Elwood 5566

More on Cabbage Kimchi – Some Guidelines

‘decanted’ after over two months and deliciously sour

This post was originally published in February 2011 and is now updated.

I am now quite proud of my cabbage kimchi, a skill which has taken me about ten years to get right. One reason why it takes a long time to make decent kimchi is that you have to develop a sense of what constitutes a good kimchi and an awareness of kimchi at different stages of fermentation. Unless you have a cultivated appreciation of what Kimchi is, and by that I mean an awareness of kimchi that a Korean would enjoy and not what you personally think it should taste like, your kimchi will never be authentic. The subtleties of kimchi are as intricate and extensive as wine or Indian curry  and an appreciation is important if you are to use a recipe to guide you.

There exist many recipes for cabbage kimchi, regional, personal and for accompanying certain meals; bo-ssam (boiled, sliced pork, 보쌈) for example, uses a special type of kimchi. I am concerned here with the standard type of kimchi that accompanies the majority of Korean foods and which can be divided into two categories, fresh and sour.  There is of course, a range of flavours in between these extremes. Many Koreans have a preference for one or the other and foods which use kimchi as a major constituent, as for example with kimchi stew (김치 찌개 or 김치찜), suit one or the other.

scary yes, but tasty

I’m told by Korean friends that big cabbages are not the best to use and that medium sized ones, which compared to Britain are enormous, are the most suitable. The outer leaves are trimmed and unless damaged these shouldn’t  be thrown away as they can be used in other recipes.

One of the most persistent problems I faced was the most crucial; namely getting the salting process right. Even cook books sometimes overlook what is a seemingly simple procedure. When the prepared cabbages are ready to paste with your kimchi paste mix, they should resemble a dishcloth by which I mean they should be floppy and it should be possible to wring them without them tearing. If you get your kimchi paste wrong you can always adjust it. Even if you subsequently discover your kimchi is too salty it will mellow as it ferments but should the kimchi fail to wilt properly it will not be easily rescued.

Many recipes gloss over the salting process and only this week I read Jennifer Barclay’s book, Meeting Mr Kim (Summersdale, 1988). The book is an interesting account of life in Korea and not a cookbook, but her kimchi recipe, and she is not alone, simply directed you to soak the cabbages in salted water. If as recipe does not explain the salting process in some detail, tread with caution!  I once used an entire big bag of table salt in which I soaked the cabbages for several days and they still failed to wilt effectively. The salting process is actually simple if you use a coarse type of salt  (such as sea salt or if in Korea  굵은 소금)) and sprinkled between the leaves is all that is required to wilt the leaves in several hours, depending on room temperature. When I make kimchi in the UK, I am forced to use cabbages which are almost white in colour, very stemmy, and which are too small to quarter but even these wilt if treated properly. After salting the washed and wet cabbages they can be placed in a bowl or sink, sprinkled with extra salt and a few cups of extra water and left. Immersing them in water isn’t necessary. In hot weather the wilting process is much quicker. You should notice the cabbages almost half in volume and soon become limp, floppy and wringable.

Bo-ssam (보쌈) uses a different type of kimchi

Like rice, traditionally, Koreans rinse the cabbage three times. I have learnt it is much better to rinse them thoroughly, perhaps removing too much salt but this can always be remedied later. However, if you use the correct ammount of salt and don’t sprinkle excess on, three rinses are adequate. You can feel where salt residue remains as the stems are slimy and you can remove these by simply rubbing your fingers over them.

Salty kimchi will mellow with fermentation, it is probably better for it to be not salty enough than too salty, especially given the concerns over salt and blood pressure. One hint Mangchi suggests is adding some thin slices of mooli (무) if it is overly salty.

A good kimchi paste will cling to the leaves like a sauce so it is prudent to drain the segments and even wring  water out and this will prevent your kimchi becoming watery as the cabbages ferment.

Pork kimchi stew (김치씸) – works just as well with mackerel

Plenty of recipes, online and in books, will guide you through making the paste but my all time favourite is Maangchi. Her website is enormous and her videos on Korean cooking are well presented. Here you will also find other ways to use kimchi as well as many other types of kimchi, cabbage and otherwise.

