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Canada Land: Not a Dime Store Hooker.

Canada Land is not nearly as cheap as I am.I went out on the town last night. Given that "out on the town" here means "select one of half of a dozen bars within a two block radius and hope that the total wankers went across the street instead, purchase over priced beverage, and wonder why the lights have turned on and the closing bell is ringing before you're finished your third", this experience

Spicy Tofu Stew (Soon Tofu) 순두부 찌개

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Spicy Tofu Stew (Soon Tofu) 순두부 찌개


Extra Soft Tofu 순두부 1 pack
Beef (for stew) 소고기 50g
Shrimp 새우 10
Clams 모시조개 10
Squid 오징어 50 g
Onion 양파 1/4
Zucchini 호박 1/4
Enochi Mushroom 팽이버섯 10g
Red Chili Pepper 빨간 고추 1/2
Green Chili Pepper 풋고추 1/2
Green Onion 파 1
Garlic (chopped) 마늘 1 tablespoon
Sesame Oil 참기름 2 tablespoons
Korean Red Chili Flakes 고추가루 2 to 3 tablespoons
(depending on how spicy you want to make it)
Salt 소금 1.5 to 2 tablespoons
Pepper 후추 1 teaspoon
Water 물 2 1/2 cups
Egg 계란 1
Stone bowl 돌솥 (optional)

* You can make it with just meat (beef or pork) alone, or with your favorite seafoods or a combinations of beef, pork and seafoods. Remember cooking is not a mechanical process. You can always improvise.

(Since a few people have asked)
I personally don't like using gochujang for this dish because it takes away from that crisp spicy taste i find. it doesn't give 시원한 맛..and make it 느끼 if you understand what i mean. But it's up to you!


1. If you have live clams, put them in salt water over night in a dark place so that they spit out sand. Then, wash before cooking. (frozen seafoods should work too)

2. Dice vegetables and cut beef into small pieces.

3. Pre-heat a pot on low heat. Add sesame oil, beef and Korean chili pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add onion and zucchini and season with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook for 5 minutes. If vegetables stick to the bottom. Add a little bit of water.

5. Add water and garlic. Bring to boil on high heat.

6. Put the stone bowl on high heat to pre-heat. (if you are using it)

7. Add shrimp and squid. Cook for 3 minutes.

8. Taste and season with salt.

9. Add clams and extra soft tofu. Cook for 3-5 minutes.

* Try not to stir too much at this point as tofu is very delicate.
* If you are using live clams, you know they are cooked when the open up.

10. Transfer gently into the stone bowl. Add pepper, Enochi mushrooms, green peppers, red and green chili peppers on top.

11. Add an egg just before eating.

Come On, Bra. Really?

I went bra shopping in Korea exactly once. Sort of. When I was still a young pup, fresh off the plane and all, my coworker brought me to some underwear shop in Nampodong. Here, Random Ajumma measured me, roughly, over my sweater, in order to determine my Korean bra size. She then informed my coworker that there was one store in Seomyeon which carried my size, should I wish to drop 80 dollars on a

Not Another How-to Post

I was thinking about how to survive in your tiny Busan apartment but then I remembered that many of the youngsters here were surviving in a place just as small with four roommates in college but I am going to write a few pieces of advice anyway if only for the people I know (you know who you are) who could benefit from a bit of motherly nagging.

  • First: Even if you are happy in your squalor, recognize that your inevitable guests will not be. Do you dishes. How to: if you have a one-holer, and you do, fill the sink with suds and dishes. As you wash them, place them on the counter where you just made a mess (the suds will drain a bit but that will help clean the counter). Arrange artfully. After all the dishes are done drain the sink and put the clean dishes back in. Clean the counter. Lay down clean drip towel. Rinse dishes and arrange artfully on drip towel, making sure that there is room for air circulation. Smoke a cigarette and admire.
  • Next: Make your bed. This has two effects. First, it causes you to take a basic step toward housekeeping first thing in the morning and this could accidentally lead to others. Second, it gives you a signal that the bed is for sleeping at night. Not at six in the evening or two in the morning. It is, and should be, a special place of sanctuary. Respect it through the ritual of bed-making.
  • Creature comforts. I am a dude. But even dudes, on solitary nights, might find the presence of candlelight comforting. I am always surprised at how a little soft light and jazz (not smooth jazz, but, like, miles or jarrett) can completely change the atmosphere of a room. If you have the energy, get to a HomePlus and pimp out your bed. Pillows, down, the works. And get some nice towels for god's sake. And a throw blanket to wrap up in. All of this, needless to say, will come in handy when you finally get drunk enough to talk to someone of the opposite sex (or).
  • Laundry. Just do it. And the more often the betterer. And don't throw your dirty underwear in the hall. Get a basket and put the stuff that needs washed in there. The stuff you can wear again fold and put at the bottom of the clean stack (duh!).
  • The Bathroom. The shower stall/crapper/toothery/shavities in these apartments present their own special challenges. Anyone who has been ready to go only to sense that they had a facial issue or hair issue has been faced with the following choice: take off your socks or go fix it at work. Solution: I have super-glued a mirror to the exit. This allows me to take one last look at my beautiful mug before launching it into the world while maintaining moisture-free hosiery. And the combination of rubber gloves, a bucket, water, Dawn detergent, stiff bristly brush, and a post-wash bleach spritzer (I have mine in an old Windex bottle [2 parts water/1 part bleach]) will (probably) keep the fungus at bay, unless you live in Nampodong, in which case you should scrub with an old fishing net and sea water.
  • Beer. A little liquor of an evening can lubricate the proceedings nicely. Just put on some music you favor and tipple. It is fun and makes the room seem comfy yet expansive. Take it from me. And Hite isn't that bad after the first two liters. Never, ever, drink Max or Soju. Especially on a school nite.
  • Cooking. A little bit of creativity and you can make a home cooked meal in that closet of a kitchen. I made a delicious soup this evening by sauteing onions, garlic, celery, carrot, baby mushrooms, and scallions in a quarter stick of Land of Lakes butter, later adding three cups of water, 1.5 cubes of Knorr's chicken bullion, and a half of a smoked chicken. After that had simmered I pulled out the chicken and threw in some egg noodles. I pulled the meat off the chicken carcass and threw it back in (the meat, i mean [the skin and bones and gristle I remained to the freezer for carcass soup later]). A friend brought a baguette (the ones at Paris Baguette don't suck) and we dined like rednecks at grandma's house. And then I did the dishes.
I could go on but I will save some of my more pointed suggestions for the inevitable eventuality that these don't work. Again, you know who you are.

