Shepherd’s purse has quite an amazing taste and a small amount can transform kimchi jjigae into another dish. If you were to add the same amount of parsley to jjigae the effect would not be as marked as to warrant including ‘parsley’ in the recipe title.

MY DEFINITIVE RECIPE

1 cup = 180ml. T=tablespoon (15ml), d=dessert spoon (10ml) t=teaspoon (5ml) 

This recipe is ideal for one, or as a side dish – double ingredients for each additional person

SHOPPING LIST

Pork, any cut about the size of a large dice though you can add more. Chop into small pieces. Conversely, you can leave it out altogether.

2T Wine (any will do though I prefer rice wine)

1d Soy Sauce (간장)

1d Sesame oil

1 cube (4 cloves) of crushed garlic.

1d Sugar or corn syrup (물엿)

Half a cup of onion, or leek and straw mushrooms (this could be substituted), all finely chopped

0.5t of dashida (다시다) or a stock cube

1t of sesame powder

1T of red pepper paste (고추장)

1t Red pepper powder (고추가루), depending on taste

Half a cup of Kimchi (sour is preferable), chopped

Tofu, cut to about the size of six small dice cubes

Shepherd’s purse (냉이) about a third of a cup.

Sesame seeds for garnish

3-4 cups of water

See also suggested accompaniments at the bottom of the page.

EQUIPMENT

Ideally as an earthenware pot or ‘ttukbeki’ (뚝배기) or a heavy bottomed sauce pan.

RECIPE

Make a marinade with:

1. 2T wine, 1d soy sauce, 1d sesame oil, 1d sugar or corn syrup, 1 cube or 4 cloves of crushed garlic, (5 items)

2. Put the pork in the marinade and leave from two hours or overnight.

COOKING

In a heavy bottomed pot or Korean earthenware ‘ttukbeki,’ place:

3. The marinade, half a cup of onions and mushroom, 6 cubes of tofu, 0.5t of dashida stock, 1t sesame powder. (6 items)

4. Then add 1d red pepper paste and approx 1t of red pepper powder. (2 items)

5. Finally, add 3 cups of water, a third of a cup of shepherd’s purse and half a cup of kimchi.  (3 items)

6. Bring to boil, allowing it to vigorously boil for five minutes and then simmer on a low heat for 30 mins. Top up with extra water to maintain original amount.

7. Remove from the heat, garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

 SERVING SUGGESTIONS        

Serve with an accompanying bowl of rice.

ONGOING NOTES:

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

X Rated Foods – A Personal List of Korean Culinary Nasties

Posted in fish, Food and Drink, seafood by 노강호 on June 3, 2012

shite made pretty

If you can eat a MacDonald’s burger you should be able to eat anything. However, the grey, dry, tasteless shite that comprises  a Mac patty, which according to the docu-movie Food Inc, may contain mechanically rescued meat sludge from as many as a thousand different carcasses, is masked by pickles, sauce, mayonnaise and other gubbings. I often hear people declare a Mac burger to be ‘delicious’ and instantly know they’ve probably never eaten a real beef burger in their life. A real burger tastes of meat, it is slightly pink and it is succulent. If you asked for a burger steak in a restaurant and were served a pallid, dry Mac patty you’d probably complain because void of distractions such as tomatoes and mayonnaise, a Mac patty clearly does not contain meat as we know it. Indeed, separate the individual components of a Mac burger and their ersatz quality is exposed. The bun, pumped full of air, can be squeezed into the size of a dice and the cheese is totally cheese-less and useless for making cheese-on-toast – believe me – I’ve tried! Mac ‘food’ is a triumph of science in which assembled components, all individually tasteless and inferior, combine to satisfactorily tingle all the important sensory receptors. I’m quite sure if most of us were to witness the mechanically rescued process and the gullies of meat slurry slopping through stainless steel channels, we’d never eat a Mac burger again. But with the tweaking of science, shite, especially when it’s decorated in pretty boxes and wrappers, given brand imagery with accompanying little plastic toys on which kids are weaned and where burgers are mutated into cartoon characters led by a clown, can be somewhat satisfying. A lot of R and R, little of it culinary, has gone into the success of  Mac food and I have to agree, that while they can be highly satisfying (the right: temperature, balance between salt and sugar, just enough oil, the combination of different mouth-feels for whatever components are in the burger etc, etc,) they are never delicious. Indeed they are a simulacrum of a burger, of food!

