sarea: (fight my way)
[personal profile] sarea
Update on Lasik: I'm still enjoying not having to wear contacts/glasses, but my right eye seems to have gotten "fuzzy" again. Fuzzy is perhaps too strong a word; if I cover my left eye, I can see fine out of my right, it's just not as SHARP as my left. The result is that when I have both eyes uncovered, it "feels" like I have something in my right eye making things not as sharp, which makes me want to rub it, which is a big no no. Sigh. I'm not sure what's accounting for it, because previously I was told that it was due to post-op inflammation, but that should no longer be a factor. I guess I'll just have to see what comes out of my 1-month post-op checkup.

I have been making a lot of food recently. In the past few days I have made:

- Roast pork with crispy skin. The flavor turned out really well, but the skin was more "hard" than crispy. It's not brittle, which is what makes crispy pork skin delicious. The other problem was that I neglected to buy a super-flat piece of pork belly, which made for uneven cooking. It was slightly sloped at the end, which meant that part crisped up/burned faster than the rest of the belly. Still, I liked this enough that I would make it again. (Recipe used: Souped Up Recipes on YouTube.)

- Cha-siu (Chinese BBQ pork). Again, the flavor turned out well, but it wasn't quite as cha-siu like as I wanted. I don't think I know how to cut the pieces in the right way to get that cha-siu shape. Still, it was quite tasty, and MUCH better than I've had in some restaurants. Which really begs the question, wtf are they doing? It wasn't that hard. It's just about marinating and roasting/basting in an oven, for god's sake. (Recipe used: Food Wishes on YouTube.)

- Hong Kong style baked pork chop rice. This is a favorite dish of mine at Hong Kong style cafes. :D However, I was less than impressed with the recipe I used. It tasted totally fine, but it was so much work (2+ hours) and not exactly what I was expecting. (Recipe used: Mama Cheung on YouTube)

- Samgyetang (삼계탕) (Korean ginseng chicken soup). This was a fail. I blame the fact that I was unable to find any fresh ginseng at Bellevue H-mart, and went with a dried herbs samgyetang kit, which seemed pretty weak. It just ended up tasting like chicken soup to me. Also, the kit provided waaaaaaay more glutinous rice than could be stuffed into a chicken (I used one big chicken as opposed to two small ones). I put as much as I could, but then the problem was that the rice wasn't fully cooked by the time the chicken was done! I'd like to try this when it's properly made (i.e., in a restaurant) sometime. (Recipe used: Asian at Home with Seonkyoung Longest. The herb kit she used looked much more robust than mine. I wanted to use Maangchi's recipe except I couldn't find the fresh ginseng.)

- Kimchi (김치). The batch from the last time I made it had gotten way sour, and then it started molding on top, so I threw it out. I must be becoming a little bit Korean, because when I didn't have any kimchi to eat, I actually really missed it. So I made a small batch, with only a single large napa cabbage. It was actually the perfect amount to fit in my traditional kimchi container. I realllllly love the taste of fresh/non-fermented kimchi, so I'm trying to eat some every day before it gets fermented. (Recipe used: Maangchi)

- Danmuji (단무지) (yellow radish). I won't know how this one turns out for another month. I'm not a fan of the storebought kind, like, AT ALL, but I am curious to know if the homemade kind is any better/different. It's apparently a MUST side dish to jajjangmyeon, which I love, so I want to try the two together without having to buy the ones at the store, which are apparently full of additives and what not. (I'm obviously not opposed to eating additives, but if I do, I want it to be something I find delicious! Like Snow Ice!) Anyway, I'm going to state up front that I don't have a lot of hope for this one. I couldn't find dried gardenia at Bellevue H-Mart, and it was hella expensive on Amazon, so I used turmeric instead (which, to be fair, was stated as an acceptable substitute). I used 4 tsps of turmeric, but the resulting marinade was not the least bit yellow at all. Rather than use up all my turmeric, I also added a helping of yellow gel food coloring. The mixture was way more brown than yellow looking, and was a lot thicker than Maangchi's. Sigh. So yeah, who knows. (Recipe used: Maangchi)