My Special Place

Years down the line a psychiatrist may well ask me to visualise my special place and when he does, I’ll probably be thinking of Jagalchi Fish Market. Centered around a huge sail-like building in Busan Port that evokes the Sydney Opera House, Jagalchi is billed as the largest fish market in Korea, and its easy to see why. Covering an area roughly 5000 square metres, a staggering amount of sealife passes through this place seven days a week, and I like nothing better than to wander the aisles gaping the ocean’s harvest in all its weirdness.

As you would expect, the market plays host to an abundance of fresh fish, crabs and crustaceans (much of it live) ranging from the familiar to the downright freakish; Monster King Crabs clamber over each other in expansive tanks waiting for the drop of the sellers net, while four-foot long Octopi stare back at you with their black dead eyes. I recently saw a bucket of turtles here, paddling around happily unaware of their surroundings and have even heard that whale meat is available, though have yet to see any myself.

However, while its fun to watch, the best of Jagalchi is in the eating and in this respect a number of options are on offer. An as yet untried (but no less appealing) one is right inside the market itself, where anything you buy can be gutted, cleaned and cooked for a few chun and enjoyed in an upstairs eating section. In addition to this, dozens of restaurants, tents and eating places line the market fringes, all serving up the day’s catch at incredibly attractive prices.

I recently ducked into one of the latter on an overcast Saturday afternoon, enticed by the fish grilling outside and the busy trade within. After asking in bungled Korean for a bowl of jiggae (a spicy soup eaten with rice,) there soon arrived at my table a whole grilled fish (head eyes, fins and all) a bowl of jiggae and a bowl of rice. The fish turned out to be a happy accident, an abundance of flaky white flesh under crispy golden skin coming apart easily underneath my chopsticks. Delicious on its own, the bowl of dipping soy sauce that arrived with the banchan (side dishes) added an extra, previously untried dimension.

For its part the jiggae held its own; the rich spicy broth complemented with green onion, beansprouts and bits and pieces of sea creatures I don’t know the English for let alone the Korean. The biggest surprise however was the chocolate coloured tofu bobbing around amongst the seafood. This chunky, textured addition was nothing like the slimy, watery meat substitute defended so vigourously by vegetarians in the west, instead adding body and substance to the bowl.

After paying up (the whole thing came to less than £3) and leaving with a hearty “chal mokessayo!” I returned to the madness in search of the night’s dinner (a pair of Mud Crabs as it turned out) and gape a little more.

This is what Saturday afternoons were made for.

Taste Buds, You've Changed.

My last couple of weeks in Korea Land were so stressful (and possibly drunk) that I more or less forgot that this section of the internet existed. A few days in Canada Land, the boredom set in, and I remembered blogspot! I'll be returning to Korea Land in 5-6 weeks. In hindsight, this was probably too long of a gap. Hanging with folks from home? Awesome. Temporary work placements? Snow?

Bi Bim Bap - a loopa

Part of the fun of Korean food is how easily the names can be punned into western song titles. I’ve passed many an idle hour smiling to myself about the likes of Kim-bop, Galbi there and my personal favourite, Getting jiggae with it. However, while puns are all very well, most of the fun remains in the eating of the stuff and this is no less true of the quiet man of Korean cuisine, Bi Bim Bap.

The perfect way to regain some of that strength after going ten rounds with the Kindergarteners, Bi Bim Bap dishes all follow a variation on a basic set-up of rice, julienned vegetables, a fried egg, dried sea weed and sesame seeds. If you opt to go dol sot (which I do, always) then the whole thing arrives in a sizzling bowl adding a bit of pizzazz to the whole arrangement. Into this tumultuous cauldron go a few spoonfuls of gloopy, firey chilli paste to taste, after which it’s ready to go.

With Bi Bim Bap you’ve gotta work for your supper, giving everything a good mix to evenly distributed the various parts. The result is a mighty fine bowl of food. The rice, a staple of the Korean diet is transformed by the chilli paste and sea weed, while the egg provides an indispensible protein fix. While I mostly eat this basic version of Bi Bim Bap at the diner beside our school at lunch times, we will occasionally go to a special Bi Bim Bap restaurant for dinner, where a number of variations are on offer. My personal favourite is an extra spicy concoction that includes a liberal amount of tender, shredded pork and a bowl of mussel soup on the side.

I originally dismissed this unprepossessing bowl of rice and vegetables as merely a healthier (and as such less interesting) alternative to whatever dead animal I was in the process of shovelling onto my plate, but I am fast finding out that, as with a lot of Korean Food, there is more, much more.


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