This year, spring is a little late in Seoul. Just a few days ago it was below-average temperatures and very windy with little sunshine. That’s why cherry blossom trees are late in blooming as well. On campus in SNU, there are hundreds of cherry blossom trees (a variety of different species as well) that give off a spectacular sight during the spring, but sadly the buds just don’t seem to be opening. Yeouido, which is right beside Han river in central Seoul is the most famous location for cherry blossom-viewing and also has several well-known landmarks such as various broadcasting companies and 63 building (a building that has… 63 floors. Amazing name, I know). But the flowers in Yeouido haven’t fully bloomed either, so I decided to go to Suk-chon Lake in Jamshil (Located on the eastern area of subway line 2) which supposedly has the most blossoms in Seoul as of now. Jamshil station is famous for Lotte world, an indoor-outdoor amusement park.
Of course before going on an outing, it is important to think ahead of time what you are going to be eating. There are tons of restaurants in Jamshil, not to mention there is a huge department store right beside the cherry blossom trees, but who wants to eat inside when the weather outside is so beautiful? Yeouido has a gabajillion different food stands and huge convenient stores with built-in restaurants, which Jamshil lacks. If you are planning to go to Jamshil, make sure to eat before going and bring snacks or bring a lunch with you.
I went to Jamshil on the 13th, and I shall show you what I brought for lunch!
My piggy lunchbox! So cute, but so small it barely fits enough for one person hahaha so now you know why I’m using the steel lunchbox and the piggy lunchbox- combined it’s a perfect amount for two people.
Now for the main dish and side-dishes. I made yakisoba with pasta noodles , simmered sweet pumpkin, fried egg and mushrooms, mini ddukgalbi (meatball-esque meatball things), and garnished with carrot flowers.
These are the ingredients I used for the yakisoba- one whole small onion, a little bit of diced sweet pumpkin, slivered carrots, green onion, garlic/ginger, and leftover chicken. These kinds of stir-fry dishes are great to make with whatever is left in your fridge.
As you slice your ingredients, salt and oil your water. When you finish cutting your ingredients, the water will probably be boiling by then so you can add in your pasta while stir-frying. I used whole-wheat pasta. You could use ramen noodles, udon, anything that suits your fancy.
Stir-fry sliced garlic and ginger until fragrant, and then add in the “hard” ingredients (i.e. onion, carrot, pumpkin). Then add the “soft”er ingredients (the ingredients that will cook faster), in my case the green onion and the chicken. For the sauce, I eye-balled everything so don’t have exact measurements, but I think I added about two tablespoons of oyster sauce, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of honey, and one tablespoon of peanut butter. Oh yes and a dash of fish sauce. I know some of you are like what? peanut butter? but trust me it tastes good in a pad thaiish way.
Tah-dah the finished product!
Now to fill the pig. lunchbox.
For the first level, I usually put rice in but since I wanted to make this lunchbox very special, I decided to put in more side dishes.
Sweet simmered pumpkin!
Cube up the pumpkin in fairly small pieces (but not too small or they will break apart when cooked). Add about a cup or two of water until they are almost covered. Add a spoonful of sugar and boil on high heat with the lid on until tender. Then add one tablespoon of mirin, and one teaspoon of light soy sauce. Simmer until flavors combine, plate and top with sesame seeds!
It almost looks like mango- it tastes just as sweet!
Now for the next level I thought: now I’ll try to cram in as much as I can into this little space.
Hidden below are stir-fried mushrooms with salt (simple and tasty), and a fried egg. Above I placed two flower carrots and four ddukgalbi, which is a sweet savory meatball that gasp I did not make by scratch but bought in the supermarket and browned on the pan. Look in the refrigerated corners of the supermarkets; there’s a wide variety of ready-made items that can be easily put into lunchboxes for those of you who are too busy to make everything by scratch.
Now for the rice part of the lunchbox. As you can see above, there wasn’t any space left to put in the rice. So I took out my handy dandy onigiri lunchboxes!
SO CUTE. I bought them in daiso for like 1000 won each they even come with a separator so you can even pack in a little side dish. They are fairly big, about the size of a apple. For a simple lunch they should do fine on their own.
What I love about this onigiri case is that you can actually use it as a mold so that you can get perfectly triangular onigiri.
I put saran wrap into the mold so that the rice can slip right out when ready to eat. I made chicken may onigiri (made with leftover chicken and a squirt of mayo) and
Umeboshi mixed with bonito flakes into a paste, and spicy baby sardines.
I flavored the rice itself with a little bit of sesame oil and black sesame seed/salt furikake.
Finished! All you need is a cool drink to go with the lunch.
I headed over to Jamshil
I don’t really like Lotte world because it’s always so crowded and doesn’t really have a lot of variety, but it seemed more magical because it was surrounded by cherry blossoms and look! you can ride the monorail around the lake.
And now for lunch! There are tons of people sitting on mats on the grass, but we decided to eat on a bench.
I’m so happy it’s finally gotten warmer, even though deep down I’m dreading the coming summer. If you live in an area with cherry blossoms, it would be a SIN to not go on a picnic. But be warned, especially in Korea, usually where there are cherry blossoms, there will be flocks of people. As you can see above, if you take a picture there will be more people visible than the actual cherry blossoms.
My next post will hopefully be a post on places in Seoul you can go to see cherry blossoms and not be run-over by a herd of people.
Until next time! 🙂