Top-Ten Tuesdays: Favorite Korean Foods

10. Waffles

blog.korea.net

blog.korea.net

My students buy these in prepackaged bags and try to munch on them in class.

9. Teok Rice Cakes

Korean rice cake dessert

Korean rice cake dessert

I didn’t like these at first, but with my school handing them out nearly every week, they’re growing on me.

8.  Rice Stew

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Leftover rice is allowed to boil until nearly burned. If seasoned with juices from leftover meat, this is delicious.

7.Soju

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The most popular alcohol choice in Korea by far.

6. Mandu Soup

koreataste.org

koreataste.org

Meat-filled dumplings in soup. Very simply and very delicious .

5. Instant Kapi

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Kapi is how “coffee” is pronounced in Korea.While Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts blot every corner, instant coffee seems to be popular, especially in office settings.  Everything-coffee,sugar,and cream-comes in one cute little package.

4.Japchae

yelp.com

yelp.com

Noodles and vegetables in a brown sauce. It  tastes amazing.

3. Tteokbokki

dukbokki and soup

dukbokki and soup

One my favorite Korean meals so far. Spicy, circular rice noodles in a spicy red pepper sauce.

2. Bulgogi

commons.wikimedia.org

commons.wikimedia.org

Flavorful beef cooked on a table-top grill. When it’s done, you wrap it in a lettuce leaf and make a scrumptious type of Korean taco.

1.Bibimbap

bibimbap

bibimbap

A mixture of ground beef,vegetables, and rice topped with a spicy red sauce. If you want to try the best of the best, head to Jeonju, the home of Bibimbap.

Have a favorite Korean dish or top-ten list of your own? Comment below!

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The Best of China: Learning Mongolian on The Great Wall

My days in Korea are filled with school, Skype sessions home, and more school. So, I was very much looking forward to a week of new sites and experiences. Luckily, if there is any word to describe my time in China, it would be new. Completely novel,unique, unfamiliar and – at times – baffling.

In eight days I saw four different cities, took a flight, and spent a night on a  train in the countryside. It would be impossible to share every moment so I’ll settle for recounting my most memorable parts of the trip in a new series called The Best of China. There will be a new post about my trip every week in August.

The Great Wall

On my second morning in China, I set out for the The Great Wall. After a two-hour ride from the center of Beijing, the bus pulled into a parking lot. It was pretty unremarkable at first; just concrete,a few dozen venders setting up their stalls, and a Subway restaurant.

Then I looked up. Through the fog, I could just make out the famous fortress.

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

That’s when it hit me. I was actually going to climb the Great Wall.

Despite others telling me I would miss out on the “authentic” experience , I bypassed the hour-long hike and took a scenic cable-car ride to the top of the wall. As I reached the platform,  two Chinese men leisurely standing around  began gesturing wildly. “Sit! Sit!”, they yelled. I looked around clueless and then saw the cable car quickly making its way towards me. I sat-or rather, fell-into the seat just in time. The safety harnessed snapped into place and in seconds, I was flying over lush, dense forestry and getting closer and closer to the wall. Now I could just make out the watchtowers and the sparse Chinese flags placed randomly around them.

The cable car ride

The cable car ride

Finally, I was there. My feet were planted firmly on the ancient Great Wall. Fortunately, there was still plenty of  it left to climb. Even after reaching the top, it was a strenuous walk up and down the jagged stone steps and many watchtowers. Even though it was overcast and there was a nice breeze, I still ended up drenched in sweat. Some areas were crumbling and others were well -preserved but all of it was steep.  So steep that women kicked off their heels and sandals and it wasn’t unusual to see people on all fours.

