Favorite Korean Dishes

This quarter, we have been discussing our favorite dishes with our IELP students! No matter where we are from, we all have a dish that reminds us of our family and culture. This week, we are highlighting Korean dishes and sharing our student’s favorites. To learn more, continue reading below:

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Kimchi (Fermented Vegetables, 김치)

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Kimchi is a delicious mix of salted and fermented vegetables. It can be served as both a side and main dish, and there are a number of variations depending on the region, family, or personal preference. There are records of fermented vegetable dishes dating back to 37 BCE, and there was even a poem written about fermented radishes in the 13th century. Although kimchi has been a traditional dish in Korea for centuries, kimchi is now becoming more common in the United States. You can find kimchi in American health food stores, and it is lauded for it’s nutritional benefits.

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Bibimbap (Mixed Rice, 비빔밥)

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Bibimbap, literally translated as “mixed rice,” is a bowl of warm rice topped with vegetables, chili pepper paste, soy sauce, or fermented soybean paste. A raw or fried egg and sliced beef are common additions. The name “bibimbap” was adopted in the 20th century, although there are records to the dish dating back to the 16th century. The dish was traditionally served on the eve of the lunar new year, and was also a common dish for farmers during harvest season because it is an easy dish to make for a large number of people. The dish is also heavy with symbolism, with the colors representing different parts of Korea and human organs.

Bulgogi (“Fire Meat,” 불고기)

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Bulgogi, literally “fire meat,” is thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or skillet. The dish originated in North Korea, but is very popular in South Korea. Today, you can find bulgogi in South Korea anywhere from a fancy restaurant to a ready-made dish at the grocery store. During the Joseon Dynasty, the dish was prepared for the wealthy and nobility. Today, you can find bulgogi-flavored hamburgers at fast-food restaurants in South Korea. McDonald’s in Korea even sold a bulgogi burger (pictured below) before it was removed due to a possible food-contamination case.

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Japchae (Stir-Fried Glass Noodles and Vegetables, 잡채)

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Japchae is a sweet and savory dish with a type of cellophane noodles, assorted vegetables, meat and mushrooms, and seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. Although it was once a royal dish, it is now a popular celebration dish served on weddings, birthdays, and holidays. According to historical records, the dish was first made in the 17th century for King Gwanghaegun’s palace banquet. The king liked the dish so much that he promoted the chef to a high-ranking position, and japchae became a fixture of Korean royal court cuisine.

Matang (Candied Sweet Potato, 마탕)

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Matang is chunks of fried sweet potato coated in hot brown syrup. It is sweet and crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and topped with black sesame seeds. Matang is a popular kid’s snack in Korea, and you can find it as a side in Korean restaurants. There are records of matang originating in China, but it is still a very popular snack in Korea.

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After exploring traditional Korean dishes, we reached out to Seattle locals and asked them if they have favorite Korean restaurants in Seattle. A lot of the best restaurants are a little outside of Seattle, so we suggest making a day trip to Lynnwood if you’re interested in eating at Ka Won. If you want to explore Korean food, or want to have a taste of home, check out these places:

  1. Ka Won, Lynnwood
  2. Trove, Downtown Seattle
  3. Chan, Downtown Seattle
  4. Bok a Bok Fried Chicken, South-West Seattle

Thank you to our Korean students for inspiring us to explore Korean dishes! This post only covers a small portion of traditional Korean dishes. We encourage you to explore different cultures, foods, and restaurants in Seattle, and find your own favorite Korean dishes!

Photo Credits: foodrepublic.com, Chowhound, Pinterest, How to Feed a Loon, Facebook.com, Kimchimari, Maangchi, Wikipedia.

Halloween in America: History and Traditions

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Halloween is a beloved holiday for many Americans. Children and adults alike love to dress up in costumes, go to parties or trick or treating, and eat sweets and snacks. With all of the decorations and hype around the holiday, many people do not know the history of the holiday in America. Furthermore, people visiting the United States may be unaware of our American traditions. Through photos and stories by IELP staff, we invite you to learn more about Halloween!

