Asia Report #5 - Dan Gets Wasted on Hite Pt. 1
But first, a quick note about 2 things I recently ate while back in the states. This morning I had a salami and one egg sandwich and it was brilliant. How can something so simple be so satisfying?
Secondly, did you know that it's Mr. Softee's 50th Anniversary this year? The other day I had something off the menu that I had never seen before - a merlin! It's a cone that gives you the best of sprinkles and dip worlds. The Softee man pulled some vanilla soft serve into my cake cone so that it was about one inch above the rim. He dipped that into rainbow sprinkles. An additional dome of ice cream was swirled on top and that portion was dipped into the chocolate syrup that turns hard and creates a wonderfully crackly shell. Brilliant!
So back to Asia, I should have written about this before Glutinous Rice Stick since that was our last day in Korea. Anyway, the weather for our last 3-4 days in Korea really stunk it up. Rain, rain and more rain. Buckets of rain. Sheets of rain. There's no chance in hell even the world's largest golf umbrella is going to keep you dry rain. As a result, the baseball game we were planning on attending kept getting rained out, which did not make a certain you know who very happy. He got a little punchy in fact and decided he was going to get drunk. His preferred method of entry into bacchanalia - Korea's own Hite beer (easily the best of the Korean beers we've had).
Joonpil and his older sister Moka, fresh from a trip to China, met us at our hotel in Myeong-Dong. Our first stop - "for appetizers" according to Moka - was a bin dae dduk joint called Jong No Bin Dae Dduk. Many restaurants in Korea seem to base their menu around one or two specialties. Like if you go to a kalbi joint, the menu is not going to have much else to offer (but why would you need anything else?). The knife noodles restaurant we went to in Suwon only offered a couple other dishes (mostly dumpling variations). So anyway, this one specialized in bin dae dduk, which is a savory pancake made with a mung bean batter.
My favorite way to enjoy this dish is as a kimchi bin dae dduk. It's very homey and reminds me of bazaars that were held in the old basement of the church my parents attend. Anytime you cook kimchi - whether it's stewed or fried (or placed atop a pizza), it elevates the flavor to great new heights. Ironically we didn't opt for a bindae dduk, instead opting for a seafood pajun. Our hosts insisted that Dan make the choice. I was dropping hints to order the kimchi bindae dduk too, but either people were ignoring me or my hints were not very good. I know Dan was probably doing the former!
A pajun is a flour batter based pancake (usually 10-12"s in diameter) with tons of scallions that is a favorite of many of my Korean food loving friends, like Margie Sullivan! Usually in a seafood pajun, the seafood is secondary and you don't get much of it, other than a few nibbles of octopus or a baby shrimp. This one was bursting with huge chunks of squid, as well as octopus and shrimp. The edges were crisped up a beautiful golden brown and providing a satisfying crunch. There is a danger with pajuns of having the middle be a little undercooked, but this wasn't the case and it was done throughout.
For our beverage, Dan and I ordered Hite. Only there was just one Hite left in the restaurant, so being the wonderful wife I am, I let Dan have the Hite and I drank the Cass beer. By the way, beers in Korea? Served in very big bottles. These things are a sturdy 22 oz. The idea is to share, but we're dumb Americans and we each ordered a bottle.
On the way out, we noticed the stone mill grinding up the mung beans for the bindae dduk batter! You can't see it in the photo, but to the left, by the window was the grilling surface were all the delicious pancakes were griddled up.
Up next: more Hite, more rain and hot pots, Korea Fighting style!