British friends who have since become lovers of kimchi often ask me how long it will keep. I tend to keep kimchi in the refrigerator in hot weather and somewhere cold, but not freezing, in winter. If you like kimchi fresh (newly made,) keeping it cool or cold will delay fermentation. If you like it sour then you can use a warm  place to speed up the process. I tend to juggle things in order to better control fermentation. I made my last batch of kimchi in November and the tub in which it is stored has stood on my balcony almost 6 months. I have now moved it to the bottom of my fridge to mellow indefinitely. I have used kimchi that was over 6 months old and which had white mold on the top but this washed off and the underlying cabbage was excellent as the basis for a stew.

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Skewered King Oyster Mushroom (새송이 산적)

Posted in My Recipes, vegetables by 노강호 on March 12, 2011

skewered king oyster mushrooms (새송이 산적)

Skewered mushrooms king oyster mushrooms (세송이) are delicious and easy to make. It’s a versatile side dish which can be adapted to suit vegetarians and lends itself to experimentation.

the king oyster is quite a meaty mushroom

You will need:

1. Around 4 king oyster mushrooms

2. Half a pound of beef or pork (but I guess it could be prawns or chicken)

3. 4 table spoons of soy sauce

4. 2 tablespoons of sugar

5. a couple of chopped spring onions

6. chopped garlic

7. sesame salt (or salt and some toasted sesame seeds)

8. black pepper

9. Skewers

wooden skewers (산적코지)

METHOD

1. Boil the mushrooms for a minute and then slice lengthwise about an eight of an inch thick.

2. Slice the meat the same way

3. Make a marinade of all the remaining ingredients and let mushrooms and meat stand in this for 2 hours.

4. Skewer meat and mushrooms alternately and broil them.

meat and marinade – add the mushrooms

skewered and ready to broil

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

It's Alive!

Posted in Comparative, Food and Drink, My Recipes, recipes for Kimchi, vegetables by 노강호 on January 21, 2011

Judging by the proliferation of cooking programs on British television, you might assume we are a nation which appreciates good food and enjoys cooking. Unfortunately, with the demise of many good quality butchers and fishmongers and the ascendancy of enormous supermarkets stocked full with frozen food and microwave meals, it becomes apparent that we are more interested in watching food being cooked and positively captivated if the chef is some contrived character who has enough family members in his show to almost make it a soap drama. The fact the supermarkets and brands they endorse represent the very opposite of  ‘back to basic cooking,’ is rarely acknowledged.

Over my holiday, I happened to watch a program on Korean cooking which bore all the hallmarks of cooking programs which really have nothing to do with cooking and everything to do with self promotion and the establishment of a dynasty. The entire program was filmed either in the presenter’s village or in her home and introduced us to most of her family and friends.

As for the cooking, anyone acquainted with Korean cuisine knows that kimchi, a form of spicy fermented cabbage, as well as numerous other kimchi, accompany a meal. This Korean cooking was as Korean as the standard Korean pizza is Italian. Not only was there no mention of kimchi, but some very odd items were used in some standard Korean meals. I’ve both eaten and cooked bulgogi many times but this version used beetroot, asparagus and English pear. Though you can probably buy these somewhere in Korea, I’ve never seen beetroot or asparagus. As for English pear, once again this is a fruit you do not see in Korea and yet Asian pear is not difficult to buy in the UK. The program further irritated me when it was eaten off individual plates with knives and forks and in the total absence of side dishes or a plate of assorted leaves in which to wrap the bulgogi. During the entire cooking process red chili powder and red pepper paste were absent.

With so little knowledge of Korean food in the UK, especially outside London and a few other areas, it is possible for chefs to concoct any food combination and call it Korean.

Meanwhile, here is a video from my November batch of kimchi in which I opened the lid to catch the contents in the middle of a very active bout of fermentation.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

I’m currently  on holiday and my usual posts will re- commence next week.

