토요일, 2월 25, 2006

"Puck" phone

"puck" phone
Originally uploaded by skindleshanks.
Cel phones come in all shapes and sizes here. This is one my student has. It's made especially for playing video games on the go. It could also double as a hockey puck someday.

On a side note, I now know the Canadian equivalent of Korea's World Cup Fever. It's Olympic Hockey. Unfortunately, this year Canada's hockey team didn't even get as far as Korea did in the last World Cup.

If Korea gets the 2014 Winter Games (I think they have a 50-50 shot), it will be ineresting to see how their hockey team will fare against the NHLers. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the host countryautomatically qualifies for the tournament, is that right?

My Borscht

My Borscht
Originally uploaded by skindleshanks.
I was inspired to make borscht this week. there were no beets to be found, but the soup turned out real good.
I boiled the bones until they were very soft, and the ended up with a rich soup base to work from.
That's fresh parsley on the top. I forgot to take a picture of my homemade sour cream.

Feel that Funky Faver

Originally uploaded by skindleshanks.

Cheju Pigs

Originally uploaded by skindleshanks.
I've never tried this dish, but if you go to Cheju Island, you'll find this delicacy: black haired pigs that are fed almost exclusively on human feces (so I've been told). It doesn't sound healthy for the pigs, but it is believed that this pork is especially good for human consumption. I guess it creates a closer symbiotic relationship between man and pig.

Black haired pigs command premium prices in North-East Asia, but not all consumers are getting what they think they're getting. When I worked in a pig slaughterhouse in Winnipeg, I found out that pigs with even the faintest black hair were stamped with a special mark, since black-haired pork can be sold for several times the price of normal pork. Once the hair is burnt off in the butchering process, though, they look no different than the other pigs going through the plant, and bear very little resemblance to these pigs, which are less than half the size of slaughter-ready hogs in North America. I smell a scam ... Maybe if Canadian farmers would change their nutritional inputs, they could make even more on Asian exports!

일요일, 2월 19, 2006

Borscht in Busan
My friend and I took a trip to Busan last month to visit the aquarium and try out the new bullet train (KTX) to Seoul.

One thing that struck me as we walked around Busan station was the abundance of Russian signage, and I set out to find some good Russian food. Walking along Shanghai Street across from Busan Station, we saw more Russian shops than Chinese, and one, called USSURI turned out to be the treasure trove we were searching for.

It’s a cozy restaurant/coffee shop/bar, but seems to have a regular clientele among the Central Asian expats. They sell pastries on the street in front of the shop, as well as a dense, dry, rye bread, perfect for sopping soup.

Prices are moderate, and the menu, in Korean, Russian, and English, offers soups, steak, salad, dumplings, and dessert, with prices ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 won. A plate of buttered dumplings (meat, potato, or vegetable) costs 4,000 won, as does a bowl of borscht with bread and a couple of garnishes.

Borscht is a slightly sour-sweet soup usually made with pork stock and vegetables, seasoned heavily with dill and bay leaves. It is usually served with a dollop of sour cream in the bowl. I know of at least three varieties of borscht.

My mother makes it Mennonite style with canned tomatoes, cabbage and good pork stock. There is also a Mennonite “Summer Borscht” which uses beet or sorrel greens. The Ukrainian version, especially common around my hometown in Manitoba uses the actual beet root, and is a dark red. According to Wikipedia, there are other varieties from across Russia, Eastern Europe, and even a Hong-Kong style borscht, which resembles the Mennonite version of my ancestors,

For recipes, see Maggie’s excellent Mennonite recipe site, or for the Ukrainian version, look here.

It is possible to find beets occasionally in Emart, but they are so prohibitively priced (3,000 won for half a bulb) that they are only used as salad garnish in restaurants such as Sannae(산네) in Sokcho.

To make a good broth, buy some bones from your local butcher. Beef bones are prohibitively expensive in Korea, so go with pork. You can point to the animal diagram to show which part of the animal you’d like. Korean Potato soup (Kamja tang 감자탕 /hae jeong guk 해정국) is usually made from the spine, but for borscht, it’s better to use leg bones and the like. You should be able to get enough for a good soup for about 5,000 won.

The bones need to be soaked overnight in cold water to let a lot of the blood out. The next morning, cover the bones with water, and then bring slowly to a boil. There will be a lot of coagulated blood in that broth, too, so dump it out and rinse the bones again. Now you’re ready to make some good soup. Boil slowly on the smallest burner at the lowest setting all day, and then set it in a cool place overnight. The next morning skim off all the fat, take the meat off the bones, and then go ahead with making your soup.

Real borscht is just a bit sour and a bit sweet. You can use all sorts of things to get the flavour right—lemon juice, any variety of vinegar, pickle juice, etc. For sweeteners, sugar is fine, but you could try a bit of honey or Korean cooking syrup. Finally, if you can’t find the sour cream (it’s available at Hannam Mart in Seoul in a big 1l tub, which you can use as starter to make your own), use some plain unsweetened yogurt (You can make your own by mixing one bottle of drinking yogurt with 1 liter plus 1 small “bonus” 185 ml carton of milk, and then placing in a yogurt maker, an oven with the internal light on, or on a really warm ondol floor overnight).

For the best commercially available (beet) borscht you’ll still have to head over to G’News in Oakbank, Manitoba, Canada or my mom’s place. In Korea, though, head over to Shanghai Street and indulge yourself!

New Contest—Find the Russian Restaurant!!!
Show me a restaurant in Sokcho that serves Russian food, including Borscht, I will treat you to it!

Another Reason to Study English

Check out this hilarious video on the Lost Nomad's site. (apologies to the German Coast Guard)