Making Hotteoks At Home

Some times you have to wonder what you get yourself into. This month on The Korea Blog, I’m doing a series on making Korean food at home. It sounds easy enough, and Jo and I do our fair share of cooking, but let me tell you, making hotteoks was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in the kitchen.

korea hotteok cooking

Jo and I found a mix at our local market some time ago and have been wanting to make these delicious treats at home for some time. That’s why, when I proposed this series for The Korea Blog, I knew I had to include this as one of the videos. To learn how I made them, read the article on the site.



This video was once again shot with the GoPro Camera. In the tight quarters of the kitchen, it really allows one to create some great shots without being too far away. The Edutige ETM-001 plugged into the camera also performed well, although a mental note must be made to turn off the water cooler next time. The buzzing can be heard in the video. That gives you an idea how good that mic really is.

While Jo and I recorded the audio during our shoot, I opted to record a short voice over for the final video using the Zoom H2. Since getting the Edutige mics, I haven’t used it as much for vlogs, but it is still such a great little recorder.

What did the Hotteoks Taste Like?

AWESOME!

Seriously, they did. Even with our “Texas” sized portions, we were able to make 8 of the 10 purported hotteoks on the box. They tasted every bit as good as the ones you get on the street, if not more so. Why? The fried goodness. Since these were thicker, I had to cook them longer in the oil. This meant the outsides were more well done than the thin ones on the street. The end result was a chewy inside and crunchy outside. Even better, the cinnamon/sugar/nut mixture was heated to perfection and oozed deliciousness down my fingers.

Ultimately, it is far too much work to make this on a regular basis, but still fun to do every once in a while.

Have you ever made street food at home? What’s your favorite street food?

Making Gourmet Ramyun!

Growing up, I remember having my fair share of instant noodles. It was nothing fancy, just a Cup-O-Noodles that I would pour in some water and nuke in the microwave to speed up the cooking process. I know it wasn’t the healthiest of meals, but DAMN – they tasted good!

gourmet ramyun - qiranger

Since coming to Korea, I have been amazed at the number of varieties of ramyun found in stores. I mean, look at the photo above. Here is the scene from my local EMart, where the entire center aisle is nothing my instant noodle goodness!


This month on The Korea Blog, I’m starting a new series about making Korean food at home. Since ramyun is probably the number one meal most learn to make, I thought I would spice it up a little and make a gourmet ramyun version. You can read about how I did so here.

This video was show entirely with the GoPro Hero2 using a pair of new external mics. As time progresses, I think I’ll be using these small cameras more and more, since they are easy to carry, provide great audio at close distances, and have a great wide-angle of view.

What do you think? What’s the best way to make ramyun at home? how do you take the ordinary and make it spectacular?

The Best Chocolate Shake… EVAR!!!!!!!!

Many times, I’m asked why I exercise so much. The truth is, I like to eat. I mean, I don’t necessarily have to go for fancy meals, but I do like good food and large portions. That’s why when I was growing up, two Big Macs were the standard starter meal. In college, a 20″ pizza succumbed to my hunger. So I took to exercising to make sure my waistline didn’t surpass my hunger.

songtan food - qiranger

Songtan

A short subway ride away is Songtan. It’s the area right outside Osan US Air Force Base. Since it has a large American presence, a number of establishments have opened up over the years catering to these service men, women, and families. Much like the Yongsan Garrison that spurred Itaewon’s growth, this military installation had the benefit of bringing with it Thai, Turkish, and a whole other range of food. Rather than trekking into Seoul for meals, we often find ourselves here.



The Best Chocolate Shake

Seriously it is.

We first found CF Café when we traveled to Songtan to partake in our favorite meat buffet. It’s located on the second floor of the main shopping street across from the Rio Grill. CF stands for CoFfee. I love it.

