Snacks/dinner ideas for our foreign exchange student from Korea?

Our family is going to be joined by a foreign exchange student from Korea tomorrow morning. I'm making scones, granola, and fruit salad for breakfast and as snacks, but don't have many ideas for lunch, other snacks, and dinner. We aren't sure whether we should make Korean food or stick to what we know (though I can make some Korean dishes). Suggestions are greatly appreciated!



Author Comment
If your student is really craving foods from home and you're up to it, try a couple recipes from Emily Kim aka She introduced me to Korean cooking and it is one of the loves of my life. Kimchi is actually easy to make at home so you could make a small batch. Other recipes that are easy to begin with are Jjajangmyeon, Kongguksu, japchae, any kind of Jeon. Have fun!
thebunalsorises August 25, 2012
As someone who is often an exchange student staying in Asia, nothing irks me more than when I am offered Western foods in lieu of whatever my host family would usually eat. Part of going abroad is trying new things and being open to anything - especially food. Just make what you would normally for your family, I'm sure your student is glad to be immersed in a new culture.
nutcakes August 23, 2012
Do both! Your family can be on an occasional food adventure too.

I 3rd the idea of having a jar of kimchee on hand. Some people just must have a bit everyday, even with American style dishes. You might like to try a simple Korean soup one night so you family can see some typical dishes too. Try this: and use bacon (not hicory smoked) if you can't get pork belly.) Anything on the BBQ should be good, chicken especially. Beef Kabobs in any marinade, but Asian accented marinates are always delicious. Just make you usual sides. Always have rice to offer, though. If you find he does want rice everyday, you can buy a small inexpensive personal sized rice cooker-cheap. Later make roasts and roast chicken. Stir- fry should be welcome.

You might take the time to make some quick pickles to have on hand for family meals and snacks. Carrots, zucchini, cukes, radish, cauliflower when it comes around.
Quinciferous August 22, 2012
There are a lot of good ideas here! If your exchange student is going to be around for a while, it would be a nice idea to take him or her grocery shopping with you. Sure, study abroad is for learning new things, but there comes a point where homesickness takes over. Depending on the student's age/experience, it might be fun to let him or her take charge of dinner some nights. I've always cooked for people in India and elsewhere, and it's stressful (what if they hate it?) but also fun.
creamtea August 22, 2012
Your second idea, stick with what you know. I think most teen exchange students are old enough to try new things, are more interested in the local cuisine than a rendition of what we think they eat at home. When I traveled as a teen or twenty-something, I was really intrigued by the local food, whether French, Iranian, or Middle Eastern. With luck, your exchange student might show you how to prepare some of his or her favorite foods as lloreen suggests.
lloreen August 22, 2012
Your student will probably think American classics like hamburgers and pizza are exciting and exotic. Also, cookies are beloved by every kid and you can make them together. If your student is staying with you for a long time, it would be thoughtful to get some rice and kimchi for when he or she is homesick. I once lived with a Korean woman who kept a giant vat of kimchi in the fridge and ate it morning, noon, and nightl. I think she would have missed it a lot if it hadn't been available.
Maybe your student can teach you how to make a favorite dish! I cooked for my French host family...they were good sports about it and praised everything.
pierino August 22, 2012
lloreen, teens all over the planet hardly think of hamburgers as "exotic", and that's because McDonalds is everywhere, even in unimaginable places. Maybe in North Korea, but we already know that Kim Jung Un is a big fan of everything Disney.
Now, if you happen to be in LA, look for the Kogi truck and treat them to kimchi tacos.

pierino August 22, 2012
I think the recommendations above are all just about right. Students come over here to immerse in our culture. My co-housing community annually hosts students from other countries. They want to speak English and not their own tongue. And ask yourself, if you were doing an immersion in Italy or France would you want to see a bowl of corn flakes or some Jimmy Dean sausage in front of you in the morning?

Awhile back I was stopped on the street by a couple of exchange students from Italy who were required to do some interviews. They asked their questions in English, and me being a smart ass, began by repyling in Italian. But that was not what they wanted. So I answered the rest of their questions in English.

