Stamina fish stew ― yummy for everybody but meI was never a hiker. I don’t even really like to look at mountains ― the renowned landscape paintings by the Group of Seven never moved me when I was an art student back in Canada.
For a while, I tried to understand why others got so excited about forests and wilderness.
I traveled to Banff, reluctantly, in the summer of 1988, only to find that the rugged peaks of the Canadian Rockies were already frozen with ice in August.
In an attempt to make the best of the trip, my mother took a snapshot of me wearing shorts and my father’s raincoat. In the picture, I look like a little exhausted bear.
My parents and I spent most of our time there camping out. All I remember is waking in the middle of the night, shivering cold and fearing that a real bear would come and eat me.
This wasn’t even the worst of my childhood traumas in the mountains. Once, my brother and I went searching for a store to get some snacks during a family picnic in a mountain park near Seoul. We took the wrong trail and met a hooligan who took all our money and threatened to hurt us if we told our parents what happened. I cried my heart out, and swore to my mother I would never go hiking with them again.
That same day, on our way back home we saw a little girl covered in blood after she tripped and fell on a broken soju bottle.
As an adult, I have been able to effectively ignore mountains. I did visit Mount Fuji in Japan recently ― but only because it was included in my tour package.
However, my parents moved to a neighborhood near Mount Bukhan four years ago. Although the air is fresh and there’s a nice park nearby, shortly after a new subway opened, what was once a quiet area became infested with loud-mouthed hikers, and a virtual alpine village sprouted nearby.
When I stay at my parents’ house, I’m woken at 5 in the morning by the din of these mountain enthusiasts. Sundays are a particular disaster.
However, I have observed that most hikers have a peculiar appetite. The restaurants targeting them mostly serve food like carp stew, which isn’t commonly eaten elsewhere.
This and other stamina foods are found in abundance near trailheads. If you’re a hiker, and you feel that chicken stew is a bit too ordinary, but you’re not ready for roasted eel or dog soup, then a great alternative stamina meal is pollack stew.
Personally, I hate the stuff. Everything that goes with the mountains, whether painting of forests, shouting hikers or the stuff they eat ― it all belongs on the other side of the planet from me. I came from the side with rivers, canoeing and swimmers. The great divide between the hills and the valleys was never meant to be reconciled.
How to Cook
Ingredients: 1 pollack, 100g of clams, 200g of radish, 50g of beans sprouts, 100g of tofu, 100g of zucchini, 3 leaves of crown daisy, 1/2 red chili pepper, 1/2 green onion, 1 green chili pepper, 2 teaspoons of chili pepper, 2 teaspoons of rice wine, 2 teaspoons of crushed garlic, 4 cups of water boiled with anchovy, a little bit of salt and pepper.
1. Cut the pollack into four pieces.
2. Wash the clams in running water and mix with salt.
3. Cut the radish into thin cubes. Take the heads and tails off the beans sprouts.
4. In a pot of water, pour clams. When the mouths open, take them out on a side plate.
5. Add the pollack and the rest of the sauce. Boil for half an hour.
6. Add the crown daisy leaves just before you serve.
by Park Soo-mee