Thursday, July 26, 2012

Korean Army Base Stew (Budaechigae)

One of my favorite soups in Korea is called the Korean Army Base Stew or Johnson's Soup. I finally found a recipe for it so that I am able to make it at home. 
Following the Korean war, American army bases became a permanent fixture in South Korea, to assist the South against any possible skirmishes with the North.

The Americans brought a number of foods that had never been seen in Korea such as Spam, frankfurter sausages and baked beans to name a few. In true Korean Fashion, they took these ingredients and mixed with their own to make a spicy stew named Budae Jjigae which literally translates as the 'army stew'

Its a spicy dish, normally cooked in a big pan and served from the middle of the table, containing noodles, western ingredients and plenty of vegetables Budae Jjigae is a great example of Koreans putting their own mark on foods. 
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes
  • 1 1/2 cups meat in small chunks (Spam, hot dogs, ham, small meatballs, or a combination)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced vegetables (combination of any: mushrooms, bean sprouts, chrysanthemum leaves)
  • 1/2 an onion, sliced
  • 1 cup of tofu
  • 2 1/3 cups of water with 4 cubes of chicken stock
  • 1 package ramen noodles (just noodles, not spice packets)
  • Kimchi (optional)
  • Sliced rice cakes (optional)
  • Canned baked beans (optional topping)
  • Sliced American cheese (optional topping)
  • 1-3 Tbsp kochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1 Tbsp Red Pepper Powder
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of Sesame Oil
  1. Start by putting water in a pan, add to this about 4 cubes or 2 tablespoons of chicken stock and mix well. Cut the Spam, sausages and tofu in to slices and cut all the vegetables. In a bowl add all the ingredients for the sauce and mix well, Place the sauce in to the pan and add the other ingredients around it, keep the noodles to on side for now.

  2. Bring the entire mix to boil and cook well, this should take about 15 minutes, the easiest way to check is to see if the onion is soft. At this point add some noodles it is common to use some instant noodles like shin Ramyun, you could though use any supermarket noodle. This will take a further 3-5 minutes to cook.

  3. Serve in a bowl and enjoy, there should be plenty for up to 5 people and you could serve with rice and some side dishes if you like, however with the noodles there is enough to fill you up. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Photo A Day: July 15-21

July 15 - We went to the National Museum of Korea today, on this very rainy day, and Jess made a friend! 
July 16 - Jessica made us crepes for breakfast with the crepe mix she bought for me from France! They were delicious! 
July 17 - Getting bibimbap for lunch with Jessica before I see her for the last time, until November. 
July 18 - Did a bit of shopping at E-Mart and saw this product. It's called "Family Sucker." I'm not exactly sure what this product is or what it does. Those two things are connected too. 
Jul 19 - I went to see the new Batman movie, but you won't get any spoilers from! 
July 20 - Today was my last day teaching two of my favorite students. I will miss teaching these girls. I am happy that it is not goodbye yet. 
July 21 - One of my favorite stores in Korea had a sale for today only. Crap, I love and hate sales. I end up spending too much money.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 9 of The JK Epic Korean Adventure: National Museum of Korea

Today was our last full day together. She isn't leaving until Tuesday, but tomorrow I have to work. It was also a very rainy day. I decided to take her to the National Museum of Korea. It is indoors, so we can not be in the rain. I went to the museum once before, but was only able to explore a little bit of it. Jess and I were there basically all day and were able to see the entire museum, except the outdoor exhibit, but it was raining. It was fun seeing the Joseon dynasty part of the exhibit, but they didn't have anything after 1910's. I'm pretty sure something big happened in that missing 100 years they don't have at the museum. We probably would have to go to the Korean War Museum to get that part. It was still fun looking around. It also kept us out of the rain and the museum was free. Yay!

Jessica and I both found this interesting, especially because everywhere else in the world it was the exact opposite.

Jess found a friend
There were a lot of Buddha statues

After we were finished looking around the museum, we decided to head outside and have fun taking random photos. We love to take random photos, especially jumping photos!

