July 26, 2012

My trip to Korea

At Gyeongbokgung Palace
I embarked on an impromptu trip to Seoul a few weeks ago to explore Korean culture and enjoy the stunning Grand Hyatt Hotel. Staying on one of the club executive floors, I was treated to canapes each evening and enjoyed the fantastic lobby lounge entertainment each night.

To combat my indulgent eating, I worked out diligently in the gym heaven of 'Club Olympus' each morning and treated myself to a manicure or massage for recovery. All in all, I was in heaven! Not to mention the exciting and different sights of Korea, leading me to explore ancient palaces and ruins, to wandering through markets to collect cute trinkets. 

Trivial to some but worthy to others, I stocked up on make up everywhere I went, finding fake eyelashes and lip glosses for next to nothing.

I also love flying business class - it is such a treat! Sometimes almost as exciting as the holiday itself... (I did actually hear an Olympian comment that the best part about winning her Gold Medal was getting to fly home business class!). 

Enjoying the club lounge

Seoul - in the middle of rainy season

Margaritas at Club JJ's

Eclairs in the club lounge
The decadent spread at the club lounge afternoon tea - the pink macarons were the best!

Korean food is spicy and fresh, and they serve most dishes with their beloved Kimchee, which is fermented cabbage (an acquired taste I think but renowned for its health benefits). I must admit, the Grand Hyatt was serving such stunning foods each day, it was hard to find time to indulge in the local cuisine. However, when I was in the markets, I caught a store making spun rice sweets in a really fascinating process someone captured on you tube. I chose a date and chocolate filling and they were delicious.

My favourite traditional Korea meal is bibimbap, which is a rice bowl full of vegetables, meat and egg. To eat you simply stir all the ingredients together. See below for the recipe. So healthy and fresh, I liked you could customise your dish to your liking.

Korean Bibimbap 
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 700g beef fillet, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 2 brown onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 325g (1 1/2 cups) sushi rice
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs peanut oil
  • 120g baby spinach leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large Lebanese cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • Sauce
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) hot chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  1. To make the sauce, combine the chilli sauce, sugar and sesame oil in a bowl.
  2. Combine the beef, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil in a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to marinate.
  3. Meanwhile, place the mushrooms in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain. Remove the stems and thinly slice.
  4. Cook the rice following packet directions. Place the sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted.
  5. Preheat a barbecue flat plate on high. Brush with peanut oil. Cook the beef mixture, turning once, for 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Cover with foil. Add 1 tablespoon of remaining oil to the flat plate. Cook the spinach until spinach just wilts. Transfer to the plate. Add remaining oil to to the flat plate. Crack the eggs onto the flat plate. Cook, spooning over the oil, for 2 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  6. Divide the rice among serving dishes. Top with the beef, mushroom, spinach, carrot and cucumber. Top with sesame seeds and egg. Serve with the sauce.

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