Friday, September 19, 2014

Banchan in two pages: Kimchi Stew

Kimchijjigae is probably #1 comfort food Koreans miss when they are living overseas. And most Korean people think their mother’s Kimchiijigae is the best, kind of like how Italian Americans think their mothers’ meatball or Lasagnia is the best. The main part of this super simple dish is Kimchi and depending on how old the KImchi is, the taste will differ dramatically. Months of fermentation will make the Kimchi leaves very soft and the juice will become almost effervescent which makes it heavenly when made into stews.
There are many variety in the protein content in this dish and the most beloved is the pork belly. But you can also use spam as I mentioned and also canned mackerel, saury or tuna. 
Kimchijjigae is generally quiet spicy, but you can make it even spicier by adding more chili flakes and fresh green chili pepper or jalapeno peppers. Fresh peppers add a punch of spiciness over the mellow spiciness of the aged kimchi.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Han Bok

What is the Korean girl chef wearing in my comic? It’s called Han-Bok, a traditional Korean dress. This particular top with striped sleeves is called ”Sek-Dong-Jeh-Go-Ri”  which is worn by girls on happy special occasions. The silk tie at the end of her braid is called “Deng-Ki”. It is worn by young ladies yet to be married. This tie was the sign for the town’s bachelors to know which girls were available. Once the ladies got married, they turned the braid into a bun and wore an ornate pin though the bun.
Han-Bok is such a beautiful costume. It makes the woman look so graceful but unfortunately it is so uncomfortable to wear. I have no idea why they made the skirt to be tied so high, right on the breast line. Ouch!
It’s hard to see anyone wearing Han-Bok in Korea anymore, except for the national holidays, weddings and funerals. I remember wearing them when I was a little girl visiting the elderly relatives in Korean new years and Chu-Suk, the Korean thanksgiving. I couldn’t wait to take it off because it was so itchy and uncomfortable. The only way for this dress to stay put was to tie it very tightly right underneath my armpit and I could hardly breath, let alone eating any of those wonderful Korean holiday food.
There are many Korea dramas based on the Cho-Sun (Korean dynasty 1300s- 1800s) period and all the characters wear such a beautiful ornate Han-Bok. I’m a total sucker for those dramas. I’ve recently heard about this K drama called “Dae-Jang-Kum” which is about a female chef in the Cho-Sun era palace. It’s been translated as “The Jewel in the palace” in the other Asian countries and apparently it was a hugh hit a few years ago. I don’t watch much K dramas these days so I was completely oblivious to it until one of my Korean teacher told me to watch it since I’m doing a comic about Korean food. Korean Food drama full of beautiful Han-bok clad characters?? I was sold instantly and ordered the entire set online, I can’t wait to watch it! 

Recap on Baltimore Comic Con 2014

The Baltimore Comic con was held last weekend from Sept 5th Friday to the 7th, Sunday. I got to share a table with my fellow cartoonist friends from Brooklyn, Simon Fraser who is working on the new Doctor Who comic and Lara and Dave from So What? Press with their beautiful and funny Lovecraft illustrations and a mystery horror comic series “The tales of the night watchman”.
This was my second time attending and first time exhibiting at Baltimore comic con. The first time I went was 4 years ago, and I was just walking around, checking out mainstream comic as a newbie fan than a creator. So it was quite a different experience for me this time to be among these creators of mostly mainstream, super hero genre at the artist alley.
This was the first time Baltimore con has expanded to three day con. It was their attempt to take off the load from usually packed attendance on Saturday. But it was very slow for everyone on Friday and moderately packed on Saturday and Sunday, I thought it could have been better to just be a two day con.
My work was very different from the rest of the exhibitors at the con. My table with Korean food comic and feminine and original illustrations attracted a few curious attendees but I felt that most people were looking for Super hero collectibles and fan art than original art and comics. I met a few people who were very excited to read my Banchan in 2 pages and I got to do a fun portrait commission of a nice couple so it was not all lost in the end. 
The best part of this con was that I got to check out how mainstream audience work. It was very interesting to check out so many awesome cosplayers and what they were buying. And watching the veterans of comics pumping out gorgeous commission after commission was very inspiring. It was completely different from the indie comic scene like SPX and MoCCa.
I had an awesome time in the after hours connecting with old friends from Brooklyn, stuffing my face with lumpy delicious crab cakes and washing it down with Nanny-boo. Even though I have moved away from Brooklyn, the comic community is so tight and strong, it still felt as nothing has changed. I am looking forward to SPX this weekend where I will be tabling with So What? Press folk again.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Banchan in 2 pages at Baltimore Comic Con this weekend!

