Last night was Australia Vs Korea in the Asia Cup Soccer finale. I bet 1,000 won ($1.30 , the AUD is dropping spectacularly) that Korea would win. Australia scored the first goal and I was all ready and willing to part with my 1,000 won when South Korea scored a goal and evened it out. Hell, let’s up the ante, SK are going to take it home for sure!
Chan: Let’s bet honey, whoever loses has to shout Shabu Shabu for dinner (sly grin, thinking a free meal is on the cards) Who do you think will win?
Bobby: I think Korea will win.
Chan: So do I.
Bobby: Okay, then I will change to Australia for winning.
Bobby and Chan: Deal
Hands were shook upon and fate was sealed. Australia scored. The poor Korean boys looked tired and defeated and it was all over a short time later, 2-1. WHEN WILL I LEARN?!?
So the sore loser (who hates losing, yet mostly always does) took the gleeful winner out for dinner. We found Chae-Seon-Dang just around the corner from our apartment and went on up. One thing I love about Korea restaurants (which weirded me out when I first came to Korea) is that they have their restaurants for their specific foods. Back home, you go to a restaurant and there’s a range of different items on the menu in one place: pizza, pasta, steak, salads, seafood, vegetable dishes etc. Here, if you want Shabu Shabu, you go to a Shabu Shabu restaurant, if you want Dakgalbi, you go to a Dakgalbi restaurant etc. They pick one thing they’re good at and stick to it. Below is the menu set outside showing their Shabu Shabu in 6 alternate ways.
First up from left to right, top to bottom is the 월남쌈 Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Next to that is the spicy set – there’s those little characters 매운 letting you know it will tickle the mouth with flames. Left on the middle and one we haven’t tried yet is the 해물 seafood, which includes prawns, clams and octopus. 소고기 beef, our usual go-to sits on the middle right. Bottom left, 스페셜소고기 special beef comes with extra vegetables and a meat stick and lastly, bottom right is 모듬 all, a mix of seafood and beef.
They had a special on their special, giving out extra mushrooms and sliced fruit (both of which i forgot to get pictures of) for a total of 28,000 won for the two of us to fill up on. This standard Shabu Shabu is different from the rice paper version in that everything gets thrown in the pot.
Look at that stunning pile of greens! The ribbons of thinly shaved beef piled high! The meat stick with the mini oar / shoe horn looking thing! Wait what? 고기완자 gogi-wanja is ground pork mixed with seasonings, herbs and spices. It gets scraped and formed into little balls, dropped in the pot and bubbles away. Shabu Shabu, what goes into the pot: steps 1-7 >rice cakes, onion pumpkin, potato, fish cakes ~>leafy greens and mushrooms ~>meat and dumplings ~>more leafy greens and mushrooms ~>noodles once all chunky items are finished ~>soup will have thickened from noodle starches and evaporation of stock ~> rice and egg are added and mixed quickly together ~>turn heat off and scrape the last of the rice from the pot.
* dumplings, rice cakes and meat stick take a while to cook, eat your greens while you wait for these.
* ahjumma will come take over if you look bewildered by it all. Said ahjumma will also pour out the soup base when it nears the bottom as it’s too salty. (Stares dumbfounded, “why would you be so cruel lady to take away the best part”?!)
These noodles are absolutely delightful with their chewy texture and the flavour they manage to absorb is noteworthy. The mandu (dumplings/gyoza) swelling to almost double in size are filled with glass noodles, spring onions, seasoning and pork meat. If you’ve never eaten one before, tear it all apart first because these little bad boys become steam pouches and the heat stays in them unless opened for the steam to escape. I still remember my first time.. I looked so elegant and beautiful across from Bobby dribbling and gagging on water, choking trying to cool my mouth.
The salad below is your standard Korean shredded cabbage, with a sweet dressing smothered on and a pretty mandarin segment. I thought it was purely for aesthetic reasons but it worked! Burst of sweet juice with enough acid to cut through the candy dressing. The kimchi next to it is called 물김치mul-kimchi Mul is water, ergo water kimchi. It’s got pickled radish stems, pickles and cabbage. Nice and crunchy, a little sweet and sour.
And here it is, the maker of a meal. I’m thinking I might’ve talked these up, but I know if it’s any other sauce, then the Shabu Shabu fix isn’t complete. The best thing about these two is that they’re so simple and can be replicated at home. After eating it again last night, I noticed there’s more to the soy sauce one than I’d originally thought.
So here goes MAKE TO TASTE:
sweet chilli sauce
finely chopped chillies
I hope that you can all eat Shabu Shabu one day, be it here in Korea or in your homes with friends and family.
Happy eating – Chan and Bob