Friday, March 20, 2015

it's all coming together

As much as I rail against expats who come to Korea and refuse to make efforts to understand or involve themselves in Korean culture, I admit that I have my own ways of channeling America into my life in Korea—of constantly reaching back to the homeland when I get sentimental... which happens more often than I'd like to admit.

So today, I decided to attempt the not-so-reliable We Make Price once more to order myself a most coveted item: a slow cooker. I'd racked my brains trying to figure out how one says "slow cooker" in Korean, and my early attempts dug up the phrase "slow rice cooker," i.e., neurin bapsot (느린 밥솥). Go to Google Translate, and you'll see that "느린 밥솥" translates to "slow cooker." Look "느린 밥솥" up online, and you'll find that such an item is indeed listed in one dark corner of China's ginormous Alibaba website (Alibaba is several orders of magnitude more ponderous than; it's sometimes hard to wrap one's mind around how truly huge the Chinese market is, given its 1.4 billion potential customers). Granted, it's possible that the Korean title in that Alibaba entry may itself merely be a Google-ized translation of the term "slow cooker," but my point is that the term is out there and in use, like it or not.

However, a second foray into correct terminology netted me the Korean term seul-lo kukeo (슬로우 쿠커), which is merely the hangeul rendering of "slow cooker." A light went off in my head, and I typed "슬로우 쿠커" into We Make Price's search engine. Et voilà: where "느린 밥솥" had failed to produce search results on WMP, "슬로우 쿠커" succeeded, and the site showed me exactly the sort of slow cooker I've been wanting to buy. WMP is selling a tiny 6-liter cooker and a more impressive 8-liter one; I chose the bigger one, which was selling for a fairly reasonable price of thirty-something dollars.

In the States, Costco sells gigantic packs of pork-sirloin tip roast. In the Korean Costco, this exact cut doesn't exist, but to my delight, I discovered that the local grocer's meat counter sells enormous hunks of deung-shim (등심), which is also sirloin, and just fatty enough to make the meat tastier at the tail end of the slow-cooking process. A single slab of that sirloin will set me back about W17,000, which isn't bad when you consider that galmaegi-sal (also a cut of solid, boneless pork) sells for W17,000 per 500 grams at the restaurant Seorae. The local grocer also, bizarrely enough, sells legitimate, American-style packs of full-size flour tortillas, so all the ingredients for a decent pulled-pork barbecue quesadilla are coming together. I can get the meat, tortillas, and jalapeños at the local store; I can buy the requisite cheddar or jack at Costco, along with a huge bottle of good ol' Amurrican barbecue sauce. (My own favorite brand is the luscious Sweet Baby Ray's, but I don't think that's on sale anywhere near me. Maybe I could find it in Itaewon...?)

None of this is good for the waistline, but it's all good for my sanity. So as much as I dump on expats who wall themselves off from Korean culture through their own food joneses, music, and general lack of curiosity about Korea's inner workings, I can at least understand the sanity thing. I'd go nuts if all I had to eat was Korean food.



Rory said...

And here I am, in the Land of the Steak, thinking (after reading your galmaegi sal post): I am going to eat the fuck out of some Korean food tonight.

Charles said...

Brisket is awesome in the slow cooker as well. The Mongolian horde broke our slow cooker, though, so it's been a while since I've had any.

Kevin Kim said...


Australian steak: What Not to Eat in Australia. Tonight, anyway.


Google Translate claims that brisket is "가슴살," like chicken-breast meat. Is that the case? Is 가슴살 available at Costco? Bleh, don't answer that—I'm hitting Costco tonight and can find out for myself. Anyway, good suggestion. Thanks. I've never tried slow-cooked brisket; the BBQ places in northern Virginia all tend to smoke it, and I love that style of prep, but I'm willing to go with whatever works. If slow cooking works, then I'm there.

John from Daejeon said...

Have you bothered priced comparing with South Korea's versions of Amazon, Gmarket and 11th Street? Sometimes there are some pretty good deals on things (even Western food products) on those two sites unless you want to buy either electronics or bicycles.

Kevin Kim said...


I've been on the Korean-language G-Market and 11th Street; they're not that different from We Make Price when it comes to cost. I'd be curious to find out how good they are about deliveries, though.

John from Daejeon said...

They are very good at delivering promptly. And depending on what (or how much) you order, shipping is usually free (included).