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Tagged with: ,

Interlude (6) The coolest chili -the ‘cucumber’ chili. 오이고추

Posted in Food and Drink, Interlude (Theme), Korean language, vegetables by 노강호 on November 15, 2010

Okay, this is a really tasty chili with absolutely minimal heat probably just a few steps up from the green paprika (green pepper). It is usually slightly lighter in colour than hotter chillies, long and fat and fairly juicy. Rather boring on its own, but instantly transformed if dipped in ssam-jang (쌈장).

the 'cucumber' chili (left) and hottest Korean chili (청량)

'cucumber chili' (오이고추) and bean paste (쌈장) - an excellent combination

Ssam-jang (쌈장) is widely available and is usually in a green container differentiating it from other pastes. It is is a great dip for otherwise boring ‘well-being’ snacks such as carrot or celery.

ssam-jang (쌈장)

As someone permanently struggling with Korean these are my notes on words and phrases I find useful and which are usually not in a dictionary.  Any amendments, recommendations or errors, please let me know.

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

It's Kimchi Time – November 2010

Posted in Diary notes, it's kimchi time, My Recipes, recipes for Kimchi, vegetables by 노강호 on November 12, 2010

Usually, around this time of year I make a new batch of kimchi. The last batch was made in May and  since August or thereabouts, I have occasionally had to wash mold from the top leaves, which has been excellent in kimchi-stew. However, I didn’t really enjoy it as a side-dish. To be honest, my May batch had a bad start as once again the first process, salting the leaves, didn’t go well. This time I  consulted a couple of grandmothers who recommended the coarsest salt. So, after finding two very tight, and heavy cabbages, at 6000 Won, (£3), I sprinkled the leaves with salt and rather than immerse them in water, just sprinkled a cup’s worth over the top. The cabbages took about 24 hours to completely flop but this might not be unusual as the temperature was quite cool, if not cold, in my kitchen.

tight and heavy

salting process

suitably limp

I was also extra careful making the paste and this time used twice as much of everything except the fish sauce which I reduced a little. I was also careful to wash the salt off the cabbages and let them stand in water for an hour as in the past they have remained salty.

ready to paste the leaves

The sauce was slightly sweeter than usual and the consistency much thicker which I think was the result of carefully draining the leaves and using double the ingredients stipulated in Maangchi’s recipe. I didn’t alter the recipe and simply made double the amount. A few friends suggested it needs some additional salt which is fine as too little can be remedied but too much can’t.

the finished product

Don’t forget, for a great recipe for making kimchi, visit Maangchi.


Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

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

Ersatz Kimchi in a State of Emergency

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Diary notes, vegetables by 노강호 on October 3, 2010

Kimchi-ism

I’m tempted to do some stealing! With an almost total absence of any police on the street I doubt I’d get caught. The only thing that puts me off is that being a waygukin, I stand out. It would only take one Korean to see me humping ‘the goods’ to my one room, for my visa to be relinquished.

Rooftop shopping? Either would fit in a carrier bag

Rooftop shopping? These require a trolley

I haven’t eaten cabbage kimchi in several days and I’ve noticed either a stark absence, or drastic reduction of any in restaurants. Korea without kimchi, unbelievable! You have to live here to understand the cultural and culinary significance caused by a cabbage shortage. You might find it amusing that a lack of cabbage can fuck a nation, especially when you come from  a country like Britain where once upon a time, when families practiced that barbaric ritual of eating meals together, children had to be forced to ‘eat their greens.’  While Kimchi is the national food of Korea and has almost iconic status, its deficiency is not the equivalent of Germany without bratwurst, or Britain without fish and chips, it deeply more devastating.  I would go for months without a bratty when I lived on Mainland Europe  and sauerkraut was something you ate occasionally.  Koreans eat kimchi with every meal and in some cases it is a core component of specific meals.  To understand the significance of a kimchi-less Korea, you have to envisage Britain without any form of cooking oil, or potatoes, the USA without hamburgers, or perhaps even a nation without petrol or alcohol! Whatever item you choose in an attempt to elicit empathy, it has to be something fundamental enough to strike at the very heart of a country.

