Monday, January 25, 2010

Korean Supermarket

When he returned from Christmas break, Tae Woong, my South Korean homestay student, decided he would learn how to cook and make his own meals from now on. I didn't blame him. When you're in a foreign country, the stresses of learning a second language are easier to deal with when you can eat your own comfort food. For South Korean students that is easy to do because a large Korean-American population lives here in the greater Seattle area and there are plenty of Korean food stores to choose from.

So Tae-Woong and I drove to a local Korean supermarket. Now I've been in Korean markets before, but this one is new--and huge! They have everything imaginable, and more!
Dried squid for snacking. (Probably healthier than American potato chips.)

Spicy pepper sauce--a staple in Korean cooking--as in Kim-chi.

A wall of soy sauce--every kind imaginable for the discerning chef.

More dried squid.

Dried seaweed--for wrapping around a spoonful of cooked rice and eating as a side dish to meat.

Dried Korean chi-namul (dried wild aster). You'll not find this vegetable in many, if any, American supermarkets.

Cooked and seasoned dried squid--a snack that is popular when drinking beer.

And alcohol made from rice--both the alcohol and the bottle are white!

Wait a minute! Did you say alcohol? Hmmm, yes, that is a pretty bottle, Tae-Woong, but I'm sorry--no drinking alcohol in my house.

Ah, finally! Here's something I recognize--mochi--it's a Japanese treat! I guess Koreans like mochi, too! (My favorite is mochi with sweet bean paste inside.)

Gourmet 'sticky' rice.

And, of course, the 'Cadilac' of rice cookers!

This one is identical to the one that Ki-Bum and Hyun-Wook's parents bought for me a couple of years ago. We use it all the time! You can use it, too, Tae-Woong.

"OK, Mother, I'm ready to cook. How do I make bi bim bop?"

Bi bim bop? It's a staple Korean dish--best described with a picture. Here's one I got off the Internet. Tae-Woong hasn't actually made bi bim bop yet, but he says he will, soon.

Learning how to cook doesn't happen overnight, you know!

Good Luck, Tae-Woong!


Homestay Mama


  1. Yuck, I didn't see anything here I would like--dried squid and dried seaweed do not sound very appetizing to me at all! Is he sure he wouldn't rather learn to cook American food?

  2. All my international students, no matter what country they are from, complain about the extreme sweetness of American desserts. They
    also say our pre-processed/packaged foods are too bland and don't taste like real food and that American food lacks spices and flavor. Neither are they fans of our cheeses. Once I started tasting their foods, I saw what they meant.

    Now my favorite foods are Ghorma Sabsi, Fesenjoon, Kapsa, Cheonggukjang (Stinky Fermented Bean Paste Stew), Pan Jeon (Korean vegetable pancake) and for dessert, Korean sweet potato cake with strawberry ice cream which tastes like real strawberries and is NOT sickeningly sweet. I also like the Kim-chi that Myung-Soon (Ki-Bum's mom) makes, and I really, really like Gaeng Daeng (Thailand) which is chicken and bamboo shoots cooked in coconut milk with red spice paste and fish sauce. And, I would rather snack on mochi or rice cakes (which are NOT dry and cracker-like!) from either Japan or Korea.

    Mmmmmmm, I'm getting hungry!

  3. Sounds great HS Mama, all your favourite foods I mean. So are YOU the one teaching him how to cook? We'd love to learn from some of your lessons. I very much agree with about the very sweet foods of the US and also the packaged foods tasting bland. How wonderful that Tae Woong wants to learn to cook.

    warm greetings

  4. This was such a fun post!!! Off to read more!

  5. Oh my goodness...I so miss my old Korean Market.
    Whenever we are in Florida, I get a couple of 20lb. bags of rice, a couple of bottles of soy sauce, and some sesame oil. And I can't forget some sweet treats. Just wish I could bring the frozen melon bars home with me.