Thursday, May 30, 2013


It's been a crazy month. My entire nuclear family is in Korea right now!
My sister was the last to arrive. I met her at the airport and we came directly to Jeonju (전주), where we've been ever since.
Leaving Jeonju tomorrow (frankly, I miss the city) after a lot of time spent with our extended family.
Just got back today from a quick trip to Jiri Mountain (지리산), where our parents honeymooned 32 years ago. ^_^


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Traditional Korean Meal (한정식)

It's been a strange year so far for me.

I'm not really sure why, but the settled feeling that I used to have here in Korea has abated and become something more like the restlessness I used to feel when I was in Albuquerque. The huge difference being, of course, that I am much happier in Korea than I was in Albuquerque.

So ... until my unsettledness calms itself down, I'll probably be quite moody.

While my brain twists itself into knots, I'll post some stuff that doesn't require heavy thinking.

한정식 (han-jeong-shik) literally means Korean table d'hôte. It varies from province to province and from restaurant to restaurant because it originated from royal feasts, which means that it's been adapted quite a lot to fit in better with the modern times. There aren't many restaurants that can handle dozens of side dishes. Some restaurants do serve up to thirty or so dishes, sometimes in courses, sometimes all at once.

In the photo above are small bowls (or handleless cups) of broth, on the left, and black sesame porridge, for lack of a better word. They may seem too small to be much use, but with the amount of food one usually gets in a hanjeongshik meal, one or two bites of each dish is plenty.
I love these rice containers! I don't know why, but I've always loved them. They're made of wood and stone, as you can see, and keep the rice piping hot.
Once the rice is scooped out of the stone container, tea or broth is poured over the small amount of rice that is thinly spread against the stone. Because Koreans generally eat very glutinous short-grain rice, cooking in the stone results in the outermost layer of rice sticking and, if cooked properly, charring slightly. The tea is poured in, softening the stuck-on rice and making it delicious. The action of softening charred rice with tea gives this flavor that I can't really describe. It's smoky and yummy and just ... a carb-load of deliciousness.

I like to eat this dish (called 누룽지, noo-roong-ji, which means "scorched") after the meal, as a sort of dessert. The lid is shut over the tea and rice to facilitate the swelling and unsticking of the rice and also to keep the whole thing warm. So good. I generally don't eat much of the actual white rice but eat a lot of the nooroongji.
This actually isn't a huge spread for hanjeongshik, it's quite a small version. Plenty of food for two people, as you can see.

I did go to a proper hanjeongshik restaurant in Jeonju, my hometown, which is famous for its food, but that was a couple years ago. If I manage to go back there again, I'll take proper photos and such.

I'm trying to be better about blogging; pictures are really the annoying thing. I have so many that I pretty much don't want to deal with them. Even if I don't edit the pictures (I didn't touch the ones in this post, I'm so lazy), just choosing the ones I want to use is quite time-consuming.

So. More picking and choosing photos so I can blog a little more frequently. Maybe...