Henry and I worked hard to make sure that we were offering a good array of Korean fare. We have both learned so much about it over the last year and honestly have adapted our daily diet around it, no joke. Most of my meals are seasoned heartily with gochugaru and swimming in gochujang that my tongue rarely feels the heat of spicy food anymore. I’m over here like, “Here try this, it’s not spicy at all” while people are gasping and reaching desperately for a glass of cold milk.
So we tried to keep it authentic* while not incinerating our guests’ cheek linings.
* (As authentic as possible considering neither of us are Korean; but as someone who really likes cooking, I will say that Henry treats this cuisine with utmost respect and doesn’t try to Americanize it at all. He even added eomuk – fish cakes – to the tteokbokki.)
The final menu was:
- tteokbokki (this is seriously one of my favorites and I can’t wait to eat the fuck out of it in Korea)
- bossam (pork belly lettuce wraps)
- plus a vegetarian pork version for Chooch and me
- Korean fried chicken
- Korean fried tofu
- a handsome (lol) array of banchan
I wanted him to also make kimchi jeon (pancake) but he answered me with a glare; also, we ended up being properly stuffed with what he provided, so perhaps we’ll save the jeon for the next K-dinner party.
The banchan included:
- lotus root
- perilla leaves
- bellflower root (one of my faves!)
- pickled daikon
All of these were procured from New Sam Bok, a Korean market in the Strip. Henry made the lotus root himself though. I mean, he didn’t GROW it, but he boiled and marinated it and our house smelled so fucking good while that was happening.
I was worried that our guests were going to recoil at the banchan, because let’s face it, this isn’t like your standard side of fucking cole slaw, you know? But these are staples in Korean households, and I have to say that for the last year I have been eating kimchi on a regular basis and it’s to the point where I will sometimes sit at work thinking about it and longing to be home with a side of it in front of me.
Henry also prepared bean sprout (basically just fresh bean sprouts marinated in sesame oil – it’s so good), but we forgot to put it out on the table. C’EST LA VIE, BEAN SPROUTS.
Everyone was waiting for JANNA to get there. She had some excuse about TRAFFIC.
But then she finally arrived and the pouring of the soju commenced. We had two bottles on hand, and Chronica brought two more, so we were set. I wanted to also have magkeolli but we live in shitty Pennsylvania with their prohibitionist liquor restrictions so none of the Asian markets around here sell it. Henry was going to order it from the state store but they were like, “Nice try, you have to buy a whole case.” We obviously didn’t want a full case so no magkeolli for this go around. Maybe next time we’ll plan ahead and take a drive to the nearest H-Mart or something, or Henry can buy a fucking kit and make some.
Holy chopstick holder.
You guys! The banchan was a success! Blake said his favorite was the bellflower (doraji) and everyone resoundingly enjoyed the fernbrake which I thought was going to bomb, even though apparently in Korea it’s the favored banchan. I liked it, but the texture was a bit off-putting. I read that it’s really good in bibimbap though so I think I’m going to have Henry make some of that this week. (He recently bought a dolsat pot!)
Sorry this picture isn’t very appetizing but I was off my food-photog game that night because I was too busy Edward Chopstickhanding all the food into my face. But here’s the tteokbokki and japchae!
And Korean Fried Chicken & Tofu! No pictures of the bossam, though — SORRY.
Every kept saying how much they liked the food, and I was glad for Henry. He deserves all the props and hat tips!
Also, Chooch finally tried kimchi and admitted that he sort of liked it, kind of. I’m actually not sure if he ate anything all night because I was too busy with my face in my plate. I guess I should ask Janna.
Chooch got What Do You Meme for Christmas and was itching for dinner to be over so he could finally play it with Blake and Chris. (“And maybe her,” he said, putting at me as an afterthought. Monica was delighted to not be included because she didn’t want to play. I DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO PLAY EITHER!) At one point, he could contain his excitement no longer and started rummaging through the game; he was so pleased when he pulled out the Kim Jong Un card. Sigh.
Also, Chooch had a seating chart all planned out in his head and his brain all but exploded when people arrived and started sitting wherever they wanted. But he still got to sit next to Blake, which was his ultimate goal, so he left everyone else stay in their seats. It was kind of up in the air there for a minute, though.
Henry spent most of the dinner in the kitchen and then holding his grandson Calvin, but he had no complaints.
And my favorite kpop videos played in the background all during dinner. I even got to answer questions about kpop, the food we were eating, and Korean holidays! It was all I could ask for and I was so happy that everyone there was showing interest and not making me feel dumb for bear-hugging an entire culture that’s not my own. Monica at one point said that everyone has a thing, and some people’s thing i making the rest of us feel bad about having a thing.
This is really true.
After dinner, Chooch finally got to play his damn game, which is basically just as vulgar as Cards Against Humanity and Janna kept putting cards back in the deck because she didn’t want to read them in front of Chooch. I think Janna’s modesty was my favorite part! Monica and Henry wee so happy that they didn’t have to play.
My favorite part of the night was when we played MY favorite game, which Chris says isn’t actually a game, but it’s called, “Use Google Translate to give Chris Spanish sentences to translate” and of course she always gets it because she’s a freaking bilingual genius, but the funnest part is listening to Chooch read the Spanish out loud, even though all of his sentences are disparaging about my cat Penelope and way too complimentary about his dumb cat Drew. Mine was, “Jimin is Henry’s bias because he likes his chipmunk cheeks and luscious lips.” It was so dumb, and maybe it was the wine, soju, and Chris’s homemade eggnog talking, but I was in tears laughing.
I wish I had more pictures, but goddamn I was so into the food and company! It felt nice to be moderately social without the accompanying anxiety for once. It’s been a while. The night was so awesome, but more importantly, my friends are awesome! I’m thankful that they came over and partook in my favorite things for an evening. <3