Happy (belated) New Year!Posted: 01/25/2012
Happy Chinese New Year, that is! My family is Korean, but we celebrate the Lunar New Year as well, and we do it in traditional style, with a traditional feast. Generally in Korea, this is a big day for all the extended family members to visit, but sadly all our relatives live across the Pacific Ocean, so we perform the rituals with just our four family members.
This is the way we set up the table, fruits in the front, with actual cooked dishes near the back of the table. The two place settings at the back, with the bowls of rice and the cups, indicate where our ancestors would sit. With the exception of the first row (because it’s basically just washed fruit), my mom cooks most of the dishes on the table single-handedly (with very minimal help from the rest of us…sadly). In any case, here’s some more detail about the individual dishes on the table.
동태전: (Dongtaejun) These are part of a wide number of foods in Korea that are basically covered with a coat of egg yolk, covered in flour, then pan-fried–they’re collectively referred to as “Jun”. I’m over generalizing here obviously… I don’t pretend to be an expert on Korean food. This is pollock (a type of fish) cooked in the way described above, and basically tastes very flaky and a bit mild, and is meant to be eaten with soy sauce.
호박전: (Hobakjun) This is another type of the “Jun” that my mom always cooks on holidays. Pretty much the same procedure as above, except these are very thin slices of zucchini instead of the pollack. These are ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. I used to not like them as a kid (being anti-vegetable in every way) but honestly. The slices are so thin they basically melt in your mouth. This photo turned out a little browner than they were in real life.
물김치: (Mool kimchi) Literally, water kimchi. Pretty sure everyone’s heard of kimchi, the magical food that all Koreans eat everyday for their whole lives–it apparently is responsible for making Koreans immune to SARS and for creating this race of superhuman Starcraft masters as well as very attractive girl groups (I think the well-developed plastic surgery industry deserves more thanks). This is a very cool and refreshing dish, and has a sort of sweet but sour taste.
수정과: (Sujunggwa) This is a kind of fruit punch–pretty much the best way I can describe it. It’s made from ginger, dried persimmons, and cinnamon–with pine nuts on top. It has a very sweet and cinnamon-y flavour, and is served chilled. Nowadays I believe it’s mostly consumed after meals, as a sort of refreshing dessert.
떡만두국: (Dduk Mando Gook) This is a soup that traditionally everyone has to drink on New Year’s Day in order to grow a year in age. In Korea, you’re one year old when you’re born, then you become two on the next New Year’s Day–so everyone born in the same year becomes a year older on the same day, regardless of their birthday. So technically you could be born on December 30th, be a year old, then two days later–you’re already two. Crazy, huh. Anyways my mom adds hand-made dumplings to this soup, which consists of slivers of rice cake and beef, as well as egg. This is pretty much the only dish I can lay claim to (I helped make the dumplings). She makes the filling as well as the dumpling itself from scratch and you know, there’s really nothing better than homemade.
Anyways, first post, I really didn’t think I’d have that much to say, but happy new year, 새해 복 많이 받으세요 and Gung Hei Fat Choi.