Friday, February 28, 2014

Magurosen (마구로센)

Last night, I went to Magurosen (마구로센). I would have gratefully accepted my tokens of Facebook likes, and moved on with my life except that I can't have anyone going here. Yes, there is a giant, 80-kilogram tuna to greet you as you walk in. Omg, it's so cute. #hugeeyes. And sure, such a creature must be met with appropriate pomp and brouhaha. Ready the big, sharp knives and headset mic.

Don't get me wrong; seeing a beautiful, bigeye tuna in person was pretty special. Once a week, Magurosen flies in a tuna freshly plucked the night before from the Indian Ocean (this is what they said, most likely to dispel any concern that it came from the radiation-tainted waters of the Pacific). But it's fine; where radiation fails, mercury will prevail, right?

Watching a fish this size get broken down (or in my case, being the one to deliver one of the bisecting slices) was fascinating. And when the body opened up, allowing me to take in all the beautiful shades of savory red it had to offer, my anticipation had mounted to dizzying heights. I ran back to my tatami mat and flexed my chopsticks. I'm ready for you, tuna. 

We decided not to go the "course menu" route, which sounded like a weird jumble of tuna sashimi, rice porridge, salad, spicy fish stew, beans(?), shrimp tempura, udon noodles...and god knows what else. Instead, we chose kama toro and otoro, the two most prized areas of the toro area, off the a la carte menu.

I would not have fed this crap to my cat. Both tuna sashimi platters were so bad that I was knocking back shots of sake hoping to get drunk enough to force feed myself this slop. Thick white veins of fat made the pieces impossible to chew. Isn't this shit supposed to melt in your mouth? My chopsticks were so greasy from handling the tuna that it left oil smears wherever it touched down. At one point, I shut the door of our private dining room, and said to my dining partner, "You will never tell anyone I did this." I started throwing the toro slices into the udon soup. My logic? Maybe cooked, they will improve.

It wasn't until later that I discovered what the hell was going on. Magurosen uses smaller, FROZEN tuna for their a la carte menu. Smaller tuna has a higher fat to flesh ratio accounting for all the pools of grease dripping off our gristly "toro." How were we to know that we wouldn't get the tuna we just saw getting carved up outside if we went a la carte? I don't know, but somehow if we had ordered the course menu, we would've gotten the fresh tuna.

Feeling sorry for us, the chef threw us a few slices of the fresh tuna. We ate them. They were delicious.

When I ordered off the a la carte menu, I wish to god the waitress gave enough of a fuck to slap me across the face and tell me not to. I wish I didn't feel crazy for thinking that if a tuna is butchered live in front of me, I get to eat that tuna instead of being served frozen tuna. What kind of sushi restaurant has frozen tuna?

Like many dining experiences in Korea, Magurosen was more about show than substance. Abominable knife skills, and the sushi is pretty Koreanized (think spicy fish stew as an accompaniment). However, the show is pretty great, and it's free. You just call ahead, find out when they're doing it that week (usually Thursday at 8 PM), and show up. If I had it to do over, maybe I would order the course menu though I think it's ridiculous to be forced to opt into getting all this random shit just to have tuna.

Thank you to Tim for paying for this absurdly expensive, worst-sushi-ever dinner. What a gentleman. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Burgers at Salt and Butter on Apgujeong's Rodeo Street

I rate burgers in four categories: bun, patty, toppings, and sauce.  Recently I visited Salt and Butter on Rodeo Street in Apgujeong.  I ordered the Dallas Burger and the Spicy Chicken Burger.  This is how they did.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bacon Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

This post is for my brother who got engaged recently - very happy for him and his soon-to-be bride!  Hey Linde! I have a cute little story to tell you about Peter from his grimy school days.

My heavily whiskered brother and his fiance
Peter read a lot of books growing up.  Actually, all of us Kong kids did, but while my sister and I would yield to our bodily needs (like, ya know, going to the bathroom and eating), Peter was a complete literary ascetic.  Sound noble?  Ermm...I'm not saying he got to the point of storing jars of urine around his room a la Howard Hughes, but god help anyone uninformed enough to open his bedroom door.  I think my college gym, gone unrenovated for 15 years, smelled about the same.  Perhaps prison gym wouldn't be too far off either.

Things got especially dire during summer vacations when the structure of school life collapsed into one lazy river of days melting into days.  Peter would disappear into his books, which was fine for me and my sister because, if it's not already obvious, Peter was not much fun to be around during this particular phase of his life.  Anyway, a few days into his hermithood, Peter's bedroom door would violently bust open, and rattle-boned Peter would come stumbling out muttering, "Food.  I need food..."

