Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chorok Maeul, Sangin

To complete the fourth and final installment in our Chorok Maeul series, DGL made the long and arduous (if you're on a bicycle) journey all the way out to Sangin, in order to scope out

Chorok Maeul, Sangin

(Unfortunately, it was just about closing time when I visited, so I didn't get a good shot of the front of the building. There should be one coming soon...)

Like the other Chorok Maeul shops scattered around the country, the Sangin branch specializes in bringing consumers healthy and safe stuff to eat. Organic rice, grains and beans, seasonal prdouce, antibiotic-free meat, preservative-free snacks and sauces.

The interior is bigger than some of the other ones, leaving plent of space for $200 mushroom displays. Koreans take their organic medicinal fungi seriously...

A closer look at all the produce

In case your school didn't provide you with a rice cooker.

Vegetarian Ramen!

Lots of great teas

Chorok Maeul, Sangin is located just around the corner from one of Noksaek Sari's favorite restaurants, the absolutely fantastic 월배채식솔내. If you're coming from Downtown, get off the subway at Sangin and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until Sangwon-ro, the only big intersection between Sangin and Weolbae, and then turn right. Go straight, past the entrance to the Happy Tree apartment complex (I wonder how many trees were razed to make space for it...). Chorok Maeul will be our your right in just a minute or two. Map here. They're open 9:30AM-9:30PM Monday to Friday and 10AM-8PM on Weekends and public holidays.

Their official website, here, has a complete list of inventory and prices.

Chorok Maeul, Songhyeon

Daegu Green Living has expanded its territory once again, this time wandering all the way out to Songyeon, the West Kansas of Daegu. We proudly present:

Chorok Maeul, Songhyeon

The Songhyeon branch is the third Chorok Maeul in Daegu and by far the largest. Like the others, it sells produce, grains, beans, sauces, spices, meats snacks, drinks, supplements, cosmetics, household items, all of which are local, organic, pesticide-free, antibiotic-free, free range, or eco-friendly in some other way.

Other noteworthy items include:

Frozen pizza made (mostly) with Korean flour; Hypoallergenic bedding, comforters, and toys.

Organic black bean and soy milks, including powdered mixes. And plenty of wine!

Peanut butter (the price tag there is for something else, sorry...)

Baby food, organic butter

The owner here is among the friendliest I've ever met - she asked me to convey that she apologizes for not speaking English and said that she would work harder to serve foreign customers, if only she could figure out what they wanted. So, if you want to know thy the beans on the top shelf (Korean) cost less than the ones in the middle (oragnic), or what the heck you're supposed to do with pine needle powder, or how you can go about getting this or that- give it a shot!

Directions from downtown: follow the red subway line out to Seongdangmot (Seobu Bus Station) and then continue following it until about halfway to Songhyeon. Turn right onto Haksan-ro and walk down the hill until you get to a medium-sized intersection with a flashing orange stoplight suspended over the middle. Turn right there, and then look for the store on your right, opposite the Green Mansion apartments. Here's a map. They're open from 10AM to 9PM; check out their website here for more info about products and prices.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chorok Maeul, Chilgok

As if Chilgok District 3 didn't have enough organic shops already*, here's one more for your shopping joy:

This Chorok Maeul outlet, located just a few blocks east of the Farmer's Marketplace and a few south east of the newish Primus cinema, has been around for seven years, a good deal longer than Chilgok's other ethical eateries. Knowing that Chilgok is more or less one giant hagwon, they've chosen an appropriate motto:

"We want to provide our precious children with nothing but safe food grown on our land."

Like the other shops already mentioned on the blog, it carries the usual range of edibles, all local, organic, low-pesticide, or in-season: rice, grains, beans and pulses, noodles, snacks, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, nutritional supplements, and cosmetics. To see exactly what's available, and how much it all costs, visit their official website at (Website link)

I'll hold back on the interior shots, since all of the stores look more or less the same, and limit myself to showing you some of spiffier items being offered.

Organic pre-cooked, microwaveable rice.

"Green ham" (Sounds like a Dr. Seuss ripoff) and glutinous pressed barley, which looks to me like a viable substitute for oatmeal...

And what's better to drop into your oatmeal than organic peanuts, almonds and walnuts? Enjoy it with some tea...

Organic button mushrooms are also a treat, but nothing compared to organic ice cream.

There you have it! Click on any of the above pictures to visit the photo album, which has a few more detail shots, or visit the Chilgok branch's official site for a more complete listing of products and prices.