When we got back to Sanbon, I took Jess to a really good Indian Restaurant near my apartment. It is really good. We both enjoyed the food a lot!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Photo A Day: July 8-14

July 8 - I finally went to N Seoul Tower on top of Namsam Park. It was a good day to go. We were able to get up to the top fairly quickly! 
July 9 - Went to the 2012 Yeosu Expo Worlds Fair. It was really fun but the day was very long. Had to wake up at 4 am to take the train and then we didn't get back home until 11:30 pm. 
July 10 - I took Jessica to a photo sticker store. It was fun making fun poses and then decorating the photo. 
July 11 - I took Jess to my favorite Korean restaurant called Umaru. She really liked the food there. YAY! 
July 12 - We saw a locust on the door at a nearby coffee shop. Apparently it is very rare to see them in such an urban area. Sandy named him Lo the Locust. It was her friend. 
July 13 - Took Jessica to a norebang for the first time. In this picture she doesn't look like she is having fun, but don't worry she is. It was a fun night. 
July 14 - We wanted to do another photo sticker booth...they are so fun. We want to do it again before she leaves. Also, in the "Korean" photo, we are channeling the Emily and in the "Adventure" photo, we are channeling the Angie! That's how we roll!

Day 8 of The JK Epic Korean Adventure: Photo Sticker Booths

Today, was a very rainy day. We didn't really want to go out and do much. So we decided to partake in out favorite new addiction. I love doing the sticker photo booths here in Korea. They are so much fun. We take several poses and then we pick out favorite four poses. After that, we go to another part of the booth and we get to decorate the photo. These booths are super addicting. In the 10 days that Jessica was in Korea, we did it three different times. We had an awesome time doing them. We also did a better job and making them, especially because the entire booth is in Korean. America needs to get these because they are super fun.

Day 7 of The JK Epic Korean Adventure: Norebang

Today was a Friday, and I had to work today. But after work, my co-workers and I took Jess to her first norebang. A norebang is a singing room, so basically karaoke. But the karaoke here in Korea is in private rooms and not on a stage in front of complete strangers. They are very fun. You can sing for as long as you want and be as crazy as you want. Both Jess and I aren't very good singers, but that's okay, there was only one of the people in the group who could sing super well. I didn't take very many photos while there, I mainly did video. Here is a quick montage of what a norebang is like.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Angie!

It was mine and Jessica's friends birthday, and we were both in Korea, so Jessica had the idea of making a birthday video for her. Since Jessica has been here, we have been filming us randomly dancing and what not. I think she did an awesome job making the video. Here it is, enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 4 of The JK Epic Adventure: Hongdae

On the fourth day of Jessica visiting me, I took her to Hongdae. Hongdae is a neighborhood in Seoul that is known for its urban arts and indie music culture, clubs and entertainments. We went there for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to show her a different type of Korea; this was they type that young people our age would hang out at, especially because it is near Hongik University. Second, I wanted to take her to two different cafes that were right near each other.

Just one of the many clubs in Hongdae. This one made Jess happy!
First we went to the best cafe ever, the Hello Kitty Cafe. This is the second Hello Kitty Cafe I have visited, the first one was in Taipei, Taiwan. I was super excited to go. I love all things Hello Kitty, and this place was definitely that. Everything was so PINK! Even when I was trying to take pictures in the cafe, it gave the pictures a bit of a pink hue to them. I tried to edit the photos to fix the coloring, but it was difficult. I order an iced latte and Jessica got a waffle. Both of which were decorated with Hello Kitty on them.

Hello Kitty shaped waffle!
Hello Kitty cinnamon decoration on top of my latte 
After the Hello Kitty Cafe, we headed up the road about 100 ft, it was very close to the Hello Kitty Cafe, to a Cat Cafe. "What is a Cat Cafe?" you may ask. Well, it is the best thing ever! Basically you either have to purchase something at the cafe or you pay an entrance fee and get a free drink. We paid W8,000 and got a free drink as well. Then, we get to play with cats that are everywhere. I was watching an Eat Your Kimchi video, and they actually went to this place, and I noticed it was near the Hello Kitty Cafe, so I planned for us to go here. This place had about 24 cats wondering all around the cafe. They were all super cute. I am a little allergic to cats, which caused me to have a sneezing attack and itchy eyes after we left, but it was so worth it. I love playing with cats.

