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Posts posted by ZenKimchi

  1. Zenkimchi, do you remember the great Korea-China kimchi trade war of 2005, when Chinese kimchi was found to have parasite eggs in it? Everyone got worried about the restaurant kimchi! Not sure how many people actually stopped eating it, though.

    My favourite restaurant in Sinchon, in Seoul, the adjumma made her own kimchi, and would only serve her own kimchi - the aged kind. It was awesome.

    Aye? What's that you say, dearie? Speak a little louder! I remembers that back in the olden days. Back in aught five.


    Where was I?

    Oh, yeah.

    There's been a stink, even to today, of people asking the ajummas if they use Chinese products. They reply, "If I didn't I couldn't keep the prices this low."

    We're overdue for a new Chinese food scandal in Korea.

  2. We use those Ziploc containers. They work well. The containers with the folding snap locks work the best to prevent your fridge from reeking of kimchi.

    Most all the ingredients you listed would make good kimchis on their own. Celery may be a bit watery and could work as a water kimchi. There's a good book that's been translated into English called Good Morning, Kimchi! by Sook-ja Yoon, which has some more international kimchi recipes, like broccoli. I really want to experiment with them one day.

    In the meantime, may I humbly suggest my recipe--simply because I know firsthand that it works.

    ZenKimchi's Signature Kimchi

    Good luck!

  3. Do most or all good Korean restaurants make their own kimchi and banchan?

    All Korean restaurants make their own banchan. The good ones make their own kimchi. In Korea, there's been a concern over restaurants using imported kimchi.

    Is refilling banchan common? I've been offered refills on my banchan at only a small handful of places.

    Korean restaurants usually don't offer. They wait until you ask. But banchan is supposed to be complimentary, including refills. Believe me, I went nuts the first time I had raw oysters as part of my banchan. I think I got four refills.

    Some restaurants give you so much banchan it's enough of a meal for one person. Would it be acceptable to go to a restaurant like this by yourself and just offer to pay for only banchan?

    A simple meal of rice, soup and banchan (and someone correct me if I'm wrong) is called "baekban." Lots of lunch spots offer this in Korea. You're not the only one who is happy eating just the banchan.

    Many restaurants seem to only have really big dishes that need to be split with four or more people. Is it more common in Korea to go with larger groups?

    That's a complaint that is even starting to get some traction in the homeland. Korean restaurants have a hard time accommodating single diners. In fact, some of them turn them away. Dining is a communal experience with family and friends. It's a big issue I have, and I've put it into my writings and talks.

    Are metal chopsticks common? Being Chinese, I find the disposable wooden ones much easier to use because they're not flat.

    Metal chopsticks are traditional. Historians debate as to why it came to be. I'm leaning to the idea that the royalty ate with metal chopsticks, and everyone wanted to copy the royals. It also makes sense to use metal over wood when handling food over an open flame. But Koreans also use wooden and plastic chopsticks at home and when eating quick foods.

    Are metal bowls common? I hate the sound of metal spoons and chopsticks scraping against them.

    But that's the sound of lunch! Heh, heh.

    Metal bowls for rice, yes. Everything else is usually plastic or ceramic, unless it's a boiling soup bowl or metal naengmyeon bowl.

  4. I'm gathering that the intention of the original post--"underappreciated" covers foods that are considered common or are regularly thrown away or given to animals. I've learned to appreciate a lot of foods in Korea that Americans may throw away or just not even try. These may get their day in the sun one day or become prized for their rarity.

    - Horse meat

    - Grilled intestines

    - Pork neck meat (the most perfect part)

    - Fermented soybeans

    - Winter collards

    - Goat meat

    - Liver

    - Canned tuna (may not always be so common)

    - Deodeok Root (Korean root vegetable that's like a cross between carrot and horseradish)

    - Cod

    - Sole

  5. I think I've had that one too. It was Makgeolli, though, with pine needle dust on top. I've also had another interesting one in Insa-dong that has ginseng in it. Earthy on top of earthy flavors.

    I'd caution about making your own makgeolli and dong dong ju. Unlike beer and wine, the process for making these has a high risk of going fatally foul. Just this summer there was a story of a group of people dying from a bad batch of makgeolli.

  6. Never heard of a Jjim Dalk in Korea that was not Andong style. And the rule is--the darker the sauce the better.

    Jjim Dalk, like HaejangGuk, seems to be one of those mystery dishes here. It's something you get in a restaurant, so recipes aren't floating around much. Eun Jeong and I have experimented a bit, and I want to spend a good day or two getting a good recipe down.