Chorok Maeul Chilgok is located at 대구 북구 동천동 950, but if you look it up on a map, it tells you it's in the center of the Hwaseong Central Park apartment complex, which, I can say from personal experience, is not the case. It's actually just a few meters past the entrance to the apartment complex, on Daecheon-no, directly east of the Daedong bridge. On the map above, it's across from the "Buy the Way" convenience store. They're open daily from 10AM to 11PM.

*Actually, what am I talking about? Is it even possible to have enough organic shops? Why do I feel like three is a lot, when they must be outnumbered by conventional "marts" one hundred to one?

Hansalim, Siji

In addition to nationwide green chains like ICoop and Chorok Maeul, Daegu also hosts another of Korea's eco-giants: Hansalim. Hansalim has been around since the very beginning of Korea's organic movement and has been a key player in connecting organic farmers to urban consumers.

From the introduction on their website:

"Han" for big, one, entire, together: all the life in the universe.
"Salim" for delivering us out of danger.
In accordance with the teaching of these words, Hansalim strives to live together with all of life.

(I promise you, all the new-age corniness is a result of my poor translation skills.)

"Hansalim is a nonprofit organization that has forged a community, united under a common ideal, and begun a movement: to create a world where all life - people and nature, country and city - can live together.

It started in 1986 as a small rice store and, as of August 2010, has formed a community of over 2,000 member farms and more than 232,000 consumers in nineteen regions of Korea. Through the community's direct distribution network, sales of organic produce and livestock within the community reached $150,000,000.

In addition, Hansalim is devoted to reviving the countryside, incorporating environmentalism into everyday life, protecting the earth's environment, and other causes.

Amidst continuous food, energy, and environmental crises, we welcome all who wish to live together, treating the world and its life with respect and dignity."

Sounds wonderful (translation foibles aside), right?* Unfortunately, there's only one of these in Daegu, and it's located way out in Siji, just around the corner from Chorok Maeul, almost inside of Sinmae market.

Here you can find:

cosmetics, supplements, and snacks

rice, grains, flour, beans, sauces, extracts, shampoos, detergents, cleaning stuff

organic produce and domestic, antibiotic-free, or GMO-feed-free meat

To find these and other goodies, first make your way to Shinmae station (near the end of the green line). Come out of exit five and walk straight until the next big intersection. Turn right onto Sinmae-ro, walk south about a block and turn left, crossing the street and walking away from the KB bank. As you enter Sinmae market, Hansalim will be on your right. Alternately, you can head west from exit two of Sawol station, walk across the river, turn left at Sinmae-ro, and then follow the remaining directions above. (Visit this page for a map and a list of buses.) They're open from 10AM-6PM, Monday - Saturday. Make sure to bring your own shopping bag - they don't give out plastic ones. ^^

(It looks like this)

Shopping at and supporting Hansalim can be a little tough, since it's a membership-only organization, though they may let you slide on your first visit. Membership requires a deposit of W30,000 up front. There's no monthly fee, and you can reclaim the money when you leave the organization, or the country. Members receive bonus points, which accrue and can eventually be used as cash, for each dollar spent. Signing up takes a bit of dedication, as the registration office is somewhere near Apsan (4) Intersection. You can also do it by mail: instructions here.

*Silly me, they have an English section:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chorok Maeul, Siji

If this blog were your only source of eco-friendly shoppig information, you might get the impression that your organic options in Daegu were limited to the miniscule sections at the big shops (whose names I'd rather not mention) and a couple of specialty stores in Chilgok. In truth, though, this blog bias is just a result of me not having the time or gumption to venture too far out of my comfort zone, which is more or less bounded by Chilgok, Duryu, the Airport, and Downtown.

Thankfully, though, vacation has come, full of bright days and empty hours and chances to explore. Nothing makes one feel more accomplished than hopping on the bicycle, stuffing onself senseless at a buffet, zipping out to the end of the subway line, and doing a bit of sleuthing. Which is exactly what I - actually, we, since I had an accomplice this time - did on Tuesday. This post, and the following two, contain the fruits of our labor.

Welcome to Chorok Maeul (초록마을, Green Village), Siji Branch!

Chorok Maeul, founded in 1999, is dedicated to "facilitating the distribution of domestic, environmentally friendly, organic foods and providing consumers with healthy foodstuffs bearing the sweat and devotion of the farmland." Korean production of organic food has increased tenfold over the last ten years, and the number of Chorok Maeul outlets has risen from one to over two hundred. This success may be due, at least in part, to their three pledges:

"To the customer: We promise to provide only products which have been certified as both safe and eco-friendly."

