What’s for Lunch? Myeongdong Kalguksu!

No one can go shopping on an empty stomach, so when you’re in Myeongdong feeding that need, why not take a little time out to feed your body as well. Today, Jo, Alex, and I ventured out to one of my favorite places tucked away behind Forever 21.

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This restaurant is amazing. It serves up three different soups and some amazing mandu (dumplings). But if you don’t like crowds, this isn’t the place for you. During lunch it gets packed, and we’ve seen lines out the door before. If you don’t see a line outside, that doesn’t mean they’re not busy. Lines inside are divided between the upper and lower dining areas.


Just about everything on the menu is W8000. During our meal, I was able to finish my soup and a good portion of the mandu, but not quite everything.

Myeongdong Kalguksu is located about 5 minutes from Myeongdong Station Exit 6. Head down the main street until you reach Forever 21. Then walk around to the back side of the building. The address is 29 Myeongdong-10-gil.

How To Make Pizza

If there’s one complaint I hear most often from foreigners living in Korea time and time again, it’s about the pizza. Many don’t think that the nation makes a good pizza. I disagree and think the pizza here is just about as good as you’ll find back home. However, if you think you can do better, then I suggest you try! In today’s post, I’m going to share with you a simple recipe and teach you how to make pizza — from scratch.



To get started, you’re going to need  a few things:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups water
  • cheese
  • tomato sauce
  • toppings
  • butter/cooking spray/shortening

QiRanger’s Korean Pizza

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Step 1 – Place 1.5 cups of all purpose flour in a bowl.

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Step 2- Add 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast.

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Step 3 – Add 3/4 teaspoon salt.

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Step 4 – Give everything a good mix to distribute the flour, salt, and yeast. This takes 10 seconds at best.

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Step 5 – Add 3/4 Cups of water.

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Step 6 – With the water added, reach in and mix again. It takes about 15-30 seconds to successfully create a dough. Once the substance has that dough look and feel – you’re done!

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If when looking at your bowl, your eyes see this… STOP!

Step 7 – Set the bowl aside and cover for 12 hours. YES, 12 hours at least. This is a no knead recipe, so the yeast needs time to work its magic. You can let the dough form more than 12 hours, but for pizza dough, I’ve found that 12-14 hours is best.

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After 12 hours, the dough will look like the above and it’s time to assemble your toppings. While you’re doing so, preheat your oven to 204C.

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I said this was going to be a Korean pizza and what better way to showcase that than with a little kimchi and SPAM!

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Step 8 – Take the baking tray from toaster oven and grease it up! I use butter, but lard, shortening, cooking spray can all be used.

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Step 9 – Take your dough and stretch/press it into the baking pan.

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Step 10 – Add your tomato sauce. You can use a much or as little as you like.

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Step 11 – Add cheese and your other toppings!

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SPAMtastic!

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Cooking with Kimchi!

Step 12 – Baking! Place your pizza into the oven for about 20 minutes. The actual cooking time will vary based on how think the toppings are, so it may take a little longer if you really packed on the goodies.

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Step 13 – When the pizza has finished cooking, pull it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. If you used butter on your pan, it should pop out easily.

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Step 14 – Cut and serve.

The baking pan used in this example measures about 30cm by 20cm, making it the perfect size for a single pizza. I usually divide the pizza into six slices and devour the whole thing. This recipe works easily with just about any toppings, and believe it or not, the spam/kimchi pizza tastes pretty damn good.

What do you like on your pizza?

New: Vic Market Pizza

I love warehouse shopping. I remember going for the first time with my family in the mid 1980s to The Price Club. It was a huge box building situated in the middle of nowhere with isles and isles of goodies. Price Club later became Costco, and thanks to its success, launched several competitors, most notably Wal-Mart’s version: Sam’s Club. Since 2009, I have been shopping at the Yangjae Costco; however, there’s a new kid in town: Lotte’s VIC Market.

Becoming VIC Market

Since the tail end of 2009, when Jo and moved into our current building, we’ve enjoyed walking down the street to the local Lotte Mart. In bad weather, we could hop on a bus and be there in two minutes. It was convenient and allowed us to get everything we needed in a matter of minutes. When Lotte announced the VIC Market concept, our Lotte Mart was chosen as one of the first to be converted. In a matter of days, the entire store was shut and the conversion process began. (It’s my opinion that the reason for this store being chosen was due to Costco’s plan of opening a store in nearby Giheung.)