And so, while I can easily enjoy a Big Mac, all the horrors of production, which should really make me gag, hidden from me, there exists a large menu of Korean foods that despite their honesty, I simply cannot eat.

Here’s my list of X-rated Korean foods that I personally avoid:

13. Chickens-arse – ddong-jip (똥집) – except it’s not really arse at all but the gizzard. Koreans always delight in trying to shock you with this food but the fact is that as a fan the ‘parson’s nose’ (pygostyle), that fleshy protuberance  at the very back-end of a chicken or turkey which twitches every time the animal has a shit or gets excited, the ddong-jip is lame. If you like the parson’s nose, and as a boy my family competed for it at Sunday dinner, you’re eating portion a of a chicken or turkey much more equated with anuses and poop than the gizzard.

chewy

12. Intestine – mak-chang (막창) – chewy and tasty but the thought of it being part of the poop-shoot is always too overpowering to allow me to enjoy it. Actually, mak-chang is almost an enormous ‘dog dick’ (see number 11). The dislike is of course cultural because in British food intestines are always integral ingredients in sausages and pork pies, especially the working class pork pie – and as such are minced and hidden.

and chewy, again

11. Gae-bul (개불) – commonly known as ‘dog-dick’ in Korean. This is chewy, rather like squid or octopus and has little or no taste other than the sesame oil in which it is often drizzled. What makes them particularly memorable is the fact they actually look like turgid penises and before you eat them you usually have the pleasure of seeing them squirm about in the tank before their being slaughtered. The gae-bul is basically a piece of rubber tubing with a mouth at one end and anus at the other.

What happens to a ‘dog-dick’ when squeezed. Incidentally, they are eaten raw

10. Sea Squirt (멍게) – I’ve written about this bloated monstrosity before. They are a mucous mess of bright, glistening colours, most notably orange, if there’s one food which comes close to resembling a tumour, this is it but I have two Western friends who actually find them delicious and ironically, both, unlike me, never eat Mac Shite!

An interesting medley of ‘dog-dick’ and sea-squirt

9. Spinal column soup (뼈다귀감자탕) – I guess there isn’t anything too revolting about this but I never enjoy it. There is something disquieting about eating what it basically an offshoot of the brain and which carried all the animals’ motor commands. A few weeks ago it happened to be my turn to pay for lunch and the unfortunate choice of my friends was spine-soup! I quite hated having to pay 70.000 Won (£35) for a meal I hardly touched – but they loved it!

the actual soup is delicious but I have a psychological barrier with the spine

8. Chicken feet (닭발) – well, there’s a distinct lack of any meat on a chicken’s feet. Instead, you’re rewarded with a mouthful of little bones, bits of claw and hard skin. Worse, is the thought the chickens spend most of their life traipsing over the shit of other chickens.

crunchy

7. Dog stew (보신탕) – I’ve eaten this several times and there’s nothing unpleasant about it. However, it’s hard to swallow if you love dogs!

6. Silk worm cocoon (번데기) –  mmmm… the taste of damp soil followed by shards of exoskeleton and embryonic antennae which lodge themselves between your teeth. And that steamy, nauseous smell!

and the smell is just as bad

5. Midoedeok (미더덕) – horrible. First, I still don’t really know what they are or whether they are animal or vegetable. If the dubious greeny-brown colour and ultra smooth texture experienced by your tongue is not enough to put you off, the sour, detergent like substance spurting into your mouth when compressed between your teeth, will.

chewy and revolting

4. Raw beef (육회) – well, perhaps not the worst of experiences but personally, I like beef at least singed by a little heat before consumption.

totally raw

3. Raw ray fish (홍어) – probably the most disgusting smelling food I’ve ever eaten and I know plenty of Koreans who find it repulsive. A mouthful of smelling-salts, a stinging assault of pungent ammonia, best describes this ‘delicacy.’ Apparently, ray fish urinate through their skin and when fermented the smell is intensified. It is suggested you eat this food while breathing through the mouth and out the nose.

the most hideous stink

2. Raw liver and raw tripe, simply ghastly!

unlike a Mac Monstrosity burger, the detraction is simply a sprinkle of sesame

And the winner –

Boiled lung – so far I’ve eaten everything above, but this is one Korean ‘nasty’ I’m not going to taste. Not only does it look gross, like a great bluey-brown clump, but there is a lack of any sauce to mask what it really is.

