Tuna & Cheese On Toasted Flatbread 

Ok, so all the hippy dippy stuff about living local and eating fresh is great, but we all gotta work.  We are ex-pats and most of us aren't on an endless vacation, we have jobs and responsibilities that eat away at our time like it's they're the last delicious hours on the plate.  We need meals we can throw together at a moments notice.  We like flatbread and potatoes for this.


The genius of this meal is that you can use what you have on hand... within reason.  It's about using up what's in your fridge and making it taste like heaven in the process.   This recipe is about inspiring you to get out of your comfort zone and discover the magic of mixing things up.


Red Bell Pepper
Slivered almonds
Veggie oil of your choice
Can of tuna
Cheese of your choice
Flat Bread or tortilla

Red Pepper Almond Potatoes : Peel and chop one medium potato per person. Sauté in a little oil or butter over medium heat until partially cooked (about 5 minutes) then toss in red peppers, a dash of hot sauce, sliced garlic, slivered almonds and finish cooking.  When everything is tender, finish with a little salt and pepper to flavor.

Flat Bread:  In another skillet or in an oven heat your flatbread or tortillas (We prefer fluffy flat bread.)

The Grand Finale:  On top of the hot flat bread, made a bed of Red Pepper Almond Potatoes, pile on tuna, and top with your favorite cheese.  We prefer big chunks of fluffy goat cheese.

Cooking Notes:  We recommend subbing things like chicken instead of tuna, sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, any color peppers, garlic naan, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, sharp cheddar, etc.  Have fun with it.  It's magically delicious all kinds of ways. 

The one thing you need to watch out for is drying everything out.  Don't over let your potatoes get dry.  For real, keep them happy and moist.


FROM: Philippines 
LIVING: South Korea

Recently we were invited by friends to hang out in Incheon at the home of Marn and Dave.  Their kitchen was fantastic with views that stretched from city to sea.  We couldn't get enough of the big windows and wide open space.

In addition, the kitchen was decked out with things like cabinets that automatically lowered for easy access for the vertically challenged, large pull out rice drawers, and huge counter tops.  It was designed for people that love to be in the kitchen and Marn is one of those people.

Not long after we settled into the sofa she piped up and said, "Please, can I cook for you?"  Which, of course, none of us were going to turn down.



The main dish Marn made for the evening was Filipino Menudo which is not anything like Mexican Menudo.  Let's begin with the fact it's not a soup and finish with the fact there is no tripe.

What does it taste like?  Well, delicious and reminds me of many Caribbean dishes I've had in the past. It's a little sweet, savory, and very hearty.  You can easily see why it's one of the cultures best known comfort foods.  On this particular evening we ate it over savory fried rice with shrimp cakes and beef patties on the side.

If you aren't familiar with Filipino food we recommend Menudo as a great place to start.  It's not too terribly complicated, the ingredients are accessible, and even picky people should warm easily to the flavors.

In addition to the food, we also enjoy spending time with the vibrant and fun expat  Filipino community working in Korea.  There is a lot that can be learned expanding past our own western view of what being an "expat" means and further develop an understanding or our place in this new world.



Growing up wild in Alaska and Tennessee, childhood was spent "living off the land" and/or "foraging" for foods in the woods around our houses.  (Which makes our last names of Rivers and Woods even funnier.)  In our adulthood, we've really missed wandering off into the trees and bring back a little something for the table.

In South Korea, this practice is alive and well.  There are entire dishes dedicated to eating off the land and many wild greens have been domesticated and are sold in grocery stores or served regularly in restaurants.  This can make eating out and shopping for salads a bit of a culture shock.  Most of the greens on your table or in the market are something you've never seen before.

One of the new "greens" we have fallen in love with is the succulent Stonecrop.  No, really it's a Succulent.  This rich and robustly flavored plant can be served alone with only a simply dressing and completely hold it's own.  No fanciness required.

