stew & soup recipes: are koreans rude…and a soup recipe called kimchi jjigae

stew & soup recipes: soup recipe kimchi jjigae and food photography tips

I am going to state right here at the beginning of this post that this post is an opinion based on personal experience and is in no way, shape or form meant to be hateful. It is the truth and based on 3 separate events:

A few months ago I went to my dry cleaners/seamstress. I had to fit into a gown and I had gained a few pounds over the past few years. It is a beautiful, classic gown that is timeless. I decided I’d have it let out and diet. I’d rather starve myself for a month than go shopping for clothing so this was my solution.

I put the gown on for my seamstress. She eyed me up and down as I stood there embarrassed to have gained weight and horrified I’d have to let this gown out. Then, she said, “Ohhh…you got more here and here. “ She said this pointing to certain areas on her body. She uttered a very loud “tsk” and “sigh”, all the while shaking her head. She then began pulling, tugging and pinning the garment. And, while she was doing this she was trying to explain to me that she can only let out about ¼ inch of fabric.

It is a complicated gown. I understood. (My dad worked in woman’s wear for 50 years, but I dislike sewing no matter how hard he tried to teach me.) I was well aware I’d have to do my part and lose the weight, which she reminded me of in the main lobby when I was picking up other dry cleaning. “You come back on the 15th and make sure you lose this (she points to body part).” The two men in the lobby were uncomfortable and I slunk out of the store looking as red as a beet.

The second event occurred when my husband, who is currently in a top level military school, asked me to bake a pie for one of the international students. The student, said my husband, had said something that reminded him of me, our marriage and this thought made him happy and more appreciative of me. I thought that was an incredible thing for this other student to do, even if unaware. I baked one of my best blueberry pies, complete with decorative crust and cut-outs. Fresh blueberries were purchased and the greatest care was given to this pie. I’ve made it since I was a child. It is a classic pie, but I am aware that some people don’t like blueberry pie. That is fine, but I’d thought I’d offer something quite as American as apple pie, but summery.

Green and White Flower Chic Interior Flower Image

The student received the pie, apparently tried it and then, when he next saw my husband said, “Your wife’s pie isn’t good. Too sweet.” My husband let this student know that saying that, in America and probably a lot of other places, was extremely rude, especially when that pie was a thank you gift.

The third occasion happened when I was in a carry-out food establishment. I picked out something to eat, which wasn’t for me, but for my husband, who likes spicy food. The woman who was taking the order said, “For you? Maybe too spicy.” I said, as nicely as I could, “Thank you for your advice, but I’d like to order that.” I got a “tsk” and then she spoke in her native language to another employee and he looked at me and shrugged. I haven’t been back to that establishment.

The common thread here is that all three experiences included Koreans. Is there something lost in translation regarding our languages? I am beginning to think so because I’m sure these folks don’t mean to be rude. Well, let’s say I hope there is a language usage issue. Perhaps it is cultural. I’m open to many cultural differences having grown up outside New York City. I love diversity, but I just don’t understand the rudeness. What am I missing here?

I was so disconcerted by the comment at the carry-out food establishment that I will never go back. I have options and went to a restaurant where no questions were asked. I ordered, they obliged, I paid and all was right in the world.

stew & soup recipes: soup recipe kimchi jjigae and food photography tips

I love my seamstress/dry cleaner. I am a loyal customer and we get along very well, especially after I lost so much weight that when I went back for the fitting she had to take the dress back in to its original size. Let’s just say her humiliating “sighs” and “tsks” were ample motivation. So good was that motivation that in the past 5 months I’ve lost over 25 pounds.

As for my husband’s fellow student, I expect more out of a top-level officer from another country and I know that my husband would never be disrespectful to his wife. Let’s just say that at the last social event he found out just how incredibly blunt a Jersey girl could be.

Photography Tips:

1. Photos taken with a http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Products/Product/Digital-SLR-Cameras/25468/D7000.html Cost $1200 USD plus Lens $400 AF-S DX NIKKOR
18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR with a 67mm Circular Polarizer Filter $175 Total for the day $1800

2. Shot in Natural Light, no Soft Box Used, Post Processing in Adobe Lightroom 3, we’ve found that using “Preview” on mac increases the sharpness during post processing. All images shot in JPEG format. No Flash.

3. Bokeh, Blurred background: Checklist: How to take portraits with blurred backgrounds by switching your camera to Aperture Priority, Nikon uses turning the dial to “A”. Zoom in, choose the lowest F-number. This not only works with portraits but any subject.

Recipe Adapted From Food.com Adapted from Emily Han.