"To the producer: We will not forget your honesty, nor the precious sweat of your brow."

"To the environment: We will take the lead in watching and protecting the environment, which itself gives us life."

Dwarfed by the nearby Sinmae market and rendered inconspicous by the noise of the nearby phone shops and ultra-popular dumpling steamery, Chorok Maeul is actually much bigger than it looks from the outside. In addition the the standard Korean organic offerings of

organic beans, whole- and mixed-grain rices, jams (including organic German peanut butter!)

noodles, snacks, flour, and pancake mix made from domestic grains,

loads of fresh, organic, domestic, seasonal produce, antibiotic-free eggs, soy sauce, red pepper paste, and other Korean goodies,

Chorok Maeul also stocks a good variety of breafast mix powders, cosmetics, honeys, teas, and, most importantly, boozes.

(Close up:)

Not pictured, but also worth mentioning, is the selection of breads - whole grain, five grain, and more - made from organic Korean flour.

Unlike Hansallim and ICoop, Chorok Maeul doesn't require customers to purchase a membership. Regular customers can enroll in a program to earn reward points, which can be spent just like cash on any product in the store. If you'd rather just do your shopping and get on with it, that's fine too.

You can pay Chorok Maeul a visit any day of the week; they're open from 10AM-9PM Monday through Saturday, and 10AM to 6PM on Sundays. The Siji branch of Chorok Maeul is located at in Sinmae-dong, Suseong-gu 578-8, a few minutes' walk away from Sinmae station. Come out of exit five and walk straight until the next big intersection. Turn right onto Sinmae-ro, walk south about a block and a half, and it'll be on your left; if you get to Sinmae Elementary School, you've gone too far. Alternately, you can head west from exit two of Sawol station, walk across the river, turn left at Sinmae-ro, and then follow the remaining directions above. Here's a map.

For those of you who live somewhere other than Siji - i.e., just about everybody - cheer up! In addition to a number of other organic shops that Daegu Green Living has yet to document, there are two more Chorok Maeul outlets: one in Chilgok and one in Songhyeon.

Visit the Siji Branch website here (sorry, no English) to see products, prices,
and news, or to shop online. For more about the company itself, visit

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bukbu Bus Terminal - Chinese, Indian, and Everything in Between

Before coming to Korea, Korean food was largely a mystery to me. I had heard of kimchi and kalbi, and had tried bulgogi and dumplings at my friend's house, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. Actually, I wasn't even curious. Why bother with Korean? Chinese egg rolls, Japanese fried rice, Indian curry, or Thai noodles sufficed to satisfy any hankering for foreign foods I might have had.

It was only after several months in Korea - long enough to pass through (and forever leave behind) after my initial Dongas, Kimbap, and Twigim phase - that I finally learned how varied, delicious, and downright miraculous Korean food can be. Side dishes galore - hundreds of fresh vegetables, known and unknown, each matching certain dishes and served at certain times of the year. Rice, either white or colorful; noodles thick and thin, hot and cold; chicken, pork, beef, dog, goat. And more kinds of sea life than I had realized existed.

And yet, despite my appreciation for Korean cuisine, it often strikes me as more weird than exotic. What to do when you crave something a little more colorful, a little more fragrant, or a little more spicy? Especially if you want to do it yourself?

The answer: pay a visit to the 북부정류장. (Sounds like "Bukbu Jeong-nyu-jang")

On the map, it's called 북부시외버스터미날 (i.e., North District Intercity Bus Terminal).
On the building, it's called the 북부시외버스공용정류장 (i.e. Bukbu Intercity Public Bus Stop).
In English, it calls itself "Pukbu Bus Stop Outskirts of a City Bus."

Either way, it's where you want to be if you want to cook your own Chinese, Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese. If you can see the building above, do an about-face and walk the same way the buses go when leaving the station. You'll see several shops touting international calling cards and world foods.

They each have their own specialties, depending on where the owner is from, but mostly they all blend together. Pop into any and have a look around.

Spices (available in seed and powder form): Curry, coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, mustard, fenugreek, mint
Sauces: Fish sauces, soy sauces, hot sauces, Thai curry pastes, pho bouillion cubes, canned curries, chutney mixes
Beans: Chickpeas, kidney beans, dried peas, lentils, dahl
Grains: Long-grained white rice, various kinds of noodles and rice paper, idli mix
Canned fruits: longan, rambutan, jackfruit, mangosteen
Produce: Cilantro (i.e. coriander leaves), thai basil, long beans, lemons, durians

...and so forth. They also carry a wide variety of nuts, seeds, canned tropical fruit, snacks, pastries, halal meats, soy and textured vegetable protein, and several other mystery products. Have a look for yourself. The only things conspicuously absent are Tahini and cous-cous.