You can do all sorts of things with Stonecrop and you can find different versions of it all over the world.  Here are a two pickling recipes you might even want to check out:

Stonecrop Wild Garlic Dill Pickles
Grandma's Icebox Sweet Pickles with Wild Succulents

We will be working on our own Stonecrop recipes as well since most of the information online is only about finding it and not about eating it.


Here is a boring and, well, slightly creepy video about how to forage for it in different parts of North America:

Or you can just grow it easily at home.

Of course, if you live in South Korea you can just pick it up at the grocery store or local market.  So there's also that.

Inspired by all of the wonderful readers that have found The Expat Table useful in their day-to-day lives, we've decided to start a new set of posts called The Expat Pantry.  Here we will feature new ingredients and utensils that we never want to live without again.  


Coconut Sugar (from the husk)

This sounds like such a fad.  I mean, honestly, do we really need another sugar on the market?  The answer is yes we do because this sugar will, quite frankly, change your life - especially if you are diabetic.  In fact, if you are diabetic forget every other thing you have been using and find this sugar because you're life really does depend on this kind of thing. (You know, after talking it over with your Dr and all that.  It's still sugar after all.)

Please note: We are NOT as excited about the coconut palm sugars.  These sugars aren't sustainable.  Sadly, this is what is available in the states right now.


With a dreamy glycemic index of only 35 and it's perfect behavior in baked goods, this sugar can replace every other piece of crap sugar and artificial sweetener in your pantry.  Not only that, you will eat cookies without crashing.  Your morning coffee no longer gives you "jitters".  It's like sunshine on a cloudy day for all of us that have had to hide from sugar all our lives.  (Of course, it's still sugar and not health food so don't go cray-cray.)

On top of that, it's a sustainable sugar with no artificial ingredients.

On a personal level, this product has changed my life.  Due to issues with processing sugar, I've never been able to enjoy deserts in the same manner as other people.  However, after discovering this sugar by accident (I just take new things I see home and try them).  I noticed that I was able to eat the cookies I made without getting sick.  That's when I started researching the product and discovered the low glycemic index.

This is one of those situations, like with olive oil, that we think the health benefits of the food make it reasonable to ship all over the place.  This is something that will improve the lives of many people many places and create better lives.  Plus, the production is much healthier, more sustainable than cane sugar.

Once again though, we are NOT as excited about the coconut palm sugars.  These sugars aren't sustainable!

In Korea "coconut husk sugar" product is easily found at Emart and Homeplus, as well as other grocery stores here and there.  It comes in two "colors" I've used both and like the equally.  When I cook with them and use them in my coffee, I don't notice much of a difference between the two.

Small sizes available as well.


Salicicon de Marisco

Every summer tapas meal needs Salpicon de Marisco (seafood salad) and it was a must have at our dinner as well.  Since we were designing a menu highlighting the similarities between Korean and Spanish foods, we chose this version from northwestern Spain.  It had all the things Korean's love like octopus, pickles, and onions in one beautiful dish plus olives, one of the few imported ingredients we allowed ourselves.


Let's be honest, this recipe sounds really weird, yet there weren't any big issues making it because the core ingredients were the same between countries.  Of course, we still had our doubts about how this would turn out out since it's a delicately flavored dish and we were changing the light ingredients that add the melody which make the core ingredients work together.  Thankfully, everything came together from the pear vinegar to the pine nut oil.  Even the sweet pickles found the perfect home next to bacon stuffed green olives.  The salad was delicate, yet rich in balanced, diverse flavors.


1 lb fresh boiled octopus
1.5 lbs fresh boiled shrimp
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 finely chopped sweet onion
2 medium sized sweet pickles
two handfuls pitted stuffed green olives of your choice
Pear vinegar
Pine Nut oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste (optional)

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add octopus.  Let it boil until easily cut with scissors.  That's right, when it's done it easily cuts and is no longer rubbery.  After it's finished cooking cut it up into small bite size pieces.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add whole shrimp.  Cook 3-5 minutes or until firm and fully pink.  Clean the shrimp and - if medium or large size) cut in half or thirds.

