Korean Cooking: Baby Back Rib Stew (돼지 등갈비찜)

Korean Recipe: Baby Back Rib Stew (돼지 등갈비찜) by LifeOutsideofTexa... #korea #koreanfood #recipe

A few weeks ago at cooking class we learned how to make an amazing rib dish. I’ve never really been a big fan of ribs, but this completely changed my mind. They were tender and full of flavor. I can honestly say that it’s my favorite thing we have made at cooking class.

Here’s the recipe so you can all try cooking them at home! Continue reading

The Happiest Place in Hong Kong

After spending most of the afternoon hanging out with Big Buddha, we decided to go to Disneyland. We took the subway to the end of the line and waited for the Disney train to come. It was covered in Mickey heads!

I was really excited about going to Disneyland because I have never been to a Disney park back in the States.

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Yonggungsa Temple – Part 2

Yesterday, I left you wondering what crazy thing I could have possibly done as I was leaving the temple. Today is the big reveal, but I’ll let the pictures tell you…

We ate silkworm larvae.

Can you believe it?!

It was disgusting!

Pancake Day

Tuesday, March 8

When my friends talked about having pancakes on Tuesday, I honestly thought it was just because they were missing pancakes. I had no idea there was a reason behind it until that night. I stopped by the store on the way and picked up real maple syrup, which was super expensive (18,000 won, which is about $16.50 USD), but you can’t have Pancake Day without syrup, right?? Apparently there’s a super cheap Korean version of syrup that isn’t bad. I’ll know for next time.

Anyway, Pancake Day is an actual thing. My friends from the UK all celebrate this day. They didn’t really know how to explain the significance other than on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) you get together with your family and eat pancakes. Apparently, many people in the UK really only eat pancakes on this day.

So about 10 of us all got together in Beth’s apartment and had pancakes. We ate them British style, with a squeeze of lemon and sugar sprinkled over top. We also had chocolate chip pancakes and we had regular pancakes with syrup. It was such a great time.

* Click on the pictures above to see the full size image *

Food in Korea

When I told people back home that I was moving to Korea, one of the questions that was asked the most was, “What are you going to eat?!” I really didn’t know, to be honest. I knew Busan was a coastal city so there would be lots of seafood so I was just hoping that there would be options for me since I am not a seafood lover. I do tend to take a lot of pictures of the food here because I know everyone back home is curious about what I’m eating.

I’ll have to admit that when I first got to Korea I was worried that I was going to starve. I wasn’t impressed with the food at orientation and my neighborhood didn’t really seem to have a lot of options. I definitely craved Western food.

I do have a few options close to my house. I have fallen in love with a bakery called Paris Baguette. The one by my house is quite small in comparison to other locations, but I have found some things there that I love. There is also a Caffe Bene close by. They have tiramissou!

I have become great friends with one of the English teachers from my school. She took me to Home Plus to help me find some things I need for my apartment and treated me to dinner in the food court afterwards. It was different, but pretty good. We had some sort of fried pork. It was nice. The salad was good also. I still don’t know how I feel about the rice stuffed omelet thing, but it was a nice meal overall. The longer I’m here, the more the food grows on me. There are a lot of really great restaurants in Busan and it’s fun trying new things.

I was pretty pleased when I went to the movies in Korea for the first time. I saw Rango (in English with Korean subtitles) and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was also quite lovely because I got to eat nachos!

My friend Faith and I went to Seomyeon one Friday night to meet up for dinner. Seomyeon is like the city center and has loads to see and do. There are also many restaurants, including several Western options. We opted for TGIFridays. It was so yummy. I had a burger and Faith had fajitas.

I don’t just eat Western food here. There’s a lot of really good Korean food, as well. One weekend I got together with my friends Cilla and Sonal and went for lunch. We ate at a really great chicken place. The chicken was lovely, but it was quite spicy.  The waiter scared us a bit because when we ordered this dish, he did his best to warn us that it was spicy and even pointed and something different on the menu. I really enjoy the spiciness here. We all shared the spicy chicken and then did some walking around before we dropped by Angels in Us Coffee for some dessert… hot chocolate, cheesecake and a blueberry waffle.

Care Packages

I’m just going to put this out there…

If anyone wants to send me a care package, I would love some seasoning packets! My top choices are fried rice, guacamole, fajita and taco seasoning, but I’m open to anything else you can think of. Also, Kraft Mac & Cheese would be lovely, as would instant mashed potatoes (and maybe a brown gravy seasoning packet). And what kind of Texas girl would I be if I didn’t mention Minute Rice and Ranch Style Beans.

My First Day of School

I got sick the weekend before school started. I didn’t go to the doctor, but I had something that resembled a sinus infection. It wasn’t fun. I spent a few days in bed watching shows on Hulu and eating pieces of bread. On Monday I met up with my co-teacher to go to the immigration office to apply for my Alien Registration Card (ARC). I saw quite a few people there that I had met at orientation. When you walk in you have to take a number, then go fill out the application form. The place was packed, but the line was moving really quickly and we were in and out in about half an hour or so.

