Tag Archives: expat

Recipe for Disaster: Hobakjeon 호박전

24 Jul

My foray into the craft of cooking continued this week with a fried squash dish named Hobakjeon 호박전; a decision made after a student described it as “Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!”(with that many o’s how could you go wrong?). Spoiler: this venture was not quite as successful as the last.

The type of squash used in this dish is called young squash or green pumpkin and basically looks like zucchini (you could probably use a zucchini in lieu of squash) . Here’s a picture of the one I used:

Yes it’s on the floor. It’s also in a wrapper. I also have no counter. Stop judging.

Along with young squash this is what you’ll need:


1 young squash, long shape
50 g lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 minced clove of garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sesame salt
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp oil for frying (The cook’s discretion)

Calm before the (fire) storm (Step 4)


  1. Slice the squash into disks that are about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices into a bowl and sprinkle them with your 1/2 Tbsp of salt. Let them stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, mix the beef with the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and salt, and garlic. (Swedish massage technique not necessary)
  3. Once ten minutes have passed drain the slices of any water they may have collected and dry them with paper towel.
  4. Cover each disk with a thin layer of the beef mixture (as seen in the picture above).
  5. Heat oiled pan. Dip disk in flour and then egg. Fry on medium heat for about 3 minutes a side. (Keeping the flour and egg close to the pan makes this step much easier)
  6. To up the deliciousness of the dish, serve with a super easy dipping sauce. One part soy sauce, one part vinegar.
The first batch
Something you wouldn’t feed your worst enemy
Clear fail. I was quite discouraged after the first batch(I believe the folly here lay in the haphazard execution of step 4). But I hate wasting food and so was determined to get it right. When done my apartment could easily have been mistaken for an opium den with all the smoke, but at least I managed to realize some success…..ish.
My successful batch
Something a stray animal may consider for dinner
The book’s rather more appetizing batch
A clear win. 😦
Well at least they tasted fantastic…..ish(No really! Though they looked like the contents of a neighbour’s compost they were quite good).

Shauna Teacher Gets Schooled: Summer Inferno Edition

14 Jul

So it’s been about 3 months since I’ve started my all-Korean tennis lessons and I’m still at it *pats self on back*. Korean summers are notoriously humid, and according to my boss today was one of the hottest days yet this summer (it looks like it was about 30 °C with about 80% humidity,which to be fair is not is not unheard of back home) In order to compensate for the inferno in which I would be practicing, I showed up in this:

In lieu of an actual photo of me in my tennis gear I felt this would suffice as she is clearly a fair representation of both my physique and talent

However, my Korean classmates, many of whom are at least 15-20 years my senior and far more skilled, showed but in an outfit looking something like this (I really wanted to take a picture of my class and post it here, but whenever I take candid pictures of people I feel obnoxious and so was too shy to do so):

Fine they don’t show up in a du rag, but they honestly have this du rag-like contraption that velcros onto their cap that I couldn’t find a picture of, so the sporty du rag had to suffice.  

One would think that my choice is clearly the more comfortable attire for playing tennis in a heart only found in 5-alarm fires, but alas this is how I looked by the end of class…….

Me at the end of class (no I did not transform into a man-note the sweat drenched clothing, not the discrepancy in gender)

……while my Korean counterparts looked dry and invigorated. Really really, one man actually pointed it out and started to make fun of me (harumph!).  The only logical conclusion that can be drawn here is that Koreans are magical. Or at least their sweat glands are (or that I have a glandular disorder…).


Shauna Teacher Gets Schooled

5 Apr

Having meaning to master tennis for the better part of the past ten years, I was very excited to learn that my boss had kindly signed me up for free beginner lessons being offered by the city.  Despite the fact that I was to be the only foreigner in the class, I felt my Swedish heritage, the same that led the great Björn Borg to Wimbleton victory, would provide me with natural talent that would overcome any language barriers.

Alas, much to my surprise(and yours especially), my genetic theorem has proven to be flawed, as my first lesson quickly turned into waygookin (essentially korean for foreigner) comedy hour.  If my swings were not followed by the resounding laughter of my peers(I feel it was less of a snicker and more and more out of endearment “oh look at that foreign giant go…..so resilient!” ), they were  followed by corrections being shouted at me in Korean by my coach who was clearly getting increasingly exasperated as the lesson progressed. I feel that the Korean language has an innate gentle sternness, thus being on the receiving end of any harsh words spoken in this tongue is less than relaxing, especially coming from an older male; it almost has the same effect as gravely disappointing a parent.  My only saving grace was during stretches where I out stretched the lot of them.(what, so your racket can actually make contact with the ball? Ha! Well I can touch my toes…BAM)

Nonetheless, despite my first lesson being filled with embarrassment(which is par for the course really), I purchased new tennis shoes after work today and will be attending lessons every weekday for the next year. And who knows, once my Korean improves perhaps I will find that what was once believed to be angry criticisims are infact words of encouragement and gratitude such as, “Ooooo! Great height on that swing! The ball flew beautifully over that fence” , “How do get your shots to always to veer left? I admire your consistency.” or, “Wow, thank you so much- your wild wide shots have gotten me into the best shape of my life”.


Busan and a New Frenemy

28 Mar


This past weekend I took a short trip down to Busan, the second largest city in South Korea.

Busan is a hilly metropolitan city (at least in comparison to Pohang) with beaches, a cafe at every corner(usually more than one) and most importantly, some attempt at a music scene; something seemingly unheard of in Pohang, so it is not surprising that this is where I ended up first.

The night is called Rad City and it happens around once a month. Along with a live performance, DJ’s were spinning oldies that made me hungry for home(but not ravenous, which is what I would have to be to ever considering heading back) and a table where locals sold art and crafts.

