Best Street Food in South Korea! Yachae Hotteok (야채호떡)

1024182022~2 (2)The golden rule of street food for foreign visitors to any country is simply “Follow The Crowd.” If locals are lining up, you can be confident that you’ve stumbled upon something delicious. Walking the outer perimeter of Namdaemun Market, we knew we were in for a treat when we happened upon this line:

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Standing at the back of the line, our context clues were rather limited. A large red sign clearly advertised a price of 1000 Won, the USD equivalent of 88 cents. Savory, fried aromas wafted toward us as folks walked by happily holding folded golden brown circles of what looked like… fried dough?

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The circles looked like large fritters, or perhaps large servings of Native American fry bread. After being carefully lifted from sizzling oil, they were brushed with what appeared to be a sweet soy glaze flavored with apples, lemons, dates, and onion. Watching people enjoy their snacks, it became apparent that the fried treats were stuffed with some sort of filling. I saw vegetables and… were those noodles?

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Why yes! But… bread stuffed with noodles? It didn’t sound all that wonderful to my American palate. Wow, was I happy to be wrong, wrong, wrong. This treat, which I later learned is called “Yachae Hotteok” (and translates approximately as “vegetable pancake”) is – hands down – the best food I sampled in Seoul, South Korea.

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Clear, chewy, flavorful noodles were tucked inside the warm shell along with thin strips of carrot, green onion, and other fresh vegetables. No wonder the locals were smiling. These treats were fantastic!

If you’d like to try your hand at preparing Yachae Hotteok at home, I’ve found a few great links for you. Maangchi, a famous Korean cook, has a recipe that looks very approachable. The Smart Local offers another variety which looks fun.

The world is small – have big fun!

 

 

Namdaemun Market

1024181930~2 (2)A short walk from Seoul Station lies Namdaemun, the Great South Gate of Seoul, South Korea. Originally constructed in 1398, Namdaemun was one of eight majestic gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul which surrounded the city during the Joseon Dynasty. Namdaemun was reconstructed in 1447, and significantly refurbished in 2008 after a devastating fire.

The Great South Gate is interesting. For this food traveler, however, the real intrigue lies just beyond the gate. Walk just a bit further, and you’ll arrive at the marvel that is Namdaemun Market. This center of sensory overload has been Continue reading

Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

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Who says you can’t play with your food? Tsukemen is not only delicious for adventurous diners, it’s a guaranteed kid pleaser and appropriate for serving to finicky friends. If you enjoy sampling dishes from around the world but are also cooking for reluctant diners, Tsukemen is a must-try.

Tsumemen is basically Continue reading

Tokyo Train Station Bears

1029180200Hello again, fellow foodies and travelers. We’ve been busy exploring Korea and Japan! Throughout our most recent travels, we’ve logged many hours on trains. This means we’ve also logged many hours in train stations, which can be pretty cool places to explore! One evening, we channeled our inner five year-old and enjoyed a snack of these delightful, chocolate filled bears.

1029180203A bit like bite-sized, filled pancakes, these little bears are also available in caramel and custard flavors. A 14-count bag of these charming treats cost 580 Yen, or approximately $5.15. If the long line at the counter was any indication, we weren’t the only train travelers enchanted with these roly poly little pandas.

1029180202Stay tuned for more fun from Japan and Korea over the next few weeks here at Crowded Earth Kitchen.

 

Chicken Dip with Crostini

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Start a conversation at your next summer party with Chicken Dip and Crostini straight out of the 1950s! Go ahead – channel your inner Betty Draper and let’s get started. Martinis optional. Continue reading

Vintage Post: Dandelion Honey

dandelionThis is a vintage post, but seasonally appropriate and lots of fun. Don’t spray toxins on your lawn… let those dandelions grow au naturel! The beautiful golden color and early summer fragrance of dandelions attracts bees, providing life sustaining nectar this time of year. Bees are HUNGRY in May and June, and if we want them around to pollinate our fruit orchards and vegetable gardens later in the season, we had better provide them with something to eat right now.

You can benefit from dandelions even more directly by making dandelion honey. Give this recipe a try – it’s delicious, and a great conversation starter!

Lavender Chamomile Tea Cookies

lavender1Perfect with brunch or afternoon tea, these little cookies offer lovely and surprising flavors. Because they are crisp (perfect for dunking), they will keep well in a sealed storage container on your counter or in the freezer. Let’s get started! Continue reading

Review: Sushi GO!

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Bayview Bacon Sushi Burrito – Delish!

A new dining adventure awaits you on the Northeast corner of South Kinnickinnic Avenue and East Oklahoma Avenue in Bay View… Sushi GO!

