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Monday Market – Persimmons (연시 – 홍시)

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, Monday Market (Theme), seasons by 노강호 on November 16, 2011

'yeon-shi,' one of my favourite autumn fruits

I’ve written several times about the persimmon which in Korea, like the octopus, has three different names depending characteristics. For some reason ‘3’ always seems to be associated with food though I’m sure it’s coincidence. You’re supposed to wash cabbages three times after salting and I was taught to rinse rice three times before cooking. I took this photo a month ago as the first flush of soft persimmon, known as ‘yeson-shi’, appeared in the market. I love this type of persimmon and several years ago built a stock-pile in my freezer which lasted into mid spring. Actually, I ended up so tired of them I hardly bought any the following year.  Now I want to eat them but unfortunately am restricted by my diet. However, I couldn’t resist buying some just to photograph. The first flush of yeon-shi are particularity delicate and beautiful but their colour quickly changes as autumn progresses.

very similar to the slightly larger and more heart-shaped 'hong-shi.'

persimmons hanging on local trees

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Related articles

The Intricacies of Persimmon (Bathhouse Ballads Nov 2010)

Interlude – Soft Persimmons (Bathhouse Ballads Oct 2010)

They mystery of the persimmons (militaryzerowaste.wordpress.com)

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Pomegranate

Posted in fruit, Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on January 4, 2011

Throughout 2010 I took regular photos of a pomegranate tree near my one-room. Boring! Perhaps, but in the UK I have never seen this tree growing except in my garden.  I planted this from a seed I took from a fruit  bought in a supermarket some 13 years ago.  Although the bush has never fruited, it regularly flowers and I’m told that last summer it was covered in a magnificent display of red flowers.

May 3rd 2010

July 20th 2010

July 20th 2010

August 2010

September 2010

September 24th 2010

September 24th 2010

September 24th 2010

Though the fruits were red and shiny, when I picked one last year and tasted the fruit I immediately spat it back out. As delicious as they look, pomegranates growing on street corners tend to be horridly bitter despite their juicy appearance.

October 23rd 2010

My UK pomegranate, January 2010. (12 years of age)

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Monday Market – Apples (사과)

Posted in Comparative, Daegu, Food and Drink, fruit, seasons by 노강호 on November 30, 2010

early autumn apples

When I first visited Daegu in 2010, the city’s link with apples, a local product, seemed very strong. Ten years later, and on the odd occasion I have mentioned Daegu in relation to apples, and some people look at me blankly. Regardless, apples in Daegu, and perhaps further afield, are delicious. I rarely  buy apples back home partly as the varieties are never constant  and the taste and texture never guaranteed. Like many fruit and vegetables in Britain, they are rarely home produced. There is a lot to be said for seasonal fair as the quality is far superior and at the moment, cabbages (배추), apples, Asian pears (배), persimmon (감) and oranges (귤) from Jeju-do) are all in season. I have become quite used to watching the passing season through what’s available in the street markets and am currently waiting to see an abundance of of ginkgo nuts (은행).

Crispy, sweet and delicious

Korean apples are big, crispy, sweet and juicy. I’ve never had an apple that is soft or sour and would imagine sweetness is guaranteed because of the hot summers. Most apples are best about Christmas time and there are five popular varieties all grown in Korea:

‘National Glory’ (국광) – deep red with green stripes

‘Golden Delicious,’ (골덴 딜리셔스) – clear yellow

‘Huji’ or ‘Pusa’ (후지 / 부사) –  light red

‘Indian’ (인도) – green

‘Red Jade’ (홍옥) – bright red which is best slightly earlier than Christmas.

Monday market

However, as I write, I read that in the UK, this years season of apples, though outstripped by imports, are especially delicious as they generally tend to be approximately once every seven years.

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Monday Market – Peaches 복숭아

Posted in Diary notes, fruit, seasons by 노강호 on October 20, 2010

Like the persimmon, which is just starting to appear, peaches have different names for different types: some are hard, some medium and the most prized, very soft, is white.

Peaches towards the end of the season

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Monday Market – Groundnuts (땅콩)

Posted in Diary notes, fruit, seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on October 4, 2010

Groundnuts

The ‘fruits’ which epitomize autumn are peanuts, pumpkins, persimmon, apples and the Chinese or Napa cabbage of which there is currently a shortage. In the last week peanuts have become very prolific in street markets. They are somewhat unlike the monkeynuts (ground nuts) you buy in the UK in that they are still moist and have an earthy taste to them. Koreans often boil them for a few minutes, un-shelled, after which they taste much nicer. In this state they can be frozen. I still have a few in my freezer from last year though I do not know how long they safely keep.

Groundnuts at 4000 Won a boxful (sterling - 2 pounds)

Peanuts and pumpkins

Grapes – 포도. Monday Market

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, seasons by 노강호 on September 1, 2010

Grapes – Autumn is approaching!

With the scent of black grapes drifting on the air, you know that autumn is not to far off. Korean grapes are quite different from varieties available in Europe; the skins are much thicker and slightly chewy and often removed. The flesh is juicy and sweet and the seeds, big, crunchy and bitter. As a fruit, I certainly prefer the seedless variety but the juice of Korean grape, usually the Kyoho grape,  is ‘thicker’ and carries both the scent and taste of the grape British children will be familiar with. Personally, the smell and taste of Korean black grapes always reminds me of Pez candy, which was popular when I was a child. Korean grape  juice is  very popular as is Welch’s Grape Juice. Welch’s is an American company which  uses a variety of grape, Concord, which is similar to the Kyoho grape.

