Hi. My name's Carol, and I love food. No, you don't understand. I love food. If I were on the Titanic, I'd be in the galley (kitchen) eating up the chocolate pudding and the roasted quail. I go to most events, activities and parties just for the food. The company and the conversation are secondary. Here, I'll try to document everything that goes into my mouth. Aren't we excited? Oh, hey, are you gonna eat that?
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Take my advice. I'm Korean. But I no longer speak Korean. If you hanker for good Korean food and to be treated like a royalty, take your Korean-speaking authoritarian mom or grandma, and her friend, and have them treat you to their favorite restaurant. Not the one they show off to the tourists, but the one they go to when they're hungry.
We weren't particularly enthused about filling up yet another precious vacation day with stuff other people, however well-meaning, wanted to do for us. We were in Hawaii for only 10 days. Already, eight days were spoken for--either gigs, accepted invitations to friends' gatherings, or the reason we went on a trip in the first place, my husband's high school reunion picnic and luau. By the seventh day, we seriously needed down time as a family, to free up one whole day for ourselves. We never got that, but we did get rewarded for doing our duty and letting my mom and her rich friend Sofia treat us to Korean lunch. By the end of the lunch, we were pleasantly stuffed, having eaten the best meals of the vacation. Plus, our son received a $100 bill from Sofia for being a good boy.
Sorabol features the typical Korean fare: bi bim bap, kal bi, kim chee jigee, tofu jigae, cook your own meats and vegetables, sushi. But I don't even bother with the menu. I let my mom do all the ordering. She knows my taste, she or her mom used to feed me home-cooked Korean food as a child that was 100 times better than any restaurant.
So me, Eddie and James just sat back while my mom did her thing. She took over the cook your own, frying up the different kinds of meats, on the bone, off the bone, kal bi, bul go gi, filet mignon, onions, and laying them slightly charred on our plates, when she wasn't wrapping our son rice in roasted nori and dumping rice in miso soup for him. She also asked for the precious Corvina fish for me and I shared her friend Sofia's tofu jigae (too mild for me) and kim chee pancake with this soy/green onion dipping sauce. The cook your own meats came with our favorite dipping sauce, a salt and sesame oil mixture that is to die for.
There was so much on our table, we didn't know what to eat first. Korean people don't just feast on a main course. They have little bites, appetizers and condiments, to augment the meal. Stuff like namul, kim chee, bean sprouts, dried cuttlefish, mushy potato salad, kim chee daikon. I'm surprised most Koreans who eat this stuff are so skinny.
I wasn't. I was fat, full and satisfied. This should tide me over until the next time I either visit my mom in Hawaii or she visits me.
Even more surprising was my husband willingly putting roasted nori and Corvina fish in his mouth. Normally when my mom makes these for me at home, he's out the door gagging. He isn't a fan of roasted nori on its own, only in sushi. And the fish she fries up is so smelly to him he can't even stomach trying it. After I gaped at him for trying these two dishes, I asked him why. He simply replied, "I'm hungry and it seemed like a good idea. It was. These are real good."
We didn't get our extra day to explore Hawaii alone. But then again, we didn't really need it. We had two caring people take care of lunch, and it turned out to be better than anything we could've cooked up ourselves.