Saturday, April 14, 2012

it's not all about dramas and music

My original obsession with dramas led to my obsession with K-Pop.  And somewhere in between, a growing interest in the people and culture of Korea as well.  This is the part of my "journey" that the Husband has appreciated and encouraged the most.  You see, he's a foodie kind of guy.  He loves to explore all different kinds of cuisines.  I, on the other hand, typically don't.  I'm not very adventurous in my food choices.  However, as I have grown interested in Korean culture, some of that discovery has involved food.  Sadly, I don't live in an area that has a lot of decent Korean restaurants to choose from.  Last summer though, my family and I visited Orange County, CA, which I understand does have quite a few decent Korean restaurants.  Coincidentally enough, one happened to be right next door to our hotel.  The Husband was very eager to try, and thanks to my "hobby" I was easier to convince than I would normally be.  I wasn't brave enough to actually venture out and try it myself (I know, I know - wuss.  I freely admit and own it), so the Husband went and picked up a few things for us to try in the comfort of our room.  Side note:  I don't know why we always try ethnic (read: strong smelling) foods while we travel.  It makes our hotel room smell strong for the rest of the day.  And something that smells great when you first get it doesn't necessarily smell so great the next morning when you wake up to it and it's gone stale.  But I digress....

So, we get some Korean food for the first time.  At that point I knew nothing about what I was eating.  Since then I have educated myself, so I can now tell you what I actually ate.  He got a bibimbap and a japchae and then something else for the kids, but that I don't remember.  For the record, the restaurant was chosen because of its location, not reputation.  So take that in to consideration with the rest of what I have to say.  The bibimbap was not to my liking.  Too much fermentation, from the banchan it came with to the red pepper paste it was covered in.  But the japchae?  I was in love!  It was delicious!  The noodles fascinated me.  The sauce was flavorful and not too unfamiliar of a flavor.  It was a perfect intro to Korean food for me.

Fast forward to post-vacation.  I found myself craving that japchae.  First I had to figure out what it was because the Husband couldn't remember what it was called.  A fair amount of Googling later and I had a name and a recipe.  Since, like I mentioned above, I live in an area with few Korean restaurants to choose from, I had to try and recreate it on my own.  It was successful enough that I have since made it a few more times, once was even for a crowd at a Lunar New Year party (I'll have to post about that awesome experience sometime).  I have tried a couple of different recipes and have even done a bit of "fusion" with it, mixing it with other Asian stir-fry concepts.  It has become a family favorite, with LP#2 especially.  He loves it and asks for it all the time.  Success!

I now have a growing list of foods I would like to try and have started looking for restaurants in the area that have those foods (and yes, someday I will even give bibimbap another go).  I begin this portion of my journey with a bit of trepidation but also excitement.  After all, I need to be prepared for the day when I finally get to travel to Korea, right?

So, I'm curious, what's your favorite Korean food?  What do you think I, a Korean food newbie, should try?  

1 comment:

  1. Sounds yummy. Wait, it WAS yummy. I like how you called it a "lunar" new year party. Around these parts we call it Chinese new year : )


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