Of course, the ghastliest food of all is a Mac Burger simply because you haven’t the least idea exactly what it comprises. I imagine the flesh is mechanically rescued from every part of the animal – eye lids, lips and all!!! However, disguised and nicely packaged, the sludge of a thousand cattle can be surprisingly satisfactory.

one of my favorites, raw crab

By the way – I’ve still to try eating live octopus (산 낙지) and grasshopper (메뚜기). Other weird foods, such as raw crab (게장), acorn curd (도토리묵), jellyfish (해파리) and sea cucumber (해삼), I enjoy.

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Makgeolli Recipe 1. Quick Guide

Posted in Food and Drink, rice wine (beer) by 노강호 on April 11, 2012

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

For an in-depth account of the process go here: Making Makgeolli – Recipe 1.

(1 cup = 180ml. T = tablespoon 15ml, d = dessert spoon 10ml and t = teaspoon 5ml)

6 cups of rice (glutenous Korean or sushi rice)

2 liters of water for post inoculation plus 1 liter if you want to dilute. You will also need water for cooking the rice.

1 cup of wheat yeast (nu-ruk – 누룩). I cup amounts to 100g.

1t of yeast (효모). I’ve found instant dried yeast works best

2 cups of sugar (or honey or corn syrup) and depending on taste, you may want to add more as fermentation continues.

Milton’s Solution or some other form of baby utensil sterilizing liquid.

EQUIPMENT

Rice cooker or pan, large glass jar (though plastic is useable), large rubber band, a spatula, a small bowl, a spoon, a cloth for covering mash and a muslin bag.

For decanting –  a funnel, about four 2  liter bottles (Coke bottles are the best), a ladle, a large plastic bowl into which you are going to squeeze the mash.

PREPARING THE RICE

Wash the rice and cook as normal. When cooked, allow the rice to cool to temperature where it won’t scold your hand. Now, if you are cooking the rice the European way, in a pot on the cooker, you will need to drain off any excess water before letting it cool.

STERILIZING EQUIPMENT – sterilise and boil utensils.

PREPARING THE AMAZING MICRO-ORGANIC INOCULATE

If your nu-ruk is in a block, you will need to break shards off and soak it in luke warm water for an hour and then either mush it up or put it in a blender. Do not soak it in hot water as you will kill the enzymes! Put the nu-ruk in a small, sterilized bowl, add a little water and thoroughly mix it into a paste.

Now fill you jar with 2 liters of water and add the rice to this and then add the inoculate. Mix it thoroughly. Put the cloth and elastic band over the mouth of the jar and store.

AFTERCARE

Stir the mash with a sterilized ladle once in the morning and again in the evening.

DECANTING

Equipment etc – a large bowl, a muslin bag, anti insect cover if needed, a funnel, sugar (or honey, corn syrup) and optional water (l liter)

Pour the mash into a sterilised muslin bag and then proceed to squeeze liquid out of the rice into a clean bowl. Sugar (honey, corn syrup) can now be added plus additional water if you wish to lower the ABV.

BOTTLING

Put the filtered makgeolli into plastic bottles used for carbonated drink. Keep in a cool place just to make sure no spillage is going to occur, before refrigerating.

The makgeolli is actually ready to drink but leaving it a few days at room temperature will allow some further fermentation and maturation. After a few days you may want to add extra sugar or even dilute with more water – it depends on your individual preferences.

Prior to serving, shake the bottle as it contains sediment. Be careful opening the bottle! On more than one occasion I’ve received an invigorating makgeolli shower!

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

Makgeolli Troubleshooter

Posted in Food and Drink, rice wine (beer) by 노강호 on April 11, 2012

Failure of the inoculate to initialize – no activity takes place in the mash or it stops. This is likely to occur if the temperature is too high or some unwelcome micro-organism manage to infiltrate your sterilization process. Unfortunately, you will have to try again. With failure of initialization, mold is usually present floating on the surface of the lifeless mash.