I’ll be bringing my Banchan in 2 pages mini comic to Baltimore comic con this weekend. It’s fresh off the press, 24 pgs of full color yummy recipes!
Baltimore comic con is this Friday through Sunday sept 5- 7, at Baltimore convention center on 1 west Pratt st, Baltimore MD.
Find me at table A263!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Intro to Korean dining

There are a few things different about Korean dining from the American dining. I thought I should explain it briefly for those people who aren’t familiar with it. These days many Korean restaurants have been americanized so you can order snacks like pancakes and pot stickers as appetizers before you start your “main course”. If you do Korean traditional fine dining, as the Korean royalties used to have, there are many courses but in normal dining, there aren’t any “courses”. You order what you want and Banchan and rice would usually come out first so many people think Banchans are the Korean appetizers but it’s suppose to be eaten as part of your main meal. Of course, you can eat which ever dish in however order you want. We Koreans are not fussy with dining etiquettes. Double dipping is almost required in Korean dining because we share everything! We are all about enjoying the food the way you like it. No one’s going to to force you to eat a side dish you don’t like. You pick and choose what you like to eat and that’s the fun part about Banchan in Korean dining.

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

A brief map of Korean regional food

Korea is a tiny country: North and South Korea combined is the same size as Minnesota. But South Korea alone has 50 million people and 1/5 of them are living in Seoul.  While doing some research on more traditional Korean recipes, I thought it would be good to make a brief map of Korea and its regional produce and cuisines. Most people think Korean BBQ as the prominent food in Korea but vegetable and seafood have had more impact in Korean traditional food. Long time ago, before we started importing food from other countries in the modern era, the meat was very scarce because Korea is full of rough mountains which are not good for farming or ranching. But we are surrounded by three seas which produce different types of abundant fresh seafood that we ate raw, braised, grilled, pickled and made jerkies with. The rich, meat orientated dishes developed in Seoul and other big cities that used to be the capital at some point in Korean history. But rest of Korea were eating rustic meals made out of wild earthy plants and preserved veggies and seafood to last the harsh winters. Wasting food is like the biggest sin in Korea. When we butcher an animal, we use every part of it including their organs, bones, blood and odd parts like the heads, tails and the feet. Actually, the weirder the part is, the better it tastes! And it’s interesting to see that cold food developed way up in the north, which has brutal long winters. You would expect more hearty, thick, warm meals from there, but no, Koreans from the north rather enjoyed the effect to refreshing cold meals, which are served with a chunks of ice floating in the bowl to make it extra cold. These cold noodles and soups from northern regions are now popular everywhere in Korea. Some of these recipes goes back hundreds of years and I wish to learn them all some day. 

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Banchan recipe: Tangy Sea Kelp Salad

I’m like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to this dish, I can’t stop eating it! Mi-Yuk (Sea kelp) could be one of those weird, never-before-seen ingredient to the westerners but it’s been part of asian cuisine for centuries. It is silky, flexible yet crunch and somewhat meaty at the same time which is very different from land leaf greens. It’s hard to describe how good this is, so just try it and you won’t regret it! 
Hmm... you can see that I really have to work on my julienne cut skill! it's too chunky for this dish, but it was still delicious!
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