He'd hobble determinedly to the kitchen, and I am not exaggerating when I say I've seen placenta-covered, newborn giraffes have it more together more than Peter in this state.  But somehow he'd manage to throw together one obscenely large stockpot of mac and cheese.  As children, we didn't have the most discerning palates, and my younger sister and I would actually sit there puppy-faced, hoping to score just a wee bowl to share.  Surely skinny mean older brother would not eat all of it?  Oh, we were naive, little babies...Peter would chew down every last elbow noodle as our eyes grew wider and wider in heartache wonder.  Had I known people made money from eating weirdly large amounts of food, I would have told my mom she can save the college tuition on that one 'cause he is the next Kobayashi.  But I was ten and knew nothing of the colorful pockets of culture America had in store, so just like that, Peter would retreat back to his kingdom of books for another few days.

So there you have it.  Peter and his bounties of mac and cheese with the lowly younger sisters hanging onto the bottom rung of the cheesy pasta ladder.  The moral of the story, Linde, is that little sister and I should have overtaken starved and feeble older brother and had ourselves a mac and cheese feast!  I encourage this behavior from you should any mac and cheese materialize in your marriage.

Anyway, story time over.  Fast forward to today, and I am making my own mac and cheese.  What's more, I loaded it up with bacon that used to be a slab of pork belly which I marinaded and home-cured to elevated bacon status.  Hopefully, I can get going on a post about that soon because it's not hard except for finding a chemical plant that would sell me sodium nitrite, and it tastes better than any bacon you'll find in Korea...or wherever.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

MangoPlate - New Restaurant App in English

For the past 7 months, I've been trying out this thing called working.  By trying out, I mean that there's been zero room for anything else in my life, and this includes this blog and my poor cat who now hates me and tried to piss on me the other night.

My terribly mannered cat trying to filch a cube of chicken.
So my current job stems from annoying experiences as an expat, namely eating.  Is anyone surprised?  I mean...I do like to eat.  What I always found frustrating is the path of discovery for restaurants.  Most good meals I've had in Korea found their way to my face through haphazard happenstance.  There's never been one single way, or even a few solid ways, of discovering a good restaurant.  A Facebook post here.  A magazine article there.  A random conversation.  With no organized method of how I came across these tasty tidbits of info, I felt something like an ant feeling around without antennas.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pizza alla Norma (Eggplant Pizza)

When I was little, I used to make my own pizzas.  Slap me some tomato sauce on a slice of sandwich bread.  Sprinkle on some white-colored cheese.  Toast it.  BAM!  Pizza.  You're welcome.

Actually, things got pretty bad with my "pizza-making."  Think ketchup on Wonder Bread with a yellow square of American cheese on top.  I made this as breakfast on Mother's Day for my dear, sweet mother.  Even brought it in on a lego board breakfast tray accompanied with a Capri-Sun and package of Fruit Gushers.  I know we expats think we have it bad in Korea when we find corn sprinkled in our pizza, but my mom nearly vomited when she ate my rendition of "pizza."  This is when I first learned the prudence of Papa John's maxim: better ingredients, better pizza.

Like anything, master the basics before stretching the boundaries.  Have you seen Picasso's earlier works?  They actually look like something.  So he showed everyone he can paint, then he went crazy and showed them what painting is going to be from now on.  I am not a Picasso of paint or pizza, but I don't make pizza with squeeze bottles anymore.  To a degree, I think I've graduated to a level where I can be somewhat interpretive with pizza.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftovers Deep Dish Pizza

Well, I totally missed the time window for a Thanksgiving-related post, but it's still worth posting - Thanksgiving dinner in a deep dish pizza crust.  Imagine all that is Thanksgiving: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy in a deep-dish vessel we all love and know so well - pizza.  Oh, and let's not forget gobs of gooey cheese.  And there you have it - gluttony compounded...a true love child of American cuisine.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The All-American Breakfast: Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups

I find breakfast very confusing.  One, everyone makes a huge deal about how it's the "most important" meal of the day."  I don't buy it.  I think it's healthier to just eat when hungry.  When I wake up, I'm not rubbing my hands together at the thought of a bacon doughnut.  I won't go into it, but read this science-y article by a non-scientist/total-hottie.  He basically debunks the breakfast myth and talks about how eating breakfast just makes you hungrier.  Unless you weigh 45 kg, you really don't need to eat as soon as you wake up in order to have the calories and fuel to function for the rest of the day.  Your body has stuff called fat for that reason.

