As I write this, crockpots all across the U.S. are bubbling with chili, cheese, or chili-cheese concoctions in preparation for Superbowl watch parties. I’ve got nothing against the National Football League, and probably will tune in for at least part of the game, but at my house, we’re prepping for a bigger sporting event watch party – on Friday, Feb. 9, the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies will be televised from PyeongChang, South Korea. And, in the spirit of the international games, we like to explore the cuisine of the host country as we watch the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
Korean foods aren’t as common in Nashville as some of the other Asian cuisines, but there are a few of Korean restaurants that get high marks, and I might place a carry-out order of Mandu (Korean Meat Dumplings) from Korea House on Charlotte Pike, or from Hai Woon Dai in Antioch.
This week, my business travels carried me to Tupelo, Mississippi – while there, I visited The Neon Pig café and butcher shop and brought home some house-made Kimchi (seasoned and fermented vegetables – a staple in Korean cuisine). I don’t have to worry about making a batch of my own – I just have to figure out the proper way to serve this dish (and also to get the lingering kimchi odor from my vehicle). I’m thinking about using a little kimchi to top a nest of Japchae (stir-fried cellophane noodles)…because I really want to find a way to get cellophane noodles onto the plate!
My dad visited Korea on more than one occasion, and held a deep appreciation for the country, the culture and the cuisine. Decades ago, my siblings and I were able to coax from him his recipe for Bul-Gogi (“fire meat”) when we put together a family cookbook many years ago, and I’m honored to prepare this dish for my friends. It’s very approachable – a cousin to Japanese teriyaki – and I like the idea of having a cauldron-like Olympic flame on the table so that we can roast our strips of marinated meat.
I admit I’m a bit stumped about dessert – in the limited amount of research I’ve done, sweets don’t seem prevalent at the end of a meal (instead they are served with tea as snacks). I’ll probably look to see if Trader Joe’s still sells Matcha Green Tea ice cream, and serve that with a honey-sesame seed cookie.
Around here, no watch party is complete without a cocktail. I haven’t finalized this yet, but I’m liking the idea of this Green Tea Cocktail that I found online from a bar in Melbourne, Australia.
Here’s to all the athletes, and to a safe and successful Winter Games! 건배! (Cheers/Empty Glass!)