My not so recent trip to Seoul update

My not so recent trip to Seoul update

I wonder how the year has passed by right in front of my eyes so quickly. 2013 has been filled with mostly happy memories. My husband and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary, 10 years since we first met and our first complete year in Bangkok. I am still traveling back to Singapore whenever I can to conduct group classes and private events. Hopefully, there are  lots of interesting adventures in store for us 2014.

 

A late update of my not so recent trip to Seoul….

If you are planning a trip to Korea, I think Autumn is the best time to travel. I was almost shocked  at how clear the sky was and how refreshing the air was.  You could mistake this picture with a postcard. No photoshop, a quick snap of Seoul with my iphone from the subway.

 

view from the train

 

I like trying new dishes whenever I visit Seoul. Italian cuisine is the latest trend in Korea. It’s not quite my scene as I always look forward to authentic Korean food whenever I am there. Oh well, I can’t try Italian food in Korea, can I, so I resisted and stuck to me beloved Korean food!!

First stop, Gwangjang market for some authentic street food! This time I thought I will be a little more adventurous…

I have tried Chicken feet before and the sight of it has never convinced me to try it again but these ones at the market were rather delicious – especially washed down with a nice cold rice wine.

chicken feet

 

rice wine

 

Pork three ways – Pork belly, blood sausage and pigs ear. We used to feed  dried pig’s ear to our pet dog, but now it is a delicacy! How can I describe it… chewy??  At least I can proudly say I have tried them for the first time.

 

Pork three ways

 

Next, freshly made mung bean pancake.  There were so many stalls cooking mung bean pancakes but they all seemed to be deep frying. We finally found one that used a fry pan. Between three people, we could barely finish half of the pancake. Doggy bag!  The chilli rice cake thought was a little disappointing and quite tasteless… I think I can make this better!!

 

mung bean pancake

 

chilli rice cake

 

On the second last day of my trip to Seoul, one of my relatives invited me to a neighbourhood restaurant that specialises in oysters. I have always considered oysters as potentially dangerous if you don’t eat them fresh. I have had friends get very ill eating oysters in Asia, so I normally only eat them when I go back to Australia.

Apparently oysters are in season from October in Korea. This particular restaurant specialises in Octopus most of the year but from October they only sell oysters.

To start with we had oysters steamed…  After it was steamed for 15 minute or so, we were given gloves and knives to shuck our own oysters. Each oyster was as big as my hand and so sweet!

oysters steamed 1

 

In addition to the steamed oysters, we had a big plate of fresh oysters to wrap with pork belly. I was speechless. It was just amazing. The saltiness of oysters married with boiled pork belly wrapped with chilli radish in Chinese cabbage leaves was just heavenly.

 

oysters2

 

To finish off, we had oyster pancake. I was so full already but I was on a mission to stuff down as much as I can. I wasn’t sure when I was going to have this much oysters in one go again!! What was most surprising was the total bill  was only S$100 including alcohol. What a bargain!!

 

For my last night in Seoul, my parents decided to pamper me with my favourite food which is also in season.  Crabs!! My parents bought live crabs from the seafood market and steamed them straight away for dinner!  Can you tell which ones are male and female crabs? Females have lots of eggs but less meat and male crabs are very meaty.

crab steamed

 

The two top ones are females and the bottom one is male. Can you see the difference in shape of their tummy? Female ones have inverted U shape and males ones are shaped like a tip of a rocket.

 

Dinner time!!

dinner

 

 

When you open the female crab, you get the orange eggs and it’s juice. I prefer female crabs so I can mix the eggs with steamed rice! I wouldn’t indulge too often, they are high in cholesterol.

 

female crab

 

We just demolished them….

empty shells

 

I have so many photos and stories to share about this trip but it will have to wait until 2014. We are back in Sydney visiting family and friends and enjoying beautiful Sydney. It’s been a while since we had our Christmas back home, I am ready for Christmas ham and Christmas cake cooked by someone else!

Have a fantastic Christmas and see you all back in New Year!

IMG_6340

 

 

 

 

 

Tour of Gwangjang market

Tour of Gwangjang market

My trip to Korea a few weeks ago was a little dampened by an unexpected typhoon and the early arrival of monsoon season. The weather was great on the first two days and then rained day and night from day three. At one stage, the rain and wind was so strong I didn’t think I was going to make it back to Singapore.

I usually go to Nam-de-mun market when I go to Korea but this trip I decided to visit somewhere less known(by tourists) called Gwangjang market. It’s located in between Jongno 3ga and jongno 5ga subway station. I didn’t realise how big this market was until I had a look at the map. It is more known to the locals as a wholesale shops and food.

Gwangjang market was opened in 1904. You can find many wholesale shops selling Korean traditional costumes (hanbok -한복) and fabrics. This is where I usually by my bath towels. Only ₩10,000(U$10) each and the quality is exceptional. I used to visit this market to either buy towels or have lunch so I never really took the opportunity to look around.

It also has an old fashion market selling fresh vegetables and seafood.

This is one of the most popular fish that Koreans use. You can’t find it in a western supermarket. It’s called hairtail or belt fish. We love to grill or steam them in chilli powder and soy sauce. I have seen this fish in the Malay market in Singapore a few times but it’s usually really hard to find.

This was the most interesting shop I found. This lady sells homemade soy sauce, chilli sauce and miso paste. It was pity that I couldn’t buy some. I am always given some by mum so It would have been an insult if I brought some home. Next time…

Besides the shopping, Gwangjang market is famous for muk ja golmok (street food-먹자골목). I had a little walk around the street and had lunch afterwards. It’s a little bit like being in a Singapore hawker centre but much bigger. There are lots of little stalls. Some stalls were still closed as some only cater for night crowds.

This stall sells chilli rice cake (dduk bok yi – 떡뽁이), japche, fishcake soup, pig trotters, gimbap. Pretty much everything!!

 

One of the most famous food in this market is mung bean pancake made the old fashion way. Mung beans are ground by the old stone mills.

 

 

 

The second most popular food in this market is handmade noodle soup. I really wanted to eat this soup as the weather was a bit grey but obviously everyone thought the same as it was a full house!

 

My lunch stop at the market!

 

We ordered so much food. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach! The first dish is a very simple noodle called party noodle(janchi guksu-잔치국수).

 

Mini gimbap with soon de also known as Korean blood sausage. Some people just love this.

 

Next is one of my favourites to have in summer. You can see ice floating in the soup. It’s soybean soup with rice noodle. Very refreshing…

 

After all this food, I had to make a quick stop by a dessert place. This lady has been here with her mother making rice cake for the past 10 years. When I visited she was making rice cake which is made with glutinous rice powder and red bean. Her hands were so fast, I could barely see what she was doing.

If you are visiting Seoul, check this market out. I think it’s an authentic way to experience Korean food and cheap shopping!