After adding sugar, the makgeolli has a strange gluey taste – this is caused by excess yeast or nu-ruk which then reacts with the sugar to cause a temporary ‘gluey’ taste. However, this will subside so don’t throw it away just yet! Check here!

The mash manages to escape the jar and begin floating across the floor – silly-Billy, you used either too much nu-ruk or too much yeast. Mop-up – the overspill is better than an invasion of mold.

The makgeolli has separated in the bottle– this is quite normal. Shake the bottle before serving.

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Mission Makgeolli – R and D for Recipe 1

Posted in Food and Drink, rice wine (beer) by 노강호 on April 9, 2012

I like Recipe 1 despite it being a blend between makgeolli and a dongdong-ju. The drink is refreshing, has a zing, is frothy and slightly thick though it loses the froth and thickness rapidly. As a result, it is a very light drink that dances over your tongue. All scores of 8 and above contain: zing, froth and thickness and are subsequently very light on the palate.

Batch 8, December 2011

Initially, I think my recipe was too sweet and may have been too strong for what Koreans associate with makgeolli. However, Koreans often have no idea about the differences between makgeolli and dongdong-ju and the two terms are almost interchangeable. Traditionally, dongdong-ju is a much stronger drink approaching 14-16% ABV, as this recipe does, if the ratio of 3 cups of rice to 1 litre of water (at inoculation) is adhered to and no water subsequently added.

Recipe 2, dongdong-ju, and Recipe 4, makgeolli, are both based on this recipe.

R – rice. 1 cup = 180ml

N – nu-ruk. 1 cup = 180ml / 100g

Y– yeast. Teaspoon (5ml)

W – Water added at inoculation and at bottling. (liters)

S – sugar. 1 cup = 180ml

G – Glutinous rice (R), SH – Short Grain. N – new season’s rice. All rice is Korean.

TEM/DAYS – temperature in degrees Celsius.

Note – Bolded annotations mark a point of experimentation.

NO. DATE2011 R180 N180 Yt W S180 TEM/DAYS YIELD/ABV VER0-10
1 11/11 G3 0.5 1 1/0 ? 40/3 ? 0
2 16/11 G3 0.5 1 1/0 ? 32/5 ? 5
3 17/11 G5 1 1.5 1/0 ? 21/4 ?/14% 5
4 25/11 G6 1 1.5 1/0 ? 21/3 ?/15% 5
5 26/11 G6 1 1.5 1.5/0 ? 21/4 ?/15%
6 03/12 G5 0.5 1 1.5/0 ? 21/5 ?/14% 7
7 05/12 G3 0.5 1 1/0 ? 21/3 ?/? 8
8 16/12 G6 1 1 1.5/0 ? 21/4 ?/? 8
9 23/12 G5 1 1 2/0 ? 21/5 ?/? 9
10 27/12 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/5 ?/12% 10
11 30/12 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
12 02/01/2012 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
13 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
14 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
15 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
16 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
17 G6 1 1 2/ 4 21/4 4/12% 10
18 04/04 G3 0.5 0.5 2/0 1 21/3 2.75/5% 10

Rationale

18. I’m told my makgeolli is too sweet and that it is too much like soda! This batch sought to reduce both sugar levels and reduce alcohol down to approx 6%ABV. After 36 hours of post-peak fermentation, there is a marginal sweetness (in my opinion), and the alcohol has increased. The matured makgeolli is much better given time to mature. At 48 hours there is little sweetness at all. Conclusion, use 1-2 cups of sugar at bottling and allow maturing for 2 days.

Link: Recipe 1

 

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

When Homemade Makgeolli has a ‘Gluey’ Taste

Posted in Food and Drink, rice wine (beer) by 노강호 on April 4, 2012

Okay, don’t panic and don’t throw it away!

ready to enjoy

Once makgeolli has been decanted and sugar added, several changes begin to occur. The first is that the hitherto watery consistency of makgeolli changes and it very quickly becomes thicker and more creamy. Ideally, it may even be frothy. An unwanted change however, is the rapid development of a ‘gluey’ smell and taste which lowers the drinking quality.

