Archive for the ‘Korea’ Category

 

jangan-dakgalbi

Dakgalbi is often a foreigner favourite in Korea. It’s not so much a type of food but rather a ‘food event’. There are often several stages as shown in the photos, and many modern places also throw in whatever extras are on the menu. One of the best extras is probably cheese because you watch it melt before your eyes and you might get to witness a kind of mini parting of the Red Sea – but with cheese instead of saltwater, also  chicken instead of a population of Jews fleeing the persecution of that Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt. As analogies go, that last one might be one of the worst, but I don’t care because I’m biblical.

 So, what the hell is it?  I would classify it as spicy stirred-fried chicken  where the ingredients are stirred fried in a large pan placed in the center of the table. Like many Korean foods it’s great for sharing. The best varieties (included below) contain tender chicken pieces in a spicy marinade, but the real seller for me is the texture. After frying the chicken they add  cabbage and some other vegetables:sesame leaves, leeks, sweet potatoes. They also add  rice cakes in case you need some carbs. After the various stages you are left with an excellent balance of sweet, spicy chicken with crunchy vegetables.

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The base of the sauce is gochujang – which is a Korean chili paste. Most places will serve about three levels of spice. If it’s too spicy for the foreigner you can balance it out a bit with your ‘ssam’ wrap which consists of lettuce and a few other veggies. If you want it spicy you can add some more chili or garlic in your lettuce wrap.

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Every place I have been for this meal has a server or chef who makes it round the tables to stir fry it for about 10 minutes. I think the key point is probably the crunchiness of the cabbage. If this gets soggy you’ve lost it! My favourite part of the ending when they may offer you some stir fried rice to soak up the remaining sauce. This sometimes comes with some lava or kim and gets smashed around the pan. It’s pretty heavy on the carbs so go to Dakgalbi place when you’re really hungry.

jangin

The pictures comprise three of my Dakgalbi highlights. One of theme is in my neighbourghood – Jangan Dakgalbi. One is in Gangnam –  Jangin Dakgalbi. Finally, the outdoor pictures are from the home of Dakgalbi – Chuncheon.

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chuncheon

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jangin-Dakgalbi/1694323930819687 – I visited Jangin in Gangnam

http://blog.naver.com/lovelyssing/220931626086 – Pictures and map for Jangan Dakgalbi (Korean Blog)

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=1373574  – Chuncheon Dakgalbi festival. If you are at a different time of year it’s still worth a visit.

 

Danggogae Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) Exit 1 or 4
Suraksan Station (Seoul Subway Line 7) Exit 1-3
Uijeongbu Station (Seoul Subway Line 1) Exit 1
Located 10 min. from exit

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Dongpirang is a painted neighbourhood in Tongyeong. It sits upon a hill and watches over the sea.DSC_0237

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It’s this way.

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If you need a rest…

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No Korean hill is complete without a lookout.

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Her bag is the shape of the village

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From the movie based on the life of Lady Di

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Fmous Korean cartoons.

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Best view.

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The shop of dreams.

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on Tongyeong the Napoli of KoreaDSC_0253DSC_0287DSC_0293DSC_0294DSC_0297DSC03329_Fotor_CollageDSC03408DSC03410DSC03415DSC03424DSC03425DSC03430DSC03433DSC03434DSC03435_Fotor_CollageDSC03442DSC03447_Fotor_CollageDSC03463

Once you’ve seen one Joseon dynasty tomb, you’ve seen them all. That’s something I’ve never said, at least not without being sarcastic. For those who have been in Korea for an extended period I could understand that some historical monuments start to look very similar to each other. If you are in this phase of diminishing returns when it comes to visiting ‘old stuff’, then I sincerely recommend a visit to the royal tombs of Taereung Gangneung over on the north east side of Seoul.

Map

 

The two locations are a tomb complex in Nowon-gu. Taereung Royal Tomb (태릉) houses the burial mound of Queen Munjeong who was the second queen of King Jungjong, the 11th King of the Joseon Dynasty. Nearby Gangneung (강릉) is the final resting place of  Munjeoang’s son King Myeongjong, the 13th King of Joseon Dynasty, and his wife Queen Insunwanghu.  As mentioned earlier, once you are familiar with the burial sites of the Joseon Dynasty history can start slipping into carefully cultivated UNESCO heritage sites. The orderly layouts and well designed information placard can detract from the interesting and often extremely turbulent history which lies beneath.

Taereung Shrine Entrance

Beneath the grassy knoll of Taereung lies one of the more interesting figures of Korean dynastic history and a great candidate to be patron saint of pushy mums – Queen Munjeong. Her son Myeongjong was too young to rule by himself until 1565 so Queen Munjeong ated as a regent. Despite her many depictions as a power crazy Lady Macbeth type figure, there are also accounts of her being a more than competent administrator. She even gave out land to common people that had been formerly owned by the nobility. Although this practice is rarely for altruistic reasons; it is usually more related to stripping the yangban (upper classes) of land for political reasons. An ominous sign which appears in most dynasties the world over, was the fact that she continued to rule even after her son reached the age of majority. It was only after her death that her son took over power, which seems to me a black and white indication of their relationship.If, like me, you would like to know more about this narrative then you could watch the historical drama  Mandate of Heaven 2013. It’s on a list which I am working my way through – I’m about 1400 years behind at the moment! Another interesting fact about Munjeong was that she was one of the most influential supporters of Buddhism. During the early years of Joseon Neo Confucism replaced Buddhism as the de facto state ideology. The Queen lifted the official ban on Buddhist worship and instigated a resurgence of Buddhism.The next chapter of Korean history starts after Munjeong’s death. However, I have not visited the other tomb complex yet so I will reserve the research for my next visit.

The location of the tomb is in a wonderful location, owing to the practice of geomancy. Like most tombs and royal palaces in Korea the location is chosen with freshwater flowing near the front area and mountains to the rear. In the case of Taereung you can actually follow a small tributary from the Jungang Stream (itself a tributary of the Han). There is a great cycle path all the way up the Jungang Cheon and heading north you can take a right before Taerung Subway station and wind your way up the stream which follows the Bukbu Expressway. It’s a great bike ride in summer because it’s mostly in the shade. The advantage of going by bike is the fact that you miss nearly all the main traffic. I came off the stream when it splits and found myself next to the huge Military academy – the museum is opposite.

The museum is actually the main reason why I would recommend this place. It gives a very detailed description of how tombs are used and made. That sounds extraordinarily dull, but believe me, the graphics and displays kept me in the museum for much longer than I expected. I wish I had seen the museum a few years ago because it would have helped me understand exactly why the paths are laid out as they are and also the construction of the burial mound.

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The museum costs 1000 won for adults and is open Summer season 09:00-18:30 / Winter season 09:00-17:30

[Subway + Bus]
Seokgye station (Seoul Subway Line 1 and 6), Exit 6.
– Take bus 1155 , 1156 or 73
– Get off at Taereung Gangneung (10 min interval / 15 min ride).

Hwarangdae station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 1.
–  Take bus 202 , 1155, 1156, 73 or 82.
–  Get aff at Taereung Gangneung (5 min interval / 5 min ride).

Taereung station (Seoul Subway Line 6 and 7), Exit 7.
– Take bus 202, 1155 , 1156, 73 or 82.
– Get off at Taereung Gangneung (10 min interval / 10 min ride).