A Happy Accident: Jeyuk 제육볶음

Jeyuk

Time to wipe the cobwebs off my blog and start writing again. It’s been a while. How one maintains a travel blog after years of travel comes to a halt has floated in and out of my mind lately, but I’m not going to dwell on it too much and just see where things go. 

Last weekend we were supposed to have a potluck dinner with our friends and I was going to make “Korean Pork Bulgogi Baozi” from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Baozi or bao is more of a Chinese dim sum dish and I was intrigued by the title of the recipe. Bulgogi in my experience is usually a beef dish served over rice. I didn’t realize until I started cooking that I was most definitely not making bulgogi, but jeyuk -something I haven’t eaten since living in Seoul. Read more

Making Dak Galbi in the USA

dak galbi

If you follow my blog, then you know I think dak galbi is the most fantastic Korean dish EVER. I love it.

I love it so much in fact, that I’ve written about why it’s my favorite, the time we drove to another city just to eat dalk galbi in its hometown, and feasting on dak galbi in Los Angeles.  That’s three posts all devoted to one dish… and here’s a fourth.

I’ve finally tried to make dak galbi at home in the US and I was successful! There were only two small flaws in my cooking experience. The first is that I didn’t get ddeok because I couldn’t find it at the Asian grocery stores nearby. I plan on making it from scratch sometime, but that will have to wait for a different day. The second issue was that we didn’t have a dak galbi pan. Usually, dak galbi is cooked on a large flat pan in the middle of a table at a restaurant. We are fairly limited right now in our cooking equipment so I did it in a deep wok. This certainly cooked everything, but I didn’t get crispy bits like I would have had I used a flat shallow dak galbi pan.

For those of you interested in making awesome dak galbi at home, here’s a recipe I created from about seven different recipes I found online. I made this for just Dave and myself. I had one serving for dinner, Dave had two. Then we had some leftovers for lunch the next day. I would say it serves four if you aren’t feeding really hungry men.

Here’s my recipe for dak galbi! Read more

Say what???

I spent a lot of time in Korea grading mind boggling sentences like the one above. Most of the time they weren’t funny and I was left to find a way to turn them into intelligible statements. But sometimes there were real gems that would make me and the whole teachers’ room explode in laughter.

Disclaimer: I know it isn’t easy learning a second language and I applaud all of my students for trying their best. I laugh at these from a good place not a mean one. I know that I sure as hell have made people laugh quite a bit while traveling and attempting to speak foreign languages. I wonder what incredible things my Spanish teachers from middle school heard me say. I’ve been laughed at around the world for my silly attempts to communicate, and the ridiculous pantomimes that go with it. I don’t take any of this too seriously and I hope you don’t either 🙂

With that said, here is a countdown of my all time favorites: Read more

It’s Raining Inside

apartment winter indoor condensation

One of the many quirks experienced while living in Korea is the variety of apartment issues that come with a typical Korean apartment provided to a foreign English teacher. Problem #1 is usually the itty-bitty size of the apartment. I was super lucky coming to Korea with my boyfriend because we were given a two bedroom apartment, so space wasn’t an issue. Others aren’t so lucky. I will say that we were very fortunate to be given the best and the biggest apartment in our building. In fact, after we left Korea, the director of our school moved into our apartment. I’m not sure he knew what he was getting himself into though… I think he was accustomed to a higher end of living, so I wonder how he’s handling all of the issues that come with living there. For the current teachers, I think they can add having their director as a neighbor to their list of nightmares. Here’s a list of the apartment troubles we did have to deal with and the ones our director is probably currently struggling with. Maybe he’ll actually fix them now that they’re his problem. Read more

Stop It America!

This one goes out to a lovely friend who’s about to repatriate to the States after a couple years teaching English in Korea. We’ve been messaging back and forth telling each other about our plans and recently I got a message from her that said I’m the only ray of light; the only positive person amongst negative voices that tell her not to leave “the safety net of Korea.” I just have to put my foot down and say STOP IT AMERICA! Read more

Frozen and Frizzy in Korea

cold and cranky
Frizzy hair and unrelenting cold makes me cranky!

I’m cold. Not in an emotional way, I’m physically cold right now. We just moved to Squaw Valley and I kinda forgot how cold spring is in the mountain areas. So what do I do? I put on more layers. I’m sitting around in leggings, sweatpants, a long-sleeve shirt, a fuzzy-fleece and slippers. As I chill here (pun intended) all bundled up, I am reminded of our winter days in Korea and my problems of fashion versus warmth. I’m practical, so warmth won every time. But still, I couldn’t help but compare myself to my Korean counterparts.

cold korea
A typical winter outfit for me. I still felt cold despite my puffy marshmallow look.

Korean women are incredibly stylish. They run around in stilettos all day with flawless hair and makeup, toting designer bags while sporting fashionable outfits. Amazingly they don’t seem to be affected by weather unlike myself. In the winter they wear the tiniest mini-skirts with only a layer of pantyhose and a thin jacket protecting them from the harsh weather outside. During my winter in Korea, I gawked at every skinny Korean girl that ran by me oblivious to the freezing temperatures. I was layered in long underwear, jeans, a down jacket, earmuffs, and a massive scarf and could still feel the cold. How do they do it?

Conversely, in the summertime, Korean girls are able to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants and not lose a single drop of sweat. Meanwhile, my hair frizzes out, I drip with sweat and I struggle to maintain an image of being cool and serene. It’s not easy to stand next to Korean women with their impeccable style and inability to sweat. It’s actually downright frustrating. In the winter I looked rotund in my down jacket and in the summer my head looked like a schvitzing frizz-ball, while the girls around me looked trim, fashionable, and pulled together year-round. Read more

6 Key Things to Look for in a Korean Teaching Contract

letter from student
If you teach English in South Korea, then you too could get funny notes like this one. I received this from a student shortly before leaving Seoul.

I’ve gotten enough emails regarding what to look for in a Korean teaching contract that I’ve decided it’s time to write a post about it. I’ve previously written posts about how to find and get a job teaching English abroad, but none were specific to Korea. Here are six things to look for in your contract: Read more

Dining on Dak Galbi – Stateside

dak galbi

What’s my favorite Korean dish? Dak galbi. Dak galbi. DAK GALBI! 

Yes, I might be a little over enthusiastic, but it’s seriously delicious. If you haven’t tried it, then you can’t judge. I love the occasional daeji galbi, but I consider that a once every two weeks kind of dish. Bulgogi is fantastic also, but doesn’t possess that special something that entices and excites me like dak galbi does. It’s a little more run-of-the-mill. Now dak galbi on the other hand, is just down right delicious, exciting and addictive. Read more