Since my last post on Motherland Mondays, my kitchen has continued to be the site of Korean food preparations almost every week. Most have been delicious winners like the bibimbap (“mixed up rice” or rice with meat and vegetables with added kochujang or red pepper sauce) that required one too many prep bowls and subsequently an early opening of the wine. It was a lot of work without ready-made sides from a Korean grocery store, but it was worth it. I can say this now because that was several weeks ago, and I have forgotten about the hours of standing and cooking it required. Similar to childbirth, amnesia can be a gift to increase likelihood of future repeats. I have yet to make it again but in time will surely give that meal a sibling.
I was so happy when the jajangmyun (black bean sauce on noodles) sauce turned out well, but the store-bought frozen noodles could not compare to restaurant-fresh ones. Still, we all enjoyed it.
The night I made kimchijigae (kimchi stew) was an extremely happy one for Mike and my taste buds. The kids just ate the bulgogi (sliced beef with Korean marinade), but one day they will swoon over the smelly stew.
The next two weeks were chicken nights with dakgangjung (sweet crispy fried chicken) and dakjim (Korean braised chicken in the crockpot). Both were winner, winner, chicken dinners!
Then I tried jangjorim (soy braised beef brisket), but it was my first flop. The flavors were there, but the meat was more like Korean beef jerky than pull-apart brisket. Then we were out of town and had our Korean meal fix at a restaurant in El Paso, Texas. Picture a store-front with a large screen playing the always entertaining Korean TV shows while a Burberry print-panted ahjima ran around breathlessly serving the small restaurant. It felt like a small piece of immigrant heaven.
Now we come to present where our Motherland Mondays can no longer be. “WHY?!” you ask as you don your riot gear. Settle down. We will still have weekly Korean food, but we have to move the night from Monday to Thursday. My husband joined our church’s prison ministry and will be visiting inmates every Monday. In order for him to enjoy the fresh-off-the-grill meats (or jaw-breaking jerky) with us, we are moving it to Thursday. This poses a problem for my love of alliteration. Motherland Thursdays does not sound the same, and I am seriously grieving. Sigh. (New naming suggestions welcome!)
Tonight we are having dakbulgogi (chicken with bulgogi marinade). I am most excited about the kimchi because I have a container of fresh, HOMEMADE kimchi from a friend’s mom. It is sadly a dying art with my generation, but I was blessed to grow up with a mom who made BOMB kimchi from scratch. My friend’s mother made copious amounts when she visited Albuquerque, and I am reaping the benefits. Last night after receiving the massive jar that required a forklift to carry, I could not resist cracking it open for a taste. It was like the scene from Ratatouille when the food critic bites into the meal and is instantly transported to his childhood in the French countryside. One bite and BAM I was in my mom’s South Point linoleum-floored green kitchen laughing at my brother calling his bare feet peach socks. It is so good that I do not mind how its strong, foul odor has overtaken our fridge. Every time we open the refrigerator door we really should put on a HAZMAT suit. I am certain the smell is overpowering enough to have wafted into the neighborhood, and that our 3rd ding letter from the HOA is being mailed to us today. It will not only stink up my breath, but I am pretty sure I’ll be gorging on it enough to have it seep out of my pores and make you think I poured it in the bathtub and rolled around in it naked. Of course I didn’t. I just thought it in my head. You have been warned. Stay clear. Is it dinner time yet?