Korean black grape juice

Grapes, fat and juicy

Grapes in the shade

Remember Pez?

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Peaches – Monday market

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, Monday Market (Theme), seasons by 노강호 on August 6, 2010

Looking at the Peaches

Koreans have this habit of eating fruit that I wouldn’t classify as ripe. Of course, it’s cultural but when I bought a ‘box’ of delicious looking peaches I discovered they were like cricket balls – hard! They do the same with persimmon. Yea, I should have poked them before purchase but didn’t. I like peaches soft and juicy. Currently, they’re sitting in my fridge in the hope they might ripen. Putting them on the window ledge is out of the question as it will attracts those annoying little ‘day flies’ which prevent you leaving any fruit or vegetable peelings in the bin for more than a couple of hours. White peaches are really delicious but I haven’t seen any this year and they are always more expensive.

The tomatoes are even bigger than a few weeks ago and are now bigger than the first of the green apples – perhaps it’s because of all the rain.

Massive tomatoes

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Monster Tomatoes – Monday Market

Posted in fruit, seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on June 22, 2010

Tomatoes

For almost a month now, beefsteak tomatoes, the largest tomato of the family,  have been in abundance  in the street markets. They are truly enormous though they lack the sweetness of smaller varieties. Compared to Britain, the hotter weather,  intense June-July rain fall and a long sunny day, are all factors which greatly increase the speed at which plants in Korea grow.

A box costs between 5000-8000 Won (£2-50-£4)

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Oriental/Japanese Apricot (매실. 梅實) Prunus Mume, and some uses

Posted in fruit, seasons by 노강호 on June 13, 2010
Oriental Apricot/plum (매실)

June, and Japanese Apricot is available in the street markets and in supermarkets. A very large bagful costs about 20.000 Won (£10) and in E-Marte 1-5 kg costs 7.500 Won. The apricot (매실) appears across Asia and is used as a delicious sweet drink, flavours various alcoholic drinks most notably plum wine,  it can be pickled or salted,in China it is used in the making of plum sauce and it is also made into a tea. It has plummy-almondy taste. The juice is also common as a household remedy for an upset stomach.

Around 20000 Won a bag
Non alcoholic but delicious

Making either Japanese Apricot juice or alcohol is straight forward. For juice, simply put the fruit into a container with the equivalent weight of sugar. Do exactly the same for the alcoholic version except cover it with soju. The sealed container should then be stored for 3 months.

Pretty boring in this condition
Homemade alcohol and juice
Refreshing

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Death and Diet by Watermelon

Posted in Comparative, fruit, seasons by 노강호 on June 11, 2010

Watermelon (수박)

Years ago, I watched a documentary about the problems of policing in that scummy slip of coastline on the southern Spanish coast, infamous as the holiday destination of 4.5 million Brits holiday makers and 350.000 homeowners, the Costa del Sol; aka The Costa del Crime due to the disproportionate number of British criminals in residence to evade to British law. The Costa del Sol is one sprawling Conga of destinations well-known to most British people even when they have never set foot on Spanish soil and know little about local life: Marbella, Fuengirola, Alicante, Torremolinos, and Benidorm. Formerly all isolated beautiful fishing villages, they now form one vomit ridden strip stretching from Malaga down to Los Alzacares and providing all the comforts of British culture, the bars, fish and chips, sandwiches, Sunday roasts and enough English-speaking people to attract that particular brand of clientele whose idea of a holiday is sitting on a packed beach in an environment as English as Clacton but with guaranteed sun and cheap booze.

In all fairness, the coast provides a haven to other European plebs and criminals and within the context of policing,  this was the subject of the documentary. On the particular evening the cameras were rolling, and following the difficulties faced by local police, a group of Danish lads were arrested for swimming naked in their hotel pool, some Brits lads were menacing locals with knives and some drunken Scandinavians were throwing water melons off the top of their hotel onto the street below.All were young men and all were drunk!

British criminals on permanent vacation on the Costa del Sol

‘Brits with knives’ seemed typically nasty while the nude swimming and water melon bombing were amusing – until I started carrying water melons back to my Korean apartment. I’ve never bought a water melon in the UK and though you can buy them, usually in Mediterranean type delis, I don’t think they are as popular as other types of melon, the smaller varieties such as honeydew and cantaloupe. Having to lug watermelons home on a weekly basis, naturally, it dawns on me not only how heavy they are, but how catastrophic the effect of one landing on your head from 1o floors above. Suddenly, wielding a knife doesn’t seem quite so bad as  bombing pedestrians with a weighty watermelon, an act I had formerly dismissed as amusing and harmless.

Water melons are one of the most common fruits in Korea over the summer and are currently my favourite especially when cold and crispy. They are supposedly highly beneficial as an antioxidant and have numerous other acclaimed benefits. With approximately 21 calories per 100g they are a healthy snack though I suspect I probably eat around half a kilo before I go to bed. (link for information on Korean watermelon).

Summer fruits

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