April 3, 2015

Gut Jul Ri + the weekend.

Right now there is a popular Korean TV show on the Korean cable networks called "Sam Shi Se Kki (삼시세끼)." It literally means Three Meals a Day. Basically the premise of the show recruits a pair of celebrities to experience a certain location - either on some farmland or near the ocean, far away from the city. From there, they have to prepare three meals, which is done using only the ingredients, resources and cooking tools available to them {and they aren't the fancy ones you find in modern kitchens. Stoves and ovens also don't exist and cooking is done over live fire}. Special guests also make appearances so they can experience on a more short term basis

Anyway, there is a famous Korean actor named Cha Seung Won and he was part of the team that experienced the oceanside. He was widely popular because of how well he as able to prepare meals.  He was able to whip up many dishes and side dishes, even baking bread and pizza, knowing just what types of ingredients were needed. 

One of the more simpler things he made was called Gut Jul Ri. I'm not really sure what that means exactly. I asked Yangkyu and he didn't know either. But he thinks Gut Jul Ri literally means "Seasoning the Outside" ("Gut - 겉" means outside and "Jul Ri - 절이" means seasoning). Perhaps it is named this way because this can literally be prepared and eaten in less than 10 minutes (not even). For those who are not familiar, kimchi usually takes a long time to prepare - from soaking the napa cabbage in salt so that it loses its firmness, to seasoning it and finally letting it ferment. Gut Jul Ri doesn't need a lot of the fancy seasoning that a regular kimchi needs and it is prepared so that it can be eaten right away. 

I made it for the first time the other day and while it was a bit bland, it was still tasty. 

We picked up a smaller sized napa cabbage from a Korean grocery nearby. I then took off a few leaves, maybe six or seven, and gave them a wash. I dried them off with a paper towel and chopped them up into edible, chewable pieces. Although, next time, I think I will wash them a bit earlier and let it dry a little more. I realized that the cabbage lets out a lot of water which then watered down the seasoning hence the bland taste. Make the seasoning {see below} and add to the chopped napa cabbage and mix by hand or spoon.

The seasoning only took these simple steps: 
 + 2 or 3 spoonfuls of dried hot pepper flakes (might need more or less or 3 may just be perfect)
 + 2 spoonfuls of sesame oil
 + 1 spoonful of sugar 
 + 1 spoonful of Sand Lance Sauce*
 + 1 spoonful of hot pepper paste
 + A little bit of vinegar

I think other people add maybe a bit of minced garlic, sesame seeds and also chopped green onions. I didn't. 

It's funny because when I started to cook more I would follow recipes to the T. But with Korean dishes, I find that sometimes people don't give exact measurements. I think it's because many people eyeball it or moms and grandmas, they just know. It's all about a feeling they have. And it's exactly this way with my parents.

In the past I asked them how they made certain dishes which were a favorite of mine growing up and I just never really understood their directions. I wondered why they couldn't they just say 1 tablespoon of soy sauce instead of "a bit of" or "pour just the right amount of." But now I'm beginning to appreciate that more. It seems a bit more authentic or a bit more personal -- like it's the same dish but prepared a little differently in different households. And the way we prepare it tells the story of our family.

I began to write some of these recipes down in a little notebook. The ingredient section looks ridiculous - it's written half in Korean and half in English and the measurements and directions sometimes aren't specific. But I feel like it's something that I can keep in our family from now on. The dishes as prepared by my parents, living on in my generation and hopefully on to the next. 

Do you have something similar that holds recipes handed down from generation to generation in your family? 

This weekend we have a couple of DogVacay guests staying with us. I am hoping to dabble in a bit more crafts and steal away some time to read. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

*This stuff smells like fish, meaning it's stinky and might be a little harsh to people who are not familiar with it. But what you smell, you can't really taste. 

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