Stairs of the Great Wall

Stairs of the Great Wall

Most impressive were the venders, who trekked to the highest peaks with pounds of food and souvenirs strapped to their back.  I got the chance to speak to one of the venders , an older women who kept removing her glasses to wipe the sweat off her brow. She motioned to one side of the wall and , said “Mongolia” and pointing to the other side said , “China.”  Finally, she pointed to herself and proudly said “Me…Mongolia. Two hours.” She ran two fingers across her hand to mimic walking. This woman was telling me she walked two hours  just to get to the Great Wall. That’s not even counting the time  and effort it took her to climb up the wall. “Everyday?”, I asked her while handing her 10 yuan for some water and a photo she took of me. She handed me my camera and still smiling, just nodded. “Everyday.”

One of the many vendors

One of the many vendors

The trek wasn’t all bad of course. If you took a minute to pause and look around you , there were views like these:

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The Great Wall Black & White

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Great Wall

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Early Morning= Empty Wall

After three hours of  wandering, I raced a Toboggan back down. The six-minute ride offered the perfect opportunity to  reflect on the history I just experienced and marvel at the beauty of this place one last time. I closed my eyes; tried to imagine what it would have been like to build this wall. Or to be one of its watchful soldiers, running up and down the twisting stairs multiple times a day.

And yeah, I’ll admit it – I was singing the Mulan soundtrack in my head.

Eating My Way Through Seoul

As much as I hate to admit it , I haven’t been that adventurous when it comes to Korean food. I found a few favorites  and  have been faithfully living off of those for the last few months. One of the goals I set for Seoul was to try any and everything that looked good. And I think I succeeded .

The best thing about Seoul was the street food. In every area of the city, you could walk down any street and instantly be surrounded by the scent of overflowing carts full of sticky desserts, steaming meats, and pots bubbling full of Korean national dishes.

After an afternoon at Gyeongbokgung Palace, I ventured outside and discovered a flea market taking place in the neighboring plaza. Succumbing to curiosity , I walked over to discover that -instead of the antiques I anticipated – the many booths were full of food. 

Endless Food!

Endless Food!

Korean Foods

Korean Foods

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Some kind of vegetable pancake

There were hot foods as well as bagged candies and delicacies. I ventured to one of the booths with a crowd and was greeted by a woman making one of Korea’s most popular foods-hoddeok.

I watched the woman go on about her work; dipping a ladle  into a container full of yellow dough with brown flakes. Once the dough started to sizzle on the hot plate and the smell filled the air, I realized it was cinnamon. The woman used a silver instrument to press on the dough until it was perfectly rounded and the cinnamon was gooey . Finally , she folded one into a dixie cup and handed it to me. I got a bite of the runny cinnamon with the first bite and it paired perfectly with the crunchy outside.  It was delicious – so delicious that I burned the roof of my mouth -several times- because I just couldn’t wait for it to cool. 

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Hoddeok making. From start –

to finish

to finish

Even though the Hoddeok was beyond tasty , I needed actual food to power my exploring. I found a larger meal outside of Seoul’s Dong Station. There are about a dozen tents lining one of the entrances and they were all converted into makeshift restaurants. The one I chose had a giant stove in the middle, metal tables surrounding it on three sides and little stools stationed around them. I got a plate of dukbokki (spicy rice cakes in a red pepper sauce) and a small bowl of minty soup for 3 US dollars. Thankfully, the dukbokki wasn’t as spicy as others I have tasted in the past. Even so , it was flavorful and filled me up .       

dukbokki and soup

dukbokki and soup

The next dinner was bit more conventional. It was nearing midnight in Hongdae and store fronts were quickly going dark. I turned into the first restaurant I saw and found myself in tiny restaurant called Oodles of Noodles. The smiling man behind the counter directed me towards a machine in the corner. I ordered and payed for my entire meal using the machine and soon after was served Pad Thai and a side of shrimp and cream egg rolls . There was nothing special about the Pad Thai but it did taste great on an empty stomach. The eggs rolls, however, were amazing. Cream cheese and shrimp rolled into an egg roll doesn’t sound that appetizing but trust me -it is.     