Napa Cabbages October 2008

And of course, it isn’t just the Chinese (or Napa) cabbage that’s suffered a devastating season, cucumbers, lettuce and mooli (무), all of which are used in other forms of kimchi or in accompanying barbecues, are also in short supply. Two weeks ago, I bought a rather small cabbage for 5000 Won (£2.50) which is a massive increase on the hearty one I bought in January, costing 1000 Won (50 pence). Yesterday, in E-Mart, there were no cabbages at all  and the vegetable section looked somewhat deserted. And all at a time when cabbages should be one of the most prolific items being sold by street vendors.

President, Lee Myung-Bak’s, recent declaration that he will only eat kimchi made from the European type of cabbage (양배추), until the shortage abates, suggests the problem is a national emergency. However, before we join the rebellion or start lynching farmers, it is worth remembering there was a  temporary shortage last year and in 2007, when chili and cabbage suffered bad harvests, it cost me a small fortune to make a batch of kimchi.

My January batch of kimchi

Meanwhile, restaurants that rely on kimchi and other forms of lettuce and cabbage have had to reduce their portions and in some cases, rather than raise prices, are compensating customers by providing larger amounts of meat. As a meat guzzling waygukin, I’d much rather have less rabbit food and a larger platter of barbecued pork, especially as kimchi made from European cabbage is totally ersatz.

Cabbages being salted. October-November 2008

I’m out of fresh kimchi and intended making my winter batch this month and while I have kimchi in my ceramic pot, made in January, it is the ‘stagnant’ type best used in cooking.  So, do Koreans ever steal each others kimchi ? There are a number of pots on my roof top and indeed pots stand on most rooftops as well as in recesses and corners of buildings. I’m very tempted to pinch a pot, not because I need kimchi but because nicking kimchi is both outrageous and comical. A waygukin stealing a pot of someone’s homemade kimchi during a cabbage shortage smacks of pro-Korean-ism and a love powerful enough of driving you to theft could be construed as a crime of passion.

There might not be any kimchi in the supermarkets, but there's a feast of it on every rooftop.

Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Kimchi-ism

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Food and Drink, Quintesentially Korean, seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on August 31, 2010

It smells bad, it can taste revolting, and is a major cause of conflict in university accommodation kitchens worldwide, where the sharp smell oozing from refrigerators upsets non-Koreans. It hangs on your breath with greater offence and persistence than any French gastronomical delight. Garlic can certainly be rude but enhanced and enlivened by numerous chemical processes and suspend in cabbage water and the pungent juices of fermented anchovy, the power to offend becomes a chemical and biological capability.  Nothing is polite about it,  it is totally ‘in your face’ in its onslaught of your taste buds, nasal passages and doesn’t look too pleasant either. It lacks any refinement or subtlety and amongst ‘offensive’ foods ranks as a weapon of mass destruction. You wouldn’t gorge or binge on it, indeed I wouldn’t even call it delicious and I could certainly live without it. If I were to be isolated on a dessert island for a year it wouldn’t be on my list of essential items. And yet paradoxically,  it is one of the most exciting taste sensations in the world. If there is one food so aptly capable of defining a nation, so synonymous with a people, it is cabbage kimchi(배추 김치).

There are many types of kimchi, and of those types many variations, and of those variations many permutations depending on a range of factors. Kimchi is one of numerous  Korean, fermented foods, others including makkalli, bean paste (된장), and soy sauce (간장). Only when kimchiis old enough for the initial processes of fermentation to have ceased, will the  flavour be consistent. At all other times, you can’t eat the same kimchi twice as the taste is always in a state of transition. Canned and packeted kimchi  are available but these should only ever be eaten as a last resort. Canned kimchi, often from China, is especially disgusting!

Welcome to Korea!

Traditional fermented beans (메주)

The most popular type of kimchi, and the one most armed in terms of offensive capability, is cabbage kimchi (배추 김치). Cabbage is well known for its powers to unleash unpleasant odours once its fibers have traversed the intestinal tract and are approaching a transmuted reincarnation via the human Cloaca Maxima. With cabbage kimchi however, your digestive organs can take a break as most of the chemical process which release those aromas, have already been activated and are in a chemical flurry approximate to final stages of processing via the large intestine.  Indeed, I would go as far as suggesting that function of that plastic Tupperware tub or kimchi pot in which kimchi is stored upon being made, is  basically a portable large intestine containing the numerous biological processes.  In that Pandora’s box of mischief: the most infamous kiss-killer of all, garlic, is present in its most potent form, crushed! Added to this is minced ginger, a Korean type of chive (실파) and mooli (무) which while not individually notorious, collectively possess powers of repetition which help strengthen the garlic and intensify its potency. Even at this stage, a burp of this concoction is lethal. Added to this, is the cabbage which after having been submersed in salted water, is already chemically active.

