The Foodie Blogroll

Thanksgiving dinner in Korea

As you all know, as I mentioned yesterday I am still in Korea.  I also mentioned that, being in Korea meant that we were to have Thanksgiving in a little bit of a not-so traditional way. 
First off, prepping a Thanksgiving dinner without an oven makes for a bit of a challenge.  Let’s talk about what was on our menu:
·      Kabocha squash juk
·      Chicken
·      Stuffing
·      Pumpkin & sesame bread
The bread we purchased from a local bakery called Paris Baguette.  It was alright, at best.  This is the first store-bought bread I’ve eaten in almost two years.  What did it make me realize?  I’m a heck of a cook/baker.  This bread was alright, but it was nothing to ride home about, and I certainly like my bread a lot more.  But for 2000 won (a little less than two dollars Canadian), it would do, seeing as no oven, no ingredients, blah, blah, blah it makes it a little difficult, impossible to make bread.

The chicken, now that wasn’t for me of course, but as Jordan said, Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without any turkey, or meat for that matter.  I agree… regardless of my views on eating the turkey.  Nonetheless we had no oven to cook the chicken in, (we couldn’t find turkey), so he looked up a way to cook a chicken without using an oven.  To our surprise, and his delight he was still able to get his chicken!  It turns out you can make chicken in a rice cooker!  Who knew?  I’ve made oatmeal, stir-fries, other random little things in a rice cooker, but a chicken?  Wow.

We went and got his chicken.  Bought spices.  He bought sausage to stuff to stuff the chicken with.  Marinated it in soy sauce.  Can you say this was an Asian chicken or what?  How did the chicken turn out?  He ate it like a beast.  I swear if I hadn’t reminded him we were having our Thanksgiving “dinner” the next day I think he would of eaten the whole thing right then and there while cutting it.  It looked really moist, which is pretty cool.  It’s nice to know that even when you don't have your everyday kitchen appliances you can still manage to get by without them.
Now stuffing… I’m not sure why either of us couldn’t remember how to make stuffing, or even better, what goes in stuffing but we couldn't.  Yes, I’m aware of the tool called the internet, however, using unprotected internet makes loading pages a little difficult.  We tried and failed.

We threw together ideas of how our families make stuffing.  Truthfully I couldn’t really remember because it’s been years since I’ve eaten stuffing.  I have never been a fan of stuffing.  It’s either too dry, too bready, too soggy, too bluh, I just never liked stuffing.  When I heard about the things that his family put in their stuffing, then also learnt their stuffing wasn’t made in the turkey I was flabbergasted.  In the end, Jordan ended up tossing some oil in the pan, added cubed pumpkin & sesame bread, dried cranberries, raisins, apple cubes, and cinnamon.  It certainly was not traditional stuffing, nor was it, er stuffing at all, but he enjoyed it with his chicken and juk so it was all good.
Now the juk.  I cannot remember if I mentioned or not, my plan was to attempt to make a traditional Korean soup called juk.  From Wikipedia:
In Korea, the dish goes by the name juk ([tɕuk]) derived from the Chinese language in which juk [jook] means the same thing. There are more than forty varieties of juk mentioned in old documents.[5] Depending on the ingredients and consistency, juk can be considered as a food for recuperation (much like chicken soup in modern American culture), a delicacy, or food during famine and war.[5]
The most general form of juk is simply called heen juk (흰죽, white juk), which is made from plain white rice. Other varieties include different ingredients, such as milk, vegetables, seafood, nuts and other grains. Being largely unflavored, it is served with a number of more flavorful side dishes, such as jeotgal, various types of kimchi, pickled cuttlefish, spicy octopus, and other side dishes.
Notable varieties include jatjuk made from finely-ground pine nuts, jeonbokjuk made with abalones, yulmujuk made from Job's tears, and patjuk made from red beans.
Juk is considered the ideal choice of food for babies,[6] the ill or elderly as it is easily eaten and digested. It is sold commercially by many chain stores in South Korea, and is a common takeout dish.[7]

