In many ways, living in Korea is a lot like living in any major U.S. city–things are fast-paced, high-tech, industrial. But in other ways, it’s obviously very different. The culture is very patriarchal and conservative, deferential to elders–and let’s not forget that the language is a difficult one to boot.
However, in the food department, one challenge I’ve found myself up against on more than one occasion is finding specific, familiar foods or products. Not knowing what to even call something in Korean to ask at the store can be difficult as well. On a shopping trip to eMart last year, Jerry and I were looking for broth to make soup. I used the Google Translate app to try to convey what I was looking for and was promptly taken to the case where bagged, premade soups were sold.
We’ve since learned the word for broth, though (육수 “yook soo,” if you’re curious). But there are still things I look for, need or just want to have but can’t find readily. Thus the DIY challenges I’ve undertaken…
In the last year or so, I’ve made my own:
– canned tomatoes/juice
– evaporated milk
– cottage cheese
– broths/stocks (even though I’ve since found these and know where to get them, homemade stuff just tastes better!)
– granola bars
– various sauces and dressings that are not as easy to come by (or, more often than not, done in a different manner than I am accustomed to or prefer)
There are other odds and ends attempted as well, but this covers the ones that have been most useful for what we cook. I’m really proud of the granola bars as Jerry and I often lament that we don’t really keep snack foods in the house. The granola bars are SUPER tasty (recipe here) and easy to make. (Note: We don’t know how to find molasses here, and short of ordering it and waiting a week for iHerb to get it to us, I just added a bit more honey and a tad more peanut butter. Everything came out fine.)
Other projects to try…
— homemade cheese (Korea is not a place for dairy lovers… About 75% of the cheese you find here is super processed, tastes like plastic and comes in two flavors: Kraft single or “pizza cheese”–a mozzarella-like shredded cheese that takes too long to melt and isn’t terribly good. The worst part? It’s CRAZY expensive!!! We’re talking about $8 for a two-ounce shaker of wannabe parmesan cheese. There is a small-yet-growing selection of semi-decent cheeses to be found, but I miss the days of being able to pick up Humboldt Fog goat’s cheese at Whole Foods and eat it with crackers and good wine.)