Kkanari - fish sauce - the concentrated odour of a million sweaty feet

The addition of fish sauce, (액젓) famous across the Asia, which is another fermented product made from anchovy or kkanari (까나리 – sand lance), completes the recipe. Of all the noxious odours added to kimchi, anchovy or sand lance sauce is the most vile. I’ve often entertained myself by inviting guests to sniff an open bottle as I’m casually cooking, with a little encouragement such as: ‘smell this, it’s lovely,’ or, ‘this has got to be my most favourite smell.’ Usually, a good whiff will propel them back a few meters with as much force as would a couple of hundred volts of electricity.  Once amassed and fizzling away, the flavours and smells blend in a process which can last a considerable amount of time, depending on temperature.

Comparing the kimchi pot (김치독) or Tupperware tub to a colon is not an exaggeration. I have slept in the same room as as my gestating kimchi and in the first week of fermentation, gasses produced within the Tupperware colon would cause the lid to pop-off about once every twenty-four hours.  If this occurred at night, the escaped aroma was initially enough to wake me. I have since become quiet comfortable sleeping in the same room as fermenting kimchi and find the smell highly evocative – ironically, not evocative of life in Korea, but life back in the UK where living with friends necessitated containing kimchi smells to my bedroom and not the shared kitchen.

Kimchi encapsulates Korea at many levels. Many countries have a national food with which they are identified: Italy – pizza, Germany – sausages or sauerkraut (which is also fermented cabbage), France – smelly, soft cheeses, frog legs, snails and cordon-bleu cooking, England – fish and chips,  roast beef and tea, Scotland – shortbread and haggis, but few have the ability to represent their nation with such precision as does kimchi. While kimchi comes in blaze of spicy colour, the foods of other nations, delicious as they are, remain purely monochrome.

Kimchi is a pot-pourii of Korea, a culinary collage of so many integral Korean elements – garlic, ginger, Korean chili powder (고추 가루), mooli (무) and fish sauce. These ingredients are the basis of almost all Korean cooking and representative of so much of the peninsula’s farming. You can hardly step in a direction without seeing pots of chili, patches of mooli and even on the mountains sides I’ve seen small plots painstakingly hoed out of the rocky soil, blossoming with such vegetables. Local variation on the cabbage kimchirecipe, as well as banchan side dishes in general, and most other Korean foods, adds a further interesting dimension.  While many national foods are now factory produced, often resulting in grossly inferior products (shortbread is a good example), kimchi, even when sold in markets, is homemade and its production evokes a great sense of pride. Korean women, and even some men,  are proud of their kimchi making prowess and whenever a gift of kimchi is given, it should be respected.

The making of kimchi is very much determined by the seasons with particular kimchibeing made at certain times of year, and for cabbage kimchi, this is late Autumn to early winter.  One of my most memorable images of Korea was seeing an enormous stack of Chinese cabbage (배추) outside Shinoo Supermarket, in Song-So, swathed in wintry mist and beside which a couple of store workers huddled around a bonfire burning on the pavement. I’ve never see such a sight since.  And when it is time to make kimchi, members of the family or friends, sometimes communities,   females more than males, are brought together.

Kimchi pots (김치독) at Keimyung University

There is always a random element in kimchi production, something beyond the control of the ‘cook’, and  hence tasting the final product is always an exciting moment. Like making English tea, you can follow the recipe and time the brewing meticulously, but the production is influenced by factors beyond the recipe, it might be the temperature, the humidity or the quality of ingredients of that particular season. Part of the fun  involved in kimchi making is the pursuit of perfection in the light of random influences. And if the kimchi itself isn’t synonymous with Korea, the pots (김치독) in which it is traditionally stored, can be seen sitting in vacant corners, on rooftop and apartment verandas across the entire peninsula. The kimchi pot is as Korean as soju, mountain temples and the cawing of the magpie and their production an ancient and noble art. But the making of kimchihas also kept abreast of modern developments. Kimchi has traveled into space  and the kimchi refrigerator is now a popular sight in many Korean homes.