History

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A Halloween party in 1924.

The original American colonies were mostly Puritan, and were against celebrating Halloween due to it’s association with evil and mischief. However, an influx of immigrants in the late nineteenth century helped popularize Halloween.

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Trick-or-treating increased in popularity as Americans began to dress up and go door-to-door, asking for food and money. While the history of Halloween was traditionally tied with ghosts, tricks, and witchcraft, there was a movement by neighborhoods to make Halloween about community and celebration. This was followed by the removal of “frightening” or “grotesque” descriptions of Halloween by parents and in newspapers, which made the holiday lose most of its religious overtones by the twentieth century.

Modern Traditions

Some traditions have remained from the early days of Halloween, but there are new traditions that are popular, especially within American colleges.

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Dressing up for Halloween is popular among people of all ages. In American colleges, finding a costume and dressing up for Halloween parties is a fun activity for many students. As pictured above, our IELP students love to dress up in fun costumes for our Mid-Quarter party!

Popular costumes include classic spooky costumes (skeletons, pumpkins, witches, and scary characters), animals, fairy-tale characters (Little Red Riding Hood, princesses), and pop culture references. Some people dress up in simple costumes, and some people like to go all out!

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Many students love to spend a couple hours with friends or family and carve a jack o’ lantern! This popular Halloween activity is known around the world, and is very popular in America. In many homes, you can see jack o’ lanterns lit with candles on Halloween night!

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Another Halloween tradition that is emerging in some American homes is “the Teal Pumpkin Project.” Homes with a teal pumpkin outside the door mean that the home is giving away non-food items, or non-allergen treats. Although most college students do not go trick-or-treating since the activity is meant for children, it is fun to know why teal pumpkins are popping up around Seattle!

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It is not uncommon to find a house in America that has Halloween decorations. Although usually not as complex as the one pictured above, many houses will be decorated with fake cobwebs, pumpkins and gourds, and other spooky decorations. While many countries celebrate Halloween, America is distinctly extravagant with decorations.

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For adults, and especially college students, there is no better way to celebrate Halloween than watching scary and classic Halloween movies. Horror movies are popular in every country, and loved year-round, but Halloween is a great time to re-watch your favorites.

There are some American movies made for children and teens that are not scary, but have a spooky element and are popular viewing during October. If you are interested, here are some favorites of our IELP staff: Halloweentown, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and Casper.

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Whether you dress up, carve a jack o’ lantern, or watch Halloween movies, IELP wishes you a happy Halloween!

Photo credits: Pixabay, Pinterest, History by Zim, IELP, Wonderopolis, Anoka Halloween, Bustle.com

On the Grind: U-District Coffee Shops

There are few experiences more satisfying than escaping from the rain and cold into a coffee shop. Ordering a warm drink, finding a seat, and studying for a few hours while conversation buzzes around you is a rite of passage for many students. In Seattle, coffee shops are a popular place to work, have casual conversations with friends, and are a favorite meeting place for students involved in IELP’s Language Exchange Program!

As classes become more difficult and the temperature drops, check out one of the U-District coffee shops below for a great place to meet, study, and enjoy Seattle coffee!

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Cafe Solstice

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Location: Extremely close to campus! This coffee shop and is minutes away from Red Square and West Campus dorms. With bus stops right outside the door, it is an easy place to sit before going home.

Food and Drink: Coffee, hand-mixed teas, kombucha, and pastries.

Seating: Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, although it regularly fills up from mid-afternoon to closing time. The late closing time (11:00pm) makes it a favorite location for students that are night owls.

Cafe Allegro

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Location: Located in an alley off the Ave, Cafe Allegro is close to UW and an intimate, cozy cafe that is perfect to visit on a cold, rainy day.

