At the end of my last post I told you about some surprises coming in this one. Well, the big surprise was that instead of leaving Jamie behind in Wellington, he was going to come with me with his friend Ryan to Rotorua!
You see, Jamie was the one who first introduced Mere to Korean food by sending her a package of Korean ingredients. Ever since then she’s been crazy about Korean cooking. But Jamie never met Mere face to face, so when he found out she was part of my Gaspshida project, he told me he would want to come along and meet Mere and her sister Jill. Isn’t it amazing how their love for food brought all these different people together?
I suggested to him: “How about a Korean food themed tour? We’ll stay in Rotorura for 5 days and we’ll eat home cooked Korean food just like I would with my family!” He loved the idea. Deal!
Jamie and Ryan drove the five hours to Rotorura, and I flew. Because they drove, they could bring all kinds of things in their car: rice, side dishes, kimchi, and all the Korean spices we needed (hot pepper paste, garlic, soy sauce, soy bean paste, vegetable oil, hot pepper flakes, flour, sesame oil, etc).
The day before leaving Wellington was one of the busiest days of my life. There was a lot of shopping and preparation, but also we had to start Jamie’s 2 projects, making gochujang and makgeolli (Korean rice wine). The second project came about when I was investigating Jamie’s pantry and I discovered a package of nuruk.
I asked Jamie: “What are you going to do with this?”
“I’m going to make makgeolli.”
“Do you know how to make it?” I asked.
“No, but I’m going to check on the internet.” I thought this was funny . He can find anything on the internet!
So I decided to show him how to make it. I warned him that we’d need to take care of it for 7-10 days while it ferments. We’d need to watch it carefully, and couldn’t leave it behind. But we were supposed to leave for Rotorua next day!
“Jamie, can you bring the fermenting makgeoli with you in your trunk?”
His trunk would be full of Korean food!
So we made our own makgeolli and gogchujang, as well as mustard green kimchi and some side dishes.
Gochujang (hot pepper paste): It’s being fermented in Jamie’s house now. The recipe video will be posted in 3 months after it’s well fermented.
Makgeolli (Korean rice wine): I never heard about the final result from Jamie but I’m sure it was delicious and it made many people in Wellington drunk and in a good mood. : )
Makgeolli: Jamie’s friend must have come to this empty house to give it a stir. : )
While I made anchovy side dishes I asked him to make ojingeochae muchim. I was surprised when he brought out his own version of my cookbook, which he had downloaded from my site and enlarged so he could read it easier. This was not the first time that I saw someone do this - Renier had the same idea! I was impressed by how he followed my recipe exactly, and his ojingeochae muchim came out perfectly.
He is making ojingeochae muchim with his homemade cookbook!
Stir-fried dried anchovies (myeolchi bokkeum) and seasoned dried shredded squid (ojingeochae muchim)
We were so busy that we didn’t have time to prepare lunch. There was a lot of leftover gimbap from the meetup the night before, so I showed them how to make day-old gimbap delicious again, by dipping it in egg batter and frying it. They loved it!
“Ooh, fried gimbap is very delicious!”
We separated after a long day of preparations. The next day we would meet again in the hotel in Rotarura.
The morning of my flight, I called Jamie with a last minute request.
“Good morning Jamie! Can you bring the small jar of gochujang we made? I want to watch it every day in Rotorua, to see how it looks.”
“Good idea!” He said, “I’ll bring it.”
“Does your makgeolli fit in the trunk?”
“Actually it didn’t fit, so I asked my friend to come over every day to stir it.” His friend would come to the empty house every morning simply to stir the rice wine! I couldn’t help laughing when I imagined that.
“See you soon!”
Then I decided to go out for breakfast. In my usual life, I rarely eat breakfast. But when traveling I’m never sure when I can eat again, so I eat breakfast as often as possible.
The hotel in Wellington where I stayed had a really nice bathroom on the main floor. Clean, bright, white, warm, and cozy. Behind me, can you see the rolled white towels? They prepared small cotton towels for their customers for drying their hands with, instead of paper towels. It’s a bathroom but it doesn’t look like a bathroom, so I took this photo.
I boarded the plane for Rotarura, and as you can see the plane was very small. The pilot was sitting right in front of me.
In Rotarura I took a shuttle to my hotel and checked in.
Once I got into my room, I called Mere and let her know I got in ok. I was getting hungry so I decided to go outside and find some food. Just as I stepped out, Jamie’s car pulled up.
I was very happy to see them again! “Hey you guys look familiar!” I joked. “I can never get away from you.”
We decided to have samgyupsal for dinner, so we started preparations.
Jamie brought our gochujang. When I opened the lid, I said, “Hello, my baby!”
Every day we checked this gochujang and talked to it and saw how it was doing. Everytime I went over to his room, I could check in on the gochujang and taste it. Ryan and Jamie always joined me in tasting. All of us say “Mmmm!” at the same time.
That night we had samgyupsal gui like a real traveling Korean family. We bought fresh pork belly at the local grocery store, and green onions. I made doenjang jjige, rice, and some side dishes. Jamie made ssamjang. We had wine, too, it was a really great dinner.
Already we were having a wonderful time, and we hadn’t even started filming in Rotorua yet! Soon we would meet Mere and have even more fun!