my original plan was go down to the allston 88 asian supermarket. but that's a chinese supermarket and i wasn't sure if they'd have the korean ingredients i wanted. also it was a cold day - temperature in the 30's - but the blustery wind made it feel like it's in the teens. instead i decided to go local, visit the korean reliable market in union square, afterwards stop by nearby market basket for additional ingredients.
before the h-mart chain arrived in the greater boston area, reliable was the only korean market that i knew of. if you're looking for korean ingredients, that place would have it - but at a price. i still remember that time i went there to buy an asian pear which i thought would be around $2 at most, but ended up costing me $6. basically everything there is marked up. i can sort of understand, small independent market can't compete with the larger chain stores in terms of price, and even at h-mart things are pricey as well, which makes me think korean food is one of the most expensive asian foods, more so than japanese even.
anyway, the thing i wanted to get was korean gosari AKA fernbrake AKA bracken fern, which seems to be an essential ingredient of authentic yukgaejang. i looked it up online yesterday so i sort of had a ballpark idea how much was going to cost me. i found a brand of dried korean herbs called wild greens with the motto "well-being food" that looked promising. there was no english other than the nutritional facts label on the back. they all looked the same - long fibrous hairs. there was a bag of aster stems (chwi-namul), something else that looked similar that was a different greens. i kept reading the labels until i finally found one that said, "bracken (chinese)". jackpot! it was also the most expensive of the selection, at $15 for a 100g bag. but i wasn't sure if i could find this elsewhere, so i bought it. i also looked for sweet potato starch noodles (japchae noodles) but those only sold in large bags without price stickers, so i figured they were more expensive than i was willing to pay.
my mother called while i was in the store, saying that my sister was making something italian saturday night, so my yukgaejang was getting pre-empted to friday night instead. to add insult to injuries, she also told me to make my pasta salad for saturday night to complement my sister's italian dish.
instead of heading to market basket, i decided to go the opposite direction, up to prospect hill park, the highest accessible point within the vicinity. i'd brought my drone and wanted to do some flying. yes it was cold, but nothing the drone couldn't handle. the sky was blue with a bit of clouds. the only thing was the wind. i kept trying to figure out how windy it was - the dji mini 2 can only handle wind speeds up to 23mph - my weather app said 10-15mph, but from what i feeling and seeing out in the field, it felt more than that. regardless, i wasn't going to go far, just high enough above the prospect hill tower to take some photos before coming back down again. this would be a by-the-book flight, eye-contact with the drone at all times.
but first i took some photos of the union square skyscraper with my lumix camera that has a 30x optical zoom. it's a real eyesore, i can't believe it passed zoning and was allowed to be built. i counted 25 floors, even though it's downhill from prospect hill, the top of the building seems taller than the hill.
i launched the drone into the air and circled around the tower. immediately i got a warning on the fly app, "aircraft in altitude zone (altitude limit: 196ft)". did i mention prospect hill is right on the edge of a logan airport runway? i was at 177ft so no danger of exceeding that limit, but i don't think the app would allow me to go beyond that height anyway. so the shot i had in mind was with the flag in the foreground and the boston skyline in the back. the way the wind was blowing the flag though, i couldn't frame the flag and boston in one shot. also it was so windy, the drone was wobbling in the sky, and i didn't want it to get too close to the flag or the flagpole, for fearing of crashing. i'll come back again on a day that isn't so windy, where the wind is coming from the correct direction.
i finally left prospect hill and biked to market basket. i got some leek and scallion for the yukgaejang. i also needed the proper cut of beef. when i came here a few days ago, the best i could find was some chuck roast, but today they actually had some brisket, which is ideal for yukgaejang. i've never seen brisket for sale at market basket, i wonder if it has anything to do with hanukkah (a little late though). besides korean soup ingredients, i also had to get stuff for the pasta salad. my mother said i could use the company card, so i was a little more casual with the spending. i left with two large canvas bags full of groceries.
back at home i was still trying to figure out what yukgaejang recipe i wanted to use. normally i look up a few recipes then combine them all into what i think is the correct recipe. the thing with dried gosari is that it needs to be reconstituted, which normally means soaking overnight. so that's what i ended up doing. some people boil first then soak, others soak then boil. i went with maangchi's instructions and decided to boil first then soak. she called for just 1 ounce of dried gosari, but i ended up using half the package - 50g - which comes out to 1.8 ounces. one of her recommendations is to use a pressure cooker, but i did it the old fashion way. i first boiled the dried gosari in 10 cups of water (i added more later when it looked like there wasn't enough water) for 30 minutes before letting it cool for a few hours. it looked like hairs at first but quickly reconstituted. the word to describe gosari is "earthy" but to me it smelled like a wet dog. i'm sure it tastes better than it smells! later in the evening i poured out the water and soaked the gosari again in cold water. maangchi's direction calls for several water changes, not sure why, maybe the gosari water doesn't taste good?
i went to star market to get some christmas ham on sale along with some mandarin oranges. the star market brand ham was $1.49/lbs., but i didn't realize it came in 10lbs+ ham hocks and i didn't need that much ham, so i didn't get one. as for the oranges, the sale price didn't ring up. i had the ignoble task of asking the cashier to cancel the items. i left with only some garlic-flavored plantain chips.
the BHJDYDG wireless earbuds ($8) arrived yesterday but i forgot about it and left the package in the foyer until i saw it today. not even sure what BHJDYDG stands for (most likely a chinese pinyin slogan), and the earbuds are no longer available for sale on amazon. what's also weird is that was no free return, so it was a risky buy, but at that price, it was worth the gamble. the build quality seems a little cheap, very plasticky and light, i can't believe there's a 140H standby battery in the case. i didn't try it out but it seems okay, left and right earbud charging status and overall battery life indicator in a soft green that shows through the smoky translucent plastic cover. for some the earbuds arrived outside of the case, and one of them was even on (flashing) when it arrived.
for dinner i baked a chicken pot pie in the oven. seems like a waste, a tiny little pie baking in the large oven for an hour. there was no toaster oven directions, but when i was a kid, i always cooked my chicken pot pies in the toaster oven as we didn't have a regular oven, and i thought it tasted fine. i ate while watching the thursday night football game between the 49ers and titans. i was rooting for san francisco, since the titans are vying with the patriots to try and get that number one AFC playoff spot to score a bye week in the playoffs. unfortunately it turned out to be one of those games that's decided with a final second field goal, and tennessee ended up winning at home.
later in the evening i went back to star market to try and score some oranges once again. i made sure the coupon was loaded into my account. once again, the sale price didn't ring up, but the second i was about to pay, it suddenly showed me the sales price. the way star market does its discount is bullshit. i understand the loyalty card and how stores use it to track customers' spending habits and possibly sell that data, but the way star market does it is it also uses an online coupon system, which is difficult to navigate from their website. and the sale prices don't show up you're about to pay, so on more than one occasions i've returned items thinking they're not on sale when they were. also not sure about other star markets, but the one near me they always get the price wrong, like they don't put the sale price, or have the sale price even though it's no longer on sale. you need a degree in star market shenanigans just to get a discount, have to be savvy with the internet and navigate both their website and phone app. i like the way market basket does it: no loyalty card program, the discount price you see is the discount price you get, which goes for everyone.