Korean food through the eyes of this American expat.

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I haven’t mentioned much about the food in Korea. The truth is: I LOVE Korea, but I struggle with the food. It isn’t Korea’s fault. They dig lots of spicy grub, chili paste, and fish (often raw plain sliced fish.)

and I am just a girl who doesn’t dig that stuff. I’ve also never been a big meat eater which has proven to be a bit of an issue living in Korea.

When I eat something spicy my mouth feels on fire. It hurts. The smell of raw fish makes my stomach turn…and chili paste is a staple ingredient in cooking here. Oh, and the garlic. It melts off the skin of those who eat, and love it in Korea. If you have lived here awhile- you know exactly what I mean.

I so desperately wish I could love the food like my husband does. He craves Korean food. I can’t even imagine what that feels like. I’m over here like #PassTheCheesePlease and #WhereMySaladBeAt?

I love Greek food, I CRAVE Italian food, I enjoy some delicious Mexican food, and yup. I’ll admit it. I love me some classic American food. Indian food?  You bet! I can’t get enough. Why, oh why, can’t I just love Korean food?

Here’s what a typical school lunch looks like in Korea. As a matter of fact this was my lunch today:

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I’d like to add that there was a spicy fish soup that came on the side that I couldn’t squeeze into this picture. So there was that.

…it isn’t  all bad. I have found some things in Korea that I do like, and I should also add most foreigners that I have met really love Korean food.  I’ll first explain the Hodok that is pictured above, and then I will show you 5 foods that I do like in Korea!

A new discovery! It’s sorta like a flat pancake with honey/brown sugar inside.

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1. Mandu:

If I had to explain… I would say it’s a cousin to the American “pot sticker.” Or maybe you call it a dumpling? Basically it’s a dough outside with meat/veggies inside. You can get all sorts of variety, but I stick to plain jane meat/veggie kind.

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2. Waffles:

It’s usually sold as a “street food” or sometimes in a coffee shop. I love them.

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3. Samgyetang:

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It’s fresh chicken soup. With an entire  mini chicken in it. It’s not spicy, and it doesn’t have garlic! The inside is stuffed with a little rice, green onions, and topped with just a bit of egg.

4. Japchae

File:Korean cuisine-Japchae-04.jpg

This doesn’t have seafood, chili paste, or a lot of garlic!!! Think stir fry. It has noodles made from sweet potatoes, sliced veggies, a pinch of mushrooms, and sometimes has slices of beef. They often times season it with soy sauce and/or sugar!

5. Pajeon:

File:Korean pancake-Pajeon-06.jpg

Also a pancake like texture. It is made mostly from flour, egg, and green onions. I like the one with sweet potato mixed in.

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Who knows, maybe by the time we leave Korea I will be a kimchi (fermented cabbage with chili paste) loving, spicy food craving, American kinda girl?

Dang. Odds are that I probably will never love that kind of food.

– I’ll just keep trying it with a smile on my face. (While my eyeballs feel like they are popping out of their sockets, and my tongue feels on fire.)

Do you enjoy spicy food?! I am still trying to understand what it is about spicy food that people love/crave.  I want to taste my food…not taste fire!!!

I’ll keep it cool over here :p

-elicia

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About Elicia Shepard

I'm unique just like you. I've learned every person has a story which makes us who we are. One minute I am here..then I am gone. Discovering unknown places and people is an addiction I am proud of and will be an endless journey of mine. Smiling is not a pastime it's what I do. I live for moments that take my breath away. Falling in love is the greatest feeling-and the biggest risk. I thrive off of risks.Challenges. Adrenaline rushes. Making others smile. Art is all around and in ourselves. I love taking an unknown path not knowing where it'll lead. Mystery is beautiful. Compassion, kindness, and love- things I will always strive for. Know what you believe in. Stand up for it. Never be afraid to feel. Time waits for no one.Ever. Children inspire me. God fires me. Happiness is being with those you love.I am really blessed. I think God is love and forgiveness and I think he wants us to be good people and love EVERYONE. Figure out who you are and what that means to you-It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself (and you deserve it.) Live frugally on surprise. Breathe. Be who you are. Be an outcast...If you wanna find me I will be where the wind blows...Wherever that may take me.

10 responses »

  1. We love Korean food, but still can’ get behind the little anchovy fish things that come on the side. We actually offended a restaurant owner the other day because he was trying to get us to eat it with our meal and we told him, we’ve tried it before and don’t really like it. He was a little peeved. Oops…

    • Ah!!! That is too funny. There comes a point when if you don’t like it ya just don’t like it right!?! I want to be polite, but I can’t lie. I will keep trying it, but I’m jealous you guys love it. What’s your favorite food in Korea?

      • Jjimdak hands down! But we have a deep love for spicy food as it was always being fed to us growing up. It would definitely be hard if you didn’t like spicy to like much Korean foods, though 😦

      • I truly agree with the spicy food thing. If you grew up on it- makes it much easier to love!!!

        -I will have Tom try Jimdak. I don’t think he has had that one yet. 🙂

  2. Too funny! When I was in China, there was a little Korean restaurant down the street from where I lived and I would always go get their Topokki and Kimchi rice cake wrapped in seaweed (I have no idea what it is called.) We had Korean classmates who would cook for us, and since then I have declared Korean food is my favorite ethnic food. haha

    But I can totally understand why some people don’t like it. I wasn’t really that big on a lot of the Chinese food (especially all the darn noodles…enough noodles, already!)

    • Ah man! You would fit right in over here in Korea 🙂 Did you grow up with spicy food? I spent the majority of my childhood in Minnesota and I feel like my parents didn’t cook a whole lot of spicy stuff. So, Korean food was quite a shock for me!!

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