If you'd like to sit down for some Indian - more authentic than downtown, less expensive than Ganga in Suseong - drop by

Around the other side, where the buses enter the terminal, there's also a nondescript, unlabeled, but mostly authentic Chinese restaurant worth a visit.

Getting There...
...can prove a little bit tricky. The Bukbu (North District) Intercity Bus terminal is about four kilometers north from the Duryu subway station, so if you if you want to make it there via public trasnport, your best bet is to take a bus. From Duryu, come out of the left side of exit one, walk north for a minute, catch the 356 or 순환3-1, and get off after five or six stops, immediately after crossing the river.

The following buses also stop right at (or across from, depending on where you start) Bukbu: 202-1, 309, 323-1, 356, 427, 724, 726, 순환 (Outer Circle) 3-1.

If you're not close to any of those, then you can also take a bus to the Bisan E-mart and walk about five minutes. Buses running to the Bisan E-mart include 427, 527, 704, 708, 719, 724, 726, 730, 750, 북구 (North District) 1, and 칠곡 (Chilgok) 2.

For a map, click here. The Bisan Emart is a kilometer or two north of Bukbu.

Or, to investigate the Daegu Bus System yourself, click here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Ggureomi Goodness

Before receiving my first Ggureomi shipments, I was about equal parts excited and terrified. I thought long and hard about asking the company to try to design foreigner-friendly packages, free of those things we generally have no idea what to do with, like head-size radishes, monstrous cabbages, and pucks of fermented beans. In the end, though, I decided that I was asking for enough favors with all the veg*an-friendly substitution hoopla, and that it would be less of a hassle just to take my chances.

So, what came in the first package? Well, if you don't already know the answer from reading the first Ggureomi post, the answer is: everything I had feared.

I ate all the familiar stuff pretty quickly: the tomatoes went into salads, the mushrooms into stirfries, the tofu was dried out then frozen, the broccoli onto pasta. With the rest, though, I procrastinated until nature's ways forced my hands. I've already documented what I did with the first half of the radish (thin sliced with light spicy dressing); the other half, I sliced thin, boiled in a little water, added some perilla seed powder, and stirred it in, resulting in a kind of rich, nutty vegetable dish. Well worth eating, but not photographing.

The other things were slightly more successful:

1) Vegan Kimchi

This had been on my list for forever, and I'm so happy I finally got around to it. I've still got a long way to go before I'm any good at it, but here's more or less what I did:

Take a cabbage and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Soak in salt water overnight.
Remove the cabbage and squeeze out the extra water. Mix together with diced ginger and garlic, short strips of green onion, red pepper powder, and a tad of soy sauce, then dump into a jar. Leave it out for another 24 hours or so to start fermenting, then refrigerate. (Actually, I went away for the weekend and left it fermenting for almost three days, so it was pretty sour and almost fizzy by the time I got back.)

Not the best kimchi I've ever had, but actually far better than the stuff that tastes too much like anchovy or shrimp paste. The ginger really adds some nice zest. A few more iterations, and a bit of refinement in terms of seasoning and timing, and I'm sure it'll be on the verge of perfection.

As it is, it's decent enough to eat, but even better when thrown into:

2) Vegan Kimchi pancakes!

Chop up some stringy mushrooms and combine them with kimchi in a mixing bowl. Add either water, or, if you like it sour, some residual kimchi juice from the jar. Mix in plain flour or (Korean) pancake mix until you've achieved more or less the following consistency, then fry on medium high in a pan. Make sure to flip without the aid of a spatula, otherwise it's cheating.

3) Vegan just-slightly-fermented soybean stew.

The most intimidating, and yet the easiest to make. Boil about 1 cup of water for each 100g of bean clump (add more water if you're going to add lots of vegetables). In the water, make a broth by boiling radishes, mushrooms, japanese seaweed, or whatever else. Remove the broth ingredients and add in the vegetables in order of how long they take to cook (potatoes, then garlic, then kimchi, then tiny spicy peppers and big mild ones, then onions, then tofu), and throw in the beans when everything is about five minutes from done. Now you've got some excellent stank-soup. The 200g puck, 3 cups of water, and a cutting board full of vegetables make enough for about 3 servings - long enough for a serious intestinal purge.

Thank you, Ggureomi, for a week of wonderful eats! Things I never would have tried had they not been dropped off right at my door.