So, you have finally settled in Korea, got through ChungDahm training week and finished apartment hunting. You are exhausted and starving after unpacking and now the real nightmare begins... how do you turn on the stove? How does the gas work? What can I make to eat?
Korean kitchens are a lot smaller and different to kitchens back home, and all the knobs and buttons can throw you off. There is probably no microwave and kettle, and all you have is a gas stove and a connecting gas outlet. The gas stove does not have a oven unit and the stove plates are much smaller than their Western counterparts. However, most Korean apartments do come with a fridge to store your meals and freeze some of our ingredients. It all can be rather frazzling and plenty of foreigners decide to eat out for their first year in Korea. The stress of buying and preparing meals seems like mission impossible, and Korean restaurants are easily accessible and cheap.
But, every meal adds up and you could be saving a lot more money with preparing your meals for the week. Teachers can save a considerable amount of money if they plan their meals weekly, by grocery shopping and buying good deals after 10 p.m. or on weekend sales at Lotte Mart, E-Mart or Homeplus. It is also recommended that you buy a mini-oven for about 45,000W and a blender for about 40,000W to spice up your cooking experience. Here are five easy meals to prepare in your Korean kitchen, for an energetic week of teaching.
Creamy Cinnamon Blueberry Hotcakes
Cooking delicious hotcakes for breakfast couldn't be easier with a blender and a pan. Who knew that mixing eggs with cream cheese could create such fluffy hotcakes! It takes about fifteen minutes to quickly throw this breakfast together and it will leave you feeling full of healthy fats.
Need: 6 Eggs, 2 tbsp Cream Cheese, l tsp Cinnamon, handful Blueberries, 20grams Butter
Prepare: Mix the eggs, cream cheese and cinnamon in the blender, till it is frothing and fluffy. Sear the pan with butter, and slowly warn the pan at a low temperature. Pour the hotcake mix in the pan in desired sizes, and flip over once it has risen. Once all the hotcakes are finished, fry the blueberries in coconut oil until they are like jam.
Salmon & Avocado Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
This salad is so easy to throw together when you are having a busy week teaching. Make sure that your teachers lounge at school has a fridge or you could buy a cheap travel cooler-bag that you can store your food in. Teaching at Chungdahm can be hectic, and you have to eat during your five minute intervals, so you will be so grateful to get delicious mouthfuls of an energetic meal!
Need: 300g Fresh Norway Salmon, half an avocado, 3 tbls pumpkin seeds, l tbls olive oil, 10g butter, 1 tsp lemon juice, spinach and broccoli
Prepare: Lay down a bed of spinach and broccoli florets in a bowl. Cut up half an avocado and add it to the bowl. Pull the slices of fresh salmon and make a ball at the top of your salad. Mix the olive oil, rosemary and lemon juice in a separate container, shake it, and then pour it evenly over the salad. Turn on the stove and lightly Sear the pan with butter and the roast the pumpkin seeds until they are brown and popping. (make sure the pan lid is on). Finish off the salad with sprinkling the roasted pumpkin seeds on top.
Spinach & Spring Onion Quiche Cups
These quiche cups are perfect for a teacher! They are so easy to make, by just popping them in the oven and relaxing after a long day of teaching. You need a blender and a mini oven and some baking trays or cupcake trays. The great thing about quiche is that you don't have to always use the same ingredients, and you could make them using other ingredients like bacon, feta cheese, mozzarella and mushrooms. You could even add a sweet potato or cheese crust around them or change it into a kind of dessert using bananas and homemade peanut butter instead.
Need: 12 eggs, 4tbls cream cheese, 4 spring onions, half an onion, 4 cups spinach, 20g butter
Prepare: Chop the spring onion and onion into fine pieces and then fry them together with the spinach in a buttered pan. Also, use the butter to grease the baking trays afterwards place them in the oven for five minutes at 250 °C. Mix the eggs and cream cheese in the blender until fluffy. Pour the egg mix into the separate cupcake wholes and top them up with the fried mix. Place the baking trays in the oven for 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes, at 250 °C and watch the quiches rising. Test their completion by dipping a knife in the center. If it doesn't stick, they are ready.
Greek Yogurt with Almond Butter & Banana
Investing in an Easiyo Yogurt Maker (about 40,000W) from Highstreet Market in Itaewon, is totally worth your time in Korea! If you are obsessed with Greek yogurt then it is easy to make the yogurt overnight and refrigerate it. Also, having a blender to make delicious nut butters like almond butter and macadamia butter, is definitely worth the investment. You can add it to so many delicious meals like smoothies, apple pieces and celery sticks. Greek yogurt makes a great breakfast that is high in fat and filling. Also, the almond butter and banana mixed up in it is great for energy needed to exercise in a morning run or cycle. If you also have a fridge at school, it can make a great get-up-and-go meal for those early morning Summer or Winter school classes.
Need: Easiyo Greek Yogurt maker, homemade Almond butter, 1 banana
Prepare: Follow the instructions on the back of the Easiyo Greek Yogurt maker and let it set in the fridge overnight. In the morning fill-up your breakfast bowl halfway with delicious Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of homemade almond butter. Finally, cut the banana into slices and add it to your breakfast.
Slow Cooked Mexican Chicken with Veggies & Jacket Sweet Potato
This is a favorite for the week and can be made on a Sunday evening and stored for the week in separate containers. Slow cooked Mexican chicken is so delicious and can be pulled succulently apart once finished cooking. I love this meal because you can put it on low and throw everything into one pot together, and just let it cook, while you watch your favorite movie and relaxing. Recommended vegetables are carrots, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus and onions. The Mexican touch adds some flavor and spiciness. But another suggestion is switching it up with Thai spices and coconut cream as a base sauce.
Need: 1 whole chicken, 1 cube chicken stock, 20g butter, 1 tsp Tabasco sauce, 1 tsp taco seasoning, 1 green chilli, 2 carrots, 1 broccoli floret, 1 onion, 1 zucchini and 1 sweet potato.
Prepare: First, fry the chili and onion. Once they are down, sear the chicken in a pan with the butter, chili and onion, and let it stand for about 20mins, filling it up with water every time the water has evaporated. While the chicken is standing add the Tabasco sauce, taco seasoning and chicken stock. Chop up all the vegetables and sweet potato into chunky blocks and after 40minutes once the chicken is softer, add them. Add some salt, pepper and rosemary as well. Keep on topping up the stew with water whenever it evaporates. Once the chicken has pulled apart take a pair of scissors and chop it up into pieces, have a taste, add some more spices and after 1 hour it should be ready to store in the fridge. You could have it with some raw oats or basmati rice.
I hope these recipes and guide to working a kitchen in your Korean apartment has been helpful has you transition to your new life of teaching in Korea.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information on teaching in Korea!