It can be very difficult to find fresh herbs in Korea so this guide should hopefully help you find what your looking for.
Rosemary – Rosemary is very easy to find in Korea in dried and fresh forms in all of the big supermarkets such as Homeplus, Emart, Lotte etc. You can also find the fresh plants in flower and plant shops and is possible the most available herb in Korea.
Basil – Dried Basil like Rosemary is easy to come by in supermarkets but the fresh variety requires a little more work. I have seen the fresh plants once or twice in Homeplus although they are usually only available for a short time and you can never find one when you want one. If you live near a large flower or plant store it is worth enquiring to see if you can find one. I found mine on a truck in Kyungnidan near Napsopyeong station, he has small (3000) and large plants (12,000) for those who really love fresh basil.
Mint – Fresh mint is quite easy to find, I’ve seen the plants at Homeplus and Daiso and various plant markets. Dried mint can be found at the foreign food mart in Itaewon, but why have dried when you can have fresh.
Cilantro/ Coriander – Finding fresh coriander has been my biggest challenge in Korea, I’ve searched high and low with little success. The coriander seeds and powder form can be found in the foreign food mart and occasionally in Emart . In the end I decided to give up the search and grow my own. My seeds had sprouted and I could see those glorious little leaves when out one night in Kyungnidan I came across the herb truck. The herb truck had fresh coriander plants for 3000 it made my day.
Sage – When I first came to Korea I was very eager to find dried sage for the Christmas stuffing however none could be found in time and I had to do without. The next Christmas I came prepared but whenever I looked for sage I could still never find it. My mother sent me some seeds from home which have actually grown into a very hearty plant. However there is good news for all you sage lovers out there, the foreign food mart in Itaewon is finally stocking sage in dried and powdered form. They do a very large container which I bought for about 9000 which should last the whole year.
Thyme – Dried thyme is available in the foreign food mart and the fresh plants are on sale on the herb truck, the next time I go there I will get the guys number so you can contact him if he is unavailable. I also purchased a grow your own thyme from Daiso this week which I have high hopes for.
Dill – I’m not a fan myself but one of my co-workers was desperate for some. We scoured the shelves at the foreign food mart but we could only find the seeds and ground versions. There was none of the dried green stuff that she wanted. Although later that week in I found a grown your own dill pack in Daiso
The best option for herb lovers is to grow your own. Daiso has a large range of packs that come with a pot the soil and the seeds for a bargain price of 2000-3000. The range often changes but so far I have seen, Basil, Thyme, Mint, Dill and Rosemary. They also sell soil and pots cheaply if you get seeds sent from home like I did.
In the summer months theres nothing more I love to eat than a good old BBQ. The more food the better. Sadly when in Korea sometimes people forget about all the lovely things we eat at home and just end up cooking meats Korean style.
In any supermarket in Korea you can find chickens that have already been cut up into small pieces for 5000 – 7000 won. If you buy these already cooked from the fried chicken shops they will cost you 14,000 +. However it’s very easy to make simple and cheap marinades yourself that are far tastier than the Korean versions. You can cook these pieces in your toaster oven at home or on the BBQ (although a good tip is to cook the marinated chicken in the oven or microwave first to speed up BBQ cooking time and to make sure no one gets sick.) My current favourite is a Chinese style BBQ sauce.
100g of brown sugar
1 table spoon of Worcestershire Sauce
2 table spoons of garlic powder
2 table spoons of Chinese 5 spice
6 table spoons of soy sauce
2 table spoons tomato ketchup .
3 table spoons of sesame seed oil or peanut butter.
Mix all of these ingredients together in a bowl and blend until they form a paste. Then put in the chicken pieces and leave for 30 minutes to marinate. If you want your chicken particularly flavourful then marinate overnight. If I’m taking the chicken to a BBQ I prefer to put the chicken in a zip lock bag rather than worry about a container that I need to bring home after wards.