Food and Drink: Seattle’s “oldest coffee shop” has excellent coffee, chai lattes, teas, and a range of Italian dishes.

Seating: There are plenty of seats and tables in this coffee shop, and people will often stay there for several hours. This is a great place to go if you are going to study or write a paper, as the atmosphere is cozy and the seating is comfortable.

Ugly Mug Cafe & Coffee Roasters

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Location: Located up the Ave near 45th, this is the perfect small, quirky cafe to meet with friends.

Food and Drink: Coffee, tea, other beverages, and a breakfast and lunch menu. They also sell bags of coffee for fans of their brew!

Seating: This cafe is small and intimate, with little tables intended to seat two or three people. Larger seating is limited. This makes Ugly Mug Cafe the perfect location to meet with friends, classmates, and Language Exchange partners!

Cafe Racer

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Location: This is the furthest cafe listed, but it is worth the short bus ride! Located next to Ravenna Blvd., Cafe Racer is in a quieter part of the U-District.

Food and Drink: Cafe Racer has plenty of coffee and tea drinks, but also has a wide appetizer, sandwich, and salad menu. Their brunch and breakfast is very popular with locals, so try to avoid the Sunday breakfast rush.

Seating: Although Cafe Racer fills up in the evenings for drinks, board games, and live music, there is plenty of space during the day. There are two floors in Cafe Racer, with smaller tables, large tables, and plenty of bar space. The large table upstairs is perfect for spreading out with your books and laptop, and also has enough space to welcome friends.

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The next time the rain starts to pour, the temperature drops, and you have some schoolwork to do, visit a U-District coffee shop! Whether you love coffee, tea, or snacks, the U-District has plenty to offer.

 

Photo credits: Imbibe Magazine, Wikimedia Commons, Coffee Seattle Scene, Ugly Mug Cafe – University District, Cafe Racer Seattle.com, Xconomy.

Favorite Taiwanese Dishes

Although our IELP students come from all over the world, food unites us all. We all enjoy  tasting new dishes and learning about the favorite foods of our friends and family. Last week, we spoke to Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu, Taiwanese STEP students who both love Taiwanese food. Ting-Wei’s family even owns a traditional restaurant in Taiwan! To learn more about their favorite dishes, continue reading below:

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Lu Rou Fan (Braised Pork Rice, 滷肉饭)

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When asked what their favorite Taiwanese dish was, Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu immediately named braised pork rice. This dish is an important icon of Taiwanese folk life, and is consumed all around Taiwan. However, different areas have slight variations in their dish, such Southern Taiwan using pork with less fat, and Northern Taiwan favoring a greasier version, sometimes with sticky rice mixed in.

Oil Rice (Youfan, 油飯)

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Jo-Tzu loves youfan, or Taiwanese “oil” rice. She told us she has fond memories associated with this dish because it is traditionally served to celebrate the birth of a child. However, you can find this dish at New Year’s meals, temple celebrations, and all around Taiwan! You can even order some at the Taichung train station (pictured below), if you are hungry while traveling. Although most variations include rice, pork, and oil, there are differences in the dish depending on the area and the family cooking it.

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Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu, 臭豆腐)

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Ting-Wei told us stinky tofu is a traditional dish available throughout Taiwan through stands that sell stinky tofu to locals and tourists (pictured below). According to folk stories, stinky tofu was invented by accident during the Qing dynasty by a man named Wang Zhi-He. Today, stinky tofu is often fried and served with sauce and sour pickled vegetables. Barbecued stinky tofu, where the tofu is cooked with meat sauce, is recommended to people trying stinky tofu for the first time, and is thought to have been invented in Taipei’s Shenkeng District.

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Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵)

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Beef noodle soup is a favorite of Ting-Wei, Jo-Tzu, and IELP staff. This classic dish usually uses brisket or shank only, although some restaurants offer a more expensive version with meat and tendon. Although beef noodle soup is common in both China and Taiwan, it is considered a national dish in Taiwan. It is so loved in Taiwan that Taipei holds a Beef Noodle Festival every year, where various chefs and restaurants compete for the “Best Beef Noodle in Taiwan” award.