This gluey-ness is temporary and will decrease over several days along with a decline in sweetness which can subsequently be re-adjusted. From my experimentation, a gluey-ness arises when the mash is decanted while there is still busy fermentation and thus, when sugar is added, some heavy chemical reactions occur. The ideal time to decant depends on the temperature at which fermentation has taken place. Hence, wait until the peak of fermentation is passed before decanting. My 6-7th version of the recipe have produced excellent results with no ‘gluey’ transition or if there has been one, it has been very slight. Adding sugar also increases the level of gas so always check bottles on a daily basis to avoid any unwanted mess. Don’t under estimate the explosive force that can build up in a bottle! I recently experimented with adding pineapple to makgeolli and was treated to a fruity shower. My memory of this experience, as revitalizing as it was, as I was stood in boxers at 7am, on a Sunday morning, was of a column of white which shot out the bottle and almost hit the ceiling.

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My Most Successful Makgeolli Recipe (1) – Mister Makgeolli

Posted in Food and Drink, rice wine (beer) by 노강호 on March 19, 2012

the fruits of my second batch of makgeolli, Nov 2011

This recipe can actually be used to make four different types of rice wine. However, before you get bogged down in the confusing and ambiguous world of rice wine, why not simply try it. The recipe produces was is commonly known as a makgeolli though in essence it isn’t, but that’s another story…

I experimented with this recipe on seven occasions and continue to make improvements to it. The experimentation focused on numerous areas: the ratio of nu-ruk (누룩) and yeast to rice, fermentation temperature and the length of fermentation. Several subsequent minor trials focused on the amount of sugar added in the final process.

The final recipe, based on six cups of rice, (1 cup being 180mls), is now my working recipe and produces a good brew with a slight acidic ‘zing’ reminiscent of grapefruit juice. Environmental conditions always tweak and amend the recipe, especially when fermentation is involved, but these are usually small and are easily compensated.

The best temperature for fermentation is between 20-25 degree centigrade which is about normal room temperature. The level of micro-organic activity at 20-25 degrees means fermentation requires 3-5 days. I trialed 30-32 degrees and while fermentation was quicker, around 3 days, the taste contained more bitterness.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

(1 cup = 180ml. T = tablespoon 15ml, d = dessert spoon 10ml and t = teaspoon 5ml)

What type of rice to use? Glutinous rice, chapssal (찹쌀) seems more common for dongdong-ju (동동주) while standard Korean rice, the sort served with most meals, maepssal (맵쌀), and it’s superior relative, haepssal (햅쌀), which is basically the new season’s rice, are used for maekgeolli. However, I am still unclear about the difference between makgeolli and dongdong-ju and even among Koreans there seem to be differing theories – and most can’t taste the difference. Korean rices are short grain and contain more starch than long grain varieties and as yet, I don’t know how successful these would be for making makgeolli. Stick to Korean rice or Japanese sushi rice.

6 cups of rice

2 liters of water at point of inoculation plus a liter if you want to dilute. You will also need water for cooking the rice.

1 cup of wheat yeast (nu-ruk – 누룩). I cup amounts to 100g. For information on obtaining nu-ruk.

1t of yeast (효모). I’ve found instant dried yeast works best

1-2 cups of sugar (or honey or corn syrup) and depending on taste, you may want to add more as fermentation continues.

2 cups of cheap alcohol – soju is best, followed by vodka or gin  or better still, 56% Chinese, Er Gou Tou Chiew (이과두주). However, don’t fret as this is only for sterilizing but don’t using anything with a strong taste – such as whisky or Creme de Menthe.

Milton’s Solution or some other form of baby utensil sterilizing liquid.

EQUIPMENT

Rice cooker or pan, large glass jar (though plastic is useable), large rubber band, a spatula, a small bowl, a spoon, a cloth for covering mash, a muslin bag, an anti insect net (for summer brewing). This looks like a hair net and basically covers top of the jar.

For decanting –  a funnel, about four 2  liter bottles (Coke bottles are the best), a ladle, a large plastic bowl into which you are going to squeeze the mash.

Make sure the cloth you are going to use to cover the jar of mash, and the muslin bag, have not previously been washed in anything noticeably scented – it is likely to taint the mash or makgeolli.