Breakfast is doubly confusing when considering the limited range of acceptable food options.  I really dislike when I'm happily chomping away at something between 8 and 11am and hear a bystander gasp, "For breakfast?!"  I could be eating kimchi.  I could be eating a carrot.  Everyone is confused, but no one as much as me.  Why the hell not?  Food is food, and I'll eat it when I want.

Right, so I made these little breakfast cups full of all those things (and there aren't many) that staunch Americans consider breakfast-approved foodstuffs.  Bacon.  Eggs.  Buttered Toast.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Hungry Dog: For People Who Aren't Hungry

Come hungry. Leave hungry.
The Hungry Dog should really be renamed The Perpetually Hungry Dog because if a hungry dog were to go there, that dog would still be hungry. The Hungry Dog aims to be an all-around American diner with many of the typical greasy spoon offerings - tuna melts, burgers, sandwiches, eggs and meaty things, etc.  They don't do any of these necessarily well.  I cook better than them.  You probably do too.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

King Crabs and Lobsters at Noryangjin Fish Market

That cat ruins everything.

Trying to bargain for crabs while sporting a spiked collar, faux-hawk, and full-on goth makeup = pretty awkward.

Grrrr....*snarl*....Give us crab.....

It's king crab season RAUGHT NAW, and I cannot get enough of it.  If you're interested in lobster, here's the deal.  Lobster is not local.  It has to be flown in from Canada, and the ones that don't die en route have a fat tax levied on them.  The end result is 45,000 won per kilo (I got them down to 40,000).  The craziness is that lobster prices are at an all-time low over in 'murrica!  $4.99 a pound retail?  That's $11 a kilo....which means they are charging almost FOUR TIMES the retail price.  I know freight and customs need to be factored in, BUT even then, insane.  It's just not worth it (unless it's your birthday!).

Happy Birthday to me!

What I do recommend is the king crab!  It's local and in season which means CHEAP AND DELICIOUS!  It's a rare thing to have access to fresh, live king crab.  King crab in America is $20 a pound versus 20,000 won a kilo in Korea.  It's actually CHEAPER here!  Definitely a perk about living in Korea that people need to capitalize on.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rosemary Bread

This past weekend, I celebrated my birthday which isn't actually until Tuesday.  While caking on the make up and blowing my hair out to Texas beauty queen status, I thought to myself, "What do I have to offer my guests who will undoubtedly come bearing gifts of alcohol?"  I found my cupboards bare but my hands ready.  With just a few household ingredients, I was able to whip up a few batches of some deliciously fragrant rosemary bread using the rosemary bushes I got from the Yangjae Flower Market earlier this year.

The drunken masses were raving about this bread and ripping into the loaves like starved Confederates. Inebriated or no, this bread's appeal is unshakable.  Pillowy soft rosemary fluffs encased in a crunchy crust - It's what you dream Subway sandwich bread will taste like from the way their stores smell.  Best of all, it's a very simple recipe that gets easier each time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Clam Bake on Muuido

After spending this past week in and out of the animal hospital for my poor cat, I decided I needed a real weekend.  One could argue that my whole life is one big weekend, but *surprise* *surprise* I've started a job.  It's actually an internship, but it does involve the adult-like practice of waking at 7am and wearing real clothes.  So playtime and jet-setting over.  Profound realization of what a weekend is?  *on*  To compound the effects of weekend appreciation was the Chuseok holiday (Korean Thanksgiving).

Typically for Chuseok, you cram yourself into an apartment with your loving relatives who always have the most uplifting comments to offer. "My god have you gotten fat."  "Your face is looking less pimply these days."  "Is your brother still in a mental institution?"  After spending my first Chuseok in Korea this way, I resolved to never again.  Ever.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

¡Me Gusto Mucho!: Gusto Taco in Hongdae

Maxican restaurants popping up all over the place (Uh, I'm making a joke 'cause half of these new restaurants spell Mexican with an 'a').  So far, I've been disappointed.  I can taste that you use canned tomatoes in your salsa, Tomatillos.  An enchilada is not a soft flour taco covered in brown sauce, Taco Chili Chili.  Why is there mustard in my tostada, O'Taco?  Since I've yet to try Vatos Tacos (seriously, has anyone ever been able to get seated there?!), I took to the suggestion of a friend and scootered off to Gusto Taco.

