My parents drove into the city from Pennsylvania this morning to scope out what they want from my apartment and to take some of my things to their house for storage. They decided that they’d like to take most of the furniture- bed, sofa, dresser, bookcase, and my giant flat screen TV. I had planned on donating everything but it’s just as well that my parents will get some use out of it.
When someone comes to visit Manhattan, I usually think of at least a dozen restaurants to go visit. Not my parents. They travel with their own food! Instead of treating them to a nice New York brunch, my Mom opened her bag and out came kimchi, bimbop, kalbi, and fried shrimp. All I had to do was make some tea and we had lunch.
Gimbop is Koreans’ answer to maki. My Mom and Grandma like to make their bimbop with beef, spinach, carrots, burdock roots, daikon, and an egg omelet. All of the ingredients are cooked separately and layered one by one on a bed of seasoned rice over dried seaweed. Once everything’s rolled up tightly and evenly, the long roll is then cut into bite sized pieces. It makes for great picnic food. When I was little this is what my Mom packed for my school field trips. She told me today that she now makes this for her golf outings.
I tried to make gimbop on my own once and I can honestly say that I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. It took me hours to prepare all of the ingredients and my rolls looked more like burritos than a nice long cylinder. It’s definitely not something I can whip up quickly and without a lot of planning. My Mom has a major talent for cooking complex and time consuming foods with incredible amount of efficiency. I wouldn’t be surprised if she woke up this morning and decided to make this before heading over to my house. My Grandma once used a Korean expression to describe my Mom’s cooking and cleaning speed; like a lightening roasting a bean…
Mom also brought some fried shrimp (deep frying is also something I rarely think to do) and recently made kimchi. Koreans can and will eat kimchi in various stages of during its fermentation process. Let’s say there are 5 stages in the course of kimchi’s life. Stage 1 kimchi has the cabbage almost raw, grassy, and all the flavors of the garlic, scallions, and red peppers all stand right in front of your face. Stage 5 kimchi has you scrambling to make kimchi jjigae because it’s now so sour that as soon as you bite into the cabbage, you take a quick breath in and you can only feel the taste buds on the very back of your mouth. Think sour patch kids without the sugar. What she brought for me today was a stage 2.5 kimchi. Smack in the middle of kimchi happiness. The cabbage still had a great crunchy bite and all the flavors were melded so nicely that you couldn’t tell where the garlic ended and the red pepper flakes began. My Dad said it was like eating a salad. I have to agree with him- perfectly balanced in its salty, sour, crunchy, spicy, and happy- I could eat it as the main course, not just as an accompaniment.
My parents were here for all of two hours. Three quick trips downstairs to the parking lot later, they were on their way back to Pennsylvania. I am left with empty closets and shelves! 7 weeks to go before I leave New York City.