I've also been making Hong Kong style milk tea a lot. :D I loooooooooooooove it, and so does [personal profile] adelagia. It's tea that tastes very strongly of tea. Using a normal teabag just results in an unsatisfying tepid tea flavor. But the HK style tea, despite being strong, is somehow not bitter. It's also very "thick"... there's no other way to describe the body of this tea. I remember looking this up years ago, but couldn't find any methods that seemed "right." People would throw out random tea types, and the consensus was that evaporated milk was used. Which, duh. However, after a recent trip in Vancouver in which T. and I got to have HK milk tea many times, I decided I had to be able to make it myself. Thankfully, this guy named Albert Yang on YouTube had done all the hard work in discovering how to make the perfect cup outside of Hong Kong, lol. There, they "pull" the tea with silk stockings (or similar), which is unrealistic for those of us making small batches at home. The problem every time I'd tried to make this tea before was that while I could get the tea to be super strong by boiling it for a long time, I could not stop it from being bitter after being brewed that long. With his method, I am able to consistently make HK milk tea that tastes great. I've tried different variations on it, and this turns out the best results:

For one cup

Equipment:
- a stovetop coffee percolator* (like this one)

Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp ceylon tea fannings**
- 1 tbsp orange pekoe tea fannings
- 1 egg shell
- 1 cup water
- evaporated milk***
- sweetened condensed milk or sugar, optional

Instructions:
1) Prep the percolator by running some water through the container that will hold the tea; this helps prevent the tea bits from falling through.
2) Place the tea and egg shell inside.
3) Measure out the water and slowly pour the water onto the tea and let it drip through.
4) Heat the percolator over high heat until you can see the liquid start to bubble/spurt up -- you'll be able to see it if your percolator has a clear knob at the top, which the one I linked does.
5) Turn down the heat until the liquid still bubbles up, at a rate of about 1 spurt every 7-10 seconds.
6) Percolate for 15 minutes.
7) Prepare a teacup by filling it 1/3 of the way with evaporated milk. Yes, you will need that much. The tea comes out so dark it looks like coffee! Add sweetened condensed milk or sugar, if you take it sweet, which I do. A hint of sweetness in this tea makes it soooo divine. (I use about 1 tsp of sweetened condensed milk.)
8) After 15 minutes are up, pour the tea into the prepared cup and stir. As mentioned, the tea will be VERY dark. If it's not super dark, something went wrong while percolating or you didn't use enough tea.

* While technically I gave the ingredient amounts for 1 cup of tea, when using the percolator I linked you'll have to double up the recipe and brew enough tea for at least 2 cups. Why? Because if you only put 1 cup of water in there, there's not enough to force the bubbling action, which means the water never gets through the tea leaves. You'll end up with either boiled water or a very light tea.

** Tea fannings are basically ground up tea, which is what you'd find in a typical teabag like Lipton, for example. I actually find that using fannings is very effective when making this tea, because the fannings provide so much surface area. If using tea leaves, use 2 1/2 tbsps per cup, rather than 1 tbsp per cup.

*** I use regular evaporated milk, but my tea does not have the same body (thickness) as the HK milk teas I've had in restaurants. My theory is that restaurants use filled milk (milk that's been reconstituted with fats like vegetable oils), which makes sense to me because 1) it achieves the consistency they desire; and 2) it's cheaper. They also seem to prefer the Black and White brand, which might make regular evaporated milk, but in grocery stores I have only ever seen filled milk from that brand (they also make sweetened condensed milk). I'd rather sacrifice the body of my tea than use filled milk at home, because the #2 ingredient in it is partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which means it's suuuuuuper unhealthy. That probably won't stop me from ordering it in a restaurant, but at least that's only an occasional thing... a VERY occasional thing.

I've also finished a handful of K-dramas since the last time I think I wrote about them...

Answer Me 1988 [profile] jade_okelani and I LOVED this one, even though we didn't ship the main ship. In fact, of all the Answer Mes, we only shipped the main ship in 1997. I preferred Chilbong in 1994, while Jade preferred Trash... but neither of us felt that strongly about it. In 1988, we both initially thought Duk-seon was going to be with Jung-hwan, but while I stuck with that, at a certain point it seemed like it was going the other way and she was going to end up with Taek. We both really liked Taek A LOT, but it was very bizarre to me that she ended up with him instead of Jung-hwan. It felt like they'd pulled a switcheroo because the guy the heroine was going to end up with was completely obvious in the previous two installments. Luckily, the main ship wasn't the one we cared most about, anyway. The ship we were both attached to was that of Sun-woo/Bo-ra, so the fact that they ended up together in the end made up for being "tricked" with the other one. Ultimately, the thing that made 1988 awesome wasn't really the ships at all, but all the relationships between the various characters. It was like 1994 in that way, only even more successful with the families, and in that we liked the romances as well. (OK, we didn't really care that much for Jung-bong/Man-ok.) What was weird/unnecessary about the show was the epilogue; it brought it down to this weird level of bittersweetness that was out of place with the rest of the show. I mean, sure, it's all sad and what not that the neighborhood where all this took place is now all trashed and run down, but it was always about the PEOPLE and not the neighborhood, so it was a little odd that that was the note they ended it on.