My kimchi 'colon'

Learning how to make kimchi and any of the extensive range of side dishes collectively known as banchan (반찬) and of which cabbage kimchi is the King, is difficult. In my area of Daegu are three small shops which produce homemade banchan but they staff don’t like being photographed or watched whilst working. My grandmother, the daughter of a Scottish baker, was just as defensive about her shortbread which was superior to any factory produced shortbreads.

Waygukins and Koreans alike will never grasp the potential of their smelly delicacy until they are able to eat and smell it in isolation, basically, outside of Korea. Like, garlic, the best defense from the offensive smell is to ingest it yourself and once you do that you no longer notice it. You can walk in and out of Koreans homes and their restaurants and never really smell kimchi and yet the whole nation reeks of it  and everywhere everyone chuffes out its pungent odours. The only reason you don’t smell it is partly because you have acclimatised to it and because you eat it.  I remember arriving at Kimpo International Airport after a holiday, and as I walked into the arrivals hall I suddenly noticed the smell of kimchibut no sooner had I noticed it, than it disappeared. But if you visit Korean friends in the UK, or they visit your house, the odour of kimchiand of garlic is very strong and even unpleasant. I often notice how Korean Air and Emirates, provide Korean meals and kimchi on flights into Seoul and wonder if this is to acclimatise passengers to the guff of garlic and kimchi, prior to landing.

The taste of kimchi has a bizarre appeal and every Korean has a liking for a particular type; for some it’s fresh kimchi in which the fermentation hasn’t really started, for others it’s the tangy bite of old kimchi which draws your tongue like cold tea or strong red wine. And it can be used in a multitude of ways: barbecued, added to stews, used for soup, put into pancakes, fried with rice, minced into hamburger patties, rinsed in water  and added to cold soups chilled with ice cubes. When the fermentation process has stopped, and kimchi is left standing,  sometimes for months, it is often attacked by a glueppy white mold which lays over the uppermost leaves. At this stage the kimchi is at its  sourest and is ideal for cooking kimchi stew (김치찌개), the mold simply being washed off. I don’t think any westerner truly enjoys kimchi first time, but the more we  familiarise ourselves with its guises, idiosyncrasies and long and ancient history, the more entrenched our love affair with it becomes and the more we defend it to those barbarians who claim it stinks or tastes revolting!

Kimchi Stew

Twisting and weaving into Korea’s distant past, like one of the gnarled and knotted roots on the mountains, Kimchi, like its people, has endured and adapted.  Originally it wouldn’t have contained chili, this being an addition sometime after 1500, when the chili plant arrived in Korea.  Of all the foods capable of representing a nation, kimchi is the most personal, the most intimate  and the most capable of embodying Korea. It transcends simply being a product of the soil, its production etches out a seasonal calendar, it brings families and communities together,  it provides both national and regional identity with space for a little individual flare, and at tables across the country people bond as individual batches are critiqued, compared and celebrated. Even the frosty bite of winter and the hot balmy days of hanyorum (high summer) have a role to play in determining the flavour. In the past, Koreans believed that the foods that suited individuals best were the ones grown in the soil in which their ancestors had both toiled and been buried. It was the ‘fruits’ of the soil which powered families across the generations. When companies produce canned kimchi, or even packeted kimchi, they grossly miss the mark because not only is it supposed to  be alive and active, but it has to be Korean. Dead kimchi, kimchi castrated of its chemical process is not kimchi and indeed Koreans have taken foreign kimchi producers to international court over such issues. You can eat French brie or Camembert made in Spain and probably not notice a difference, but kimchi that is dead or not even from Korea, is simply not kimchi.