That said, Sadassa Ulna's suggestion about having some chopsticks around is not a bad one.
Sadassa_Ulna August 22, 2012
I agree with mixing it up and starting with "classic" American food that teens like: everything mentioned above, also fried chicken, burgers, ketchup, meatloaf, PB&J, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, macaroni-n-cheese (although pierino makes a good point about Asian low-dairy diets).

AND, if you really want the young person to feel comfortable you could also have some or all of the following on the table: if you have access to kim chi, cooked Asian-style or short grain rice and soy sauce (Korean style if you can get it), and chopsticks (Korean style is medium length and flat). Korean or Japanese miso paste would be a great thing to have on hand for simple vegetable soups. When I stayed at a Korean YMCA the breakfast was a miso-style soup with rice and vegetables. Simple no-cheese omelets would be good too.
Kristen W. August 22, 2012
Without knowing how adventuresome the student's palate is, it's of course hard to know, but a) if it were me I would be so touched by the thoughtfulness of your concern that it would go a long way towards making me feel comfortable , and b) I would probably in general try to go for really strong, vibrant flavors, adding heat generously when appropriate to the dish, since these are general characteristics of Korean food that can be applied to so many types of cuisine.

Voted the Best Reply!

Greenstuff August 22, 2012
Definitely, start American, and find out what your student wants. I had a friend with a Thai student, and I'd see the poor kid cringe every time my friend talked about pad Thai. If you decide on some Korean meals, include the student as much as he or she feels comfortable. And remember that you're going to hav esome cultural miscommunications that you won't even understand you're having.
pierino August 21, 2012
Yes, start with the good All American stuff. Keep in mind that it's not unusual for Koreans to have some crazy fish thing for breakfast. Also, statistically speaking, most ethnic asians have a high degree of lactose intolerance so go easy on the milk and cheese. You can't go wrong with kimchi any time of day.
scott.finkelstein.5 August 21, 2012
I'd start with some American classics before he starts getting homesick. Striper may be in season at this point, but fluffernutters for lunch, scrod for dinner, and indian pudding for dessert should give him a pretty good idea of how Americans eat.
Sam1148 August 21, 2012
How about some Mexican food? Some of the recipes here for tortillas are pretty good. Tamales would be can get them frozen at Mexican markets and they're pretty good.

Southern style BBQ ribs with a red BBQ sauce would be both familiar and different. with cole slaw and potato salad as side dishes. Depending on where you live you might have a great BBQ joint that uses a wood smoker and take him out to dinner there. Pecan pie is something my cousin missed a lot in Asia.

Some of the New Orleans dishes are spicy and would fit the flavor profile of heavly spiced dishes.

And for other nights a clam chowder (new england style), and/or a "low country" shrimp boil. With Zataraines Dried spice bag..sausages, corn, potatoes. Super easy to throw together for a dinner and serve drained 'family style' outside on butcher paper or news paper on the table in a big pile.
There's a great recipe here.
Tho it's serves 20. I'd ditch the liquid boil addition for small quantity..and use a beer to initially heat with the bag spice and lemon halves to extract the spice flavor.

susan G. August 21, 2012
The basic is rice.. along with what you bring to the table.
However, if this is an urban teen, chances are that he/she looks forward to Western foods.
BoulderGalinTokyo August 22, 2012
Especially after traveling so many miles, they are traveling to America to see America and what you and your family eat.
A Taiwan student told me--"How wonderful your whole family eats together and talks, socializing." I asked, "Yours doesn't?" She replied no, brother always studying, father comes home too late to eat with the family, so mom goes out a lot...
HalfPint August 21, 2012
That's thoughtful of you.

I would recommend mixing it up. There will be times he/she will be homesick and there's nothing like getting some familiar homecooked food to make things better. Then there will be times to show him/her some of your best dishes of America.

For snacks, I know Koreans love the rice balls. I think they're called joomuk bap (???) in Korean, but the Japanese equivalent is called onigiri.

You might just want to wait and ask your exchange student what he/she might like. It's always nice to know that someone cares enough to ask, especially when you're in a strange country, far from home.
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