Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recipe: 흰죽 (White Rice Porridge)

The other day TheFry was having some digestive troubles and he just really wasn’t feeling well. We thought he was better by the time he went to daycare but the teachers wrote in his little memo book that he had had a pretty hard time and wouldn’t eat anything. They even sent him home without a diaper as he was so troubled.

Our daycare is really super. TheFry is always happy to go and play with his friends there. while he’s a picky eater at home, at daycare he always eats a lot. He plays lots of games there even though he acts bored at home. The teachers there have been really great. They are so caring and kind with TheFry and they have given us good help in Korea, including recommending pediatricians to us and, when TheFry was ill, recommending him to eat certain foods.

Now, I have to be honest and say that I rolled my eyes a little bit when I saw that they recommended him to eat 흰죽 (plain white rice porridge) and 미역국 (seaweed soup). That’s because it seems like white rice and seaweed soup are cure-alls in Korea for pretty much any illness (but kimchi is stellar, too). However, when you think about it, we do the same thing for illness in the West: eat saltine crackers, drink bubbly soda, eat chicken noodle soup, and so on. There’s just something about plain, bland-tasting grain foods and clear broth that does a body good!

So naturally, I began to go on the hunt for a good 흰죽 (white rice porridge) recipe that I could read. There are a couple of Korean food bloggers out there who have pretty extensive collections of Korean food recipes online: Aeri’s Kitchen ( and Maangachi ( However, although they had recipes for other kinds of porridge, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for – plain porridge with no meat, veggies, or additives in it.

I searched for 흰죽 on the Korean version of Google ( and found a couple of recipes that I had to translate line by line (Google Translate only goes so far…). After trying out a very basic recipe, I’m happy to report that it turned out well (though bland) and that TheFry ate a lot of it!

So, without further ado, here is the recipe:

흰죽: Plain White Rice Porridge

Yield: A lot (like 6-7 cups)

Time: about 1.5 hours – 40 minutes prep, 50 minutes cook time.


1. 1 cup short-grain white rice (sometimes known as sweet rice), uncooked

2. 1 Tablespoon sesame oil

3. 7 cups of water

4. Patience


1. Soak the rice in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. When it’s done, pour off the water. Some people like to save the drained water to use in the porridge, but I just dumped it. Also, some people like to rinse the rice more than one time. At any rate, it should be whiter after soaking.

2. In a big pot, stir together the rice and sesame oil over medium heat for about one minute. Some recipes I found said “until the rice is translucent”, but I just used the 1-minute rule and the porridge turned out fine.

3. Add 7 cups of water and bring the pot to a boil, stirring frequently (though not constantly).

4. Boil rapidly for 20 minutes, stirring frequently (though not constantly).

5. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the rice doesn’t stick too much to the bottom of the pot.

6. The porridge is done when it is thick and porridge-y. if there’s a little bit of thinner liquid on the top, it’s okay – you can turn off the heat, cover, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so and it will finish cooking.

7. Season to taste and serve! It will be really, really bland, but it will really stick to you when you’re sick and it will be easy to digest.

Here are some pictures of the porridge when it’s done:






And here’s a video of the porridge when it’s done, to give you an idea of the consistency:


I used Aeri’s recipe for 미역국 (seaweed soup) It’s an easy, quick, and tasty recipe!

I served the rice porridge and seaweed soup together, mixed a little bit, to TheFry and he gobbled it up. I haven’t seen him eat like that at home in weeks. I guess I need to start cooking more Korean food. ^^

Here’s a picture of the rice porridge and seaweed soup served together:



A side note: if your kid doesn’t eat leafy greens like spinach or cabbage, why not try and serve them seaweed cooked in broth (like in the soup recipe)? Seaweed that’s cooked in broth has a milder flavor than spinach and it also slides down the throat easily, making chewing a little unnecessary (of course you have to chop it up well enough!). It is also loaded with iron and iodine, and is good for relieving constipation. Also, iron and iodine are important minerals for postpartum and nursing mothers, which is why Korean women are told to eat seaweed soup for every meal after giving birth.

You might be surprised that your kids like it – I never ate seaweed while pregnant with/nursing TheFry, but he loves it! I have tons of seaweed in my pantry now because a little bit of dried seaweed lasts a really long time – I think I’ll be making seaweed soup more often these days. ^_^

Sunday, May 16, 2010


TheFry has really, really been learning a lot of new words this week! So far, this is what he has been caught saying around the place in English:

1. “b’bye”

2. “apple”

3. “socks”

4. “cracker”

5. “uh-oh”

6. “hi”

7. “quack, quack!”

And in Korean:

1. “김밥” (kimbap – kind of like a sushi roll with rice, ham, eggs, vegetables, rolled in seaweed)

2. “세살” (se sal – “three years old”. A girl on the elevator today told him she was three years old [while holding up four fingers – it was too cute!] and he mimicked her a couple of times.)

3. “나 갈거야?” (na kalkeoya? “Am I going to go?” He said this as we were leaving a friend’s house.)

4. This week he said a word that sounded like “바보” (babo - “dummy”) but I think he might have been trying to say “뽀뽀” (bbo bbo - “kiss”). Sometimes I say 뽀뽀 to him when I want a kiss, but I could have sworn he was calling me a dummy!

5. "왜" ("why?") He says this more often than any other word - usually when he's been scolded, or being forced to have his diaper changed, his nose wiped, his hair get the idea.

So yes, he said his first sentence in Korean today! PapaFish has sworn he has said “I love you” on more than one occasion. The first English sentence I heard him say was about a month ago, and it was “Bye bye, Dad!” (as TheFry and I were leaving the house to go on a walk).

He has become such a little boy that I can hardly call him a baby anymore. Nevertheless, he still loves a bit of cuddle time now and then. Most of the time, though, he’s everywhere all at once, running, climbing, getting into things, stealing people’s stuff, screaming like a madman and trying to catch the attention of the general public.

He has also started posing for the camera. These pictures are kind of old (from last month), but I’ll have some good ones of him doing some quintessential Korean school kid poses later on – I just have to post them yet. DSCI0501

Here he is smiling and saying “cheese” for the camera.


And here he is covering his mouth while laughing. What a silly boy!

Buddha’s Birthday

Buddha’s Birthday is coming up (Auguts 21, 2010).  There was a parade in Seoul this weekend but we didn’t go – too many people + confined toddler = madness, and probably a shortened lifespan of PapaFish and I. 

Nonetheless, the town is decorated with colorful lanterns for the occasion.  Lanterns have decorated the walkways near a local temple and park for the last two weeks. DSCI0577

The temple is quite large, and has a short bell tower in front of it.  DSCI0579






Yesterday, a truckload of lanterns was delivered to the temple, and they were all hung up in a huge bunch in front.  DSCI0581  

I really like this temple because it is quite a graceful, lovely building surrounded by huge grey concrete and glass rectangular structures.  It’s nice to see something so lovely in the middle of such a huge metropolis.DSCI0582