For all of the dining options in Bay View – and there’s stiff competition here, my friends – sushi restaurants are still uncommon. There’s room in the local dining scene for a casually trendy place to meet friends for sushi and wine, and the proprietors of Sushi GO! are working enthusiastically to fill that space.

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California Roll (8 generous pieces per order)

You can, of course, find the usual suspects on the menu – ginger salad and miso soup, California rolls, veggie rolls, etc. If you’re an American sushi joint traditionalist, you’ll find these familiar comforts exceptionally well prepared. The ginger salad is lightly tossed with a flavorful dressing – no big glop of orangey-pink dressing here. The miso soup appears to be made with pressed tofu, and is quite enjoyable.

The real stars of the Sushi GO! menu are the sushi burritos. I’ll confess to being a former sushi burrito skeptic, because I was (wrongly) envisioning the football sized monstrosities at actual burrito chains. Well, get that out of your head. The sushi burritos at Sushi GO! are just the right size to be satisfying without being excessive, are made with well prepared rice and sheets of nori, and are filled with delectable combinations of ingredients.

Try the Bayview Bacon Sushi Burrito! As the menu says, this gem is filled with “Crab Salad, avocado, cucumber, bacon fat caramelized onions, [and] bacon.” The crab salad is excellent, and the bacon is a fabulous thick cut variety favored by connoisseurs. The Bayview Bacon Sushi Burrito is ah-mazing, and let me interrupt before anyone gets precious about “traditional” sushi ingredients. While exploring sushi offerings in every district of Tokyo, I saw Japanese diners relishing everything from fried eggs to miniature hamburger patties on their sushi. Anything goes. Anything. Bacon? Yes, please!

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Spicy Tuna Roll (8 pieces per order)

Amanda, one of the proprietors, was friendly and welcoming. She walked me through the menu, and even offered a generous sample of their Spicy Tuna Roll made with honey sriracha aioli (delish!). I visited at lunchtime with pint-sized diners, and she made them feel welcome.

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Pint-size Sushi Aficionado with a California Roll 

I can’t wait to return soon during evening hours for sushi and sake.

Gochisosama Deshita!

“It was quite a feast!”

Planning a visit? Check out SushiGoMKE.com or stop by at 2110 E Oklahoma Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

 

Vintage Post: King Crab Rolls

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Happy Holidays, Everyone!

King Crab Rolls just might be my very favorite special occasion food.  While King Crab is expensive, it is spectacularly delicious.  Alaskan King Crab is a wild caught (never farmed) product, and is sustainably harvested.  I feel much better about splurging on a pricey ingredient if I know my purchase is not harming the environment.

Everything about this recipe, from the decadent seafood to the homemade rolls toasted with real butter, shouts “Special Day!”  Whatever you happen to be celebrating, King Crab Rolls will make your mealtime grand!

picture337AIngredients (makes 4 large rolls)

1 1/2 pounds shell-on King Crab legs

1/2 pound bay scallops (optional)

1 teaspoon seafood seasoning blend

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

picture3481/4 cup finely chopped celery, including leaves

1 loaf of fresh Simple Bread

1/4 cup butter

Directions

picture337Step 1) Drop crab legs into a large pot of boiling water seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon of seafood seasoning blend.  Leave crab legs in boiling water for 3 minutes if they were fresh, or 10 minutes if they were frozen (typical).

Step 2) Drain crab legs and crack with a hand held nutcracker or clean picture338Apliers.  Extract meat using a small fork (a fondue fork works well, if you have one).  King Crab legs are spiny – hold them with a potholder to avoid hurting yourself!  Be patient with this step.  It may take 30 minutes or so to extract all of the meat.  Your effort will be worthwhile!

picture351Step 3) If using bay scallops, sauté them in a saucepan for 3 – 5 minutes until they are a milky white color.  Drain.

Step 4) Gently combine crab meat, scallops, mayonnaise, celery, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning blend.  Try not to break up the crab meat.  Refrigerate.

Step 5) Cut four generous, 2 inch thick slices from your loaf of Simple Bread.  Then, cut through the middle of each slice from the top, stopping 1 inch from the bottom crust.  Your slices should open in narrow “V” shapes, as shown above.

Step 6) Place 1/4 cup of butter on a baking pan with low sides, and melt by placing in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.  Watch carefully, and remove pan when butter is just melted!

Step 7) Place each of your four “V” shaped bread rolls down on the melted butter, then flip over so that each of the two outsides are buttered.  Return pan to oven to toast your bread rolls for five minutes.

Step 8) Remove your toasted bread rolls, and carefully fill with equal quantities of your seafood mixture.  Serve right away, while the rolls are warm and the seafood is cold.

Enjoy your special occasion!

Continue reading