Beans to Tofu
Doggone! Cucumber, Kang-joon and Young-ji in pigtails = chaos! What in the world was all that running around the house and out the door about? Seconds later, the doorbell rang and a today’s roommate theme became beans to tofu. An unidentified (not sure why) friend of Ryohei’s sent a generous supply of very large and heavy bags of beans to the roommate household as a gift. Lots of beans. Kang-joon looked like he may need to lift weights to build up some muscles as he struggled to haul in the bags. There was a bit of confusion as to why so many beans showed up at the house, and even more commotion over what to do with them. Two groups formed: Jang Ok, Gook Ju, Kang-joon, Sunny, and Ryohei took on the thankless task of sorting the raw beans on a cloth on the living room floor. Little did they know what was in store for the bean duty crew. Dong-wook, Se Ho, Jackson, and Young-ji headed to Hwanghakdong, a second-hand flea market, to find a millstone and a gamasot* – a Korean traditional cooking pot.
Hwanghakdong has store after store of used and retro items, antiques, and what-not. It truly was a visual of the saying, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Se Ho and Dong-wook were sucked into a store that sold turntables and lingered for ages listening and singing to old LPs ~ you’re hurting my heart, you’re all I know~ like cheesy old men. Jackson and Young-ji wandered off to find a millstone for grinding the soybeans and a gamasot. The heavy millstone had to be carried to the car via a handcart, which was no easy task, along narrow streets and alleys filled with parked cars and scary vehicles whizzing by. While Jackson took care of that, Young-ji waited in a small shop filled with TV screens and alerted everyone passing by that GOT7’s performance on Inkigayo was coming up next and that Jackson was here in person. Ajumma and ahjussi shop owners gathered around just as GOT7 appeared in living color on every screen as the shop owner changed all the channels to Inkigayo. Jackson did a live mini concert on the spot. So cute! But there was no time to slack off. The big 2 1/2 foot diameter iron gamasot and a yard-long wood stirrer they bought also had to be carried to the car through the crazy, narrow streets. Poor Young-ji did her best to keep up with Jackson as they struggled to get the beastly pot to the car. It looked like such a hassle, but they did it – so proud of them. Where were Se Ho and Dong-wook?
Exhausted and dozing in the backseat after all their work.
Even so, I felt sorrier for those who remained back at the house for their job of preparing the beans was time-consuming, boring, and physically demanding. A tiny ray of sunshine, literally, created a lovely rainbow outside and the roommates captured a sunny selfie in between bean chores. Sorting the beans was only the beginning. Next, the beans had to soak in many bowls lined up on the floor. Then the beans had to be ground in the millstone. Eeeww, grey paste seeped out, not appetizing in the least. But once they got it going, the paste turned smooth and white. As long as someone cranked, paste oozed out. Dong-wook and Gook Ju were especially on Ryohei’s case for being the cause of the beans int he first place. And while they said they were only joking, I felt sorry Ryohei and even sorrier for his friend who sent the beans. Ryohei repeatedly defended his friend’s good intentions, and I thought maybe the roommates went to far to tease about a gift. It was Se Ho, who I usually don’t cut any slack, that graciously said a group project turns into making memories.
This week’s guest was Hong Suk Chun, master chef and successful owner of nine restaurants. I couldn’t get over how he gushed over Kang-joon, saying “I really like your drama,” and showered him with gifts and attention and fed him a nourishing pear drink. That made Jackson, who always seeks attention, jealous. Suk Chun was everywhere at once it seemed, picking up the messy boys Jackson and Kang-joon’s bedroom, helping grind the beans, and whipping up a gourmet dish for dinner.
Back to the beans. So after grinding, the paste was forced through cheesecloth to separate the curd and liquid. I got a little mixed up here, not sure what ended up on the stove – liquid, curd, or both – but in any case, the mixture required constant stirring over low heat. After curdling, it was formed into a ball of tofu and sliced and served. Kang-joon was so pleased with the result and passed out bites and waited for approval. The tasters responded positively – success!
It was slumber party time~yay! I marveled at Jonk Ok’s beanie creation that she knitted in a mere 20 minutes. She gave poor Dong-wook a hard time when he tried on one of her hats, and scolded him for the dark circles under his eyes and said that he looked like a Russian. Too funny! Ever-entertaining Suk Chun impressed with a perfect dance performance of KARA’s Mama Mia with Younj-ji. The upstairs family room became a giant bed of covers and pillows. With make-up off and jammies on, the roommates shared grade school journals, stories of their youth, and successes and hardships. I wondered if it was a bit uncomfortable when Gook Ju got emotional over not having an outlet for the stress of the crazy schedule that comes with success. But they all talked it out and gave comfort and advice, and sometimes that’s enough. It was a sweet ending with DJ Dong-wok spinning oldies but goodies on their retro turntable from the flea market.
Missing were Nana, Min-woo, and Joon-hyung.
*link to an informational video on the history of gamasot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUQSSq1tdQM