Don’t forget street food, seafood as holiday treatsEating street food on Christmas Eve is a strangely soothing experience, perhaps because it’s the only time of the year when street vendors don’t harass you even if you take your seat for several hours.
In my case, the experience is just as tempting as dining in a posh restaurant in Cheongdam-dong on a night when it is almost impossible to get a seat unless you’re a rock star or have made reservations months ahead.
And even if you manage to get a table as soon as you arrive, the service is usually unacceptably bad.
The longest time I had to wait in a restaurant for dinner on Christmas Eve was three years ago when my companion and I ordered a course meal at a Chinese restaurant near Hongdae. Each course literally took about an hour to arrive on our table. By the time we finished eating, we almost felt the urge to hit Burger King and grab a large cheeseburger, because we had immediately digested everything we ate.
I couldn’t say it was a pleasant experience, though I endured through the evening with the pleasure of sitting next to the vocalist of my favorite rock band, Crying Nut. Quite coincidentally I found out later that night he was celebrating Christmas with his friend before joining the Army the next day, so there was a little Christmas surprise.
Since then I’ve been pretty successful in picking restaurants where I could hide from the crowd and eat good food. Who said worrying can help you prepare?
Last year my cousin’s fiancee took us out to a crab place near Munjeong-dong in eastern Seoul. I must admit it was probably the least romantic place you could possibly go on Christmas Eve.
I still remember green masking tape wrapped around the claws of lobsters and crabs in a gigantic aquarium tank. But the place was unpretentious. A few kids were running around tossing empty crab shells at our table, putting me on alert, but I am sure they didn’t have any evil intentions.
Another option for Christmas Eve, as I have hinted earlier, is to go for street food in Myeongdong just before midnight mass at the cathedral.
It could be anything, though I personally prefer having a steamy bowl of udon.
This year after midnight mass is over, I am thinking of going to Noryangjin Fishery to make some abalone porridge for my dad. It knocks me out completely to even think that I’ll be browsing through stacks of aquariums full of live fish on Christmas Eve. If I get in the mood I’ll binge on a huge plate of flatfish. And if I spill a drop of chili paste on my white shirt that evening I know I’ll meet my soulmate. That’s how my friend fell in love.
I am looking forward to Christmas Eve.
How to Cook
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 4 packs of udong noodle, 4 pieces of fish cake, 1 green onion, 1 bag of carrots, 4 shitaki mushrooms. For broth: 4 sheets of dried dasima (seaweed), 1/2 cups of dried bonito flakes, 8 teaspoons of soy sauce, 4 teaspoons of cooking wine, small amount of salt, 9 cups of water.
1. Add dasima to a pot of water. When the water comes to a boil take them out.
2. Add bonito flakes. Turn the heat off. Let the flakes sit in the broth for 20 minutes. When the time is up, take out the flakes with a strainer.
3. Add soy sauce, salt and cooking wine.
4. Add the noodles.
5. Add pieces of fish cakes, sliced carrots, green onion and shitaki mushrooms.
6. Serve in a bowl.
From miz.naver.com, Delicook
by Park Soo-mee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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