Elwood 5566

A Sunday Stroll in the Rose Park

Posted in Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on May 29, 2012

Rose Parks are a regular feature in Korean cities and Daegu has several one of which is close to my one-room. From mid-spring right through until the brink of winter, the park is a mass of incredible colours and heady with the scent of roses and fresh wood-chippings.

with Warayoung Mountain as a backdrop

the strange thing held by the boy is a donut on a stick

looking towards the city

‘한빛마을’ is the apartment ‘village’ where my Kumdo school is located

wood-chip and roses

 

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Magnolia – 2012

Posted in Nature, Photo diary, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on May 6, 2012

One of the first indicators that spring has arrived. I actually took these photos on April 11th but a bad flu delayed my posting them. The magnolia (목련) is one of my favourites and these examples were nestled against a traditional Korean house.

First signs of spring from the magnolia

a brief beauty – 24 hours later and the petals had fallen

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Lion’s Mane Mushroom – Monday Market (노루궁뎅이 버섯)

Posted in Food and Drink, Monday Market (Theme), plants and trees by 노강호 on February 29, 2012

the impressive Lion's Mane Mushroom - aka Pom Pom Mushroom

The strange shape of this mushroom, which I’ve only seen once, immediately attracted my attention though the ones I bought are nothing as spectacular as ones that can be found in the wild. The Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, is also known as the Bearded Tooth Mushroom, Satyr’s Beard, Bearded Hedgehog Mushroom and the Pom Pom Mushroom. In the more spectacular examples, ‘pom pom, is an apt comparison.

spongy

The size of this mushroom varies from that of a golf ball to not much less than a regular football and its natural habitat is on the side of trees. The mushroom is particularly prized when small as it has a seafood texture and taste and is sometimes compared with lobster. The mushroom has a long history of medicinal use in the Orient and is currently of interest in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

and watery

I had no idea what to expect or the best way to cook them so I simply fried slices in sesame oil. I was surprised by their weight as they are are heavier than they look and neither are they solid having substantial ‘air pockets’ inside. Indeed, in terms of cutting and feel, they are both spongy and watery. I didn’t find their taste particularly memorable though they were extremely succulent but because this was a first experience, I didn’t what to expect. Now I know a little about them, I’d like to try them again. However, currently, they are more expensive than lobster. Two, each between the size of a golf ball and tennis ball, cost 2700W (about £1.50); my last lobster cost 6500W (£3.25).

Here is a Youtube video by Don King,  a mushroom hunter…

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Autumn Fruits on Winter Trees

Posted in Art, Nature, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on January 15, 2012

A persimmon tree in snow. (Geumsansa Temple, Gimje, Jeollabuk-do. Source – KTO)

I was recently out of the city, in Jeollanam-do, on a wintry coastline that was especially decorated with both persimmon and ginkgo trees. I’ve written numerous posts focusing on one aspect or another of persimmons and have intended over two years to write a post dedicated to the ginkgo. Seeing the ginkgo (은행) and persimmon (감) in a winter setting, when void of leaves yet still bearing their autumn fruit, evoked images of the Korean and possibly Japanese and Chinese, traditional paintings I’d seen over the years but never really appreciated. A persimmon in the depth of winter which still carries its bright orange flames of fruit, especially against a cold and bleak backdrop, is a beautiful sight. The ginkgo, though perhaps not as noticeable, nonetheless has the capacity to intrigue us with it busy array of nuts. The Ginkgo is an amazing tree which can grow to a considerable size and in autumn, with its bright yellow foliage, it is a wonderful sight.   Then there is the schizandra tree (오미자), the bright red berries of which are current feature in markets.

‘Persimmons’ by Nam Jun.

winter persimmons – unknown

a large ginkgo in summer

An autumn ginkgo

winter ginkgo

a schizandra tree in winter (오미자)

Korean traditional art

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A Feast of Spring

Posted in Photo diary, plants and trees by 노강호 on April 19, 2011

the impressive magnolia (목련)

spring in Daegu

against the sky

forsythia gone crazy (개나리)

cherry blossom

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Would You Believe it – Mushroom Wine!

