Well, it’s been another week of busy-ness and technical difficulties for yours truly. First it was our laptop-server connection, and then my trusty collage website changed some features. Now, over those hurdles and armed with a few hours of photo editing classes, I’ve got some time to sit down and write.
Last week, a new friend Denise and I joined an activity here on the foreigner’s compound called dado. Essentially, this is Korean tea time, and we had the opportunity for some hands-on learning of how to make Korean snacks and enjoy tea (properly). Korean word of the week: 맛있어요 or ma-shi-soy-yo, which means delicious. Be careful not to get this word confused with a very, very similar sounding word that means good, because then you might ironically call your dog delicious. Which, in Korea, would be offensively stereotypical, although funny.
A lovely Korean woman, Mrs. Song, led the class, speaking to us in Korean the entire time, translated by a cute young assistant, Miss Sally Lee. Having only been at HFC a few weeks, it was my first dado, but apparently they have a dado class every month, and this time, the lesson was a how-to in making peanut gangjeong. A cross between a rice cake and a granola bar, these snacks are enjoyed by many, including J who has seen quite a few around the office!
I really enjoyed this recipe because there are no measurements, just eyeballing, the way cooking should be. The first few steps are to put some rice syrup in a large pan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. You then add one “spoon” of sugar (Mary Poppins anybody?) and stir some more.
The next part is fun, the popped rice goes in, followed by peanuts or cashews, black sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
Then comes what would most certainly be the messy part for me: mix them all together while the pan is still hot. You can then either scoop out the mixture into cupcake liners or use a mold, such as the rectangular one shown here, to make an even form. After a few minutes, the mixture will harden and you can cut it into shapes to your heart’s content. It’s almost like a less-sugary Korean rice-crispy treat!
As Sally Lee said, peanut gangjeong is “more tasteful” when enjoyed with tea. And Mrs. Song assured us, many, many times that tea and gangjeong is “good for your health”. (Koreans tend to say that a lot about their food).
I am not a tea expert, so I couldn’t tell you exactly what kind of tea was served, but it was hot and mashisoyo. The proper way to enjoy your tea, as we learned, is to keep your four right hand fingers around the cup, straight with knuckles together, but your fingers should not rest above the rim of the cup or below the base. Next, you take your left hand in a similar manner with fingers straight and knuckles together, and place your left fingertips on the bottom of the base. No pinkies up – this isn’t the U.K. after all!
The tea table display was fantastic, and we learned a little bit about Korean hospitality and formality. It is necessary to warm up your tea cup before putting the hot tea inside, so they use hot water to bring your cup up to temperature so that your tea doesn’t get cold too quickly. The tea and gangjeong was also served with tiny tangerines, eaten with the peel on! I tried one, and it tasted exactly how you’d expect – like a tiny tangerine with the peel still on.
Denise and I thoroughly enjoyed our lesson, and Mrs. Song must have liked us too, since she specially requested a picture with us. Looks like we forgot our “kimchi” peace signs, but learning how to be a gracious tea guest, that probably wouldn’t have been appropriate. Then again, neither was laughing while chowing down on gangjeong. Yum!