Inside, you’ll find a café with comfortable chairs and couches, perfect for groups of four or couples out on a date. It’s a smoker’s paradise, and in the afternoon, a cloud of tobacco hangs in the air. That aside, it really is a delightful place with an impressive menu of coffee, tea, ice cream, shakes, and cocktails. Yup… you heard me… cocktails! BONUS!

The Cocholate Shake I speak of – Choco Shake (초코 쉐이크) – is currently W5,500 and worth every bit of it. It comes in a large glass and is hand-made behind the bar. The shake is not only made with love, but with real chocolate ice cream, milk, and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. The final touches on top include real whipping cream, and Oreo cookie, and Frosted Flakes.

I know what you’re thinking, “Frosted Flakes? OMGWTFBBQ?!?!?!?!” It doesn’t sound like it would work, but after two years of downing these bad boys, I assure you they do.

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping by and ordering this treat.

What’s your indulgent treat?

 

North Korean Food in Seoul

A short while ago, Bobby wrote a nice piece about Pyeong Ga Oak (평가옥) – a franchise featuring North Korean style cuisine.  The post caught not only my eye, but also that of Jo-Anna of The View From Over Here. She put out an ask on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to venture out to give the restaurant a try, and seeing as how it was a long time since Jo and I had seen her, we gladly told her we’d love to come.

North Korean Food - QiRanger

The restaurant looks much nicer than the building it is in, which is undergoing some renovations at the moment. This particular branch is located not far from Gwanghwamun Station Exit 1.

Meals inside are about W10,000 per serving, no matter what you buy. They do have a number of larger dishes, serving 3-4 people, and those are priced the same as well.

North Korean Food - QiRanger

To be honest, I wasn’t able to really see what distinction can be made between “South Korea” style and “North Korean” style. But then again, I can’t discern regional specialties either. I opted to try the beef mandu soup and found it delicious. The beef was tender and the four mandu that were included in the brother were stuffed and amazing. They were seriously some of the best mandu I’ve ever had. However, I thought the broth lacked flavor. It was really subtle, and I found it a little lacking.



Jo-Anna and Sanghyun had to leave after lunch and prepare to teach a Korean class. So Jo and I opted to stay in town and take in the 2012 Seoul Lantern Festival. Because I was trying out some new mics and camera techniques, I opted to shoot everything that day with the GoPro Camera.

 

Mom Eats More Street Food

Sunday saw the first full day out exploring Seoul. Up until now, we’ve been staying in Gyeonggi-do.

hotteok - samgak gimbap kimbap - korean food -korea - qiranger

Mom takes a moment to pose with the skilled chef making hotteok.

Our first outing found us passing a hotteok (버블호떡) stand, which happens to be Jo’s favorite street food. So naturally, we had to have mother try it.


From there we needed a little more snacking power, so I talked mother into trying a samgak kimbap (삼각김밥). While not really street food, it is great for getting a quick bite to eat.


I have to say, she was a real trooper and did a great job opening it right up!

What’s your favorite street food?

Mom Eats Korean Food

With mother here, Jo and I have been out showing her the sights… and of course the food. Here are a few videos I released on Friday as she begins her Korean Food Tour! Since she doesn’t like Spicy foods, most of what we’ll be trying will be great for those interested in coming to Korea but are afraid of spicy foods.



In these videos, we try Fried Chicken and Dolsot Bibimpbap. Fried chicken is usually served hot, and while there can be spicy varieties, most of the time it isn’t The same goes for the mixed rice dish bibimbap.

Korean Breakfast: Baekban (백반)

I know I hit the coffee pretty hard in the mornings. I mean, it just isn’t a day without a pot of coffee! Why stop with a single cup? But one thing I do remember from growing up in Texas, was that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Living in Korea, that sentiment is also shared, but rather than load one down with carbs and sugars, the meal is quite healthy and obtainable in just about every restaurant.

korean-food-baekban-breakfast-korea-qiranger

Baekban

On the menu, simply look for Baek-Ban (백반). It will usually run a few thousand won. At our local place, it costs W5,000 per person. Probably one of the greatest selling points of baekban is how healthy it is. Above you can see our recent breakfast consisting of a doenjang-seaweed soup, potatoes, fish cakes, and a few different styles of kimchi. My favorite had to the be the spicy lettuce kimchi seen above on the extreme upper left.



