Category: Asian Food

Upcoming PBS Series about Food in Korea

Premiering at some point here in 2011 is a brand new series on PBS about Korean food called The Kimchi Chronicles, and it looks like this one is going to cover more than just sam gyop sal and dak bal. The several episode series is being hosted by Marja Vongerichten, wife of famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Heather Graham (Austin Powers 2 anyone?) also makes an appearance in at least one episode. If you ask me (and you didn’t), I’d say it’s about time that a mainstream American media channel took on the wide world of Korean cuisine. Watch the Official Kimchi Chronicles Trailer on the NYTimes.com (this video could not be embedded).

Food in Korea: Eat and be Fearless

Forget about BeeBimBap and Bulgogi. There is a wide world of Korean cuisine out there just waiting to be explored by the Western palate. Some of it is really quite delicious, and some of it, well… let’s just say that you’ll want to be sure and keep the toilet paper fully stocked. Koreans eat a lot of raw and uncooked foods, such as fish, beef, and kimchi. You can read more about my experiences with raw Korean food on Tripwolf. Below you’ll find pictures of one glorious shit pile after another; our greatest hits and misses. Some of our favorite culinary conquests over the past year include…..
Sam Gyop Sal: A Korean Barbecue dish. Pork belly cooked on the spot and served with garlic, lettuce wraps, sesame leaves, and super hot gohchoo peppers.

Meat Shabu Shabu: Shredded beef boiled on the spot in a spicy garlic broth with garden variety weeds and mushrooms.

Seng Go Gee: Sliced raw beef slabs, served straight up with Soju. Hell mother effin yeah!

Chawm Chee Hwey: Sliced raw tuna slabs, served straight up with Soju.

Dak Bal: Chicken feet sauteed with onions in hell sauce. Best served from an orange tent in a dark alley sometime after midnight.

Neng Myawn: A spicy (or non spicy if you prefer) Summer soup dish comprised of noodles, boiled egg, cucumber, and shaved ice.

Seyoo Bohk Um Bap: A carefully sauteed blend of rice and shrimp

Bootlegs and Lots of BOOM: Chinese New Year in China

Some good stuff here about my trip to China during the Lunar New Year, now posted on tripwolf. Check em out!

The Horrors of Chinese Street Food

Where to Buy Bootleg Shit in China

Chinese New Year, in China


bikes in beijing china
Forbidden City in China

Korean Street Food: Orange Parking Lot Tarps

Keeping in the spirit of wanting to try new things, I’ve been eating some weird stuff lately. On our way down from Mudeung Mountain yesterday, we stopped for a snack at what appeared to be a collapsing tool shed located just off the trail head at Jeungshim-sa. On the menu? Chicken feet with Asian scallions, grilled over an open flame and mixed with long blubbery strips of God only knows what. This was not the first time for me eating some normally discarded chicken parts. Two weeks prior, Erica and I went out drinking with a group of Koreans. Looking rather piqued, one of them leaned over the recently emptied fifth of tequila and said, “We will go to a special place now”. Known to the Koreans as 포장마차 (pojangmacha), it literally translates to ‘covered wagon’.  But what is this ‘special place’ really? ~A moveable bar on a covered cart in which liquor and beer is served with side dishes like octopus shit pile, chicken feet, and chicken ass.  Indeed, it turned out to be a line of open air kitchens, haphazardly arranged under orange tarps and wire frames just across from the Cheonggyecheon Stream in downtown Gwangju. What exactly makes them ‘special’ is open for interpretation.

We ordered 3 bottles of Soju, bbq pork, fried chicken feet, and chicken “dong cheem” (literally translated as poop house). That’s right, the ass —  carved up into bit sized chunks, fried, and served up as one extravagant shit pile. It was not very good. Actually, it fucking sucked. A mouth full of sandy rubber bands smothered in Tabasco sauce comes to mind. As for the chicken feet, they remove the bones before cooking, so the crunch comes from what I would assume to be the claws or scales. Not bad, but not good either.