The live show was by a band called Surisuri Mahasuri. Rad City’s facebook invite used terms like ‘positive energy’ and ‘spirituality’ when describing them, all a tad too new age to strike  a cord with me. But I was pleasantly mistaken as a hodge-podge of instruments, from accordion to what appeared to be a PVC tube, overlay a beat that can be best described as infectious(so no I’ve made no literary leaps and bounds by describing a beat as infectious, but sometimes tried and true works best). What I was most taken by, hands down, was the accordion, despite the pseudo rasta(??) outfitting.

I don’t know him but he was really eager for me to take his picture so here we are:

Use that force!….or something(this is likely the extent of my Star Wars knowledge)

The rest of my stay was a mosaic of old staples from home including huffing down a giant bowl of pho, indulging in overpriced coffee, sifting though hoards of secondhand goods( though back home overly ornate ajumas- a term used to describe older korean women- aren’t there to tell you with …erm… the utmost politeness that you are picking from the wrong pile)  and having special moments with my Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Full moon look out

Busan bridge from afar

Nampodong Market

Oh, you’ve been missed

Effective, as we would have forgotten

All in all a 24(ish)hrs well spent.


Shortly prior to my departure, a fellow Canadian expat who is nearing the end of her Korean residency made me an interesting offer, as not only would she be soon leaving Korea behind but a pet hedgehog as well, and so was in search of a new owner. Ironically, I had fairly recently befriended another woman, who among many things, is a proud hog owner(and a literary hog at that…..her prickly antics can be followed here: The Pickle Jar ) and felt the situation too serendipitous to pass up.

Thus the main cause for the trip though was to pick up my new “friend”(I use the term with discretion as I feel that such relationships work best if one party is not in hate of/petrified of the other party-more on that later). And after what must have been the longest, most terrifying trip of his little life, Baji** arrived safe at my dark stale cave.. erm…I mean apartment.

Despite attempts to make my subpar living quarters as livable as the bright chic condo he previously resided  and feeding him disgusting… I mean dee-licious!(ala Tony the Tiger) dried maggots, he growls?(or at least thats what I feel he thinks he is doing; in reality he is too small and cute to do so with any conviction) and has has full blown anxiety attacks when I come within a 1 meter radius of him. And though I was initially contemplating giving him Valium or fashioning him a mini paper bag as both have been proven to diminish hyperventilation, I have discovered upon further reading found that such behaviour is normal and it will simply take some time for him to trust me.

In attempts to have Baji gain his bearings and to win brownie points I let him out of his cage. And though I thought I had restricted access to any hard-to-reach areas in my room, I was clearly mistaken, as he decided to furrow himself  under the furthest corner of my wardrobe, the same place he resides now. And despite the fact that he has access to food and water, which he has clearly indulged in while the giant was sleeping or working,  I myself am now experiencing bouts of anxiety. Will Baji ever emerge from his comfy corner?  Won’t he be lonely with only dust balls as friends? Will this traumatizing experience prove to be all too overwhelming, causing the little thing to dramatically commit hedgicide?

To further my anxiety this is hauntingly similar to when I first brought home my second cat at sixteen. At the time only a kitten, it playfully climbed up into the frame of my pullout couch, where it stayed for nearly a day. Reasonably convinced that the feline was tragically trapped in what was destined to be her tomb, I spent the day bawling and hollering through my sobs “by the time we get to her she will be dead!” while my family rolled on the floor with laughter. Surprisingly the story is a happy one as she came out on her own accord and continues to reside in my family home.

Thankfully, what we can deduce from my tales of animal rearing is that I will be a calm and reasonable mother someday….

For now its back to the fruitless task of coaxing Baji out of his hiding spot. Mama Shauna out.


**Baji in Korean means “pants”, or if mispronounced…… “lady parts”, thus I feel it may be necessary to rename him as I feel a tragic, albeit familiar, faux pas a-brewing, likely involving that very judgmental mother from my Hagwon.

UPDATE: HE’S OUT HE’S OUT! Oh man, has ever such a sigh of relief been released? Ah! First thing he does with his new found freedom? Run back and forth across a 1/2 foot track underneath my bed. What a weirdo! I am confident that we will get on just swimmingly…

Yellow Dust Monster

7 Mar

I pride myself in being intuitively aware of current street style, an ability that led to to immediately take notice of the numerous surgical masks being worn around me on a daily basis. These aren’t your plain white or blue surgical masks, these masks come in every print imaginable and are adapted to all markets. For instance, this particular design has struck a note with the male 18-34 demographic:

Despite having a popularity that challenges that of Canada Goose this past winter, I personally felt the trend was too SARS epidemic 2003.

When I inquired about this baffling fashion accessory, the most straightforward answer I received was (said with distant eyes and an eerie tone) “the yellow dust is coming…..”, which may or not be a quote from LOST. Thus I presumed, with true western ignorance(not a proud moment), that this belief must have stemmed from some ancient Eastern folly(and an excessive amount of sci-fi television viewership).

I stood corrected when a fellow foreign teacher directed me here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Dust#Effects. Apparently the “yellow dust” I was warned of is a spring time meteorological event that originates in the desserts of China and Mongolia, is whisked over much of East  Asia, where it then proceeds to attack the lungs of unbeknownst, unmasked citizens. This along with the “sulphur emissions and resulting acid rain” has compelled me to shop around for a mask for myself, nay, a hazmat suit. I heard that the Sanrio 2011 spring collection is particularly impressive.

In all seriousness, this is mildly frightening. The fellow teacher previously mentioned also warned me that his first encounter yellow dust season made him a little sick ,  endorsing that I embarking upon mine with caution.  And according to the wikipedia page, it is recommended that outdoor physical activity be kept to a minimum during this period, which bodes well for my new marathon fitness regime.