PREPARING THE RICE

Okay, Koreans love to wash rice in threes, except it is recommended to wash rice for makgeolli 30 times. To be honest, I no longer do this and have found that if you wash the rice while it is in a muslin bag, and you put the base of the bag in a bowl, you can then put your hand in the bag, water running, and aggravate the rice until the water in the bowl is running clear. This probably takes two minutes.

Proceed to cook the rice as you would normally, allowing it to stand in the cooking water, for 30 minutes prior to turning on the cooker. I also allow it to stand for an hour or two after cooking as this allows the rice to fully absorb water so your mash doesn’t become too stogy.

When cooked, allow the rice to cool to temperature where it won’t scold your hand. Now, if you are cooking the rice the European way, in a pot on the cooker, you will need to drain off any excess water before letting it cool.

STERILIZING EQUIPMENT

Thoroughly wash all utensils such as spatula, bowl, spoon in side the jar in Milton’s Solution or other baby utensil sterilizer. Make sure you clean around the rim of the jar. Put the rubber band on your wrist throughout to sterilise it as well. Thoroughly rinse off the solution, drain out water, add the clean cloth which you are going to cover the top of the jar with and then pour in around a cup of alcohol. Save a little to wash your hands in later. Swish everything with the alcohol and then pour off.

PREPARING THE AMAZING MICRO-ORGANIC INOCULATE

the inoculate

‘Amazing’ because the seemingly boring yeasts are going to create an organic frenzy that will transform rice and water into a refreshing alcohol.

If your nu-ruk is in a block, you will need to break shards off and using a blender, turn out a cupful. Alternatively, you can soak it in luke warm water for an hour before either mashing it or putting it in a blender. Do not soak it in hot water as the enzymes will be killed.  Put the nu-ruk in a small, sterilized bowl, add the yeast add a little water and thoroughly mix it into a paste.

Now put the cloth in a pot and boil it vigorously for five minutes.Take the cloth off the boil and hang it somewhere to drain off and cool.

Now fill you jar with 2 liters of water and add the rice to this. I use this method as it is better if you are using plastic and it minimizes the chances of the glass breaking. Re-sterilize your hands with some alcohol, then, being careful of pockets of heat in the rice, begin to break up any ‘clots.’  When the temperature of the mix has equalized, it should be luke warm to warm, get someone to pour the inoculate into the mix. You could do this with your free hand but there will be residue in the bowl that needs scrapping out and having someone do it for you saves you having to re-sterilize.

Some of my Korean friends recommend adding a cup of alcohol at this stage – they use Korean soju, but vodka will suffice. I believe this inhibits the growth of any unwanted micro-organic populations.

Now mix the solution until the inoculate is thoroughly and evenly dispersed.

Wash your hands and then, using a tissue soaked in alcohol, clean any residue from the rim off the jar. Then place the boiled cloth over the top and secure with an elastic band.

Your mash is now ready to place in a little hidey-hole, preferably out of direct sunlight and away from draughts, where you can occasionally peak at it to enjoy  the micro-organic activity.

AFTERCARE

Stir the mash with a sterilized ladle once in the morning and again in the evening. You will know if the mash has initialised as you will both see rice particles floating up and down in the jar and see and hear the exchange of gases. A rice cap will form on the top of the mash and over peak fermentation these will gradually start falling to the bottom of the jar until on a handful of grains remain floating on the surface.

DECANTING

bottled-up

How many days should you wait? When you decant the mash will depend on the room temperature during the fermentation period. Once the peak of fermentation has been passed it needs decanting. If there is still considerable activity in the mash, wait a little longer, when activity has calmed you should begin the next process. A little experience will guide you in this matter. As a rough guide, at 20-25 degrees centigrade this will be between 3-5th day. At 25-30 degrees 2-3 days.

Equipment etc – a large bowl, a muslin bag, anti insect cover if needed, a funnel, sugar (or honey, corn syrup) and optional water (l liter)

Once passed peak fermentation you can pour the mash into a sterilised muslin bag and then proceed to squeeze liquid out of the rice into a clean bowl.The mushy rice, once squeezed out, can be discarded. The lovely white liquid in your bowl is makgeolli, (to be more precise, it’s a blend of makgeolli and dongdong-ju).

