So, my 60+ frozen momos from my second Project Food Blog challenge is turning out to be a big saver this week.
Because. I. Am. Swamped.
If I shut my eyes, I’ll see myself swimming among words—incoherent, yet intelligent-looking words just gliding past me, streams of sentences swirling around me.
I’m drowning. In all the articles I have to churn out, the newswriting I have to do for class, the readings piling up into a trembling pyramid, impatient to be read.
Looks like it’s gonna be a sleepless night again.
But I must make priority. Yes, I must. And that is to still be able to do things that make me happy. That explains why there’s cornbread baking in the oven. That also explains why I’ve spent a good amount of time clicking my way through all the irritatingly FABULOUS Project Food Blog entries my fellow contestants have submitted.
Goodness. Come on, guys. Why do you have to all be Julia Childs and rock out dishes and dishes of exquisite classic dishes? Evil, I tell you.
Here are a very, very abbreviated list of my favorites so far:
1) My Bizzy Kitchen’s Nepalese feast:
I thought my momos were hard work? This crazy, wonderful blogger did not just momos, but dal bhat and fried roti as well.
2) Evil Shenanigan’s Schweinshaxe, Spätzle and Rotkohl:
Dang. I can’t even pronounce any of these mouth-watering German dishes Kelly whipped up. I guess basically, I’ll just let out some deep guttural grunts and I’ll be somewhat there. But seriously. This gal is AMAZING, and I just wanna rip that pork knuckle off her plate.
3) What’s For Dinner’s gumbo and beignet:
Butter, Andouille sausage, tons of spices, and fried dough. As Emeril always moans, where is smell-o-vision when you need one? Laissez les bon temps rouler, indeed (Don’t ask me to pronounce that one either).
4) Willow Bird Baking’s Gulab Jamun with Caramelized Bananas:
I love Julie’s cooking…but I also love her writing. There is something very sensual about the way she writes. I also love that she overcame her fear of frying, and made these luscious jewels of rosy fried dumplings, topped with caramelized bananas and pistachios…oh gosh, must stop now before I cry with longing.
5) Rooftop Gourmet’s Scottish Haggis with Roasted Neeps & Tatties:
How OFFALLY mind-blowing is this dish? I’ve wanted to try haggis ever since I’ve heard about it from a radio station. And yes, haggis is made up of sheep offal: heart, liver, and lungs minced then stuffed inside the sheep’s stomach. The blogger, Mike, is one OFFALLY passionate guy who’ll shimmy up some fancy wine with casual Cantonese cuisine all on the same rooftop. He is one OFFALLY fun foodie OFFALLY eclectic recipes and…okay, I’ll stop.
Well, actually, I still do have some more offal to share with you. But I’ll do it in a less annoying way, I promise.
I’ve done my research, and found out that one of the best places nearby for soondae was at Eighth Street Soondae:
Yeah, the place looks rather sketchy, doesn’t it? It was tucked in an obscure, forlorn street, too. Kind of inconvenient for other non-Koreans who can’t read the Korean signboard, but I guess the owners don’t ever expect non-Korean customers, evident by the way they stared at Mimi, the white little Southern belle.
The menu was all in Korean, too. I’m beginning to think we Koreans are very close-minded people.
The interior was very, very Korean. I definitely felt like I stepped through a teleporting door and right into the middle of my hometown. It was just the little touches, such as this self-serve coffee and water machine:
Or the little boxes filled with chopsticks and spoons:
Or the small tray of seasonings such as salt, Korean red pepper sauce, and soy sauce:
And even the water was not plain water, but barley tea, which is what my relatives drink at home. Served in a cute cup, too:
I ordered us a plate of sliced soondae, with “everything” beside it (excuse the blurry picture):
I’ll explain in a moment. The soondae came with a bunch of side dishes:
Jalapeno peppers with fermented bean sauce and raw onions…
Seasoned salt and fermented shrimp sauce for dipping…
…and rich pork broth.
Now. For the main dish. Our mid-afternoon snack.
Soondae is the skin of pork intestines stuffed with a mixture of cellophane noodles, sweet rice, pork blood and masking flavorings, like garlic and scallions. Ours came sliced, and served with…uh, some other pork ingredients.
To be completely honest, soondae is not my favorite thing to eat. But Koreans love it as a street food snack. You’ll see a bunch of college students or middle-aged men digging happily into this dish by the streets.
But I needed to get another taste of this offal in order to write a fair review in my column, so I went. And somehow managed to drag Mimi along, who was being stared by every customer in the restaurant.
And oh yes, I think Mimi proved to all my Korean brothers and sisters that yes, a white girl can chow down soondae with gusto, too.
These people. They chuckled to see her fiddling with her chopsticks. They even told the owner to hand her a fork or “she will be here all day”. But by the time we were done with our soondae, they had nothing to say. Because…this girl, she could eat soondae meaner and better than I ever could.
Actually, I didn’t mind the soondae too much. The flavor is mild, and you really don’t taste anything particularly bloody or offal about it. But the “other porky ingredients” that came with it?
Yeah, let’s just say, I was less than enthusiastic.
You see, these pork liver, pork feet, and some other non-identifiable innards weren’t even seasoned at all to mask that offal stink and taste.
I thought I was pretty adventurous with my tastes, but I put a piece in my mouth and had to spit it out because I felt like I was going to hurl, and that would have been to disgrace my own race. “What’s wrong, my Asian friend?” Mimi chortled smugly. “Can’t handle your offal?”
And she promptly finished almost all them innards herself, while I played it safe with just the soondae:
You win, Mimi, you win. But I can still out-spice her anytime, so I wasn’t too defeated:
Okay. I’m offally tired. I think it’s best if I go sleep, since clearly I’m offal in the head.
Question of the Day: Tried any offal before? Love them, hate them, or don’t even care to know? And if you’ve got any favorite Project Food Blog posts so far, please share them! And vote for me while you’re at it!
P.S. By the way, if you’re interested, check out what this week’s column on Korean street food.