For me, part of the fun of visiting a new place is trying out the local foods. And since I am living in South Korea for at least a few months, I’m not just eating out, but eating in a lot, which means cooking. In the two weeks I have been here so far (and also the 10 days I was here before I went to New Zealand), I’ve basically prepared one dish so far, with slight variations.
My dish is a basic soup. Our kitchen is super tiny so doing anything elaborate is out of the question; no oven, just a two burner stove and one pot. Here are the ingredients I tend to put in it — garlic, cabbage, green onions, two kinds of mushrooms (enoki and black cap), hot peppers, and some weird lettuce. Even at the spendy grocery store (which is laid out more like a Western store so I have gone there twice so far), local veggies are super cheap. For example, the green onions were $1.20, while the hot peppers were a dollar. Even the mushrooms are super cheap ($1.00-$1.50 depending on the kind).
Add broth powder, red pepper paste, and sometimes noodles to make it more substantial and ta-da! Soup, using only a cutting board, knife, and one pot. When I am feeling extra fancy, I add sesame seeds. And in week two, as I grow more adventurous, I have also experimented with putting pickled radish shavings on top (I pretty much love anything pickled).
I wonder how long it will take me to get tired of this.
Now before you think I am eating completely healthy over here, fear not — there will be posts on going out for chicken and beer (VERY popular here) and what a Dunkin’ Donuts is like. But for the most part, I do appreciate how the food here in general is healthier and more wholesome. I was going to say “simple” but it’s not simple — there are so many ingredients involved in most dishes here; it’s just that the food seems to be less processed overall, and also less sweet.
There’s not much cheese here either. That may prove to be a problem in the future.