How much sugar (honey, corn syrup) you add, and whether you want to add any additional water, depends on your taste. However, 2 cups of sugar, while initially seeming sweet, will decline in a few days time and you might want to add more. Makgeolli varies between 5-10% ABV with dongdong-ju being closer to 16% ABV. I estimate this recipe to be at the stronger end of the scale and you could probably add another liter of water to take it down to about 7% ABV. Commercial makgeolli is around 6% ABV. Once again, this is a matter of personal preference but you can add water at anytime should you wish a weaker drink.

When differentiating between makgeolli and dongdong-ju, bear in mind the two are often interchangeable and most Koreans don’t know the difference between the two.

BOTTLING

ready to enjoy

Put the filtered makgeolli into plastic bottles. The gas build up can be substantial so have a collection of coke bottle tops, some pierced with a small hole, some not. Ten years ago all makgeolli in Korea had such holes in bottles tops as fermentation will continue for quite a long time. Initially, use the pierced tops and after a day or two, start to use the un-pierced ones however, be vigilant if you add more sugar as this will cause a temporary re-ignition. Keep in a cool place just to make sure no spillage is going to occur, before refrigerating.

The makgeolli is actually ready to drink but leaving it a few days at room temperature will allow some further fermentation and maturation and allow for the best qualities of makgeolli t o develop.  After a few days you may want to add extra sugar or even dilute with more water – it depends on your individual preferences. I’m also told that waiting a couple of days until well past peak fermentation reduces the chances of a hangover should you drink too much. After two days rest put the bottles in the fridge.

Prior to serving, shake the bottle as it contains sediment. Be careful opening the bottle! On more than one occasion I’ve received an invigorating makgeolli shower!

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

Troubleshooting

Link to in-depth recipe

Killing Kimchi and Murdering Makgeolli!

Posted in 'Westernization' of Korea, Food and Drink, rice wine (beer), vodcast by 노강호 on March 10, 2012

I’ve recently posted my new video on how to make makgeolli, but before that…

One of my Korean friends recently questioned the point of making makgeolli when it is so much easier to buy! Where do you begin? I love randomness! I hate straight cucumbers, regimented onions and all vegetables that have been forced to conform. Back in Europe, the big supermarkets, citadels of conformity, reject fruit and vegetables that aren’t a specific size and shape and I can remember a few years ago when it was a common sight to see piles of onions on the edge of a field that farmers couldn’t sell and to which you could help yourself. If I recall, it was a kind protest by farmers against the big buyers. One of the vegetables I hate buying in Korea is the courgette-like vegetable which you only seem able to buy encased in a plastic straight-jacket. Trapped inside its constraint, every vegetable grows to exactly the same dimensions and no more. What ‘ fascist farmers’ forum’ decide on the specific dimensions of a courgette?

bent and wonky – banned by the big supermarkets

Market forces have already started killing kimchi and makgeolli. Fermentation processes, in which the development of something continues post the point of production, hinder the standardization that supermarkets encourage. It might seem an irrelevant point now, but I know several Korean women who can’t make kimchi and instead rely on their mothers for a regular supply. As for Korean men, most just about have the culinary skills to add water to  a pot of ramyon (noodles) or make a cup of coffee – with mix. Sorry guys! . When the older generation of kimchi makers have died out, I would imagine a lot of women will turn to supermarkets for their fix of kimchi and from that point the gradually numbing of taste buds will lead to shit, factory made kimchi becoming the bench mark.

MacDonald’s have done exactly the same with the noble burger. If you’ve ever had a real American burger, ‘loaded,’ you’ll know how superior they are. In the USA, I’d say most people have no idea what real chocolate tastes like after years of rape by crap like Hershey’s. British people aren’t more discerning. I once gave a class of 17-year-old British kids decent chocolate (Lindt 70% milk, Excellence) and the most common and mediocre of British chocolate (Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, around 26% chocolate), which is substantially better quality the Hershey’s ersatz chocolate. They didn’t know which was which but they mostly voted the inferior chocolate the best.  And British people are beginning to forget what real pork and bacon is like after years of abuse by pork that is pumped full of water and bacon that is similarly sodden with water and then ‘smoked’ by chemicals. Most British pork and bacon you can no longer fry as it ends up swimming in so much water they are effectively braised. Impregnation with water is what is probably going to happen with pork in Korea, which will rain torrents on samy-kyeop-sal (Korean pork barbecue) and kimchi and mekgeolli, in the hands of factory processes and supermarkets, will probably end up being similarly adulterated.