Useful Resources:

Kimchi in Wikipedia

Beyond the Blog – Maangchi: Queen of Korean Cooking

Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Feeling a little Dicky

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Food and Drink, vegetables by 노강호 on July 12, 2010

작은 고추가 맵다! Big things come in small packages

I haven’t been to the bathhouse lately as I’ve been feeling a bit dicky after a mild touch of food poisoning and I’ve been giving some thought to the topic of dicks. It’s the fault of the GS 25 convenience store near my one room which has a tendency to hire attractive students who lure me into their domain partly because of the motto worn on the back of their jackets, fresh, friendly, fun, but also because I usually fancy something hot before bed. The latest boy also wears a pink badge which says, ‘I love you.’ They should pay him extra money to wear the jacket and badge. Those kids are crappily paid, something like 4000 Won (£2) an hour, and I’m aware I could probably lure them with some extra won, if I was in some seedy dump like Tangier or Tijuana,  but no one has any free time here and besides, vibrant economies tend to put a damper on the extremes driven to by financial  desperation.

Small and hot

Clacton on Sea in Essex, UK! Now there’s a place as seedy as dirt holes like Tangier or Tijuana. You don’t have to travel with a passport to find economic, intellectual and cultural poverty if you’re British, Clacton provides it all. I’ve taught in most of the senior schools in ‘Clacky,’ an experience enough to terminate any interest in teaching as a career. Here’s a snippet from a diary entry for February 2000.

I don’t enjoy my contract day as I feel responsible for the classes. It’s much more fun when I just do cover. It was an okay day but the lads in my last class, Year 10, bottom set business studies (my pet hate) spent most of the time messing around. There were only four of them and I’m sure a couple of them are prostitutes – Clacton is that sort of place and I believe that the Macdonalds in the town center is where you pick them up. The boys sit with their knees wide apart, one keeps tugging at his dick and their conversation is usually about sex.

‘Do you fancy ‘him,’ Paul?’ asked one boy hitching his head to indicate me.

‘If he’s got the money.’ Later, Paul asked me to sign his report. ‘Go on, Sir, give me a good one. Just a few good comments to keep my parents off my back.  I’ll do anything you want.’ I looked at him and raised my eyebrows. ‘Even that,’ he replied. A few weeks ago I over heard this boy say he’d like to be a male prostitute. His friend asked if he’d do it with men. He told him he’d do it with anybody as long as he got paid.

I could probably pick up a local faecalapod in Clacky with as much ease as you could in Tangier,  except I’m not into dirt or STI’s and the hottest thing I’m going to pick up in GS25  in Song-So is a cup of hot chocolate. The new boy is skinny and he reminds me of a former student. Because of centuries of genetic isolation, Koreans tend to look much more like each other than we mongrel wayukins. Even beyond the black hair and dark eyes, I tend to note similarities in a passing stranger with the features of old friends or former students.  I don’t know if there been any research done on the subject but sometimes I think there must be less than 15 basic appearances from which most Koreans slightly deviate.

Phrenology

The skinny lad won’t last long, the students in the store tend to change about every three months. It must be a frigging bore of a job working through the night and I’ve no idea what’s on their pads ‘n’ pods but some of them seem to spend the whole evening on them and will instantly discard them as they jump to attention, when you walk into the store. Some read books but even then there is usually a pad or pod in sight.

'Peter Peppers' or 'Chilli Willies' - though they may be look-a-likes (Yonhap News)

And of course, it’s chilli season. Talking of willies, phallic shaped chillies are probably a freak of nature in Korea but in Louisiana and Texas, USA, a type of chilli, the ‘Peter Pepper’ or ‘Chilly Willy,’ is renowned for producing  consistently cheeky chillies. The website ‘Chilli Willy®‘ markets the appropriate seeds, provides growing tips and hosts a regular photo competition. Do they have the same kick? I’ve no idea but in Korea it’s a well-known idiom that the smallest chillies are the fiercest (작은 고추가 맵다).  Globally however, Korean chillies are far from the hottest or smallest. For a wealth of information on the world of the hottest chillies visit: http://www.scottrobertsweb.com/scoville-scale.php

A genuine 'Chilli Willi®'

Creative Commons License
© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Garlic (마늘)

Posted in herbs and 'woods', seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on June 26, 2010

You can smell the garlic wafting on the air before you see it.

Sunday afternoon street vendors

Sunday afternoon

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Tagged with: ,