Sunday, September 28, 2008

Korean Food 102

Dishes, that is, not a course number. This week's Joongang Daily reported that Agriculture Ministry will unify the English names of 102 Korean dishes. Since I know everyone has been waiting for this, I wrote to the reporter, and was sent a list of these 102 foods and their new names.

I apologize for the poor formatting. I had hoped to get a link to the government's website, instead all I got was an MS Word file. I was going to format it myself into a simple HTML table, but I ran into problems. Normal text filtering and processing utilities (grep, sed, head, tail, sort, etc...) don't work well with Korean (unicode) text. At least the simple versions I have on my PC don't. I was able to convert "text to table" in Word, then after a little simple editing, save it as an HTML file. But it's ugly. Sorry.

I was too busy formatting, and haven't studied the list closely. A couple of things did jump out at me, however. Changing "Fermented Soy Bean Paste Soup" to just "Soy Bean Paste Soup" is a step in the right direction. I also noted that The Stumbling Mother's favorite Korean dish, "salted pollack intestines", didn't make the list.

BTW, I did search for this list on the Korean Agriculture Ministry's English Language website. Unlike some English language websites of Korean organizations, this one seemed reasonably up-to-date (Latest news was 2 Sep, less than 1 month old). While I didn't see the list of 102 foods, there were some interesting pages on a few main Korean foods (look under the "Seasoning & Style of Korean Food" tab).

Speaking of Korean foods, I've always relied on this webpage for a fairly comprehensive list of Korean dishes and a description of each. Many of the entries have accompanying photos, and there is an attempt to guage the spiciness of each dish. I don't think there are 100 dishes, but well over 50 it looks like (I'm too lazy to count them).

Elevator Corollary

Realed to the Taxi Theory of mine, I have developed the Elevator Corollary. Whenever The Stumbler arrives at the elevator on the 6th floor, wanting to go down to the main street level, there will always be someone on the elevator going UP to the very top of the building, say the 25th or 26th floor.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mack The Knife

There's an ongoing shakeup of my Korean satellite TV these days. CH received a call this week, saying they were going to quit providing the HD channel. That in itself isn't such a great loss. They didn't have a lot of good programming on that channel. On the other hand, there are a LOT of satellite channels that are transmitting original HD progams in standard definition, so you think they would have plenty of HD programming material to make it an interesting channel. Well, their reported plan also includes adding two movie channels which I think were previously billed as extras, and also adding more childrens' channels. Ok, I guess I can live with that.

That is what they told CH. In practice, they've added the two movie channels (the reason for this post), the HD channel is still being transmitted, but unannounced to us, they have removed the National Geographic and most importantly The Discovery Channel! I don't know what I'm going to do about that. I watch Discovery very often. CH said he would call and see about it, he was surprised they removed it, too, since (a) they didn't mention that in their detailed report of changes, and (b) Discover Channel is VERY popular with Koreans, too.

So what is the point of this? And what does it have to do with Bobby Darin?

Well, I was watching one of these new movie channels last week while cooking dinner, and they were showing a movie Beyond The Sea. It's a movie based on the life of Bobby Darin, and it was fascinating. He was a really interesting character. So now these days I'm listening to his music, having discovered him only 40 years too late...

Freaky Fingers

The last time I went to the bar, I absolutely could NOT believe what I saw on the bar tender's hand. She had a metal letter "D" attached to her fingernail by a small chain which passed through a hole in her fingernail! I was told this was a new kind of "accessory" girls are wearing these days!

I asked her if it was any problem. I'm imagining a lady getting her "accessory" caught in the elevator door, closing a drawer, or just accidentally snagging something when moving your hand around. Yikes! It gives me the shivers just thinking about someone having a fingernail ripped off by one of these accessories. What the Korean ladies do "in the name of fashion" is sometimes crazy. I'll have to ask Young Stumbler #1 if she's seen this trend among her friends back home...

