I've been missing veggies lately. Odd feeling, but its there. So, after work tonight, I went to the local market and bought some sprouts, carrots, potatoes, bibimbap sauce, and eggs. I decided that since my favorite veggie-packed Korean meal is bibimbap, I would give it a try making it in my own kitchen...
I researched what exactly the sauce is that is used in Bibimbap, and found it is called "kochujang" or "gochujang" (Korean interchanges K and G quite often).
Once home, I put the sprouts on to cook with a bit of olive oil (internet said sesame oil but I only had olive so, oh well) and salt. Then, I chopped some carrots very very finely (wished I'd had a peeler or julienne) - it took about 10-15 minutes to get them all done. I nuked some rice in Sean's microwave (still don't have a rice maker... or a microwave), and decided that I really wasn't feelin' the egg (which is usually on top). I made like 2x as many carrots and sprouts as I needed, but that was okay because I don't like mushrooms and didn't have any other veggies that normally go on top. I sautéed the carrots for a bit and drained the sprouts, piled it all together with some sauce, and voila.
Basically, it was a Chelsea-style bibimbap (heavy on the things I like, light on the things I don't), but thankfully for this particular meal, the things I like happen to be vegetables! And, thankfully, it was absolutely delicious.
Korea has definitely had a major impact on my diet. Of course, it may not be completely voluntary (there are many things I just can't get here), but regardless, it's a good thing. There are far fewer processed foods here, and it has forced my tastes to change. I now crave spicy food and vegetables, and rarely have cravings for things like pasta or pizza (although, it does occasionally happen!) My portion sizes have changed, but that's mostly due to the primary use of chopsticks, which make everything a little more difficult to shovel in your mouth.
I think my biggest challenge to my health/diet is still snacks/sweets. Unfortunately I love sweets, but thankfully I am good at only having a little at a time rather than entire packages. Work has been hard on me since I can't really eat much between 1-9pm. Sometimes I eat at school, when the food is edible (about 30% of the time, in my opinion). Mostly, though, I have some crackers or something. I really need to get in the habit of taking healthy snacks to work. I think that will have a big impact.
Overall, I think that I can probably not live without this bibimbap sauce when I get back to America. I mean, it makes vegetables so much tastier! And anything that makes me want/crave veggies is a miracle product. And, I am CERTAIN that I will miss Korean food when I leave. Especially 갈매기살 (galmaegisal) which is pork but it's absolutely delicious.
That's another thing, I found that in Korea there are some delicious parts of a pig! In America, I didn't really like pork chops (although I did enjoy ribs), but there's so much more choice here! Amazing! I will also miss Korean ramen. TOTALLY not healthy, and come to think of it, I'm not even totally sure it is different than what we have in America, since I literally never eat ramen in America. But I DIG this stuff. It is perfectly spicy!
There are, of course, foods I won't miss. Sundae (순대) for example, which is like blood sausage; chicken feet; live squid (which everyone seems to love except me); beongdegi (번데기) which is silkworm larvae. There are more, but those are the ones that come to mind for me...
Well, that about sums up my night and my current thoughts... I can't believe May is almost over! Time is flying...
** Disclaimer: I don't hate all vegetables! I am just particular in which and how they are cooked... :)