Happy July 4th – a celebration of eating!

If there’s one thing my family does well, it is stuffing our faces, all day long. And this is not an exaggeration. We literally stuff our faces, from morning til night. There is no stopping! And yes, we are all fairly trim people. Hate us, we don’t care. As we typically do on holidays, we trekked to my aunt’s house in delaware. It’s luxurious when we go there, because they have a nice, big, swank house with a big kitchen and a lovely deck with a pergola. Swoon. Plus, like I said, she feeds us all day long.

We arrived about noonish this July 4th, and we were hungry. We called my aunt a few minutes before we arrived just to make sure she’d be ready to feed us. Oh, she was ready. We first had these amazing shrimp and chive dumplings. She’d bought them at a chinese buffet restaurant, who sells them frozen. We don’t know who makes them, and we don’t think that the restaurant does, but we don’t care. They’re just about the most deliciuos dumplings I’ve ever had. She pan fried them with a little oil so that they had a nice and crunchy bottom. Oh, they were just little pockets of shrimp and chive heaven. We’re not sure what kind of dough they were made with. They didn’t seem like regular flour based dough, as they weren’t quite opaque, but not quite sheer either. Perhaps they were rice flour based or potato flour based? Who knows, who cares, just gimme some more! They’re not as tiny as you might think, as you see those chopsticks in the picture. The dumplings are normal sized, it’s jut the chopsticks that are enormous.

She then made a beautiful and healthy (!) japanese flavored salad. We took some mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and some japanese clear noodles, threw in some lump crab meat and tossed it all with a bottled japanese dressing (it was by Mitsukan, but I have no idea what kind as every bit of writing on it was japanese). And voila, you had an amazing, quick, and satisfying salad. You can also use the fake crab meat or shrimp instead. I already knew this would end up being a day to go down in eating history.

After a mid-day trip to the Woodside Creamery for some ice cream pints (more on that later), we were a bit peckish, so next came the shrimp pajeon. Pajeon, is the korean term for “pancake”, but not pancake in the american pour some maple syrup over for breakfast type of pancake, but basically anything that is a batter that has some random stuff in it (veggie, meat, whatever), that is pan fried. Sometimes, the pajeon is small, other times, especially when you order it in a restaurant, it’s the size of a pizza. In that case you slice it up. This pajeon was a shrimp, spring onion, and chive pajeon. It also had some zucchini in it. It was perfect! They actually tasted very similar to the dumplings from earlier, as they both contained shrimp and chive as main ingredients, but were slightly different and delightful in their own individual way.

If you think we were done, oh, you have no idea! Next, came another shrimp dish. This next dish is one of the easiest things to make, EVER. You can make this with chicken thighs too (not breasts, but thighs only) or shrimp. Really, you could probably make it with whatever you want! You take your object of choice and you pour some bottled sweet chili sauce over it (it doesn’t matter which brand as there are dozens, but it’s that really thick and goopy stuff in a bottle) and then add some additional chili garlic sauce or sriracha, along with a bit of sesame oil and some salt. You let this marinate and then grill. It’s that simple! When I do the chicken, I let it marinade for about a day. For this shrimp, we only let it marinade for about an hour or so and it was still extremely flavorful.

Then it was onto another grilled dish, spicy squid. So this isn’t the little baby squid like you would get when you order calimari. This is big ass squid. And it’s marinaded in a spicy korean sauce of kochujang (spicy red pepper paste) so yes, it is spicy. I love this dish. It’s just good. I love squid. I love octopus. I love the chewiness. I just do.

So by the time we were done with the squid, it was actually time to eat dinner. Ha! So for the main meal, we had kalbi (look at the beautiful grill marks!) and momil gooksu, which is soba noodles mixed with a bunch of stuff. That bunch of stuff being cucumbers, shrimp, fake crab, watercress, and either squid or octopus all tossed with a sweet and sour kochujang based sauce. Please do enjoy these beautiful before mix and after mix pictures. By the end of this, I think I was in a meat coma, and I couldn’t eat another bite… Except a few hours later when I had some delicious seedless watermelon while I watched the fireworks shows on tv.

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