A Month of Korean School Food: Days 6-15
In an attempt to keep from boring all of you, I’ve decided to combine the days into ten-day food posts and complete this series in three posts rather than the five I mentioned in the first post of Korean School Food.
I’m a skinny guy by genes, but one of the first noticeable differences to my new diet and the lack of a car was that I began to lose weight. The physical change in the first six months was largely due to the fact that I had to acquire the taste for Korean food, and so at the beginning of our time here, I ate very little for lunch. Over time the new tastes began to grow on me, and I was soon finishing most of the food on my tray. Since then, the controlled portion sizes and daily walking have helped me maintain my post American diet size.
Day 6: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Cabbage Kimchi. 2: Steamed Fish: This fish still had the bones and skin intact and was smothered in a red tangy sauce. 3: Ham, Mushroom & Potato Medley. 4: Purple Rice: Tastes the same as white rice. 5: Mandu Soup: Mandu are dumplings in Korea. The most common are filled with meat and noodles.
Day 7: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Radish Kimchi. 2: Tteokbokki: This is a dish made of rice cake smothered in spicy sauce. Learn more about this famous dish here. 3: Yogurt. 4: Fried Rice. 5: Seaweed soup.
Day 8: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Apple & Herbs Salad: This is a strange mixture of sweet and spicy. The apples are covered in pepper paste! But the salad is delicious! 2: Radish Kimchi. 3: Bulgogi: This is a tasty and famous dish of marinated beef. It’s best (in my opinion) on pan pizzas from the local Pizza Hut. 4: Mallow Soup with Tofu: “A soup of mallow (a thick, dark leafy green that has to be cleaned thoroughly to soften it before cooking) in a soybean paste (doenjang) broth. Sometimes the soup is thickened with red chili pepper paste or flavored with dried shrimps (source).”
Day 9: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Cabbage Kimchi. 2: Sausage with Hard-boiled Bird Eggs. 3: Leafy Greens: Many of the vegetables (such as these) in Korea are served wet and soggy. It drives my American sentiment for crispy vegetables insane. 4: White Rice. 5: Chicken & Noodle Soup.
Day 10: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Cabbage Kimchi. 2: Marinated Pork. 3: Spicy Noodles with Squid & Shellfish. 4: White Rice. 5: Fried Fish Soup with Veggies.
Day 11: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Mini Corn-Dog. 2: Radish Kimchi. 3: Orange Slices. 4: Jajangmyeon: One of the most popular delivery dishes in Korea. The black sauce is salty and filled with meat and vegetables, poured over noodles. Learn more about this great dish here. 5: Squid & Vegetable Soup.
Day 12: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Cucumber Salad in Red Pepper Paste. 2: Jeon: This pancake-like dish is made from various vegetables and meat coated in flour and fried in oil. These can also be fried in egg. Jeon is very tasty and the differences in ingredients provide a wide range of culinary experiences. 3: Radish Kimchi. 4: White Rice with Millet. 5: Beef & Veggie Soup.
Day 13: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1. Radish Kimchi. 2: Sliced Pork & Vegetables in Spicy Sauce. 3: Egg Squares with Green Onion. 4: Rice. 5: Potato Soup.
Day 14: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Cabbage Kimchi. 2: Pork with Rice Cakes & Veggies in Spicy Sauce. 3: Dried Seaweed. 4: White Rice. 5: Spinach & Tofu Soup.
Day 15: Beginning at the top from left to right: 1: Japchae: Awesome sweet potato noodles! 2: Steamed Fish with Veggies. 3: Cabbage Kimchi. 4: Rice. 5: Beef & Seaweed Soup: I don’t mind seaweed, but I prefer it dry rather than wet because in soup it becomes very slimy.
Given the choice, young people tend to go after the sugary and fried foods. In middle and high school, my parents would give me a set amount of money for lunch. Every day I had the choice between food from local fast-food restaurants, Little Debbie cakes, cookies, soda, and sugary drinks, or the standard school meal. I often blew it before the month was up on the gut-bomber meals. At that time in my life, I was largely incapable of making good food choices because I only cared about what tasted the best. In Korea, the meals are paid for by the government, and there is no choice other than to have lunch or to not. This practically guarantees that Korean young people are getting nutritionally balanced lunches.
If we in the U.S. want to help young people in middle school and high school fight the growing obesity problems and promote healthy diets, I believe one of the things we need to do is take away the plethora of unhealthy choices and regulate their diets in school.
Korean School Food Days 16-25, coming soon
Coming to the Korean Lunch series a little late? Check out Days 1-5!