Before I get into it, let me preface this review by saying, I was born and raised in Texas.  Does that mean I know good Mexican food?  I'm not sure.  Up until high school, I hated Mexican food (and pork and chocolate and avocados and cucumbers and cream cheese and mayonnaise and the list just does not end on what I would not eat).  I pronounced jalapeños, JUH-LAHP-PENOS, and of course, I wouldn't eat them. This all changed in my last four years in Texas.  I was in high school, and it's just not cool to sit at Chuy's with all your friends and turn your nose up at steamingly delicious Tex-Mex.  So, I shed my food prejudices and pretty much ate everything in sight.  Was it too late to build an understanding of good Mexican food?  Never!  Looking back, I realize the major component missing in Mexican food in Korea is time.  The beautiful marriage of flavors that we so apprize in Mexican food is derived from lovingly layering flavors with patience.  Now who wants to stand over this vat of hot lard for twelve hours while the shoulder o' pork breaks itself down into the magic that is carnitas?  I don't imagine this is what goes down in the back kitchens of On the Border.  Gusto Taco is another story.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Eunsome Burger Cafe in Shin-Nonhyeon/Gangnam

It's been a good EIGHT months of silence.  In that time, I've sent my sister off to Equatorial Guinea, welcomed her back, then said good-bye as she left me for greener pastures in San Francisco.  I've acquired a new cat - a Siamese I so aptly named Orca.  I've upgraded my computer to a plushy, new MacBook Air.  I've traveled to (and ate my way through) six different countries of which the most recent was Sweden.  And that brings me here - hungover and jeering regretfully at McDonald's paraphernalia strewn all over my floor.  So what brought me out of hiding?  Eunsome Burger Cafe's beer can chicken.  So painfully delicious, I had to write about it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yangjae Flower Market for Fresh Herbs

I've never had fresh herbs.  If I needed some parsley or something like that for a recipe, I'd use the bottle of dried parsley that came with the spice rack that my mom got when she first came to America twenty plus years ago.  It tasted like shaved cardboard, and apparently, you can't do that.  Dried herbs should be used within 6 months, and they should look perky and eager to be used.  Dried parsley should still be green, and cayenne pepper should be fiery red.  As I've started to cook more and more, I've slowly raised my standards on spices.  Though dried spices are better for certain kinds of recipes (i.e. ones that require long cooking times), I got sick of spatting jealously at recipes that called for fresh sprigs of this and that.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I'm a skins-on kind of gal.
My mom has a great pet peeve.  She hates it when my siblings and I order food at a restaurant that we could easily make at home.  I loved ordering macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.  I had the palate of a 7 year-old ('cause I was).

As we grew older, we learned to make the foods that had caused my mom so much exasperation at restaurants.  My brother learned to make some awesome mac and cheese.  I remember one summer, he stumbled out of his room, having not eaten in three days (he'd been reading all the J. R. R. Tolkien books in succession).  He'd knock everything out of his way and make enough mac and cheese to feed Bangladesh.  Then he'd eat it all and disappear again (to read some more).

My sister and I learned to make some super-garlicky mashed potatoes.  We even had mashed potato cook-offs to the sheer detriment of our familial relationships.  I believe our house was once divided by a meridian of mashed potato preferences.

Al Matto in Haebangchon

It's Halloween.  They don't normally hang spiders around their restaurant.
As someone who knows nothing about business, but knows what to look for in a restaurant, I have a lot to say about Al Matto.  I'm going to need a soap box.

As a new restaurant in Seoul, especially in the Itaewon area where there is a large foreigner population, you should really be supplying a need - a niche if you will.  In other words, there needs to be a food that is different or superbly well done.  Why would I go to your restaurant if I can do it better myself? (Eh hem, Hungry Dog).  I really detest the whole bandwagoning concept behind restaurants.  I feel like some restauranteurs walk into a restaurant and see that it's doing really well selling pizza or kebabs or brunch items, and think, "I can do this too."  *dollar signs*  I have nothing against making money.  Money is fantastic.  But it's painfully obvious when it's the driving factor behind a restaurant.  Such restaurants never last long.  I'm also okay with restaurants that serve food that's not particularly original (pizza, kebabs, or brunch).  But if you're going to do what someone else is already doing (especially in the same neighborhood), do it better than them.  Do it AWESOME (i.e. - Pizza Peel).  

When I walked by the freshly-opened Al Matto, I was excited.  It looked Italian (who doesn't love Italian?), and there was an open kitchen.  Open Kitchens are my reality TV.  

