So this past week (Thursday, to be precise) marked the beginning of the lunar new year, which Korea, like China, celebrates. Young people usually go to their grandparents’ house, bow, and receive an envelope of money. Not having a Korean family, this didn’t apply to me, but I still managed to get in on the action by cooking with my center.
One of the many delicious things we made was buchimge. It’s a great invention where you mix kimchi into pancake batter and then fry it up on the griddle. It has an awesome eye-popping orange color! Now (and this is a secret – don’t tell) I am not really the world’s biggest kimchi fan. It’s OK, I just don’t love it or anything. But when you cook it or fry it – like in a dumpling, or in your fried rice, or in a buchimge – it takes on a whole new dimension and becomes so savory and scrumptious. In fact, this is maybe my favorite Korean food so far. We also fried hobakja (a squash with a buttery texture), made mandu (dumplings), and pretty much ate until we were sick. Good times, good times.
The next day we made snacks. We boiled water, sugar, and rice syrup together, and then used the resulting sticky goodness to make little cakes out of seeds, nuts, and bran flakes. Absolutely delicious (although chewing too many of them gives you something of a sore jaw).
Myung-ju onni also taught me to play go-stop, a Korean card game that is traditional on Chuseok and the lunar new year. There are a lot of rules (and that’s before you get into betting!), but the basic concept is to collect cards fast, by matching the ones in your hand to the ones on the mat, and win control of the game, at which point you can either stop while you’re ahead, or keeping going and take a risk in an attempt to collect more money. Also apparently you can overturn the blanket if things aren’t going well for you. That’s me playing over there on the left – Salgu (onni’s cat) is being the referee and making sure I don’t cheat.
Also, the Chief gave me some really nice socks as a present! Score! (I desperately needed some new ones…)
Look for a Japan update tomorrow!