Another easy option for a marinade is to use the red or green Thai curry paste which you can buy at the foreign food mart. Just mix 2 or 4 table spoons of the paste with a couple of spoonful’s of soy sauce and sesame seed oil and coat the chicken.
For a Mexican flavour mix some fajita seasoning currently found in Homeplus or Burrito seasoning found in the foreign food mart or Lotte department store with some oil until it forms a paste.
I am currently obsessed with Chicken Tikka, so this is another one I have been banging out. If your spice rack is bare or you are just plain lazy you can buy various brands of premade Tikka spice blends that you can mix with oil or yoghurt to coat the chicken from the foreign food mart. If you are feeling a little more adventurous you can try this recipe which I thought tasted great.
6 teaspoons coriander
6 teaspoons cumin
6 teaspoons garlic powder
6 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons ginger ground (fresh is fine if you cant find ground)
3 teaspoons dried mint (optional)
2 teaspoons chili powder
Mix all the ingredients together and then you can keep the spice mixture for when you need it. This mix is enough for at least two times. You can also reduce or increase the amount of chilli if you wish. When using to coat you chicken mix with oil or yoghurt to form a paste.
This is a recipe I found on Nigella Lawson’s website and its perfect if your craving a crunchy. Its actually surprisingly simple and cheap to make. The more you practice the better you will become and you can always pass off any dodgy batches on to your students
In all of the world of food there is still nothing better than a roast dinner – eaten at home, your mums or at the pub this is the meal to top all meals. However, living in Korea a roast dinner is not so easy to come by. Despite numerous Irish and English Pubs dotted around the peninsula I’ve still yet to see one on a menu. What’s a hungry girl to do? With no other options I’m forced to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
This being a Tuesday I’m not really in the mood to spend 2+ hours cooking a roast with all the trimmings (stuffing, yorkshire puds, roast potatoes and cauliflower cheese etc) This is a quick and easy (yet no less delicious) version for a quick weekday tea or for those lacking an oven.
The Chicken – If your lucky enough to have a chicken man on your street then you would be well advised to make use of this wonderful resource. The chicken man is a guy selling freshly cooked rotisserie chickens out the back of his truck for between 4,000 – 6,000 each. The chickens on my road are particularly delicous as the are stuffed with garlic and rice, a welcome adition to any chicken. Buy 1 or 2 if your as greedy as me. If you dont have a chicken man near by then you can buy pre cooked chickens at home plus and all the other big supermarkets. Although they generally aren’t as tasty as the ones from the chicken man. If you truly live in the back of beyond you will have to roast the chicken yourself.
The Potatoes – No one loves a roast potato more than me, but in need of a quick fix I opted for crushed potatoes. More or less the same as mashed but they still have the skins on, it saves peeling them first, just make sure you give them a good scrub to remove the mud. Boil them until soft with a pinch of salt then strain them, add a knob of butter (or 2) some black pepper a splash of milk and some chopped up spring onions and mash with the back of a fork.
The Veg – I went for carrots and broccoli , generally because they are the cheapest to buy. If your feeling flush you can easily find frozen peas, asparagus, green beans and cauliflower in your local homeplus. Just roughly chop and boil in water. Keep your left over water after you have strained the veg and put the chicken carcass and bones in with some extra water to make a fabulous stock for a soup for tomorrow.
The Gravy – This is where most people are going to fall short and sadly for you I have no easy quick fixes. When it come to gravy you need to follow the boy scouts motto and be prepared! Luckily before coming to Korea I had travelled a bit before and had found that gravy in other countries leaves alot to be desired. Therefore I filled my case with Bisto and I bring back more every time I venture home. If you’re English and have some loving friends or family ask them to send you some tout suite. If not then you can get hold of some Mcormicks gravy powder in the foreign food mart in Itaewon, though past experience has taught me its not a patch on Bisto. The only other option is to make it from scratch, a prospect for a future post perhaps?
When everything is really assemble on a plate and enjoy!