When visiting Korea you will probably spend some of your time in Seoul. It is a bright and colourful city full of culture with a wide variety of things to see and do which should suit most tastes. I know that the cities markets are on my list of places to visit. Dongdaemun Market is a combination of both traditional markets and more commercial shopping centres and is open 24 hours a day. Insa-dong is a more traditional market and as such is a great place to sample traditional foods and crafts. I believe that Sunday is the best day of the week to visit as there is lots of free Street Entertainment going on.
If you have a head for heights then a visit to the N Seoul Tower is a must. From here there are fabulous views of the city especially at night time if you like city lights. This is also a popular spot for romantic couples and perhaps you could say that it is Seoul’s answer to the Eifel Tower. I have a friend who met the love of his life in Seoul I wonder if they came here?
When I get the chance to visit Korea I’m hoping to get to see the city from a much more different view as I have a friend who lives there. She doesn’t know it yet but I’m hoping that she will show me some of the sites and traditions that you will not see on official tours.
If Seoul is too big and busy for you there are other cities well worth a visit.
Busan is Korea’s second largest city. Like Seoul it is a busy city but on a slightly smaller scale. From here you can access the mountains where there is a range of hiking options to suit all levels of hikers. The mountains are a must for all nature lovers with the stunning landscape and range of Wildlife and you may even be lucky enough to see an Asian Black Bear.
If you like fish then a trip to the fish markets is recommended. I’m sure that you can also find a variety of fish dishes on most menus. When visiting another country I like to immerse myself in the local culture as much as possible and when it comes to food I find that the local markets are the best place to find local more traditional dishes that you may not find in restaurants.
Jeju Island lies off the Southern tip of the country. There is a range of activities to suit a variety of tastes. Watching the sun rise from the peak of Seongsan Ilchul-bong is definitely on my list of things to do with another being the Olle Trails. This is a network of trails that crisscross the island through farms and countryside giving a true insight to rural living and culture.
When it comes to Korean food it probably depends on what part of the world you are in as to how familiar you are with the food. When I was in Australia there was a wide variety of international food options but here in Ireland not so much especially in the part of Ireland where I live. We have an Italian chippers run by a family from Romania and a Chinese take away run by both Chinese and Irish people. Apart from that we have the hotel and a cafe which do more common dishes that you will find anywhere in Ireland. However Kimchi and Bibimbap are two dishes that you have probably heard of even if you haven’t tried them. Apart from the fact that I couldn’t get the ingredients for them I wanted to try something a bit different. I also like hot spicy food so when I came across Dakdoritang I had to try it. When I told my friend Su that I was going to make it she warned me that it may be a bit to hot for me and suggested Japchae which sounds delicious but of course yet again I couldn’t source all the ingredients.
Making Dakdoritang was relatively easy. The aroma around the house while it was cooking was incredible and I couldn’t wait to try it. Eating it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed not just because of the taste but also the entertainment value watching my daughter in laws reaction to it. I like spicy food but it even made my eyes water.
INGREDIENTS (serves 2)
250g chicken (I used fillets diced but pieces are better)
30ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons each of minced garlic, hot pepper paste and hot pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 large onion cut into chunks
4-5 medium potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 green chilli
2 spring onions
Combine Soy Sauce, minced garlic, hot pepper paste and flakes, sugar and water in a bowl. Add diced chicken and leave to stand for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight. Remove chicken from sauce and cook on a medium to high heat along with the onion until browned slightly on each side. Add the sauce and cook on a low heat for 15-2o minutes. Add the potato chunks and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Make sure that the sauce is not soaked up too much by the potatoes or does not evaporate off. (I made the mistake of adding extra potatoes to counteract the hot chillies which meant I had too little sauce). Adding extra water is not recommended as it will affect the overall flavour. Lastly add the chopped green chilli and spring onions and turn off the heat. They will cook in the heat of the dish. If you are not used to hot food then serve with a glass (or jug) of cold water to drink. Enjoy!
Join me next time for Chile night.