Since being in Korea, juk and bibimbap have been my favourite meals by far.  The first one I tried was a sweet pumpkin version, it was incredibly delicious.  Jordan was a sweetheart and ordered a veg version as well so I could try his, and he ordered red bean, which was also super delicious.  I also tried a vegetable one which was incredibly filling and super tasty.
I knew when I first tried juk that I wanted to attempt to make it myself.  After reading a few different versions, I knew that this would be a perfect thing to make for our Thanksgiving, since it could be done on the element, didn’t take too much time (… shouldn’t of taken too much time at least), was orange, and resembled Thanksgiving.
Let’s begin our story with this.  Remember how I mentioned when I first arrived and looked in Jordan’s kitchen and was greeted with four large 1 kg tubs of oats, and about 7 1l milks?  Well, I also forgot to mention that as for kitchen tools, there was a pot, small skillet, wooden spatula, two sets of chop sticks, two sets of spoons, and two bowls (think cat bowls, size and material).  The second week I was going through blogger withdrawal so I went and bought some plates, bowls and a pot.  Thank heavens, because… if I hadn’t the soup certainly wouldn’t of happened, or it would of taken forever to make.
First off the pot I bought was far too small, so I also had to use his small pot.  This was troublesome to say the least but it worked out.  We let the squash boil (since we couldn’t cook the squash in the oven).  Using a chop stick to test it’s readiness we let them sit to cool down.  Scraped out their insides and let them sit in the fridge overnight.
The next morning I started the soup.  The amount of water I put was… to the say the least far too much.  We only have the 1/4 cup measuring cup I brought, and I think I miscalculated.  After a lot of, temper tantrums from my side he suggested dumping some water.  We did so.  We let the water boil for a lot longer than suggested but we let the water reduce.
I was still freaking at this point, because silly me, I didn’t think to buy a potato masher.  We had no food processor or blender, and I was just really nervous that this soup wasn’t going to turn out.  Thankfully Jordan is a very patient, calm and rational being.  He moved me aside and said the soup would turn out.  After a bit of mashing with the aforementioned wooden spatula, and the water reduction we got our soup!
We added in the glutinous rice (we cheated and bought them).  Topped with pumpkin seeds and walnuts.  At first I was a little, ehhh, the broth was still a little thin.  But as I ate more, I really enjoyed it.  However, the second bowl I went for, about ten minutes later had really thickened up and it tasted like the original juk I had tried!
In the end it turned out great.  It was a nice lunch.  It was spent with great company.  We made our best efforts to make it as Thanksgiving-ey as possible away from home, and it worked out.  There might have been a little bit, a lot of stress from my part, but, we, okay, okay, I got over it, and it was really great!
I hope you all enjoyed your meal as well, and that it was spent with lots of food, family, friends, love, everything!
Hobakjuk - Sweet Squash Juk
Recipe taken from here

  • 2 medium sized kombucha squash (the only ones available to us)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Sweet rice flour (unless you want to cheat like we did, and just buy the ready made glutinous rice cakes)

Squash -
Wash the exterior of the squashes in cold water.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and stringy stuff with a spoon.
Place the butternut squash in a large pot. Pour 3 cups of water over them and bring to a boil over medium high heat for 30 minutes, until the contents become soft.
Turn off the heat and let it cool down.  When it’s cooled down, scrape the cooked insides out with a spoon.
Place 3 cups of the cooked squash insides into a large pot and add 4 or 5 cups of water and boil
Rice Cake Balls:
Boil some water.
Make rice cake dough by mixing 2 cups of sweet rice flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 3/4 cup of hot water. Mix it up with a wooden spoon at first, and then knead it for a few minutes with your hand after it cools down.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set it aside for about 20-30 minutes.
Put about 3 tbsp of sweet rice flour into a large bowl (this will prevent the rice cake balls from sticking together).
Take a bit of dough and roll a rice cake ball (the size should be a little larger than soy bean). Put it into the bowl with the sweet rice flour.riceballs
*Tip: to prevent the dough from getting dried out, always wrap the dough in plastic wrap while you are making the rice cake balls
Porridge - 
When the mixture of squash and water starts boiling, add the rice cake balls to the pot. Stir it with a wooden spoon and cook it for a few more minutes.
*Tip: when it’s cooked, all the rice cake balls will be floating on the surface of the porridge.
Turn off the heat and add 1 tsp salt and 1/4 cup of sugar and stir it for a few seconds before serving.
 How did you spend your Thanksgiving?
What did you eat?
What did you do?

1 comment:

Aspiring Steph said...

I recommend adding some aduki beans in the "juk"!

Another way to enjoy kabocha is to roast in the oven 'beneath' a chicken so all the chicken-goodness would drip on the kabocha...
Sorry if this grosses you out, but I remember my mom doing that for us when I was younger, and it really is the bommmbbb!!!