Chinese Comfort Food

Today’s dinner was a three part adventure. When I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I bought a Chinese cookbook thinking it could help broaden my repertoire of comfort food. I brought it back to Seoul, and liked flipped through it from time to time. But given that most of the dishes in the book call for ingredients that I can’t even find here, and a wok/steamer/deep-fryer to make, I thought I would be mostly saving the book for the day I have a proper kitchen.

Then this Sunday, after missing my flight to Taiwan, I decided I couldn’t let what remained of our precious weekend go to waste. So we ventured a little north, where I was told we would find a little Filipino market. Sure enough, there was a small gathering in front of a Catholic church of Filipino expats selling everything from chicken skewers to chilli sauce and fake iPads.

We tried some of the sausages, fried plantains, coconut juice and caramel rice cakes. But what I was really about were the 3 feet long green string beans. I love string beans, and especially when they are stir-fried with garlic and minced pork, and I had just the recipe for that in my new cookbook.

I wanted to serve it with some fish that we got earlier. In Korea, fish is almost always prepared either raw, lightly fried with no sauce or in a soup. I like those options, but I’ve been really craving for something steamed. Since I knew that a plate of fish would never fit in my tiny pots on top of a steam basket, I made this makeshift steamer with a frypan and a mixing bowl.

Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped. The mixing bowl wasn’t big enough to stop the steam from escaping, so after 20 minutes it still wasn’t cooked. Even worse, the wind coming in from the window made the liquid the fish was marinading in coagulate. When I shut the window, the cold air from the air conditioner did the same thing (and it’s really too hot in Seoul right have both off/closed for more than a few minutes). I had to resign to pan-frying them in the end.

It was still quite nice though, and to keep the theme Chinese, we had dinner with iced jasmine tea. 好吃!


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