What with it being 4th of July an all and lots of long weekends coming up, it once again means it’s barbecue season. For some of us it’s a chance to show off our skills and wow everyone with gourmet delights. While for others it sets fear in their hearts and they make no plans at all then panic buy packets of Doritos and sad smoked Korean sausages at the last minute.
Barbecues aren’t everyone’s thing but they could be, don’t be scared of a potluck just because you can’t cook. There are tonnes of amazing dishes you can make with little to no ingredients in your store cupboard and just a bit of effort. Cooking enthusiasts should check out this post I did last year for some of my best BBQ ideas. For the culinarily challenged keep reading. Not everything is 100 % easily sourced, some things are from the foreign food market or i-herb ingredients but all the rest you should be able to pick up from your local Homeplus.
The first problem people run into is cost. You need to be willing to spend a bit make a dish if you don’t keep a well stocked fridge and pantry. A barbecue is for sharing and you can’t expect to eat meat if all you bring are chips and salsa. Plan to spend about 15,000 per person on food which is what you would pay for a meal in a restaurant if you went out to dinner. If you’re sharing with your significant other or a friend put it up to 25,000 – 30,000. I know we are all broke sometimes but it’s still a pretty cheap meal out, at which you can get to try loads of delicious dishes all at once.
First up bread and dips. Everyone, and I mean everyone, likes bread and that includes those poor gluten free people who can’t eat it. I almost always bring a loaf of bread to a BBQ because it goes down well and I can make one for next to nothing. Focaccia is actually relatively easy to make as long as you have an oven and olive oil in your house. You can also easily make flat breads, bagel chips, or homemade tortilla chips using burrito wrappers. If you don’t possess the ingredients to make bread then buy it. In my neighborhood there are dozens nice bakeries, but if you look around you will find one other than Paris Baguette fairly near by. Buy a couple of nice and unusual breads, slice them up and serve them with some homemade or bought hummus or dips. In Itaewon it’s everywhere, including mine. For those who live far away order from Hummus in Korea. Make baba ganoush, salsa, tzatziki, or any other kind of lovely dip. If it’s plentiful no one will feel short changed and all you did is buy and cut up some bread.
The second option is salads. Salads are sadly very neglected here and I feel an integral part of the barbecue experience. Anyone can make a salad, you buy a few lettuce leaves, chop them up with other salad paraphernalia and buy a bottle of dressing. If you can get individual things by weight this really shouldn’t run you more than 10,000 even if you generally skip the produce aisle and refuse to allow vegetables to come into contact with your home. Add a chicken breast and some of those Doritos that someone brought and you can make a taco salad. A good tip for veggies is going to a small Korean supermarket, or ajamma on the street, their stuff is tonnes cheaper than Homeplus and if you speak a bit of Korean, you can buy it in smaller amounts.
If you want to be a little more classy then buy a ball or two of mozzarella, some giant tomatoes, and a basil plant, and sprinkle with salt and pepper olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That’s how you make a capresa one of the tastiest salads in the universe! You can also do my mint, watermelon and feta salad. As long as you are thrifty with your watermelon and find a 5,000 one you can get feta for 7,000 and a mint plant for 3,000 no one will feel deprived and you have a bowl of fresh goodness. Even coleslaw is incredibly simple, a cabbage, a carrot, an onion, and some mayo. Though jazz it up with some grated cheese and I guarantee you will have everyone coming back for more.
The third option for the truly lazy is buying a bag of wings or two packs of that cut up chicken that they sell everywhere and a bottle of barbecue sauce. Mix them up together and throw them on the barbecue. You aren’t going to win any prizes for dish of the day but you will provide people with something they actually want to eat. Everyone loves wings and chicken, and the barbecue will do a lot of the work to enhance the flavour. If you want to get a bit fancier I have lots of marinade recipes here.
Your fourth option is going to Costco and buying burgers and buns. You may need to go in with a friend on this to do it right. Don’t just get burgers, get the buns and the cheese slices to go in them too and slice up some onions. Make sure you bring ketchup and mustard and you will be a hit. Everyone loves a good burger and the Costco ones are pretty decent. If you really want to impress grab a packet of bacon too, and you have got yourself a party! You can make your own of course, here is one of my recipes but this is a post for the culinarily challenged.
The last and laziest option is just to go to the butchers and buy a steak, yes steak is expensive but you should get one huge or two decent sized steaks for 15,000. Cut it up with the scissors and everyone will be happy. You can get rubs on i-Herb if you want to add a bit of flavour but just steak alone is perfectly good. Just whatever you do don’t bring those god damn sausages. And if you don’t bring food, bring a lot of booze instead!