Food: Korea!

Food: Korea!

Hello from the Land of the Morning Calm!

We made it here safe and sound. My kids were actually REALLY good on the plane. Thank goodness for personal movie players, games, and grandparents. I am traveling alone on the way home, and I am a little worried…eek! But I’m going to pray really hard that Joshy sleeps at least half the way.

We’ve been here for about a week now and it’s been so much fun!

I’m not cooking over here, but thought I’d share some food that I’ve been eating! I think I’ve already gained a few pounds. Going to have to work out just so I can eat more!

So we start at the Asiana Lounge at LAX. You could tell I was a newbie lounger because I was the only one taking pictures of the spread.:) But I had to document it! Fresh fruit, cheese, sandwiches, Kimchi fried rice, butternut squash soup, cup ramen, coffee, etc!! It was awesome!! Thanks to my parents who have Diamond Platinum status on Asiana.:)

I am so sad, but I forgot to take pictures of my first real “Korean” food here in Korea. It’s a small hole-in-the-wall shop that I used to frequent from back in my high school days!! Red hot ddukboki with vermicelli noodles, kimbap, rice cake dumpling soup, and hot stone bibimbap! YUMMY! I will remember to take pictures next time. I was too engrossed in my food this first time.:)

We spent the first week at sister in law’s place, right by the Han River! My sister is the best host ever and she took us all over Seoul.

Kids had a blast at Lotte World and Pororo Park.

We also went to Cheonggyecheon, the “urban renewal project” that transformed a dirty stream into a nature escape in the middle of busy Seoul city life! I held onto my Joshie so tight. Knowing him, he would jump right into the water. Hence, he is not in this picture with my daughter, niece, and sis-in-law.

To cool off from our walk along Cheonggyechon, we mosied on over to Passion 5, a three-story dessert cafe! First floor, Haute Tea Shop with fancy schmancy tea and food; Second floor- main dessert floor packed with gelato, savory pastries, macaroons, cookies, and delicious cakes!! Third floor is the cafe where you can enjoy the abundance of sugar and sweets. No pictures allowed on the dessert floor, but here’s a glimpse into the decor and menu…

Three-story Dessert Cafe: Tried their Gelato, Strawberry Tiramisu, Grape-ade…all YUMMY!

Strawberry Tiramisu was fluffy, not too sweet, with just the right amount of everything. Gelato was amazing! Grapefruit, Grape, Strawberry- they all tasted so tangy, fresh- as if I was biting into a piece of real fruit.  The drink is a Grape-ade. Pureed grape, topped with sparkling water and grape sorbet.  All so yummy! I want to try the other items on their menu…

After all this Korean food, we had a craving for Mexican food, so my brother-in-law made a taco run for us. 

Vatos Tacos in Itaewon. The concept is much like Kogi truck. Kalbi tacos, Fish tacos, Kimchi Carnitas Fries!!!  Held me over for the time being, but come on now! I am a Socal girl. I need me the real deal- El Taurino and Taqueria de Anda!! 🙂 I’ll have to wait a month for it…

Now we are back home at my parents’ house, and the eating hasn’t stopped!

My mom’s home-cooked meal: Bean paste soup, Bossam(mom’s specialty), Eggplant, Perilla Leaf(깻잎), cucumber side dishes!

Since I have no Target here, I turn to my Korean equivalent- E-mart! It’s got everything you need from groceries to home supplies, clothes to beauty products. They even have an Odeng cart!

These carts are usually found on the streets of Korea and people just stop for a quick snack.  It’s run on an honor system- you just pick out which odeng stick(s) you want to eat and pay later.  The odeng soup from these carts is SOOO good, so you have to make sure to scoop out a cup of it.  There is a soy sauce for dipping, and back in the day, it used to be a communal bowl. Gross!!! But now, they have come up with spray bottles, and even automatic dispensers for a more sanitary Odeng experience.:) The one I am eating is odeng that has been cooked in ddukboki sauce. OMG so good! The price per Odeng stick: 500 Won, or 43.75 cents, for regular Odeng stick, 600 Won for the spicy one or 53 cents! I wish we had this kind of fast food in LA…

Whew, this is a long post- hang with me.

Grand finale!

Duck roasted in clay and sulfur. Don’t ask me how that works, because I asked the same thing and got no answer.:) Pictures don’t do it justice, but it was quite tasty! You dip each piece of duck in a special sauce and then wrap it with the circle radish, green Chwinamul, and marinated peppers. The rice stuffed inside the duck is really good- packed with healthy grains!

I love Kabocha squash already and they baked that yummy rice in it too!!

The last course was Soo Jae Bi ( dough flakes) cooked in a perilla seed soup.

Duhl-gae or perilla seeds is often used with duck in Korea. I think it helps with balancing some of the gamey-ness. Duck is the ultimate healthy food in Korea. So though my stomach was sooo full, felt good knowing that I packed it with healthy food.

Gosh, that’s only one week of food! Looking forward to four more weeks of this goodness..

Stay tuned!!


P.S. Husband, we miss you!:) Wish you were here with us.. have a safe flight back from down under!