Posted in plants and trees by 노강호 on February 21, 2011

traditional pine mushroom wine (송이주)

Traditional mushroom wine might not sound very appealing but at less than 2000 Won (£1) a bottle, it’s worth a whirl. Actually, over the past three months I’ve been meaning to write this post, the bottles I’ve bought to photograph and sample, I’ve ended up drinking which is testament to the fact it can’t be that bad, especially considering I’m not much of a drinker.

pine mushroom emerging from under a bed of pine duff

The aroma is a combination of wine with a lurking invisible mushroom, which is pretty much what you might expect. Developing a taste for this wine probably lies in forgetting the main ingredient is mushroom as pondering on the taste can only evoke references to moldy bread and mushroom soup none of which do the drink any justice. Once you can put such associations aside, it develops its own appeal. At  13%  alcohol content, it is comparable to stronger European wines  but is sweet, though not excessively, rather than dry. I am not a wine connoisseur, and suspect a true wine buff might find it revolting but  it seems to grow on you without requiring you to be pissed in order to do so.

‘song-i-ju’

I don’t know if there are many types of Korean mushroom wine, as most places I have tried only have pine mushroom wine (송이 버섯). The pine mushroom, known is Japan where it is prized as the matsutake (tricholoma matsutake) is fairly common in Korea and grows under duff  in pine forests though the mushroom has symbiotic relationships with various other species of tree.

an interesting variation

The company Yangyang Minsok Doga, make an interesting variation using the pine mushroom and ‘deep sea water’ though the bottle looks more like a mineral water and I’m not sure what comprises ‘deep sea water.’

I’ve also discovered a splash or two makes an excellent addition to kalbi-tang (rib soup) and am wondering what other cooking uses I can put it to: sauteing meat or used as base to boil mussels?

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Novelty Wine Recipes

Monday Market – King Oyster Mushroom – 새송이 버섯

Posted in plants and trees, Technology, video clips by 노강호 on February 10, 2011

oyster mushrooms growing wild – difficult to find, easy to cultivate

In Britain, we tend to have both mushrooms and toadstools. ‘Toadstools’ is a term, though not exclusive in its use, to describe those cap bearing ‘mushrooms’ which are inedible or poisonous. Unfortunately, many toadstools are indeed edible and there are a number of examples I am competent enough to pick and eat. One of my favourites, which grows and is eaten in Korea, is the parasol mushroom (갓 버섯 – lepioptera procera). In England, this wonderful mushroom is prolific but few people pick it and it is unavailable in shops.

young parasol mushroom – unmistakable

Koreans, like many other European countries, are much more adventurous in their culinary and medicinal use of fungi and a wide range of exotic mushrooms are available. The king oyster  mushroom (새송이 버섯 – pleurotus eryngii) is common  in markets and supermarkets and is also known in Britain as the king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom. In Korea it is a common ingredient in stews and a favourite skewered between meat and onion. Though not particularly flavoursome, when cooked it has a meaty, abalone-like texture. Though difficult to find, as they often grow under forest ‘debris,’ they are easy to cultivate.

an oyster mushroom farm

Baby oysters are excellent in soups and stew and freeze easily

Korea is one of the leading producers of  the king oyster mushroom and grown in temperature controlled environments with air cleaning, water de-ionizing and automated systems,  farming is high-tech.  One of the most successful producers is Kim Geum-hee who now owns six high-tech farms producing over 5 tons of mushroom daily.

Kim Geum-hee a pioneer in the art of mushroom farming

Kim Geum-hee is an adorable character and one of Korea’s outstanding agriculturalists. I fell in love with her personality after just one video  partly because the added translations are a little ‘studenty’ but ironically enhance the videos imbuing  them with an enchanting cuteness.

meaty

“Photo by Catie Baumer Schwalb, pitchforkdiaries.com, used with permission.”

The videos about her success are interesting and well worth watching. ‘Kim Geum-hee ‘had a dream about mushroom,’ and later, ‘after graduating fell in love with mushroom.’ Oh, dear, I have bad thoughts.  When I see a room full of cap-type mushrooms I can’t help being reminded of penises. I’m sure many other westerners would have the same response and besides, the stinkhorn’s botanical name is phallus impudicus and before it  was biological classified it was known as, ‘fungus virilis penis effige‘ ( Gerard, 1597).  It’s not just me! You can poke a Korean in the eye with even the most phallic of fungi, of which there are a number of amazing varieties, and not the slightest link will be made to a penis. To Koreans that offensive fungi is simply a mushroom!

There are some excellent ways to use the king oyster mushroom:

Pitchfork Diaries

Ptitchef

Vegan and Korean

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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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Magic Mushrooms – The Mantle Mushroom (망태 버섯)

Posted in plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on December 17, 2010

I rarely go anywhere without my camera and could guarantee that when it wasn’t in my bag I’d be confronted with something that needed capturing. Needles to say, last week, camera-less and in the mountains such an incident occurred. I’m fascinated by mushrooms and toadstools and back home in the UK have learnt to identify a number of interesting varieties with enough precision that I am happy foraging and eating the edible ones. My favourites are probably the Parasol Mushroom (큰갓 버섯), Shaggy Ink Cap and Puff Ball. I’ve seen Parasol Mushrooms (큰갓 버섯) several times in Korean mountains but never Puff Balls. I’ve never seen any of these mushrooms in markets but know the Parasol Mushroom is eaten as it is listed in one of my Korean recipe books.