There was no school on Tuesday because it was Korean independence day. School officially started on Wednesday. The day was quite interesting. Let me start off by saying that I was a bit embarrassed on the first day. At school the first thing we do when we come in is change our shoes. We wear slippers or indoor shoes all day and then we change our shoes when we leave the school. I didn’t feel well on the days leading up to school starting so I never ventured out to buy slippers for school. The only shoes I had to wear were the two pairs of slippers that my co-teacher gave me to wear in my apartment. I decided to wear my shower slippers. I think the teachers got a good giggle out of that. I definitely brought different shoes for my second day on the job.

The first thing I did on Wednesday was go to the Broadcasting Room with all of the new teachers at the school. The principal announced us all, one by one, in Korean. I wasn’t really sure what to do so I just followed the lead of the other teachers. The tricky part was knowing when to bow. All of the other teachers could understand what was being said, but I just had to listen closely and try to find a cue word to tell me when would be an appropriate time to bow. I think I did okay. I ended up doing two bows. It was a little awkward, but I wasn’t the only teacher that did that so I don’t feel too bad about it.

Next, I had to help with the first day of school ceremony. Some students came out in matching outfits and sang and danced to some really cute songs, then the principal and vice principal said some words. All I really know is that I was in charge of handing out balloons to a class of 6th graders so they could pass the balloons to the incoming 1st graders. I was a little afraid that I was going to lose my grip and all of the balloons were going to fly through the air, but I only ended up losing one. It wasn’t really my fault… the string was really short and when what I assume was the Korean national anthem started playing, I wasn’t sure what I, being a foreigner, was supposed to do with my hands. Anyway, when it was finally time to hand out the balloons, I must have been going too slow because 4 other teachers rushed to my aid to hurry along the process. All in all, the ceremony was pretty neat. After the balloons were handed out, they were released into the air. The ceremony is supposed to welcome the 1st graders into the school. I am pretty sure the students were allowed to leave school after that. It was an easy day.

It was recommended to us at orientation to make PowerPoint presentations (PPTs) introducing ourselves and our country. A lot of my friends had prepared theirs before school started. I am so thankful that I didn’t because that was basically the only task I was given to do all day Wednesday. I couldn’t imagine what I would have done if I didn’t have that to work on. I was bored enough as it was!

Lunch time was a little confusing for me. My co-teacher told me it was time for lunch and then we started down the stairs. She acted like I was silly when I didn’t change out of my slippers. Honestly, I had no clue what was going on. I was a little confused, but I changed out of my slippers and then all of the teachers started leaving school. I was informed on the way that on the first day of school all of the teachers go out to eat. My co-teachers asked me if I had ever eaten tofu and they were excited when I said I had. They explained to me that we would be eating beef stew. I was a little nervous because I would be eating in front of all of my co-workers, including the principal and vice principal.

As soon as we walked in, the restaurant greeted us with a really pungent smell. I later found out it was some sort of fermented bean soup that is supposedly very good for you. I don’t doubt it, but I have noticed that people in Korea say lots of things are very good for you. We walked upstairs and had an entire room to ourselves to eat. We all took our shoes off and sat on the floor at long tables. Each table had a burner and was full of side dishes. The beef stew that my co-teachers told me about turned out to be seafood stew. It had all sorts of sea creatures in it, like shrimp and octopus (tentacles and all) and other things that I couldn’t identify. If you didn’t already know, I do not like seafood. I mostly ate rice and mixed a bit of the broth in to help the seafood stew go down a bit easier. I sat across the table from my principal. He was very interested in how I liked the food, as was everyone else. It wasn’t bad, but I’m sure I would have eaten more if  it wasn’t seafood stew. I did end up trying the bean stuff. It tasted a lot like it smelled so I only had a few spoons full.

At lunch I was asked by two different people if I am good at/like to play volleyball. The answer to both is no, but I agreed that I would play with everyone. I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. I later found out from other people that have already worked in Korea for a year that the elementary school teachers take their volleyball pretty seriously. They have matches against other schools and they are super competitive. I just thought it was for fun. I am wondering if I can retract my offer to play. I am not the competitive sports kind of girl. My hand-eye coordination is pretty much nonexistent. I don’t want to seem antisocial, but having me on the team doesn’t seem like a very good idea.

I spent the rest of the day in the teacher’s lounge/office working on my PPT. I was having a difficult time figuring out how I was going to talk about myself for 20 minutes. Lots of my co-workers were interested in my PPT and wanted to see it. They were a bit disappointed because I had to finish the PPT at home. The pages about my family didn’t have any pictures on them yet because all of my family pictures were at home on my laptop.

I work Monday through Friday from 8:40am to 4:40pm. My school is just a 10 minute walk from my apartment, which is nice.

Mary, I know you’ve been asking about the food we were eating at orientation was, but the truth is, none of us really knew. They didn’t label any of the food so we really just had to get food and guess what it was. Most of the food was a bit cold and I really didn’t eat a whole lot at orientation.