Finding myself in possession of ginseng, milk vetch root and sweet rice straight from Seoul, I invited over the unofficial dinner club posse and tried my hand at samgyetang, a Korean chicken ginseng soup traditionally prepared in the dead of summer. (And let’s be real, with highs in the 80’s it might as well be summer in CA right now) Samgyetang involves stuffing a whole young chicken/cornish hen with soaked sweet rice, ginseng, jujubes and garlic, then boiling/simmering the whole bird for an hour or so. It’s healthy, delicious, and easy to prepare if you can track down the right ingredients. I decided to add some star of anise, fennel, and dried orange peel to the stuffing mix. It had been a long week and I was more than ready to kick back with wine and friends in the comfort of my home/a place not calling for heels.
I used the leftovers for next-day meal prep and a big tasty lunch bowl.
ON THE LEFT: Samgyetang mashed up against some kabocha simmered in soy sauce, maple syrup and water. Green onion garnish.
ON THE RIGHT: special batch of scorching hot kimchi from Stormy T, and some rice from the samgyetang stuffing, which is laced with all kinds of tasty spices and garlic.
Had to make a lunch out of all this action. I threw in an egg and some simmered daikon. Here’s the meal prep shot. I made three lunches total to eat at work. Admittedly looking most forward to the single-tier drumstick samgyetang bento.
And here are some snaps from the dinner party! I entertained myself during prep by listening to BIGBANG and taking some selfies while the rice soaked. I didn’t have the time/energy to pull off a multi-course affair, so I asked the guests to pick up a few dishes from Jackie’s Korean Fusion in Paso Robles. It is a complete miracle that the likes of Paso Robles has a delicious, authentic Korean place. The owners are a couple that met in Seoul and later moved to the States; Jackie is from Korea and does all the cooking, which is most definitely family style aka top-notch ingredients, sauces from spice mixes ground by hand, and based off a short simple menu. We had her squid bokkeum and chap chae. We also burned through a few bottles of wine and engaged in some very competitive Jenga. This is Marianne, and she is basically Jenga royalty. Although we did eventually beat the game by stacking until we literally couldn’t stack no more, this lady executed the final winning stack and can literally snatch blocks from the most quavery of Jenga towers with disturbing speed and ease. Mikel tried to pretend he had jittery “coffee hands” but then proceeded to beast the entire game. And here’s the feast! The samgyetang was not perfect. I didn’t add enough water throughout the cooking process, which resulting in dryer meat than I had tasted in Seoul, and I forgot to tell everyone to add salt and pepper to their liking. Still, we had a great time scarfing up all the eats and I learned a lot for next time! Nolan stopping for a breather halfway through the carnage. And this is how you beat Jenga.
In other news, things have been pretty crazy! I made a trip to LA to see some folks I’d been missing, have been pretty consistent with fitting in workouts at least four days a week, and things are really ramping up at work. It has hit me that going hard at work for a few months is just the beginning of going hard for another thirty years. If I’m lucky enough to have that kind of career. It is officially on in terms of actually, substantially practicing law and I’m very excited about everything to come.
LAST THING! I NEED SOME ADVICE: Where’s the best (or worst) place to travel abroad during November or December? I would be very grateful if anyone out there would share their experience for better or worse with winter travel. I’m definitely willing to entertain traveling somewhere very cold as long as the weather wouldn’t materially dampen the experience. When I’m on a trip my priorities are wandering on foot, eating, museums, and trying to participate in any seasonal stuff the locals love. There are a ton of well-travelled folks on the blogosphere and I’d appreciate any guidance! Please don’t be shy and hit up that comment box!