It was also clear that they were still getting things organized.  The menus were on sheets of A4 computer paper stapled together.  All it needed was a coffee stain to look like the kind of crappy paper I would submit in college after an all-nighter.  When I went back a second time, the menu was in an actual booklet though the content had not changed.

Upon closer inspection, none of the food stood out to me.  I was so completely underwhelmed.  Eating at a restaurant is a dining experience.  Believe it or not, a well-designed menu speaks to that dining experience in a big way.  It helps the diner to get a feel of the chef's vision, style and direction.  In that sense, a good menu is not so different from a good resume.  This resume was bad.  I can forgive the misspellings, though it would cost almost nothing to have a native English speaker tick through the menu and save the restaurant the embarrassment.  This menu left me more questions than answers.  One item was simply "pancakes."  What kind of pancakes?  If you're selling just plain, ole pancakes, why am I at this restaurant?  I make fantastic pancakes.  Spruce it up with blueberries, ricotta, chocolate chips, buttermilk...something.  I also think Al Matto would benefit from having the menu in three different translations, especially since the co-owner is Italian.

It became very clear to me what the strong points of Al Matto were when the food came out.  This became even clearer on my second visit.  I didn't think it fair to write a review based on only one visit, especially as they were still in their first few days of opening.  Anyway, strong points - pizza and personality.  The first time I had visited, the Italian waiter (also the co-owner) seemed really quiet; I honestly felt like he was hiding from us.  On the second visit, he was a totally different person - outgoing, charming and accommodating.  It really turned the dining experience around.

Though I was excited about their open kitchen, it's not really open.  The shutters remain closed most of the time.  If they have the option of an open kitchen, they should make it open.  It makes me wonder, "What're they hiding?  Are they washing their hands?"  If the shutters were open, you'd notice that Al Matto has an actual brick pizza oven.  It's a beauty.  And it churns out some excellent pizzas.  It's a shame that their menu is so unfocused.  To give you an example, my sister ordered chili cheese fries while I ordered breakfast and Noel ordered pizza.

Peek-a-boo.  See the pizza oven?
Their standout items are brunch and pizza.  They have a beautiful oven that churns out some beautiful pizzas.  Thin, Neopolitan-style crusts with simple, well-married toppings.

The second pizza, 'Norma', was a surprise.  Eggplant, olives, and a wee bit of Parmesiano Reggiano over some rich passata.  It was a concentrated, piquant combination - one I loved so much I went home and made it.

Their brunch wasn't so good the first time around.  The Al Matto breakfast (12,000 won) is advertised to be fried eggs, French toast, bacon, sausage, beans, grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, and hashbrowns.  The first time around, they seem to have forgotten the French toast and the beans.  The second time around, the plate has everything, and everything tasted fine.  The hashbrowns are clearly from Costco, and they may need some practice making eggs.  The portion of beans was a bit small, but the mix of mushrooms was great.  The proteins were cooked well, and the sausage was amazing.  They use good-quality sausage.  Anything with egg in it (french toast, fried eggs, and omelette) wasn't cooked very well.

 The omelette was slightly overcooked on the outside, but the omelette itself wasn't bad.  The accompanying potatoes weren't seasoned.

Overall, the dining experience only improved with consequent visits.  I would recommend their Al Matto breakfast because it offers a better value than competing brunch sets in the area (Hungry Dog, Indigo's, etc.).  I liked having French toast with my breakfast in addition to the yummy sausage they use.  If not brunch, I would definitely check out their pizzas.  They're not amazing, but they're delicious and offer slightly more creative options than other pizza joints.

Directions: From Noksapyeong Station, Exit 2, walk straight until you reach the kimchee pots.  Veer left as you enter the neighborhood of Haebangchon.  Keep walking straight, passing Phillie's and Jacoby's Burgers.  On the left, you'll see Al Matto right across the street from a butcher.

Al Matto can be found on MangoPlate, a restaurant discovery app available in English and Korean.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Caramel Apples From Scratch

Sometimes I buy things I truly regret.  One time, I bought an inflatable raft while I lived in Boston.  One time, I bought a pair of Dolce and Gabbana boots that were so hot I was too scared to ever wear them.  One time, I bought a car and crashed it into a tree, twice.  One time, I bought miniature apples that were too cute to eat.

