Korea Tour 2017
Is it time to eat again !!
After our long flight and sleep we arrived in Seoul to check in to our home away from home, the Sommerset Palace Hotel. Once unpacked we headed out to a wonderful market right behind our hotel called Insadong. Our guide, Mr. Kim brought us to the same restaurant we ate in on our 2010 trip. What a coincidence! But tonight we weren’t having boiling hot Dobu Jigae, tonight we feast on Shabu-Shabu!! This is a Chinese dish that Hal and I enjoyed on our trip to adopt Eleanor. A beautiful pot of broth is simmering away at your table, plates of paper thin beef, mushrooms, vegetables and noodles await there plunge into the broth. Let’s get cooking!! Fabulous Banchan are on the table to enjoy, Acorn Jelly, creamy Asian Slaw and of course Mekju and Soju!!! What an amazing first dinner…what else does Mr. Kim have up his sleeve…
Monday…after a lovely breakfast buffet that we will enjoy every morning in Korea, we head out into the city to see Master Ryan An and our training adventures begin. But then there’s lunch…Master An always takes us to the same restaurant and it is always a different meal every time. First time I ate here we had Korean Hamburgers! Yummy! Today we are served BBQ Pork that is to die for! It was like a bag of potato chips, you couldn’t stop your self! The Banchan was Spicy Emok (fish cakes), creamy Asian Slaw and assorted Kimchis. Baskets of lettuce and perilla leaves to make SSam were on the table. Ssam means to wrap, take a leaf, place a piece of pork on it and a little Goguchang sauce and pop it all at once in your mouth!! Sigh…
At this meal you must control yourself because there is more training back at Master An’s !! Yikes!!
Tonight we dine on Beef Bulgogi that is prepared in a Mirin sweetened broth, not grilled which is more traditional. Again a plethora of Banchan and our first full day in Korea comes to an end.
Tuesday, a very important day…the Kukkiwon. Let’s just say we were worked to the bone by a 9th Dan, another Master An.
So it was so appropriate that we should be having the Korean peoples favorite summer dish, Ginseng Chicken. This soup is a restorative, the cure to whatever ails you. A young chicken stuffed with sticky rice, a chestnut, date and of course a ginseng root. On all our trips we have a contest as to who will finish their bowl first!! This years results are in, Gino 1st place, Mrs. Pyke 2nd place, Bill Cirillo 3rd place (and that’s only because he found a Starbucks and went on a mission!!) and Rosa Cirrillo 4th!!
Tonight is a special night because we return to one of our most favorite restaurants in Seoul, Be Won, the secret garden, home of the monkey fist dumpling!! Mandu or dumplings are steamed and packed with pork, scallion and cellophane noodles. We dip them in a soy vinegar sauce and experience nirvana!! Platters of all kinds of Jeon are serverd… Korean pancakes of assorted vegetables and everyones favorite a lovely white fish jeon. Next comes steaming bowls of Kal Gaksu, hand cut noodle soup in a very light broth that you can spice up with some chilies if you dare. I love to savor this without the spice. Of course rounds of Mekju and Soju abound!!! We toast our beloved Rosa for her amazing translating at the Kukkiwon and carry ourselves off to bed.
Wednesday…this is the highlight of the trip for me, not only will I be reunited with Grand Master Lee but I shall be dining on BBQ Duck today! It is a gorgeous hot and sunny summer day in the countryside of Korea. We make our way into the restaurant to our tables where the waiters have place hot coals in our table top BBQ. A grill is placed on top and platters of smoked duck and garlic cloves await their fate. Again this is Ssam so we bundle up our crispy juicy duck, roasted garlic , sauce and enjoy. Mr. Kim has arranged for us to be served two very different types of soup. A hot kimchi soup with Somen noodles(thin wheat flour noodles) and Naengmyeon, Icy Cold Acorn Noodle Soup. Both soups are amazing but the Naengmyeon is so unusual. The broth is a tangy ice slush with chewy acorn noodles garnished on top with cucumber, white kimchi, red cabbage, lettuce, spicy kimchi and toasted seaweed. Patty, KiKi and I devoured it!!! This dish is not to be missed if you are fortunate enough to be served it. Buried in the coals are Korean sweet potatoes for dessert. This has got to be my most favorite meal of the trip.
As if Mr. Kim could not top lunch, again he blows our minds with Dolsot Bibimbap for dinner. I’m sure many of you have tried traditional Bibimbap at a Korean restaurant, steamed rice with assorted toppings…this Bibimbap is served in a screaming hot stone pot so that the rice on the bottom becomes super crispy and super tasty! At this meal we are served a favorite dish I make at home Hamul Jeon, seafood pancake. This jeon is loaded with squid, shrimp, fish and scallions and of course dipped in a soy sauce vinegar mixture. This is a real favorite with everyone. We have been sufficiently sated. Off to a good night’s rest because tomorrow we head for the east coast of Korea for Bulglksa Temple and the Shilla Kingdom…
To be continued in next months newsletter.
Subscribe at: www.chosuntkd.com