Circle [personal profile] adelagia and I started this one in Vancouver, and I finished it up on my own. It was all right. The sci-fi elements intrigued me. The premise, about twin brothers separated by three decades and the events that tie them together, was interesting, and I enjoyed the twist toward the end, but ultimately it wasn't as strong a show as I wanted.

Cheer Up! AKA Sassy Go Go. I watched the pilot for this one awhile back, but I wasn't that enthralled by it and didn't think the hero was attractive. I went back to it recently because I kept seeing it come up in various positive ways, and I was looking for some mindless fun, so I went back to it. Episode 3 was its strongest episode, and I was really into it at that point. IT WENT COMPLETELY DOWNHILL FROM THERE, until by the end, I hated the show, lol. I finished it because it only had 12 episodes, and it was episode 9 by the time I realized I kind of despised it. :)))) I loved Jung Eun-ji from 1997, but her character in Cheer Up has ALL of Shi-won's bad points and almost none of her good ones. The whole thing with the bully girl was just too crazy/over the top, particularly that they gave her chance after chance to redeem herself, and all she did was EVEN MORE TERRIBLE THINGS!!! And then when she finally realizes what a monster she's been, and acts suicidal, they all regret how THEY treated HER. It was so fucking ridiculous, omg. And then there's this scene where the whole gang of cheerleaders bully these three random students for talking shit about her -- and it's like, hello, you're being bullies yourselves? Really self-righteous ones, at that? And also, their talking shit is NOT NEARLY A FRACTION AS BAD AS THE SHIT THE BULLY GIRL PULLED???? I hated them all so much, omg. Also, I would have preferred Eun-ji's character with Ji-soo's, though the hero guy grew on me after the pilot. But "preferred" is almost too strong a word. By the end I just wanted it to be OVER. And I think I'm going to stay away from Korean high school dramas from now on, unless there's one that seems like it'll be out of this world good/different. It's the same annoying tropes over and over again. The bullying is over the top, the adults are all despicable and act like children, and the immaturity of the kids themselves just makes me want to choke all of them, haha. (If only School 2015 had Eun-bi end up with Tae-kwang, who are the only high school characters I can think of who had a decent level of maturity -- and what immaturity they showed was charming rather than annoying.)

Beautiful Gong Shim Watched this one with Jade. We both really liked it at the beginning, and it was okay throughout, but it definitely lost something by the end. At that point we were glad to be done with it. The weirdest thing is that despite the title, it was actually Namkoong Min, who plays Gong Shim's love interest, who was the actual lead of the show. We both reallllly loved him. I even liked him in that old Gong Yoo drama I watched, One Fine Day, and he played the second lead then and wasn't even all crazy and charming the way he seems to be in all the dramas where he's the lead.

Suspicious Partner AKA Love in Trouble. This was probably my and Jade's second-favorite show of recent times. Ji Chang-wook and Nam Ji-hyun were both delightful as a prosecutor and prosecutor-in-training. It was funny and had a lot of heart. There were 40 episodes, but each one was only 30 minutes, so it was essentially the length of a normal drama. It stayed pretty strong throughout, though it did lose something toward the end when it no longer made sense for them not to be together, but they still had to continue the farce because there was still show left.

Fight My Way OMG, Jade and I loved this one so much more than we expected to. SO MUCH MORE. I already had high hopes for it, because I liked Kim Ji-won so much as the second female lead in Descendants of the Sun and I generally like storylines having to do with friends from childhood. But it was SO CUTE and funny and charming, and I ended up totally loving Park Seo-joon. We didn't expect to see Jung-bong (from 1988) again so soon after we saw him in 1988, but despite the slow start of his and Song Ha-yoon's storyline, I ended up being into that one, too. Was it a perfect drama? No, of course not. It wasn't on the Answer Me levels in that sense. But we loved the characters SO MUCH that it was easy to overlook its faults. This was definitely one we wished had 20 episodes.

My Secret Romance Ugh. Never has a show that we had such high expectations for, that started out so well, made us turn on it so much by the end. We HATED it by the end. I can't even remember why exactly now, but it was a huge disappointment. Partly it was that it wasn't even that long a show, and yet it felt like half of it was flashbacks to things we HAD JUST SEEN. Between this show and Cheer Up, though, if forced at gunpoint, I'd choose to rewatch this one.