    I went to Andong this past February to try Andong Jjim Dalk at the source--known as "chicken alley." I know what the taste is, and it's very deep. And you know what? My guess for the secret ingredient is Coca Cola.

    Eun Jeong later made a recipe she found online from a Korean site that braised chicken with a sauce based from Coca Cola, and it tasted almost dead on with Andong Jjim Dalk--just needed more garlic.

  7. When we were brainstorming foods for the Bizarre Foods shoot, poo pig was high on the list. Eun Jeong and I did a lot of research online and calling places. The most common thing we heard was that REAL ddong dwaeji only exists way out in the country nowadays. The restaurants that advertise it are just using marketing ploys to promote Jeju pork--which is darn good.

  8. Out of all the extreme Korean foods I've tried, including the fermented skate, nureungji (the water in the bowl kind) has been the hardest for me to like. But as they say, you should try something ten times before developing a taste for it. A couple of weeks ago we had some during our meal, and I started to like it. Still not my favorite.

  9. 감자 분생이. Gamja Bunsaeng-i. I'm pretty sure this is not what you found, but a Korean foodie friend told me about it this past weekend. He found it in Jongseon in Gangwon province. It's a local specialty, but he says it's the best form of potato he's ever eaten and would become popular internationally if anyone introduced it. Having lived in NYC for ten years, he said he never encountered anything like it there.

    So anyway, I hope to track this mythical potato down someday. Anyone ever heard of it? Pics are great.

  10. Sorry I'm a bit late on replying to the October request, but I feel the need to pipe in.

    High end Korean dining sucks, sucks, sucks!!

    I'm not talking about the westernized hotels, where you can find some great food, but the restaurants that try to turn Korean food into fine dining are more concerned with presentation, charging high prices and looking as ridiculously pretentious as possible--with taste coming low on the priority scale. They don't cater to foodies. They cater to people who want to show off their wealth.

    Now, I believe that it's just a temporary trend, but it's the trend now. I have seen it over and over.

    There are some up and coming places, though, that are not cheap shikdang but they aren't foolishly pretentious. These innovative chefs get looked over by the government tourism agencies because they don't tow their line of trying to make Korean cuisine copy Japanese cuisine in frilly fussiness.

    Little bistros in back alleys, like Star Chef, are where you are going to find the memorable food in Seoul. Haughty places like The Gaon and the touristy Samwon Garden ain't where it's at.

  11. I can't talk about specifically what was eaten. You could guess a good many. There's one major surprise food in there, which I didn't know existed in Korea and, of course, didn't eat until the show filmed it. It was expensive, too.

    See? Now I feel compelled to guess. Anyone else like to play along?

    I'm guessing:

    saeng nakji (d'uh)


    sea slug


    dolphin and/or whale

    loach (just for the name)


    soondae, not because I think it's weird, but many people might from the look of it.

    live steamed shrimp

    ...pretty much anything they sell in those seaside restaurants, actually - the stuff that dwells in tanks...

    Cass and Hite.


    You got a couple of them and one that was planned but turned out to be a bust. I'll tell right off that Andrew doesn't drink, so he didn't try any alcohol. That didn't mean that his fellow diners didn't.

  12. What network is this show on? I've never heard of the show before as I basically live under a rock when it comes to TV programming.

    Can you comment on some of the things they'll be covering?

    It's on the Travel Channel. If it's on in Asia, it'd be on Discovery Asia. It was back-to-back with "No Reservations," but the network is splitting the two to different evenings because they each get powerful ratings and could tentpole new shows.

    I can't talk about specifically what was eaten. You could guess a good many. There's one major surprise food in there, which I didn't know existed in Korea and, of course, didn't eat until the show filmed it. It was expensive, too.

  13. Just a note that Eun Jeong and I at the ZenKimchi Korean Food Journal have been helping "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" scout locations, give food suggestions and supply Korean guides for their shoot in Korea this past week. I've kept up with the production and have tagged along with the crew on a couple of shoots, and I can say right now that it's going to be a good show. Much better than "No Reservations" in Korea (Bourdain still rocks).

    As a bonus, Eun Jeong represented ZenKimchi for an entire act and got a lot of face time on camera. Poor girl ate some stuff that she had never had before and complained that she had never eaten so much food in her life afterward.

    I'll also note that Zimmern is quite entertaining on and off camera and has a generous demeanor.

    Okay, enough starstruck fanboy talk. Just had to let it out.

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