Woohoo! A food post!
How long has it been since I did a food post? Maybe 2 years? Eek!
Korea is a nation of meat lovers. Meat and fish are in everything. In fact, in some areas, people look at you as though you’ve just escaped from the local loony bin if you dare to order something “without the meat.”
It’s a good thing I moved here, right?
One of my co-teachers loves to talk about how good certain meals in this country are and that “when I decide to eat meat again,” I’ll be able to enjoy it too.
I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years now. I don’t really see this as a passing faze, as much as my colleagues like to insist it is.
But living in a place full of meaty meals isn’t a new experience for me. Like Korea, Mexico’s food was very meat-heavy. And I managed to survive that. :D
At first, moving to a country that doesn’t really cater for your diet can feel quite daunting. If you’re anything like me, you even start to feel like you’re missing out on a huge part of the culture when it seems like you can’t eat anything but flavourless, white rice for every meal.
But, over time, when you start getting a bit more confident in your new setting and feel brave enough to try out phrases in the local language, you start to discover that there’re a lot more things for you to enjoy as a hippie-dippie herbivore.
Here are my favourites:
떡볶이 / Ddeokbokki
This comes at the top of the list.
Oooooh, I love ddeokbokki. I’m not sure if it’s the healthiest thing in the world but it’s, by far, my absolute favourite Korean food.
It’s pretty much a street food but you can buy the ingredients in supermarkets to make at home. In the simplest form, it’s rice cakes and 고추장/gochujang (sweet chili sauce). On the streets, you’ll probably find fish added in.
There’s a place downtown in Naju that does it rabokki-style (ddeokbokki and ramen) where you can cook a big pot at the table yourself and add loads of different types of vegetables and tofu in with them too.
A lot of the ddeokbokki at the street vendors I’ve seen just serve plain ddeok (rice cakes) but I have tasted ddeokbokki with cheese-stuffed and sweet potato-stuffed rice cakes. Mmmmmmm. Perfection!
(I buy and make the cheese-stuffed ddeokbokki at home because, let’s be honest, cheese makes everything ten times better.)