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Map inside of Oodles and Noodles

How To Order

How To Order

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Pad Thai

Amazing Shrimp Egg Rools

Amazing Shrimp Egg Rolls

Last but not least- I finally had the courage to try the infamous Korean corn dog. I’m not big on hotdogs at home but luckily these were different- the breading is soft and flaky. Actually, it looks remarkably like Frosted Flakes. After handing over 1 won ( 1 USD ) the vender topped it with ketchup and some slightly spicy yellow sauce. It was so good I had to grab another for the bus ride home. 

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Korean Corn Dog

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So tasty I ate half of it before forcing myself to stop for a picture

Any other Korean foods I should try ?

Blog Awards & The Pink Expat is Moving!

I hope the old saying, “Better late than never” still rings true because this post is long, long overdue. I thought the best way to start a new year of blogging is to catch up on old business. So, here is my delayed thanks to those who have gifted me with awards in the past months. The givers probably don’t even remember selecting me for these but it means a lot that people are still reading, commenting, and liking this blog enough to share, even though the posts have been quite sparse lately.

Let’s get it started.

First, the lovely peeps over at Cultfit gave me The Inspiring Blog Award.

cultfit-inspiring1

 I was really happy to receive this one, mainly because one of my goals with this blog was to encourage and be encouraged by travel. There are no specific rules for this – which I find refreshing so I will just list a few blogs below that inspire me in some way.

1)    The Redhead Chronicles -> Funny and relatable lists, rants, and observations from a follow 20-somehing trying to navigate through life. I initially followed because the author reminded me of my redheaded BFF Nat but I stay for the humor .

2)    Write 2 Be -> As a writer/journalist just starting out, I find plenty of advice and encouragement from Ms. Jimmetta  .

3)    Wholeheartedness -> An endless collection of feel good quotes. Seeing these on my reader makes me smile, even on bad days.

 

Next up, Snigdha of GetSetAndGo nominated me for Kreativ Blogger Award.

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I’ve been following her for a while and spent many hours exploring India on her blog. It’s great being noticed by the people you notice.  

This award asks for 7 interesting facts about 7 nominees and me.

We’ll start with the nominees:

1)    Transplanted Tatar  -> Good ole’ fashioned travel blog featuring stateside and international destinations. Plenty of great photos to see too.

2)    All Around Ana -> I read for the honest & entertaining posts about teaching English in Saudi Arabia.

3)    Full Moon Africa -> Great for planning fantasy trips to the mother continent. I added lots of things from this site to my “ to-do” list.

4)    Food.Life.Zen -> Gorgeous pictures from a fellow Spain-lover and world traveler.

5)    The Harrises of Chicago -> Beautiful photos of international trips as well as their native Chicago.

6)    Inside Public Minds -> Well-written and informative commentary on today’s political, social, & other “touchy” issues.

7)    For The Intolerants -> There’s a little about everything here: travel, life, food etc. Dedicated to finding the less popular aspects of life.

 

Now, the 7 interesting facts:

1) I had a dream and now I want to write a book about aliens. Do I have any knowledge or prior interest about aliens? Nope. But I’m easily inspired.

2) I’m really into mythology. Particularly, the Greek myths and Native American legends.

3) My favorite poet is Langston Hughes.

4) I hate the word “Savory”.

5) I’ve been afraid of escalators since getting stuck on one when I was eight years old.

6) My favorite city is London.

7) I’M MOVING TO SOUTH KOREA! Since coming back from Spain, I’ve been working on a plan to go abroad again. After a long year’s worth of work and several (hundreds) moments of desperation, I finally made it happen. In February, I’m moving to Gyeonbuk, South Korea to teach English as an EPIK teacher. I know there are tons of blogs dedicated to EPIK teachers in South Korea but I could hardly find any about teachers living in Gyeonbuk. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring you guys some unique posts about places and things you’ve never seen before. I’ve never been to Asia before but as always, I’m down for the adventure. And I can’t wait to share it with you all.