A sign just outside, the place was called Catsliving.
Jessica having way too much fun!
Kitty! This cat had really short front legs.

After the cafes, we wondered around Hongdae a bit. There are a lot of place to buy clothes and accessories, so we browsed around for some Engrish shirts. Instead, we found some cute kitty shirts. Then we got some delicious Mexican food and headed back to my town. It was a good thing we left when we did because it started pouting down with rain when we left.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 3 of The JK Epic Adventure: Yeosu 2012 World's Fair

On our third day, we headed south to Yeosu for the World's Fair Expo. I took a tourism class for my anthropology senior seminar last year, and one of the other students did a project on mass tourism. Mass tourism is when one place recieves a large amount of tourist at one time for a specific event. So the Olympics would be part of that category, but she also talked about World's Fair. People don't really talk about those anymore. People, or at least I did, thought of them as things that happened in the past. In her presentation she had mentioned that they are still going on, that they still occur today. She also mentioned that the next one would occur in Korea. By this time, I had already known that I would be coming to Korea. So, I was super excited and had decided right there in class that I would go to it no matter what. Then, when I told Jessica that there would be a world's fair, she also wanted to go. So, we both planned on going when she would be in Korea.

We both stayed at a hostel near the Seoul train station. Then we had to wake up at around 4:10 am. We had  to walk to the train station for our 5:10 am train to Yeosu. We took one of the KTX bullet trains, so it took about 3 1/2 hours to get to Yeosu. I think the fastest speed we got was around 294 kph (~182 mph). The distance between Seoul and Yeosu is bout 377 km (~234 miles).

Route map from Seoul to Yeosu, the purple route. Taken from the KTX website.
On the train!
We arrived at Yeosu just before 8:30 am. We got our tickets, which were niffty, little cards and waited in line to go inside. They started letting people in at round the same time, so we got in without a problem. The only thing was, nothing inside the expo opened until 9 am, which was fine because we had no idea where to begin. It was so big and there were so many things to go see. We ended just walking in one direction and if we saw something cool, we stopped and got in line for it. The theme for the Expo was "The Living Ocean and Coast."

Our tickets
What we saw when we first walked in. A giant screen on the ceiling of this building.
We decided to head into the Lotte Pavilion first. If you know anything about Korea, you'll know that Lotte is this huge conglomerate company. They have movie theaters, theme parks, food, shopping malls, and hotels. At their pavillion, their theme was "An Incredible Enchanting World." They had this giant hot air balloon in the middle of the room, which we would eventually end up inside. But before that, they had a little performance for us to watch in their "Fantasy Garden." It was a cute little show. Then once we got inside of the hot air balloon, we had to hold onto some handlebars that were lined up inside. There was a screen all around us, and then we proceeded to go on a hot air balloon. It was actually kind of fun. There entire room was moving as well, and then we had a video all around us to take us on out journey.

In the fantasy garden watching the performance
There were smaller hot air balloons everywhere, as well as the big one one on the left.
We went to some of the other pavilions as well, such as the LG Pavilion, GS Caltex Energy Field, and the POSCO Pavilion but they weren't as exciting as the Lotte one. After we did the individual company pavilion, we headed over to the Marine Civilization & City Pavilion. It's theme was "Humankind's Challenges and Achievements with the Sea". At this pavilion they had a depiction of a realistic marine environment including a wrecked ship and models of future cities based entirely from the ocean. They also showed us legends and life arising from the sea as well as new uses of the sea and aquatic areas.

A model of a futuristic city or home (I can't remember which) that will be based on the ocean.
After this pavilion, we headed to the Internal Pavilion, where countries from all over the world were able to present how they are involved with the future of our oceans. This was my favorite part of the whole expo. We were able to tour all around the world without going to far. I only wish we could of gone to every single county, but we didn't have time. There were so many countries there.

