Cycle 4 – Item 168
22 (Sat) June 2013
Köttbullar with 3D Mash
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with the Family, BIL and family, CIL and family
Korean-Swedish Culinary Exchange (7) (see also KSCX)
The occasion was a long long overdue dinner for one of the wife’s cousins. He used to work for a national drugstore chain and applied his employee discount towards buying diapers for DJ and even delivered them to us. (Anyone who’s raised a child understands the profound significance of discounted diapers in steady supply. For anyone who needs to get a gift for someone who has a baby, I recommend diapers, as many as can be afforded, as many as will fit in the car.) While years have passed, this would be the first opportunity to show him our appreciation. The cousins in W’s family don’t hang out together, ever, even though they all claim to be close.
Being a special occasion, I made köttbullar. I’ve found that the very idea of Swedish cuisine, being so exotic here in Korea, is a sure-fire way to impress the locals, even before they taste the food. “Köttbullar,” I’ll say nonchalantly, “they’re Swedish meatballs.” Oohs. Aahs. Also, with 4 kids to feed, including a baby, I couldn’t imagine anything better than soft meatballs in creamy sauce. And they’re so easy to make in quantity, in advance. They work as hors d’oeuvres/appetizers/main/anju. I’m so glad that I now have this dish in my repertoire, especially for party situations.
I made some quick “Swedish” cucumber pickles from an online recipe (see allrecipes.com’s recipe for Swedish Pickled Cucumbers), which turned out okay, though I don’t see what makes them particularly Swedish.
As far as the cooking exchange is concerned, I admit that the köttbullar was a copout. I mean, it was the first dish that I attempted in the series, and the meatballs were again paired with raggmunk in the fourth installment. By contrast, GK always makes something new, usually several. But I just didn’t have the wherewithal to be ambitious under the circumstances. And in my defense, I served the meatballs to immense success this time with my now-signature 3D mash, which synergizes with anything, especially anything with a rich sauce, like the luxuriously creamy pan gravy here. So, in the end, overall, it was a good meal.
[All italicized comments below are in GK’s own words, with minor typographical edits.]
I recently made jeyuk bokkeum (제육볶음) for a dinner I had with some friends.
The other dishes included gyeran mari (계란말이) (which I feel is getting better for every time I make it), my home-made kimchi (김치), and some hobak jeon (호박전).
The hobak jeons look kinda crappy, I will admit that, but I blame that on the fact I outsourced the making of them to some of my dinner guests. Which I guess wasn’t that great of an idea 🙁
It just wouldn’t have been a cooking exchange without GK putting me to shame. With all my years of experience entertaining and cooking for guests at home, I know how much effort is required to get everything right and on time. As such, I’ve come to regard dinner parties as the worst set of circumstances to experiment with unfamiliar recipes, recipes in an unfamiliar cuisine, multiple recipes, so I tend to stay comfortably within my comfort zone when guests are involved and leave the experimentation to quiet evenings when I’m alone or only W and kids are present. And yet GK somehow seems to manage.
- Jeyuk bokkeum is a classic/common/popular stir-fry of pork and onions and other veggies in gochujang (red chili paste), typically done with cheap, thinly sliced meat, but pork belly (as here) would work even better; surprisingly, the dish has never once been featured on the blog (I do like it on occasion, but I rarely/never eat it for dinner, more of a cafeteria lunch thing).
- As I’ve always said, gyeran mari is one of the few Korean dishes requiring technique; practice makes perfect; next time, GK, how about a cross-section shot of the inside, so we can see (a) if you’re cooking it properly and (b) what ingredients you’re putting in the mix?
- I don’t know if it’s the photo or something about the ingredients in your kimchi, but it always seems to look a bit orange, like kimchi jjigae, rather than red, as uncooked kimchi normally would be; if I could taste any two plates of kimchi anywhere in the world, this would be one of them (the other would be the kimchi on Kim Jong-Un’s table).
- The jeon looks fine, just a little overcooked (it’s not “outsourcing” if makers = eaters).
- I’m glad to see that you’ve stopped serving milk with Korean food (or did you fill those empty cups with milk after taking the photo?)!
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)