Take kimchi for example, the taste changes over anything up to several years and ‘maturation’ is greatly affected by temperature. Fermentation introduces random elements into food production that factory systems don’t like and it is safer for the image of brands to have products that are always mediocre, and hence reliable in their mediocrity, than ones where random elements occasionally deal both superb and inferior products. Most of our factory food, whether it be fast food burgers to almost anything in a supermarket, has been reduced to mediocrity. I remember when Indian restaurants in Britain all differed from each other. Not only was chicken served ‘on’ or ‘off the bone,’ choices you are never given today, but every restaurant cooked differently because the companies that were to supply all the ‘cook in sauces,’ standardise them and dominant the industry, had not yet been developed. Restaurants depended on the skills and creative talents of their chefs and eating out in an Indian was a culinary experience. I’ve even eaten curry garnished with melted silver leaf (varq) but again, you no longer see this creative addition. Standardization has killed the curry to the point crap factory products become the bench mark and preferred taste and in the process the chef is deskilled and becomes a ‘cook.’  Now, you can eat a korma in Newcastle or Cornwall and it will taste and look exactly the same – usually sickly yellow, sweet, and populated by uniform cubes of tasteless chicken.  Yes, it’s cooked in a restaurant but the components are produced by mass factory processes. Even the pickles are now mass-produced.

It was the variation and randomness of British Indian restaurants that made them so exciting and  it is currently the same variation that enlivens the experience of kimchi and makgeolli. Like most of the makgeolli type drinks you can now buy, and most of the packaged kimchi, the fermentation process has been terminated. Ten years ago, all makgeolli bottles had a hole on the top to allow the fermentation process to continue and so was packeted kimchi. Today, they are treated to kill the  micro-organisms which so miraculously collaborate to transform a pile of boring cabbage into kimchi and rice into makgeolli. You don’t really appreciate the explosive potential of makgeolli until you’ve brewed it and believe me, it can pack a punch far more powerful than champagne.

The allure of making your own makgeolli and kimchi, lies in the fascinating interplay, a kaleidoscope  of activity, that is produced when enzymes and environment collide and every production is a little different – and the difference continues to develop. And they are so very much alive; both kimchi and real makgeolli have a ‘zing’ that is absent when bottled or packeted. No matter how good a commercial makgeolli or kimchi is there is something they lack and quite simply, it is life. Homemade kimchi and makgeolli are full of ‘zeng’ (ie – ‘saeng,’ 생 -生), which is the Hanja (Character) for ‘life’ or ‘living.’ The moment you taste real kimchi or real makgeolli you taste life, it has a quality that with clinically dead food is only ever an approximation. Bottled makgeolli, boiled to death, is artificially resuscitated and put on a carbonated life support but despite the bubbles and facade of life, it is a zombie in comparison to makgeolli that has been allowed to retain its miraculous micro-organic population.

If you want kimchi that is always ever just, ‘just’ (그냥), well, the Chinese are making it in abundance. In my local Chinese store in the UK you can buy Kimchi made in the PRC that has not only been killed prior to packaging, but suitably embalmed in liquid chemical environment hostile to any micro-organic activity and then entombed in a can! And believe me, it tastes as bad as it sounds.

Kimchi and makgeolli are incredibly easy to make and doing so is fun. Homemade kimchi is much cheaper than the packet, supermarket variety and you can make around 8 liters of makgeolli from about 1.3 kilograms of rice (costing about 6000W – £6) which compared with shop bought makgeolli, is about half price. But more to the point, it is more about preserving taste and culture, than cost!

For more information on making makgeolli, visit Mister Makgeolli , and for information on making kimchi, visit: Kimchi Gone Fusion.

 Bathhouse Ballads chronicles many aspects of my life in South Korea. Kimchi Gone Fusion focuses on ‘the way of the pickled cabbage’ while Mister Makgeolli is dedicated to Korean rice wine.

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2011 Creative Commons Licence.