Tánghúlu (糖葫芦)

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Jo-Tzu’s favorite dessert is a traditional Chinese dessert that is loved throughout Taiwan. Jo-Tzu even said that she found tánghúlu at the Seattle International District-Chinatown Night Market! This snack is usually made with red or yellow hawthorn berries dipped in sugar hard candy. Although hawthorn berries are traditional, other kinds of berries and nuts are sometimes skewered and dipped in the candy. The tangy taste of hawthorn berries go well with the sweet candy coating, which is probably why this food has been loved in China and Taiwan for over 800 years.

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After the interview, we asked Seattle locals about their favorite Taiwanese restaurant in the Seattle area. If you are in Seattle and would like to try Taiwanese food, or you are from Taiwan and missing food from home, check out these places:

  1. Looking for Chai Taiwanese Kitchen
  2. Facing East
  3. Din Tai Fung
  4. Dough Zone Dumpling House (Chinese, Sichuanese, and Taiwanese food)

Thank you to Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu for telling us about their favorite dishes! This post and our conversations with students don’t even scratch the surface of Taiwan’s culinary history. We encourage you to explore different cultures, foods, and restaurants in Seattle, and to find your own favorite dishes!

 

Photo Credits: Business Insider, Bear Naked Food, i.epoch.times.com, Smart Traveler, Wikipedia, Eater

Favorite Japanese Dishes

Our IELP students come from all over the world, and our STEP 3 session has a large percentage of Japanese participants. Although I have tried basic types of (American=ized) sushi, edamame, and poke bowls, I wanted to learn more about the traditional cuisine. On our field trip to Seattle Center last Tuesday, I asked the students to share some of their favorites, and did some research to find out more about these dishes and their origins.

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Monjayaki

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Sakura Yamashita describes her favorite dish she calls “Monja” as a “hot plate mixed with vegetable and meat.”

Monjayaki is very popular in the Kantō region, and is one of Tokyo’s most famous dishes. Although often compared to okonomayaki, a similar dish made in the Kansai region, it is a lot wetter and cooks flat on one side, whereas okonomiyaki is drier, firmer and thicker. The ingredients also differ. Monja is created by frying the dry ingredients (usually some variation of cabbage, noodles, cod roe, mochi, and flour) in a circle, and filling said circle with a liquid batter after a few minutes. The result? A delicious savory pancake with the consistency of melted cheese!

Tonkatsu

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“I’m from Fukuoka so I like Tonkatsu” -Kazuhiro Fujiyama

Often simply called “katsu” in the States, this classic Japanese dish uses pork fillet or loin that is dipped in salt, pepper, flour, and beaten egg before being deep fried in a coat of “panko” or bread crumbs. It is usually served with cabbage or tsukemono (Japanese preserved vegetables), rice, and miso soup. In Korea, tonkatsu is known as don-gaseu (돈가스) or don-kkaseu (돈까스), which derived from a transliteration of the Japanese word. There are many variations of this dish, and tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando) or served on Japanese curry (katsu karē).

Yamanashi Fruit

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Moemi Okamura explains that “peaces and grapes are the most famous in Yamanashi.”

Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture is dubbed the “kingdom of fruit,” and rightfully so! The reason lies in Yamanashi’s weather– low annual precipitation and extreme differences in heat and cold help to create sweet, juicy fruit year round. Not only is Yamanashi the biggest producer of peaches and grapes in Japan, but there are fruit picking facilities year-round boasting multiple varieties of cherries, plums, pears, strawberries, blueberries, and apples. People from all around the world flock to Yamanashi to admire their expansive orchards and to pick fresh, delicious produce.