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As you can tell from the image above, my VIC Market is open, complete with “WOW Prices!” As advertised, it is very much a take on Costco’s concept. We enter and are shuffled to the consumer goods area. Then, after taking an escalator down, we go shopping for food. They layout is similar with little difference between VIC Market and Costco. Shopping at the two stores elicits a similar experience when comparing Sam’s Club and Costco. Pretty much everything is the same, but each store has some exclusive items. Because of its proximity, we’ll most likely be shopping at VIC Market for many of our consumables. However, I think the snack, whiskey, and coffee selection at Costco is better.

VIC Market even took Sam’s Club lead and copied Costco’s food court. Little is different between the two. Jo and I opted to try their 45cm bulgogi pizza (W12,500). It’s comparable to the Lotte Mart Pizza, which is all right. I find that they need extra time in the oven, but at least I can now get my hot dog fix without having to go into Seoul.

Have you tried VIC Market?

How To Open a Samgak Kimbap

When walking around the streets of Seoul (or Dongtan for that matter), you will no doubt need a little sustenance to help keep you going. One of my favorite treats to pick up on the go are the samgak (three sided) kimbaps. These little morsels of goodness come prepackaged in tear-away plastic, but sometimes pose a problem to those not familiar with them. In today’s video and blog post, I’m going to show you the easy way how to open a samgak kimbap.


As you can see in the video, it takes a little care, so let’s break it down step – by step.

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

Step 1: Take hold of the Number 1 tab and pull.

 

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

Step 2: Continue pulling through the front label.

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

Step 3: Continue through the back side as well.

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

Step 4: CAREFULLY grab hold of the Number 2 tab and pull. Be gentle, don’t take the kim with you as pull!

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

Step 5: Completely remove the wrapper.

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

Step 6: Repeat on the other side.

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The finished product.

How To Open A Samgak Kimbap

ENJOY!

There you have it. The easy way to open a samgak kimbap. What’s your favorite flavor?

Pime Time TV – How To Make Kimchi

When asked what the number one signature dish in Korea is, most will say kimchi. They’re absolutely right. More than 150 varieties can be made, and that doesn’t even include fusion varieties. This past week, the producers of Olive Show (Olive TV – the same network that brought us Masterchef: Korea), asked me to come on set to make Kimchi with the host.

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What caught their attention was my video on how to make kimchi. Unfortunately, many members of the younger generation aren’t keeping the tradition of making kimchi at home. This is despite having many of the most time consuming steps completed and available for purchased. What I mean by this is you can buy soaked and salted cabbage. Imagine, no longer having to cut, wash, and soak cabbage all day long!

We shot the entire episode last Friday at May Guest House in Hongdae. During the show, we made 배추김치 (baechu kimchi), using a modified recipe from the above video, boiled pork, and then my version of kimchi jjigae. It was a blast and I had a wonderful time working with the crew.

The episode airs tonight at 9pm KST on Olive TV and again at 12 midnight. I have been told they will be sending me the digital file, so I’ll be posting that up as a Podcast Extra once it airs and I have the file in my hot little hands.

Also this evening, I’ll be pre-recording Friday’s appearance on Catch the Wave for Arirang Radio. You can hear me on-air Friday at 7pm KST.

Cold Brewed, Iced Coffee – QiRanger Style

The summer is hot and let’s face it – no one likes going outside when the weather is like that. It makes the day long and simply unbearable. On days when the mercury approaches the temperature of the sun, even I, the professor of all things coffee, need to step away from the hot nectar of the gods and choose something different… or do I?

Many flock to cafés seeking an iced coffee. Usually this is prepared by brewing an espresso shot and then pouring it over ice and adding some cold water. Other institutions will brew a pot of coffee and put it in the refrigerator until it is needed for a customer. The former option produces luke-warm beverage best, while the latter usually tastes watered down. However, there is a solution: the cold brew.

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The idea is simple, rather than brewing coffee with hot water, let the coffee develop naturally with room temperature or cold water for an extended period of time. Doing so prevents the beans from being leached, and thus the coffee produced has a lower acidity and different chemical profile from traditional coffee. It’s also quite concentrated, since the brewing time is 12 hours or more.

I have to admit that when I heard about this idea about five years ago, it sounded a bit mad. I mean, who in their right mind would brew cold coffee? I gave it a whirl and absolutely hated it. I took no more than two sips before dumping the glass and pot down the sink. However, as time has worn on, I’ve expanded my love of the delicious nectar to include chilled versions of coffee and this one is by far the best I’ve had.



