Korean Style Mexican Burrito Night

When we were in Korea, we struggled with finding foods we liked to eat. One of the things we ate the most of was:
In english, we call them mandarins. In Korean, we called them kewls. Maybe it's kuhls. It's pronounced somewhere in-between an -ew- sound and an -uh- sound. I don't know how koreans spell the word, but that's the way we pronounce it. We found these when we first got there, in January, and I swear we ate them all year round. And I'm not talking about just eating one or two a day. No, we would eat a bag a day. Like twenty of them between the two of us. They were about $1.50 a bag, sometimes going up to $3.00 a bag-which they thought we were crazy for paying, but $3.00 a bag is still cheaper than we get it when they are on sale here.

The kewls were something that everyone ate. If you went to someone's house, they would try to feed you and this was always something that was offered. Which  worked well for us because it's something we were always ready to eat.  Delicious and nutritious! We ate a TON of them. And they came in handy on one occasion when I was trying to sneak onto a military base and sat down in the security office and talked really fast and shared my kewls with the security guard (who was a non-english speaking korean man). After about 15 minutes of me talking nonstop and indicating that my military friend was not answering his phone, he just let me on the base. But that's a story for another day...(it's a good story).

Anyway, I'm a huge fan of Mexican and there was only one known place to get Mexican food for us-and it was about 100 minutes from our house and involved a bus to Wonju, transfer to a bus to Seoul, take a taxi or the subway to Itaewon, and then walk 3 blocks to the Mexican place: Panchos. And it wasn't that authentic American-Mexican of a taste to warrant that trip.

Have I mentioned that I didn't used to cook much from scratch? Until I moved into this house-this lovely house with this big (to me), open kitchen, I HATED being in the kitchen. I only knew how to cook a few things and I really hated the work of cooking a meal from scratch. However, I'm definitely growing in my culinary skills lately. Poor Andrew. Add that to the ways I have failed him as a parent.

So back in the Korea days, I was not a cook. I did some very basics and that was it. Until one time, I decided enough was enough and we were going to make burritos! How those Koreans live without burritos is beyond me! We lived in a small town that had no tortillas. None, not anywhere. And the town nearby didn't seem to have them anywhere either. We had a small black market where you could buy american gum for $5.00 a pack (yes, we did this) or peanut butter or koolaid, but nothing as fresh as tortillas. So we had to make our own. It was my first time being a part of creating tortillas, and we were missing an ingredient, but somehow they eventually worked. I think we made about 20 and had about 4 that came out right-but 4 was all we needed.

We would order grilled chicken from this place called Family BBQ who was located in the middle of our apartment complex. This is how we ordered:
Ring Ring
Man: Yobosayo (Korean hello when answering the phone)
Andrew: Chicken joosayo (I want chicken)
Man: Neh (yes)
Andrew: Kamsa-ham-needa (thank you)
Awesome, right? The first time it involved an extra step where the man said something more detailed in Korean and we just kept saying "I don't understand" in Korean. And then we waited, and were never really sure if it was coming, until he just knocked on our door! Perfect. We didn't need to tell them where we lived because we were the only Americans and the entire town knew where we lived.

So we made tortillas, we made refried beans (another first for me!), we ordered the chicken. We bought lettuce and salsa (actually, we may have gotten that in the black market -I told you I didn't know how to cook!). We had rice, right, but you knew that because we were living in Korea.  And we created these delicious burritos that were never as good as any we have ever had before or since.

Not because they were super-spectacular, obviously from my ingredient list above....but because they were a little piece of something we were missing, and we made them ourselves. We had them quite a few more times while living there, but towards the end of the year, I had made friends with some guys in the military base nearby and they were able to help me get some more supplies. But nothing was quite like those first burritos! I wish I had pictures of them so we could always remember the simpleness of the finer things in life!

Tonight was Mexican night at our house. Still simple and quick to throw together...but nothing as memorable as that first ghetto wrap we created in Korea. 

This is Andrew's mondo size burrito. The refried beans don't look that appetizing-we like to keep them on the side of the tortilla to help act as a sealing agent for when we fold it up. Smart, I know. Andrew couldn't fold this thing up without the tortilla ripping, so he ended up splitting it into two...super yummy. Not as good as the Korean ones-but still yummy.


  1. Brian Miller said...:

    mmm...the burrito looks good...neat little story about Korea as well...bet they were good then to...

  1. Lynette said...:

    looks perfectly yummy to me

  1. kyooty said...:

    Wow I can't believe you didn't cook from scratch? I've doing the complete opposite. I started cooking for Hubbie with everything from Scratch, as I've added more kids? less Scratch and a lot more" here!":)

  1. Raven said...:

    I am genetically incapable of cooking anything from scratch. I just don't have the chromosomes for it. I've failed miserably every time I've tried. Which hasn't been often. hehe

  1. Nat said...:

    I am sooo hungry and that looks really good. I love hearing your stories about Korea! :)

  1. For a second I thought you were going to say the kewls went into the burrito!

  1. JC said...:

    Love reading this, very interesting. Tell us more about Korean food!


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