One might think that having only a half-cup of rice, some veggies, and a bowl of soup isn’t filling, but they would be wrong. It’s surprisingly so. While at our homestay in 2010, the baekban served also included grilled fish and some egg, making the presentation of the meal versatile and reflective of the establishment.

Baekban isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in Korea and want a quick meal that is healthy, then this is one I would recommend. Going out for it doesn’t have the same allure as hopping in the family car and heading to IHOP, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

If you head out for breakfast, where do you go? What do you pick up? I used to take off every Sunday for the aforementioned IHOP run and simply fell in love with their coffee and pancakes!

 

Mom’s First Meal in Korea

Here they come… a new patch of posts chronicling my mother’s trip to Korea. Some will be simple vlog posts, like today, where I introduce a quick meal to her that I’ve previously recorded for the main YouTube Channel and other will be more in-depth reviews of her trip here, as seen through her eyes. Those will go up in November.

Mom eating Korean Food

My mother’s first real meal in Korea.

For this meal, we ventured to our first floor restaurant and had their lunch special. Since mom doesn’t like spicy food, she wasn’t able to take advantage of all the goodness that was laid out on the table, but I knew she’s love my choice for her. Ddukbaegi Bulgogi.

As expected, she loved its sweet broth and savory beef.



I took her to one of my favorite places for dinner as well… that video is coming soon!!!

What else should I have her try while in Korea?

Korean Street Food: Hotteok

hotteok-qiranger-korea

Fall is quickly approaching, and that means one thing: the piping hot street foods are set to return and I thought I’d take a moment to share with you one of my favorite street foods. What makes it even more interesting is that this singularly named street food comes in two varieties. What is it? The hotteok (호떡).

hotteok-qiranger-korea

The Hotteok

If you ask most people what a hotteok (호떡) is they will tell you something like this: a doughnut fried up on a griddle and pressed flat with cinnamon inside. It’s believed that hotteoks made their way into Korea with Chinese immigrants near the end of the 19th Century. While the Chinese variety are often stuffed with meat and savory fillings, Korean hotteoks usually have a sweet center. The most common filling is cinnamon and sugar, but sometimes honey and nuts are added. Recently new varieties have been popping up using vegetables, green tea, bokbunja (raspberry), and other sweets to liven up this traditional treat.


But what about the other kind? I’m glad you asked!

hotteok - qiranger - korea

The Bubble Hotteok (버블호떡)

The above is the second variety. While traditionally hotteoks are fried, bubble hotteoks are baked. They are still made from dough and filled with cinnamon/honey/sugar, but are rolled out flat and then placed onto griddles over an open flame and baked. The result is a light and crispy shell filled with a gooey inside that is delicious. Of the two types, this is Jo’s favorite. I will also admit to liking this one a little more, since it isn’t as greasy.

Initially these treats were served primarily during cold weather months, but now they can be found on streets year-round. Price for each hovers around W1,000 per tasty morsel, but have seen a few roadside stands offering up a great 2-for-1 deal. If you’re walking the streets in Korea, and are craving a sweet snack, this may just be for you – but try to get a fresh one. If they’ve been sitting for a while, they’re not as great.

TQRAP Video Extra – Olive Show

Recently, I had the honor of appearing on the Olive Show. In the You Can Cook segment, I made a number of dishes with the host Fabian.

Olive Show - You Can Cook - Kimchi - QiRanger

It was a great experience. As promised, they sent me the video file and I’ve uploaded the segment as a video podcast extra. What do you think?

Have you made Kimchi? I love making it and the batch we made on the show is great!