Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Steven's Birthday

Steven in my 남동생 (namdongsaeng) or younger brother, which literally means he is a little bit younger than me as he was born the year after. In Korea your birth date is very important and determines how you greet a person as they are given a different title. Generically, all older people are either your older sister or brother, and then if much older they are called grandmother or grandfather. This is true whether you know the person or not!

So even though Steven and I are now both 25, as I was born in the year before him, he has to greet me as older sister and I greet him as younger brother (actually I just say Hi Steven).

Anyway, for Steven's birthday we had a Samgyeopsal dinner (BBQ) and then we gave him a Paris Baguette birthday cake. The cakes from Paris Baguette and every other bakery in Korea are amazing!

Check out the fondant decorations on this one!

Fantastic Korean Seafood

In order to welcome Keziah back to our school (we took over her job and now she has returned to take over from someone else), our director Jack took us out for an all you can eat seafood BBQ grill in the Dekkori area of Masan. As I don't eat meat, I am always a little frustrated with the BBQ restaurants and the discovery of a seafood version is just fantastic!

Before Korea, I was very squeamish about seafood and would not look twice at this section in the supermarket, even mussels were not something I was keen on. But now Korea is beginning to rub off on me and my seafood intake has gone through the roof, mainly through lack of options!

The quality and quantity of the seafood brought to our table was phenomenal. The restaurant continued to fill our plate until we were satisfied for 12,000won which is about 6pound! As you can see a lot of it was also dressed with fresh chopped onions, garlic and vegetables.

Giant mussels!
Tom, Keziah and I.

These little creatures were still a little daunting. I expected a hermit crab to poke it's head out of the shell and greet me with a terrified little squeak. Jack put one to his mouth, sucked hard and discarded the shell like this was the most usual thing in the world, so I had a go too. All the effort to actually suck the thing out seemed pretty pointless when only a tiny thing shot out. You would need to eat a lot of them to feel any benefit. I think these were more of an appetiser while waiting for the BBQ.

As in true Korean etiquette, Jack did the BBQ and we chatted and watched. The shells were put directly onto the grill and flames charred the shells while the salt water frothed and bubbled.

Jack our director, Julie our boss and her brother.

Jack also introduced us to a technique he uses to make soju shots a little more palatable. He added a chunk of cucumber to our glass. The cucumber was not tasty after it had soaked up all that soju!

We will have to remember this little place for all you visitors who I hope will come over the next year! :)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Shabu Shabu and a lovely foot spa.

Miju and Lucy our old co-workers :)
Shabu shabu soup, meat, seafood and wrap stuffing.

We had a long overdue reunion with our previous co-workers last weekend. It was really lovely to see them and we caught up on the gossip down at our old kindergarten and in Masan generally.
We decided to head to a new Vietnamese Shabu Shabu restaurant which opened in Samgye where we live. Shabu shabu is a Japanese hot pot of stock and vegetables. You then dip in thin slices of raw meat or in our case seafood, and cook it over a gas burner.

Rice papers pre-dipping.
Moistening the rice papers
The Vietnamese part is the rice paper rolls you make using the cooked seafood and a variety of optional vegetable stuffing and dips. As you can see the Asian veggies are colourful and fresh. You take a solid disc of thin dried rice paper and soak it in hot lemon water. You put your boiled shrimp, squid or mussel in the middle of the moistened paper which you lay out on your plate, and you then add your choice of additional stuffing from the veggie plate! After this you wrap the entire thing up into a ball and then dip it in sweet sauces before trying to delicately devour the wrap in down in one.

The shabu shabu meal is actually made up of three separate courses. The soup and rolled rice wraps make up the first course. When all the seafood/meat is eaten a round of noodles are added to the remaining broth. The third and final course is a kind of bokkeumbap or Korean style fried rice which is added to the pot once all the broth is eaten. The remaining dregs are fried up with the rice and a raw egg to make a thick porridge.

Dips for the rice paper wraps.
Tom and I.
So that everyone was happy namely Tom, we ordered some of the thin meat and grilled this on the surrounding hot plate along with some kimchi.

After dinner, we still had lots to chat about so we headed to the coffee shop which had a very unexpected addition. We were offered a herbal foot spa while we drank our tea and coffee. The water was realllly hot but the scent of the herbs was very relaxing. What an idea!

 Another lovely dinner date in Korea! :)