All of the countries I was able to take a picture of
We also explored the Theme Pavilion as well. I had made reservations for it, which is a good thing too, the line was very long for it. The Theme Pavilion was about "The Co-existence Between the Sea and the Human." There were a couple movies based on a story of the sea being under threat of losing life due to global warming and maritime wastes, which poses a threat to human beings as well. It wasn't super exciting, mainly because it was all in Korean. Some of the movies we had seen before had English as well, but this was all in Korea.

After this, we headed over to the Big-O for the Ocean Show. We weren't able to get very good seats, and then when we did sit down, several ahjummas nudged there way to sit in front of us and even almost on us. They were very rude. So we weren't able to see a lot of the show because of them. But there were many beautifully dressed people. The show was a bit interesting as well, even if we had no idea what was going on most of the time.

After this we headed back over to the International Pavilion, where all the different countries were. It was a good but long day. I wish we had more time to explore everywhere, but we couldn't. We did see a robot band, that was pretty cool. 

The day was beautiful as it progressed. When we first got there it was cloudy and hot, but as we were heading back to the train station, the clouds went away and the sun came out, but it was still hot.

The Theme Pavilion with Odong Island in the back
That was our day. There will be more pictures on my Flickr account.

Day 2 of The JK Epic Adventure: Namsan Park and Namdaemun

On the second day, we decided to head out to Namsan Park. It is one of the largest parks in Seoul. Namsan means "South Mountain" in Korea. It is 262 meter (859 ft), at its highest point. Also at the top is N Seoul Tower, one of Seoul most recognizable landmarks. You can see the tower from almost any part of the city. I have also been putting off going there because I have heard that it is always super busy and crowded and that it also takes for ever to actually get to the top.

For me, I actually did not have that problem. We decided the we would take the cable car to the top because it was too hot to actually wall up to the top, and then we would walk down it. So we got off the subway, and headed towards the inclined elevator which would take us to the cable car. The elevator was going uphill at about a 45 degree slope that could take people up and down. We then walked to the ticket office to go to the cable car. We waited in line for only a couple minutes to get the ticket, then headed to another line to actually get on the cable car. We weren't in line for very long. We only waited for about 15 minutes. Then we got into the crowded cable car and headed up to the top. The cable car ride was about 3 minutes long. It also gave us our first view of Seoul, and what we would expect once we reached the top.

The inclined elevator 
I was unable to get a pic from the bottom, but here it is going down 
We decided we would head to the top of the Tower before exploring the bottom area. We went and got our tickets, and again we did not wait very long at all before we were able to get into the elevator to go to the top. While we were in the elevator, they had a television at the top, which was making us feel that we were actually flying into space, and again when we were coming back down, we were coming back to earth. We saw a 360° view of Seoul. We took our pictures, and spent about 30 min to 45 min at the top, then decided to head back down.

One of the many views of Seoul 
Jess and I at the top
At the bottom of the tower, they have areas were couples can lock a lock to the fence. It seems like there is at least one place like this in every major city in the world. I just like taking pictures of them. It looks cool when they are all together like this.

Namsan Locks of Love
After we headed to the bottom, we decided to head to our hostel. We were going to stay in a hostel this night because the next day we would head down to Yeosu, in the southern part of Korea, for the Worlds Fair. Our train was very early the next day and we wanted to be close to the station. We stayed in a hostel called Yoon & Jin. We were only there for like 10 hours. It is located near Namsan. We wanted to cool ourselves off before heading out to the market. So we rested for an hour and headed back out. What was nice about this place though, was later that night, the owners brought us some watermelon to eat. It was very good and it was very nice of them to do that.

We then headed to Namdaemun Market, so that Jess could get the feel of a Korean market. What sucked was, a lot of the placed were closed. We went on a Sunday at around 6:30ish. So I'm unsure if that is how it is normally or what. We didn't spend too much time there. We explored for a tiny bit and then left.

This is the end of our second day of our adventure. Out third day will be spend in a different part of Korea.