Tuesday, October 28, 2008


On Julian’s birthday we went to Lucy’s (my co-teacher’s) house to learn how to make gimbap and to meet her family.
She lives on the 13th floor of a huge high-rise apartment block in Sangju: She and her husband (Jeong Cher – an engineer) have a lovely big apartment with huge windows and a great view over the rice fields and hills surrounding Sangju.
Lucy claims he sister is a better cook than she is, so her sister was the chef instructor in the gimbap-making lesson.
Gimbap is the Korean version of sushi: it is a roll of rice covered in seaweed and has various combinations of veggies, seafood and meat in the centre. One then cuts this roll into slices. It is of course, eaten with chopsticks, and usually dipped into soy sauce, soybean and red pepper paste or wasabi (hothothot!).

They had prepared all the meat and veg and rice, so when we got there we just had to roll and cut, well, not JUST…

Some of the ingredients: crab strips (pink), ham strips, some brown root vegetablein strips, and fish meal strips (this is a kind of pancake made from fish meal and cooked in soy sauce, surprisingly tastes quite good!) We also sued cucumber, carrots, pickled radish, and (processed!) cheese for the gimbap.
The rolling is a bit challenging: one has to be careful not too make the roll too fat otherwise one can’t get the gimbap slices into the mouth in one bite! And if one doesn’t roll it tightly enough (one uses a bamboo mat, like a placemat) then it falls apart when one cuts it!

The finished product! The children made mini-gimbaps (in the middles), very cute! :)

So we managed to roll relatively good gimbap rolls and cut them up. We then showed them how to cook a pasta dish – seemed so boring in comparison! – and we shared our meals together. It was a really lovely afternoon. Lucy’s family are such warm, open people and her husband and sister both speak relatively good English: Jules and I enjoyed having conversations with them. Jules sat on the couch with the men watching baseball – a big favouriote here, there’s a very serious national league! Lucy’s niece is a real cutie: her English name is Alice (I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember her Korean name!) and she speaks really good English too: she was very excited to show me her room (they live in the apartment below Lucy’s) and she’s got loads of English books and flashcards: lucky girl! And she really seems to enjoy learning English.

Lucy and Alice with our gimbap!

So gimbap is the first Korean speciality which we have learned to prepare ourselves: we are yet to try it out at home, but will do so soon! It’s really tasty and I think probably not too expensive since all the Ingredients are Korean-made. We have found any food which is vaguely western is very expensive: once we have settled in, we will have to start cooking more and more Korean! I’m sure gimbap will remain a favourite.

Lucy and Jeong-Cher had very kindly bought Jules a cake for his birthday - a real beauty from 'Paris Baguette' a bakery which is a chain/franchise all over Korea and very popular for baked goods, especially these very creamy very decorative cakes - which are more beauty than brains ;) But add fun and excitement to an occasion nonetheless!

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