Chusok Re-Gift

The week leading up to Chusok, the Korean "Thanksgiving", many people, families and companies give Chusok presents. In the stores there are huge displays of various Chusok gift sets you can buy. These gifts can be many different items, honey, meat, SPAM, olive oil, etc. Or, if you are like my Canadian friend G, you might get fish. His boss gave him a package of special Jeju Island Mackerel. Unfortunately for G (fortunately for me), he is alergic to fish! As a result, he was able to re-gift these fish to ME!!!! It was a very timely gift. Whether at home, where I frequently cook Salmon steaks which I buy frozen at Costco, or at restaurants where they are served as a side dish, I've been enjoying fish more and more these days. Also, this gave me a chance to use the "grill" feature of my combination oven (that would be the "broil" setting for my American friends). If I understand it right, the combi-oven uses a special halogen light bulb and a fan when operating as a convection oven, the magnetron when in the microwave mode, and it has a set of conventioanal oven heating elements for the grill (broil) setting.

The mackerel fish grilled esily and was delicious. I didn't use any sauce, just plain fish. I served it with hash browned potatoes and zuchinni slices which are dipped in egg and flour then pan fried (this is a common Korean dish). The resulting plate was not very colorful, but it tasted great. Thanks G !!!!!!!

Treble Sauce

I was treated to this interesting sauce at lunch time recently at one of the restaurants here in our office building. You can see the obligatory dish of Kimchi on the left...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dizzy Day

Today started off okay, until I went to the dentist office. I was supposed to have a final imprint of my teeth for the permanent bridge/crown. What I didn't realize that they were going to do some additional drilling and preparation of the two teeth which will hold the bridge. That in itself wasn't a problem, but what was a bit odd was the novocaine anesthetic. He told me that one of these teeth (canine tooth) has really deep roots, and he had to give me a lot of the medicine, and he gave it very deep into my gum. [Syringe image shamelessly borrowed from this NYTimes article]

The first odd thing was as he gave the first shot, I had a sudden but quick HOT sensation at one spot on my face. That went away, but just as he was about to start work on the teeth, I started feeling very light-headed and dizzy and hot. I told them to stop, and give me a few minutes rest. They brought in a small fan, which helped with the sweating somewhat. After a short break, I didn't feel much better, but told them to go ahead anyway. The procedure went well, with no problem. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that I felt dizzy the whole time. After about 1 hour, everything was done. The impression was made, my temporary bridge was re-installed and I was released until next week.

But for the rest of the day, I was completely worthless at doing work. I could not concentrate on anything more complicated than checking email. I tried some serious engineering work, and just had to give up. I did a few administrative things, and finally gave up around 5pm.

Got home, and decided to cook some chicken breast. I figured cooking wouldn't require too much deep thought. Surprisingly, what I prepared came out pretty good. I thawed out one of my frozen chicken breasts from Costco in the microwave, and peeled some potatoes to boil and mash. After a couple cycles of thawing the chicken breast, I decided to try the "combination" feature of my combination oven. If there is a detailed way to control the combi mode of operation, I haven't found it. Instead, there are a few choices, such as C-1, C-2, C-3, etc. I found one labeled for chicken legs, and used that. ( Chicken legs, chicken breasts, at least it was the same animal. ) Then the oven wanted to know how many kilograms my chicken was. I guessed at 1/2 Kg, then pressed start. The time popped up 20 something minutes, and I fired it up.

Then I decided to make something to put on the chicken - mixed up a big spoon of garlic, some butter, and a Japanese rice seasoning that my Hawaiian friends introduced me to for use on fish. ( I know, chicken, fish, but at least both animals live in the ocean... ) In Korea this product is called 친구밥, literally "rice friend". I brushed this mixture on the chicken and went on preparing the mashed potatoes and mixed frozen vegetables (also a Costco purchase).

This was almost as good as something I would get in a restaurant! And pretty easy to prepare, also. The combination mode worked really well. I checked the chicken breast with my meat thermometer when it was done, and the temperature was at the correct value. The outer surface was a little crispy with the garlic crust, and the inside was moist. I'm not sure how much cooking time was saved using the combination mode versus using the ordinary oven mode. I would guess it only saved about 10 or 15 minutes. Regardless of the cooking time, I'm proud of myself. I'll make this again.

And as I write this, my dizziness has almost subsited. I should say I'm very happy with this dentist, despite this odd reaction. The Stumbling Mother says I'm developing an allergy to the -caine family of anesthetics, like she has. I hope not. Next week they will install the permanent bridge (fortunately no anesthetic is involved with that procedure), and that will end this particular dental experience.