Unagi

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 “My mom buys the eel in the supermarket but will make it at home.” -Chisa Tomono

Unagi is a cult summertime favorite among Japanese, but can cost up to 30 American dollars served in a restaurant. For this reason, many have incentive to make this delicacy at home. This calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron-rich treat is known to help combat the scorching summer heat. One student adds that July 25th is the designated “unagi day!” Intrigued, I did some research and discovered that the name of the period for eating Unagi is called ‘Doyo-no Ushi-no hi’. “Doyo” is an 18 day period between summer and autumn, mid July to early August, and is the hottest time of the year in Japan. “Ushi no hi” can be directly translated to Ox day, originating from the traditional Japanese calendar that uses the Chinese Zodiac system. Legend has it that a struggling eel restaurant owner during the Edo period began advertising unagi on the day of Ox, because both Ushi (Ox in Japanese) and Unagi begin with the letter ‘u’. This play on words worked well as a promotion, and eventually developed into a Japanese folklore that if you eat unagi on the day of ox, you will regain power!

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Obviously, this blog post does not scratch the surface of Japan’s rich culinary heritage. Other favorites frequently mentioned include sushi, nikujaga (boiled meat and potato), nattō (fermented soybeans), shabu-shabu (meat and vegetable hot pot), udon (thick wheat flour noodle), soba (thin buckwheat flour noodle), and wagashi (sweet snack often served with tea). However, I hope that this post could provide some insight into traditional Japanese cuisine and inspire you to try something new!

 

Visit Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, located just south of the University District where the University of Washington’s Seattle campus is located is a neighborhood full of culture! It has many great places to eat, relax, and encounter new things! See below for some suggestions for where to visit, eat, and have fun!

Volunteer Park

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This sculpture is called “Black Sun”

Also home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park is a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the outdoors. It has a water tower build over 100 years ago in 1906! You can walk up to the top and see a great view of Seattle. Volunteer Park is is where you can find the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am-4pm. Tickets for the conservatory are FREE every FIRST Thursday and Saturday of each month. See more here.

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This is the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Elliott Bay Book Company

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The interior of the Elliott Bay Book Company

Founded in 1973, the Elliott Bay Book Company was originally located in Pioneer Square until it moved to it’s current location in Capitol Hill! It is a great local bookstore that everyone should visit!

Check out the events they have this month here!

Hello Robin

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Hello Robin serves local ice cream from Molly Moon’s

Hello Robin is a bakery which bakes cookies fresh each day, with flavors such as Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, Mackles’more, and more! They specialize in ice cream sandwiches made from these cookies, with Molly Moon’s ice cream sandwiched between two cookies! You can visit their website here.

Tacos Chukis

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Tacos Chukis is great! If you can find it.

Tacos Chukis is an excellent taqueria (a mexican restaurant which specializes in tacos) however it can be difficult to find. The prices though are on the lower end of many restaurants which are located in Capitol Hill! This taqueria is located upstairs in the Broadway Alley.

Dick’s

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This drive has several locations throughout Seattle

Dick’s is located on Broadway, like many other restaurants in Capitol Hill. It was founded in Seattle in the 1950s, as part of a fast food boom that was sweeping across the country. It is one of Seattle’s favorite traditional burger joints! It is important to note that this restaurant only accepts cash as payment. You can visit their website here.

Century Ballroom

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The Century Ballroom hosts all sorts of dancing!

Established in 1997, Century Ballroom promotes social dancing of all kinds! They host many events such as Bachata dancing, with a drop in lesson before. They also offer classes. Please note that many classes and events are only offered to those 21 and up.

Learn more here.

Dancing Feet

On Broadway, a major street in Capitol Hill where you can find a lot of places to eat there is an interesting art installment. The Broadway Dance Steps are bronze shoes in the ground, numbered to allow people to easily dance the rumba for instance without ever having to do it before! Read more about the history of the art installation here!

 

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The steps are numbered so you can dance!

Next time you’re in Capitol Hill make sure to check these out!