So I Married An Anti-Fan This was a movie that I watched on my own. It had a really GP premise, which was why I gave it a shot -- a Chinese reporter who hates this one Hallyu star through various circumstances is forced into close quarters with him, and a relationship develops from there. It was both better and worse than I feared. The female lead is pretty annoying, and I just cannot stand mainland China accented-Chinese. It's so grating to my ears. She also seemed MUCH older than her costar, Park Chanyeol, who was okay but also nothing special. (IRL she's 30 and he's 24, which isn't that big a difference, but she just looked so much older. I even like noona romances, usually, but it didn't even really hit that GP button because it wasn't referenced in any way.)

Goblin Yeah, Jade and I still don't get what the hype is. The cinematography was excellent. The music was beautiful. We loved Grim Reaper and Goblin, and their interactions with one another. I loved Deok-hwa (because Sungjae is such a cutie). But the romance for this one left me COLD. Speaking of a character seeming way to old for another, that was this one too. This thousand-year-old goblin falls for a 19-year-old girl, and she was super annoying. I know a lot of people actually found her cute and charming, but she just came across as hella immature to me and Jade. She was 19-going-on-12. So for him to be into her was just really creepy, not to mention the fact that she called Deok-hwa "oppa" and her love interest "ahjussi"! EWWWW! No! Just no! The storyline and the main ship were the primary problems of the show, so while there was a lot to like about it, it could not overcome those deficiencies, for us.

I'm also in the midst of watching some others...

Hwarang Jade and I are loving this one. Maybe it's because our expectations were really low (I've heard it has issues), and it's Jade's first Korean period drama, which I generally feel meh about. We just finished episode 5 and we totally like it so far. It really helps, I must say, that we love Park Hyungsik. He was the original draw for the show, and also the detractor, because we just could not fathom how any heroine would not choose him. :))) Another detractor for me was the heroine, played by Go Ara, who I had despised in 1994. Well, to clarify, I had despised her in the first couple of eps of 1994. By the end I was neutral about her. It helped A LOT that we had seen Fight My Way before starting Hwarang, because we looooooved the character of Dongman. Neither of us were sure whether we'd still like Park Seo-joon outside of FMW, but after watching the Hwarang pilot, we confirmed that we both loved him. So that actually solves one of our main problems, which is is how anyone can not choose Hyungsik; it's because their other choice is Park Seo-joon! LOL. I also find that I like Go Ara a lot more in Hwarang than I did in 1994; those Answer Me girls are kind of hard to like, lol. Also, this show has a bunch of other actors we know and like: Minho (my fave from SHINee!), who seems awesome in this; Bong-soon's father/the Dean from 1994; the crazy gangster guy who's Min-seok's boss in High School King of Savvy; and of course, the Dad from the Answer Me series, who is always so delightful.

Descendants of the Sun Yep, still in the middle of this one. I don't know why I can't seem to watch/finish this one, when it's not that bad and I love both Song Joong-ki and Kim Ji-won... maybe it's because they're not the pairing. :P

Jealousy Incarnate Sigh, I was really into this initially, but I've cooled off on it. They're trying to make it a "true" love triangle, where she loves both guys, and I'm just not into that. I love both Jo Jung-suk and Go Kyung-pyo, but she can't like them equally! Ugh. Go Kyung-pyo is super hot in this show. He was, of course, Sun-woo from 1988, and he made me ship his ship in that despite it not being the main ship, and despite the fact that he wasn't nearly as attractive in that show, lol. It also bothers me that Gong Hyo-jin seems to play the same fucking character in every show. I mean, I guess most actors do that, to a certain extent? But there's this very particular way her characters always behave that kind of annoys me.

Healer I saw the pilot for this one awhile back, but I only made it about halfway before I had to find something else. It just seemed cheesy and not that interesting, despite all the rave reviews. Jade and I decided to give it a shot because of Ji Chang-wook, but I have to say, I'm still not feeling it much.

The Scholar Who Walks the Night This is a period drama about a scholar who's a vampire, lol. It's... okay. I find the heroine really annoying, so I haven't been able to mainline this one. Lee Soo-hyuk as an evil vampire is totally perfect, however.

Football season has started again! I'm participating in 3 fantasy football leagues this year. Two are on ESPN and one is on NFL.com, which totally sucks. Yahoo is my favorite, but it's not as popular as ESPN, and the one league that uses it, I bowed out of this season.

Date: 2017-09-11 04:55 pm (UTC)
sporky_rat: A field of orange pumpkins. (Default)
From: [personal profile] sporky_rat
Traditional kimchi container? I have a friend who wants me to make her kimchi (she has no luck with food-making) and am curious about how you're making it. What's the link for the recipe source?

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