Grocery Shopping: Fresh & Easy picks

Grocery Shopping: Fresh & Easy picks

I still haven’t found the one stop shop for all my grocery needs.  Cooking Korean food makes it harder to shop from one market, because I definitely need to go there for all my “Korean” ingredients, but not necessarily for all my “American” goods such as milk, OJ, oatmeal etc.  If I really boil it down, I need to go to these markets for these items:

Korean market- kimchi, bahn-chan (Korean side dishes), vegetables like the leek used here, or red pepper paste, tofu, all things Asian, Korean.

Costco- strawberries, blackberries, blueberries ( my kids are berry monsters), eggs, chicken nuggets, frozen berries for smoothies, bananas, frozen fish ( Tilapia filet-though its farmed, so I stopped buying it for now)

Trader Joe’s used to be on this list, but since it’s so far away in comparison to these other markets, I tend to not go there. Instead, I found my version of Trader Joe’s- Fresh & Easy!

At first, I was quite doubtful of this place because the market seemed too small. I didn’t like look and feel of the aisles, the product placement, etc.  However, I decided to give it a second chance out of convenience- the store is two minutes from my home. I soon discovered some of my must-haves from F&E that I keep going back for.

1. Fresh squeezed OJ- YUMMY! I love fresh-squeezed orange juice. Yes, it’s a bit pricier than the normal “not from concentrate” OJ, but sometimes, we go for this bottle because it’s just so good.

2. Honey Greek-Style Yogurt F&E brand: OMG- can you say DELISH!  Not a big fan of yogurt. I feed my kids plenty of it, but I never eat it because I don’t like that “milky” taste. I don’t drink milk either. But this one, I purposely drive to F&E just to get these bad boys.  I love greek-style yogurt to begin with, but this one is extra creamy. The honey is not too overpowering, but just sweet enough to linger on your palette after each bite. Seriously, you have to try it to know what I’m talking about. We eat the Strawberry and Blueberry ones too, but my favorite is the honey.

3. Oatmeal: Here I only had this box left, but usually we get the Omega-3 Oatmeal that has omega 3, flaxseed and other healthy grains in it. It comes in maple brown sugar, blueberry, cranberry. The regular Apple Cinnamon oatmeal pictured here also has flaxseed.  I wish it didn’t have as much sugar, but I love the fluffy texture of the oatmeal even with just one minute in the microwave.  My kids eat this almost every other day and both finish the whole bowl.  You know it’s good if my kids finish it.:)

4. Red Velvet Cake: Just discovered this one because a dear friend brought it over. F&E has its own in-house bakery and imports items from local bakeries. This red velvet cake is SO good. The cream cheese icing is not too cheesy, not too sweet and the cake is super moist. Love love love it. Can’t have just one piece.

5.  Organic meats: I like buying my meats here too because it’s priced pretty well and I can buy organic.

They also have this whole line of snacks, ready-made foods, etc for kids called “Goodness.” I’m a sucker for good packaging, so I always pick up something from that line.

F&E is a good combination of a normal grocery store and natural food store.  They carry common household products too, though I don’t buy mine there. Overall, I find F&E truly Fresh and Easy..haha good name.

By the way, fun fact: The store is a subsidiary of Tesco, the world’s third largest retailer. They are based in Cheshunt, England!  I like weird facts like that:)

Happy Shopping!

Korean Food Recipe: Military Base Soup (부대찌개)

Korean Food Recipe: Military Base Soup (부대찌개)

Military Base Soup is quite a literal translation. Apparently, the story behind this soup takes place during the Korean War.  The soldiers had nothing to eat but the leftovers from the American military base, which were items such as ground beef, hot dogs, cheese, etc.  To adapt these ingredients to the Korean palate, the soldiers added them to kimchi and red pepper powder to get Bu-Dae Jjigae.

The key to this is having the right base ( no pun intended), which is chicken stock. I use chicken stock left-over from this previous recipe post: Here

The ingredients you need:

6 cups of chicken stock

1 package of ground beef ( the leaner the better)

1 package of hot dogs ( these will be sliced into small pieces so use to your liking)

1 package of ramen noodles ( any brand will do. no sauce will be used. 1 bag will feed 2 people)

3 cups of chopped kimchi with juices squeezed out

4 tablespoons of red pepper powder ( add more depending on how spicy you want it)

3 tablespoons of minced garlic

1 slice of American cheese (optional- and any kind of cheese works, but the processed kind melts better:) )



1. Bring chicken stock to a boil.

2. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and boil at medium heat for 15-20 min. Season with salt and pepper.  If it’s missing some kick, add more red pepper powder or even mix in a little ramen powder.

4. Boil ramen. ( You can either directly cook in soup, or cook separately in just hot water. Cook al dente:) )

5.  Add cooked ramen to soup if not already in it.

6.  Serve and enjoy with hot white rice!


You should be sweating bullets and your nose should be running as you eat this. Koreans love their soups SPICY!  But it is so delish!!

Hope you try it soon! Let me know how it goes!