Elwood 5566

Bo-ssam (보쌈)

Posted in Quintesentially Korean by 노강호 on August 3, 2010


Bo-ssam is one of my favourite Korean dishes. It consists of slices of steamed pork wrapped in a vegetable leaf. ‘Ssam’ (쌈) refers to the practice of wrapping food in leaves, laver bread (김) or thinly sliced mooli, etc. This style of eating is popular with sam-kyeop-sal and bulgogi as well as raw fish or meat. A wide variety of leaves are used – chard, beetroot, sesame, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, steamed Chinese cabbage, steamed western cabbage, and numerous others.

Various leaves

filling a leaf (쌈)

Bo-ssam pork is often shoulder, loin or belly pork and the recipes vary greatly. Often a large number of ingredients are used including, beer. The pork has a smooth, almost creamy taste and is accompanied with sweet kimchi – often containing oyster,  ssamjang paste, sliced raw garlic, salted shrimp, and an assortment of other side dishes.

The main components of bo-ssam


Many restaurants serve Bo-ssam for one person and you can assume this if the price is around 6000 Won.

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© Nick Elwood 2010. This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Here Today Gone Tomorrow

Posted in Daegu, Diary notes by 노강호 on July 22, 2010

It was there last week because I walked right past it and decided I should eat lunch there sometime. I particularly like bo-ssam (보쌈) and last time I ate in this restaurant one of the side dishes was grilled mackerel pike. (공치)However, the restaurant has disappeared and is now a bar. Korean is a state of transition and businesses come and go with rapidity.

Three days previously this was a 'coffee and bun' shop. It is directly opposite Mr Big and Davici and opened a week before they did

I’m in a part of town I rarely visit; it’s over the crossroad near my one room, the dividing line between my world and what as well might be another city. Suddenly, I recognise where I am having walked onto a street from a direction in which I’d never previously come. For a moment I’m transported back 10 years. First, I recognise a shop that used to be the fast food restaurant Popeyes. It mutated into a stationery store within months of my arrival and is now a boutique. And just there was the shop where I bought a second-hand piano. Now it’s a travel agent. This reminds me of the shop where I bought my flight back to the UK after my first visit and I turn my head to locate it – it too has gone. And next to the piano shop was a small covered market where on a hot a muggy afternoon I remember drinking two glasses of freshly squeezed kiwi juice. The entire market has gone.

Davici Opticians took 10 days to transform

In the area around my ‘one-room,’ only a few businesses  and even people remain from ten years ago. The big corporate businesses,  still stand but the small businesses have changed hands sometimes on numerous occasions. I’ve taught hundred of kids in this area. I can remember many of their names and still recall some faces. Their English names are easy to remember as there was a trend back then for kids to give themselves quite bizarre names – Silver, Gold, Cow, Knife, Cat, etc. However, I have only passed two ex-students who recognised me.

Mr Big and Davici both opened in the same week. Mr Big was formerly a clothing store that took less than 10 days to mutate

In less than 65 paces from my front door I can see ‘Mr Big,’ ‘ Davici’ the opticians and the beauticians, ‘Beautyplex.’ The three business are directly opposite each other and less than 10 days all three replaced former businesses and reappeared in new guises. That was earlier this year and since then another 2 business have either  relocated or appeared in the same block.

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© Nick Elwood 2010.This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Monday Market: Sesame Leaf (갰잎) Perilla Frutescens

Posted in plants and trees, Quintesentially Korean, seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on May 18, 2010

A field of sesame. (갰잎) Perilla Frutescens. (Ch'eonan) September.

I used to pass a field of sesame everyday on my way to school in Ch’eonan (천안). In the late summer, you could always smell the scent in the air especially in the muggy weather or when it was raining. The scent of sesame is quintessentially Korean. I feel in love with sesame leaves the first time I ate them though I often hear wayguks (meant endearingly), say they don’t like them. Being a fat twat, I eat most things. Indeed, after my first visit to Korea I grew sesame in my garden for a couple of years. Yes, they have a distinct taste and smell both more pronounced than the other types of leaves used to ‘parcel’ the components of a Korean barbecue. In addition, their texture, slightly furry and definitely more ‘leafy’ than lettuce,  distinguishes them.

Sesame leaves with boiled pork. (보쌈)

Sesame, in all its forms, as a vegetable, kimchi, as seeds, oil and powder are an essential part of Korean cooking. The leaves are available throughout the year in portions reflecting the weather of that particular growing year. Late summer is when they are most abundant and at their largest in size, approximately the span of a large, adult hand.

Washed leaves of sesame

The leaves can also be made into a kimchi and pickled though I find the process laborious. In supermarkets they are often sold washed in bags, or more traditionally, as in the street markets, in small bundles, folded in half and bound with a piece of twine. While not particularly tasty on their own, they are excellent when used as a wrap – provided of course, you like them in the first place. My favourite parcel – meat of some kind, a little boiled rice, raw garlic and cabbage kimchi or bean paste – delicious!