It is not that I had no desire to cook or had no experience it was that my kitchen wasn't inspiring. A reminder picture (something I really don't want to recall):
Eventually, my term was up in that hell-hole and since then I have been living in my very comfy modern office-tell, which has counter space. I am trying not to get too attached to this place seeing how anything can happen when my contract is up next December, but I am going to make the most of it.
On Sunday, another day that JH was too busy to come by, I decided to do some recipe hunting. I love eating out and finding great food but it is costly and also fattening. I don't have an exercise routine in my life but feel that both exercise and healthy eating are intertwined. My big deal is that I am extremely hungry by the time I get off work, because the school lunch is very meager. (I would make a lunch and bring but don't have time.) So instead of exercising after work I make dinner than relax afterward.
However, I do have time to prepare food on Sundays. Stuff like pasta salad or muffins can be made ahead of time and eaten later at the office. (Also they can be shared with coteachers...)
But what I am also trying to say here is that although you have a small kitchen with no oven don't let it fool you that you can't cook healthy and delicious meals. Also, don't let yourself believe that Korea doesn't have the ingredients you are looking for.
Korea's supermarkets and mini-supermarkets are full of fresh fruits and vegetables. To tell you the truth I love Korean carrots because they are full of flavor and very juicy. Carrots are a hint that you can make great salads from supermarket ingredients. There are a variety of lettuces and other salad materials, including sprouts. Finding a good salad dressing can be challenging but there is olive oil & balsamic vinegar (although pricey) for those innovative types.
Also major supermarkets are carrying familiar Western products like pasta noodles, tortillas, chicken breast...and so on. My suggestion is to check out your local marts and see what they have. If they have large tomatoes do a recipe search on allrecipes.com to see what you come up with.
If you see an ingredient you are not familiar with, which is the case here, take a note of it's Korean name and ask your coteachers or close Korean pal what kind of food is made with it.
Getting into Korean cooking will make your life easier, since the ingredients are usually cheaper than Western ones and also a lot of Korean food is really healthy. Maangcha is really helpful in Korean recipes since she has videos and simplifies it for everyone.
With that said you should not make the excuse, "Korea doesn't have any ingredients I am familiar with" and "I could never eat healthy here because there were never any fresh ingredients." That last statement is something similar to what I read on a blog one time and couldn't believe that the person didn't see all the fresh produce at the market. For Peet's sake there are like a dozen different varieties of mushrooms, some of which cost a lot back home!
Allright, there you have it folks my little tidbit on how to cook, find food and recipes here in Korea and cook in your officetell.
Now let's move on to what I made Sunday afternoon, which was pasta salad.
It came out gooooood.
Pasta salad is really easy to make and a lot of fun, because you can change it up each time you make it depending on what kind of noodles you use, veggies you cut up and dressing that you put in.
Here is my recipe adapted from the allrecipes website.
Office-tell Pasta Salad:
(Makes two large ziplock (gladlock) containers portions)
- 1/2 package spiral pasta
- 1 tbsp of Olive oil
- 10 grape-tomatoes cut in half...or more to your liking
- Half a carrot, cut up into thin slices
- 1 cup of black olives, thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper, seeds taken out and cut up into small cubes
- A few stalks of green onions, slicing up the white-ends and few of the green ends
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Salad dressing (I used a balsamic version, but prefer to use Italian, however Lotte Mart was all out)
- Optional: Mozzeralla cheese cut up into cubes or (if you can get it) Greek Feta cheese
- Cook the pasta but not all the way leaving it slightly hard in the center. Drain and rinse under cold water, moving the bowl around till all the pasta is cool. Shake the colander till the water is gone or (in my case since my colander sucks) take a thick wad of paper towels and dry off the pasta. Place pasta inside a wide and deep bowl.
- Pour the olive oil around the pasta and then stir, this is so that the pasta will not stick to itself (dumb pasta)...hehe
- Take the cut up veggies and put in the pasta. Stir till well mixed. Add the S & P to your liking (I used more pepper than salt).
- Pour in the salad dressing to your liking. The way I did it was that I put in a little at first and then more later, seeing and tasting what I liked. Since the stuff marinates in it I figured I really didn't need to use a heck of a lot.
- Place it all inside the gladlock containers and put in the fridge, usually overnight or eat a few hours later.
- Add fresh cut up cheese (see above) for extra flavor and *protein.
If you have any similar food stories and recipes please do share! I hope this post comes in handy for other office-tell dwellers. ;)