Dinner Party for Two: A Korean Feast

For Valentine’s Day this year, I decided that I wanted to cook something really special for my beloved mister: A proper Korean Feast! It seems like a no-brainer, but of course he absolutely LOVES Korean food, and in the three years we’ve been married, I really haven’t cooked it enough for him.

A few years ago, my mom-in-law bought us “Practical Korean Cooking“, a traditional Korean cookbook written by Noh Chin-hwa. It was translated to English with the intention of helping Westerners learn how to prepare Korean cuisine. The coolest part about this cookbook? There are step-by-step photos that guide you along, which was a BIG help (seeing as how I had no idea what some of the ingredients looked like or how these dishes are supposed to look)! So I guess in the spirit of “Julie & Julia“, this project turned out to be the Korean version. Instead of trying to tackle Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking“, I took on the challenge of Practical Korean Cooking! I decided on making a 4-Course meal. I knew it was ambitious, but I am proud to report that 4 hours later it was a huge success!

1st Course: Saengseon Jeon
(Pan-Grilled Fish Cake with Egg)

These “fish & egg pancakes” (as I called them before looking up the proper name) are a staple for my husband! He LOVES them so much, often times he can’t wait until they’re completely made – he has to cut off slices of the fish cake and eat them plain! My mom-in-law helped me with this recipe and she even gave me a cute idea of making them heart-shaped! They are super simple – beat some eggs, add a pinch of salt, dip the slices of fish cake in the egg and cook them like a pancake! I even found a heart shaped frame I could use at the Korean Market!

2nd Course: Komt’ang (Beef Stock Soup)

This soup got put on the list because a) I’ve never made my own soup stock from scratch before and b) the mister loves any kind of noodles!!! Basically, this recipe was a simple soup made with beef shank, garlic, korean radish and “chinese style” noodles. This was definitely the toughest to shop for – at Zion Market they had 2 whole aisles of just noodles! How’s a girl like me supposed to figure out the right one?!? I’m pretty sure I chose the wrong noodles, but he said it was delicious nonetheless.

3rd Course, part 1: Twaejigogi Kimch’ibokkum
(Stir-Fry Pork with Kimchi)

You’re definitely not eating a true Korean meal if there is no kimchi involved, so I knew this dish would hit the spot. No, I didn’t make my own kimchi from scratch, but there’s always next time! Thank goodness my mom-in-law told me which red pepper paste to look out for (whew!). This dish came out so spicy and bold and delicious – and the husband said everything about it was “just right”!

3rd Course, part 2: Nakchinokkum (Fried Octopus)

My goal from the start was to knock his socks off and completely surprise him by this meal – so I knew the sure-fire way to do just that was to include octopus on the menu. Octopus is a huge favorite for my husband, and there is no way he would ever expect that I would make that for him! Even though I am not a big fan of the octopus, I did give it a shot. He was completely shocked that I even attempted it and very happy about how it turned out!

I took this shot of him, mid-bite:

He liked it – he really, really liked it! 🙂

4th course: Strawberry Ice Cream and
Rice Cracker Treats

Pretty simple, but Strawberry Ice Cream is always a hit with my mister, and paired with Rice Crackers, I knew it would be a solid finish to the meal!

In total, I spent about 4 hours preparing everything tonight – and it was worth every minute of it to see his shock and amazement! Now I want to practice a bit more so I can impress my in-laws! 🙂 A BIG thank you goes out to my awesome mom-in-law who helped me out a lot by sharing some invaluable tips!

Here are a few more details of the evening:

Place setting + menu

Devouring the octopus!

I did it!

My menu!
(Sorry for bad quality of some photos – technical difficulty had us using our iPhones for the majority of the evening!)