Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday was the first of three Korean special summer days. If I understand it correctly, there is Chobok which markes the beginning of summer, Jungbok is the middle, and Malbok which is the last day. I'm not sure if all of these days are considered very hot days or not, but certainly summer heat is the theme on these days. Folks flok to various restaurants for special dishes, first among these are Samgyetang. I was among that flock last night, waiting for about 40 minutes to be seated at a really crowded and bustling restaurant. THe samgyetang was delicious, if a little bit hot (I burned the tip of my tongue). Just an idea of how good the service was, I had just sat down and was telling one waiter that I wanted to eat samgyetang, when another waitress arrived delivering the soup! I guess they assume everyone on chobok night wants it.

Oh - samgyetang is a chicken broth-like soup with a small hen inside. The hen is stuffed inside mostly with rice and a few odd spice "things" (one of which I was able to identify as a garlic - the others looked like they belonged in some bean family). Sorry - no photos, as this was not really a special food for me anymore, I didn't think to photograph it. Here a link to it on one of my favorite Korean food websites.

Now, there WAS a special "food" which I DID photograph last night - It was "color beer". I could chose a color, although my first choice, blue, was not available. I thought the beer would simply be colored with dye, but it was actually flavored. I got "red" beer, which tasted like a very sweet cherry snow cone! For me, this is a great way to cut down on drinking. The taste was so sweet, I could only drink one glass. The green beer was supposed to be lime or plum (couldn't quite figure out the Korean on that one), but the taste was weird. Actually, it almost didn't have a taste. It was like the lime/plum flavor neutralized all taste, even the beer taste!

Also, I recently lost my subway pre-paid card. It was a small card about 1/3 the size of a credit card which attaches to your cell phone. My string broke and I lost it. So finally last night I bought a new one, and was surprised at how small the new style was.

Brief Korean cell phone culture note – almost everyone has some kind of “accessory” dangling from their cell phones here. While this “ring” thingy may look weird to Americans, this style of “accessory” is quite common. I guess people who carry their phone in their hands all the time will have some security that they won’t drop it if they have this ring on their finger. Kind of like the idea of a wrist strap for a camera. But in my case, except for my pinky, my fat fingers won’t fit!

Finally, my last comment about the vegetable soup. Below is the photo of the blended up soup I made from a few cups of the finished soup. I poured this back into the soup as instructed, which gave it a really thick texture. For my own reference, in case I lose my notes, here are a few facts I have scribbled on the recipe

(a) you don't have to peel the tomatoes when putting them in the blender to make tomatoe juice (although I saw a few skins floating in the soup, but these were from the chunks of un-peeled tomatoes I added)

(b) 3 tomatoes made about 2 cups of liquid

(c) green beans should be steamed for 10-12 minutes

(d) corn should be steamed for 8-10 minutes. I question this, the corn seemed not quite ready after 10 minutes. But since I was going to be boiling my corn in the soup anyway, I didn't worry too much.

(e) after much head scratching about the korean instuctions, the Da-si-da soup broth powder should be used 1 spoon for 3 cups of water.

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