I appreciate the Koreans not wanting to waste any part of the chicken. According to my Western expectations of how chicken should taste however, it’s going to take a lot more than hot sauce, sesame, and scallions to make chicken feet and “poop house” taste any better than they sound.

chicken ass korean food

chicken feet in korea

Cock: Korean Food

funny signs cock korean food

Found this gem across from a Smoothie King right in the heart of downtown Gwangju today. Reading one of my student’s journals a little bit ago, I came across the sentence “this weekend I ate lots of cock,” and dismissed it as a simple mistake. It’s clear to me now that there is a much larger misunderstanding of the English language going on here.

Pepero Day (빼빼로 일)

Pepero, yet another product from the all encompassing Korean conglomerati known as Lotte, apparently has it’s own day. November 11th, Armistice Day in other parts of the world, is Pepero Day in South Korea — the tastiest and most ridiculous holiday of them all.  South Koreans buy and give away hoards of the chocolate dipped cookie sticks to their friends and family as a celebration of love and friendship. According to a 2006 Wall Street Journal report on the holiday, 66% of Lotte’s annual Pepero sales occur in the two months prior to November 11th. Lotte of course denies having anything to do with the holiday’s creation, inferring that Pepero day is the result of natural forces within the free market system i.e. a shop owner in Busan noticed some school children bought all of his Pepero, so he decided it was a good idea to order more. The rest is history, I guess. Now Lotte makes special packaging, key chains, pens and other shwag readily available to promote the event.

If the company had nothing to do with the creation of this ‘holiday’, why is it named after their particular brand? I was given a few bootleg Peperos today, so competition is definitely out there. Maybe Koreans see Pepero as a brand parity; it stands for any kind of elongated chocolate covered product. Regardless of what it means or why it exists, I received tons of Pepero gifts from my students today — the most absurd being two 18″ long sticks that were 1″ thick in diameter. Just what every kid needs… sugar and a sword shaped object.

Pepero Sticks on Pepero Day Korea

in deep kimchi

Gwangju World Cup stadium this year was the venue for the Kimchi Cultural Festival; a seven day celebration (without mud or mind altering drugs) of all things inspired by vegetables rotting in a ceramic jug. For anyone that does not live in Korea or shop the isles of obscurity at your local grocer, kimchi most commonly manifests itself as pickled Napa cabbage doused with chili pepper paste. It can be spicy, bitter, sweet, and served hot or cold. The taste is, generally, okay. Most Koreans eat kimchi everyday, and will tell you that it helps prevent everything from cancer to chronic masturbation. One of the exhibits at the kimchi festival went so far as to claim it was the “number 1 healthiest food in the world,” according to a U.S. Health Magazine. I can’t remember the publication’s name, however. It may not have even been named come to think of it.

Surprisingly, we only saw a handful of other foreigners here. This might explain why one event staffer followed us around all day taking pictures of us eating kimchi. My face will probably appear in some tourist promotion next year, plastered with a cheesy catchphrase.  “Say Kimchi!”

Korean Fast Food

squid burger fast food

Yeah they’ve got McDonald’s, but a feast at Lotteria is where it’s at. It’s pretty much the same, but they’ve got shit like the squid burger, shrimp burger, and Hanwoo half steak half fried fish sub.

Traditional Alcohol

Not this stuff.

No idea of the name, it was located in a basement near Chosun University, and filled with college students. The walls, suffering from years of Sharpie vandalism, looked more like a 3rd floor bathroom stall than a reputable establishment. “Call xxx-xxxx-xxxx for happy time”. I’ve always said, you can’t go wrong with happy time…

Above most of the main tables was a small loft lined with cardboard, where you could sit maybe five people at most. We sat here, and it was just like 7th grade when I had my own tree house. Our friend ordered for us the seafood pancake, spicy pork and a famous Korean alcohol called 청조. The food arrived shortly. Included was an oddly out of place bowl of cold soup. Taking one sip of the balmy liquid with a small spoon, I nearly spat. “Umm, what kind of soup is this”? I asked. “That’s not soup. It’s alcohol”! our friend shouted. Hahahahahaha. Woops.