KIMCHI JIGAE (KIMCHI SOUP)

Ingredients for soup

1⁄8; lb pork loin (omit for vegetarian)
1 tablespoon rice wine
3 pinches black pepper
1 cup sour kimchee (cut into 1×1, reserve juice)
¼ white onion , cut into slices
1 green onion , sliced
¼ cup mushroom (regular or shiitake)
3 tablespoons sliced anaheim green chili peppers
1 cup tofu (extra firm, cut into 1/4-inch slices)
1 ½ cups water
vegetable oil , to coat small pan
Ingredients for Base
4 teaspoons korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
2 teaspoons korean chili paste (gochujang)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon minced garlic (fresh or bottled, just not dried)
4 pinches black pepper

Directions:

1. Cut up vegetables, kimchi and tofu and set aside.
2. Rinse meat, cut into thin strips 1-2″ long.
3. Marinate meat in rice wine with two pinches black pepper for 15 minutes (you can use your stew pot for this).
4. Meanwhile, add vegetable oil to pan or wok and cook kimchi on medium-high until done (usually 5-7 minutes). Stir consistently. Kimchi will turn slightly translucent.
5. In a separate bowl, combine soup base ingredients and mash together.
6. Add vegetables, kimchi, soup base and water to the pot with the meat, leaving out the tofu. Use kimchi juice as part of the water if extracted.
7. Bring to a boil; leave on a rolling boil until meat is cooked or about 5 minutes, being careful not to let water boil away.
8. Taste soup for adjustments; add water as needed, or make extra soup base if needed.
9. As soon as the meat is done, turn the heat down to low, add the tofu slices.
10. Stir gently, serve with rice (your mouth will be hot — I like to use rice that is room-temp!).


Photography Data:
Camera Nikon D7000
Guest Photographer: Marie Cinq-Mars
Exposure 0.033 sec (1/30)
Aperture f/9.0
Focal Length 92 mm
ISO Speed 800
Flash Off, Did not fire
300 dpi
Software Pixelmator 2.0.1
Exposure Program Shutter speed priority AE
Max Aperture Value 5.7
Subject Distance 0.45 m
Metering Mode Multi-segment
Exposure Mode Auto
White Balance Auto
Lens 18.0-105.0 mm f/3.5-5.6

  • rss
  • flickr
  • twitter
  • facebook

10 comments

  • February 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm //

    What a lovely soup! I love making kimchi, but haven’t had it in a soup yet.
    I don’t know, but I can attest that Vietnamese people seem the same way, without seeming to mean anything bad by it. They laugh with their friends when they are told “You got fat! Look at your belly!” which would reduce me to tears. So maybe it’s just a different baseline understanding of what is rude.

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:20 am //

      Thank you so much Kiri. I’d love to hear about your experiences too Kiri, like you said, it could be something, culturally that they do as well amongst each other.

  • February 24, 2012 at 6:50 am //

    Anna (it is Anna, right?) This is a funny story! Yes, probably lost in translation. I think it’s an East meets West issue, the channels of communication can be slightly askew. And as you said, the rudeness was probably not intentional (except in the restaurant, just dumb!) Anyway, I’m glad you used your interaction with your seamstress to make a positive change–maybe a little nudge isn’t so bad, even if it seemed rude at the time. Sometimes the truth hurts :) Luckily not everyone is so openly critical, or we’d never get out the door. Congratulations on your weight loss, wow, that’s great!

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:18 am //

      Hi Sally, no this is Camille =) The world would be in Chaos if we were all so critical. Thank you so much for commenting Sally. (I tried to access your site, it seems to be down)?

  • February 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm //

    I’ve never thought of adding kimchi in soups — sounds and looks too delicious :)

    Rude people are so annoying, but you handled it with much class. Bravo :)

    • February 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm //

      Yes, they truly are Kiran, thank you for your kind comment too.

  • February 25, 2012 at 2:39 am //

    What wonderful post. BTW, I love kimchi. Used to make it a lot.

    • February 25, 2012 at 8:47 am //

      Thank you Sherry, we love the spices and fermentation of Kimchi.

  • February 29, 2012 at 10:31 am //

    Hello! Just wanted to say that your shots are beautiful :)
    This is my one of my bf’s favorite soups so I will have to try out your recipe. I completely understand about cultural misunderstandings. Some of the members of the older generation from my korean bf’s side of family can be pretty blunt (with no ill intentions of course). The complete opposite to my Japanese background – where the language is everything BUT blunt ;)

    • February 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm //

      Thank you Em, so happy you like the photos. I’m with you on the Japanese cultural side (I live n Japan) I think somehow if we merged the two cultures along with the US, we’d have Utopia (thinking out loud) “wink”. It’s really hard to sum up what aspect is only cultural and what is just merely rudeness and I think that misunderstanding creates a cultural divide. Thank you so much for commenting Em.