 

Shaggy Ink Cap

 

emerging Parasol Mushrooms (큰갓 버섯)

 

Although I’ve seen numerous varieties of stinkhorn, only ever in northern Germany, I have never seen any of the netted versions and do not think such types grow in the UK. When I caught a glimpse of vivid yellow in the undergrowth and discovered four pristine Netted (or Mantle) Stinkhorns (망태 버섯), I cursed myself for having no camera. Make no mistake about it!  Stinkhorn mushrooms, even though edible, have a strong and rotting stench that will easily make you retch. Their purpose is to lure flies to that  obscene helmet where they will trudge about picking up spores on their feet which they subsequently help disseminate.

 

The Common Stinkhorn (as found in Europe)

 

The Korean ‘mang tae’ mushroom is somewhat Gothic when cloaked in its bizzare mantle.

 

A Korean Mantle Mushroom (망태 버섯) Click photo for source

 

totally bizarre (click photo for source)

 

encountering this mushroom was a magical experience (click photo for source)

 

massed mantles (click photo for source)

 

Acknowledgments –  the source of all photos can be traced by clicking on the actual photos.

 

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Bathhouse Basics (10): The Hinoki Tang (히노끼탕)

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouse Basics, plants and trees by 노강호 on December 1, 2010

the Hinoki conifer in Japan

All bathhouses have their own individual character which is why it is always good to be familiar with a range of establishments that you can use when you feel the need. Some places are more suited to nursing a hangover or the flu while others offer particular experiences, perhaps an ice-room which is particularly welcome in summer or has water therapy pool should you have back or neck ache, etc. And the temperatures of various pools tend to differ between establishments. Temperatures can differ in cold pools between one bathhouse and another though I am not sure whether or not this is by design or coincidence.  There is an excitement in visiting a new bathhouse in the anticipation of what will be experienced. I have only visited one bathhouse that I never felt compelled to return to and indeed have found that most bathhouses offer something unique.

The scent of nature lingers in bathhouses; fragrances such as mugwort, ginseng, pine, rose, or lavender drift over the e-bente-tangs (이벤트탕) and saunas are often rich in the primeval aroma. One of my local bathhouses articulates its atmosphere by the subtle use of rock, wood and pine and one of its central features is the Japanese hinoki tang (히노끼탕). Initially, I found this pool quite boring. A wooden bath is hardly very motivating especially as I like temperatures at the extreme rather than simply comfortable and approaching body temperature. But once again, as with so many aspects of bathhouse culture, something calls you back and I’m beginning to realise the bath’s appeal lies both the pools natural materials  and its texture, which at first is quite strange.

Hinoki (편백) cypress forest in Korea

The hinoki tang, is a Japanese style bath and is made from the conifer, Chamaecyparis and in particular the Chamaecyparis Obtusa. The tree is also known as the Japanese Cypress, Hinoki Cypress or simply, Hinoki, (편백나무) and are common throughout Asia and especially Japan and Korea. The wood, hard and almost white in colour, has been traditionally used for buildings, a good example being Osaka Castle, in Japan but also has uses in crafting beds, floors and even the wooden pillow, mok ch’im (목침)  used in bathhouses.

The Impressive Osaka Castle, built from the hinoki cypress

hinoki cypress wood

The first time you bathe in a wooden bath is quite strange. Most of us have spent our entire lives bathing in baths or pools made from enamel or some form of porcelain and the feel of wood against the skin is odd especially as it has a slightly slimy texture. However, in the right atmosphere, a wooden pool enhances a bathing experience, helps produce a more natural ambiance and certainly feels pleasant against the skin.

A hinoki tang in the full traditional Japanese style, with a  roof  and a constant flow of water into the pool by way of what looks like a wooden box,  is a pleasing sight.

hinoki tang with a traditional ‘roof’

a tranquil hinoki tang situated outside and in a beautiful setting

an hinoki tang with the addition of a roof, a frequent feature based on the traditional Japanese model

a bathhouse hinoki-tang

the same hinoki-tang as above, but empty

the texture and smell of the wood enhances the experience

who needs a partner to spoil the ambiance. The beauty of an hinoki-tang in a truly awesome setting

The Hwang-So Sauna in Song-So, Daegu, has a hinoki tang (히노끼탕).

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