My circle of friends have one shared interest that really brings us together: food. We. Love. Good. Food. It's not a celebration if there's not a nosh. Our potlucks have assignments and themes. Everyone is eager to try one another's cuisine and yell for the recipe. Even on a simple nature walk, someone is packing cheese and crackers. It's pretty awesome.
For a friend's birthday, Young and his sister plotted an awesome surprise dinner. The birthday girl is a notorious eater and lover of coffee. We knew the best celebration would involve copious amounts of good eats. The dining room and kitchen had too many windows so our options were tight. While he distracted her outside of the house, the rest of us hid in the garage surrounded by delicious smells and holiday twinkle lights.
Young's family is Korean so when they prepare a meal - you fast the days leading up to it. His sister, bless her heart, prepares a feast of meat, fish, kimchi, and tofu soup. My favorite part is always the mushroom caps! As they heat up, condensation builds up in the center making it like a tiny shot of mushroom soup. What spoiled kittens are we!
The main event, of course, is the strips of pork belly. It is insanity how much meat goes into these feasts (like a Portuguese person should talk). It's cooked conveniently on a portable gas grill and everyone pitches in making sure it doesn't get overcooked. As soon as the meat is ready, an army of chopsticks and forks battle it out for the choice pieces.
Then we realize there is still a whole package of uncooked meat and there's no need to act like savages. Ahem.
For little old me though.... it's all about the grilled vegetables. Onions, slices of garlic, those mushroom caps, all served up on a bed of white rice and topped with my sweet darling kimchi. I love all that has vinegar! You don't need to eat meat at Korean BBQ to be satisfied, there are plenty of options. Take a big old piece of lettuce and make a happy burrito with your choice of fillings. Divine.
If you ever want to make this yourself at home, do the homework and invest in a gas grill or do it the good old fashioned way on the barbecue. Food and Wine put together a list of Korean recipes to try at home. Personally... I'm just going to stalk Young until he teaches me!
The surprise birthday party was a total success with the beautiful birthday girl showered in tasty treats. We almost got her completely but she knew something was off when Young wanted to get into the house through the garage. Close enough! Happy Birthday lady!
Special thanks to the family for hosting and making such an amazing dinner! 고맙습니다!