To make my version of this delicious beverage you’ll need the following: Coffee, Coffee Press, 1 liter cold water, 1 liter container.

Here’s how you make it!

Step 1: In your coffee press, add coffee to your desired strength level. My recommendation is to use the same amount of coffee you’d normally use for a hot pot of coffee.

Step 2: Add 1 liter of cold water. The water can be room temperature, but I prefer using cold water initially.

Step 3: Cover and let the coffee brew for at least 12 hours.

Step 4: After 12 hours, if using a coffee press, plunge the press to separate the liquid from the grounds. Then transfer to a new container. If using another type container, filter the grounds and transfer.

Step 5: Place the cold brewed coffee into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Once the coffee is sufficiently chilled, you’re ready to serve. Since the coffee made is a concentrate, you’ll need to experiment with dilution ratios to meet your particular taste. I usually prefer 50-70% coffee to water. I think you’ll find the taste richer than an iced americano or brewed coffee that’s been chilled. Sources tell me that one may keep this coffee in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; however, I can’t confirm that, as the coffee never seems to last more than 2 days in my home.

Cold brewed, iced coffee isn’t for everyone. But if you enjoyed iced coffees you might really like this method for making it at home.

Do you have a special recipe for iced coffee? If so, I’d love to learn about it!

 

Review: Cameron’s Coffee: Highlander Grog

Anyone who knows me can tell you this: I love coffee. That’s why on our recent trip back to the United States, I took every opportunity to meet up with friends and visit my favorite coffee establishments. While in Las Vegas meeting friends and family, a good buddy of mine, Jason, presented me with a gift: a pound of Cameron’s Coffee Highlander Grog.

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I was really blown away by this gesture and immediately enamored by the smell of the roast. Cameron’s Coffee boasts that they keep specialty coffee special, and I could immediately tell why. When I purchase beans pre-packaged, usually it is devoid a strong odor. After all, who knows just how long the roast has been sitting on the shelf?

That isn’t the case with this batch. I’m not sure when Jason purchased the Cameron’s Coffee, but I received it on August 3rd, 2012. On August 26 (the time of this writing), it is just as fragrant. Standing near the bag, one smells a rich caramel aroma – something I wouldn’t expect to find in a “Highlander” coffee. I personally love it, since when I do order a flavored coffee, it’s usually caramel. Cameron’s Coffee’s website goes on to state there’s butterscotch, rum, and nuts added to the blend.

When I ground the coffee for brewing, I found the aroma strong and anticipated a rich caramel flavor to my brew; however, it was absent. Somewhere in the brewing process, the caramel I had been anticipating vanished and was replaced with a rich spice flavor. Somehow the nut-butterscotch-rum overtook the sweet caramel. At first I was taken a little aback by this, but only because of a perceived “bait and switch.”

The flavor was rich and more what I would expect of a “highland” brew. That imagery brings to mind rugged mountains, full of vigor, and a sense of adventure. That’s what the coffee delivers. Sipping this medium blend really takes you to the mountaintop and revitalizes your body. The spiced flavor sticks to the back of your throat and really lets you know who’s in charge. Those that like subtle coffee, this isn’t for you, but if you like a good brew with lots of character and flavor, you’ll enjoy this one.

Cameron’s Coffee

Steak Kimbap (gimbap)

The trip has ended and I have to say, this was one of the easiest jouneys back to Korea I have ever had. The flight crew on Asiana Airlines were fabulous and made everything simply awesome. Because of my travel time, I wound up having all my meals on the plane during transit. It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I needed to forage for food, for Jo and I did a marvelous job of cleaning out our stocks before departing.

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One of the first things I noticed when I returned to the apartment building Friday night, was that the Kimbap restaurant that open (and then quickly closed) was replaced by a brand new GS25. Because the CVS (convenience store) in my building doesn’t always stock kimbaps, I ventured into the new GS to see if I could find something tasty. To my surprise they had my favorite treat.



If you watched the video, you’ll see me rejoice in eating the pre-packaged goodness. This is my normal morning meal when off to the university. A little rice, a little meat, and a few veggies to round things out. It very much reminds me of some of the kimbaps I’ve made over the years – but for a fraction of the cost. I’m not sure how they can sell these for W1300, when the restaurants sell them for W2500 or more. Regardless, it was a welcomed treat, and one I had been looking forward to experiencing since I set off to return to Korea.