Unfortunately, apples are perishable, and with the clock ticking down, I made the decision to make caramel apples.  It was a gloriously delicious decision.  I know most of you are like EFF the apples, let's go back to the car in a friggin' tree.  TWO TIMES?!  REALLY?!  What kind of psycho is behind this blog?!  Come on, y'all...I mean...we all go through stages...

Buttery Delicious Peanut Brittle

Christmas is the season for tins - tins of shortbread, peanut brittle, holiday cookies, and, of course, flavored popcorn (whose terrible idea was that?).  As a tasty munchie for a hotel party I was hosting for a dear friend of mine, I thought peanut brittle would be a perfect snack.  I've never made peanut brittle, but my mom used to make Korean bobbki which is a kind of Korean snack/candy of burnt sugar and baking soda.  The burnt sugar has a wonderful caramelly taste and the baking soda gives it a nice airy crunch.  After looking up several recipes for peanut brittle, I've discovered that the two are pretty similar.

My mom is a bit of a disaster in the kitchen (as am I).  She's the Korean Julia Child except much shorter, and no one knows who she is.  My mom is a bit like me in the sense that she improvises with what she has.  She'd make hoddeuk using Pillbury biscuit dough and press out bobbki using the bottom of a heavy saucepan sprayed with PAM nonstick spray.  She had a chemistry degree that sat latent in her brain for a few years until she started making her own lotions, face washes, laundry detergent, and even some cosmetics.  I use all her stuff, and I'd like to believe it's the reason why people comment on my skin (in the good way...they aren't screaming "OH GOD!" and handing me plastic surgery business cards).  Anyway, I'm not letting my Umma steal my thunder.  I made peanut brittle.

Before I share the recipe, I have to comment on the final result.  Glorious.  It's the culmination of stripping clean all the best aspects of sweets to just BUTTER and SUGAR, and forcing the sparse marriage between the two (with some peanut babies strewn in).  I could not stop snacking on the "chips-that-are-too-small" or "uneven" or "offensively-phallic-so-I should-just-eat-it-because-no-one-wants-to-eat-penis-shaped-brittle-at-a-cocktail-party."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Graham Crackers from Scratch

Lately, it's been just the right weather to sit outside around a giant campfire and roast marshmallows.  This, of course, requires marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.  As I was about to buy graham crackers at Lotte Department store for $10, it dawned on me that I could possibly make them myself.  A quick Google search via my phone liberated me from the expensive graham crackers, and I made my way home with visions of irresistibly delicious graham crackers and their sexy cousin, s'mores.

When I told my friends about my great idea, they all looked at me with a face that unmistakably read, "WTF are s'mores?"  Obviously, none of them are American.  S'mores is a weird word.  Apparently, it's a contraction for "some more" and was first invented by some highly uneducated and speech impaired Girl Scouts.

To go back to the graham cracker, they're fairly easy to make.  Just mix together some common household ingredients (brown sugar, honey, flour, butter, salt, vanilla extract, etc.), chill, and roll out.  The result is mind-blowing.  My sister and I couldn't stop eating them.  They have a wonderfully deep, rich molasses-like flavor and a snappy, airy texture.  Words cannot express the level of nonverbal shaming that went on when it was discovered that I had ate the last of the graham crackers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

I shared my Thanksgiving with a very un-American crowd.  My sister and I (Korean American).  Two Koreans who went to school in the states most of their lives.  One Korean Korean.  One Ukrainian New Zealander.  One French Australian from New Caledonia.  One Taiwanese American from Kuwait.  One Frenchman.  And one plain ol' white American.  If Noel hadn't been stuck in Japan, that would have been one more American to the count.

Without Noel, that left me alone in the smallest kitchen in Seoul to cook a massive thanksgiving dinner for 9 guests.  All in all, I was able to pull it off with the help of all my heat-producing appliances.  (Ever used a fan heater to keep your dishes warm?)  One of the dishes I made was pumpkin pie from Japanese Kabocha pumpkins.  I steamed the flesh and mashed it to make the puree necessary for the pie.  I ended up with 5 pumpkins pies (all consumed within two days).

I used two Kabocha pumpkins (on sale for 1,500 won, usually 3,000 won each).  Kabocha pumpkins are also known as 단호박 or dan-ho-bak, which means "sweet pumpkin."  I had about 1/2 cup of puree left.  Pumpkin pancakes!!!!  It's not just the alliteration that excites me.  These pancakes combine the buttery sweetness of the Kabocha pumpkin with the fluffy carbness of the pancake.  The result is a light and airy pumpkin pie-infused pancake.  


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