Dice up the onion, bell peppers, pickles and olives.

Toss everything together in a bowl with oil, sea salt, vinegar, and a little pepper.


Spinach and Soybean Tapa

We fell in love with a similar version of this that we found on Pinterest called Spinach and Chickpeas, but we needed to change a few things to make it fly in our Korean fusion kitchen.

Interestingly though, we never wanted to like this recipe.  It just kind of seemed, well, uninteresting and not very pretty in pictures.  We chose it simply for its ingredients and thought to ourselves, "How bad can it be?"

But here is the thing, this Spinach and Soybean Tapa is completely awesome.  It's a dip, so it goes well with all sorts of things: piled on a breakfast brioche, with pita chips, wrapped up with Korean Soybean Hummus, or - to be honest - eaten with a big, old spoon right out of the bowl.  We couldn't stop eating this.  It was great hot or cold.


Soybeans: We've been having a lot of success swapping out dried soy beans for dried chick peas, and with this recipe we took it to another level.

Old Bread: We also like this recipe because it uses up old bread so feel free to use any old bread that you have around the house.  We've even made it with old brioche which we thought might be a bit sweet, but tasted delightful.

Local Oil: In addition, we took out the olive oil and used pine nut oil since nothing needed to be cooked that long.


1 cup of dried soy beans
6-8 tablespoons pine nut oil
3 cups cooked spinach
2 slices of this bread or 3 slices of thin bread (cubed with crust)
1 cup small tomatoes cut in half  (1/2 can of tomatoes)
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon Korean pear wine (or whatever wine you have on hand)
Salt and pepper to taste

First, you need to prepare the soy beans.  Put the cup of dried beans into a bowl of cool water and let them soak for a few hours, or until the look like beans again.  Put into a pot of water and let them come to a boil, then turn them down and let them simmer for 45 minutes.  After they have finished cooking their shells start to come off, you might want to remove those shells for looks.

Second, heat up 2-3 tables spoons hot oil and toss in garlic for a few second, then toss in cubed bread, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, wine and a little salt.  Let everything blend together well but don't let it dry out.  Once everything is soft and blended put the ingredients into a bowl and mash up together until it is a paste (doesn't that sound sexy and delicious? not).   You can use a food processor if you want, but you don't NEED one.  A potato masher works just fine.  Remember, this is a country recipe from Spain so it should be hearty and not too refined.

Third, cook up the spinach in a big sauté pan/frying pay/wok with 2-3 tablespoons of oil.  Don't make it too soggy.  You just want it to be evenly limp but not mushy.  The spinach needs structure, but shouldn't taste raw.  We recommend that you stand there are just regularly turn the leaves so it all cooks nice and even.

Fourth, mix everything up together in a big bowl.  This is a dip, so if your spinach is too clumpy, use your kitchen scissors to cut it up into a more scoopable state of mind.  Now, get a spoon/fork/chopsticks and eat it all up.

Cooking Note:  This recipe can be changed a lot and still taste delicious.  Feel free to add less or more depending on what you like.  We often tend to add a lot more spinach and go lighter on the soybeans, just because our dight is already REALLY soy rich.  However, if we lived in a country where soy wasn't as popular we would go heavier on the beans.

Finally, if you have leftovers (which can be hard to accomplish since this is delicious) we recommend eating this tapa with breakfast.  It is amazing with bread and runny eggs.  Like, wayyyy amazing.


Pine Nut Oil

We had been searching for an oil delicious enough for salad dressings and substituting for olive oil.  Something full of soft flavor that would deepen the flavors of light dishes without over powering them. What we found, completely by accident, was Korean Pine Nut Oil.


As it turns out, like many other normal Asian ingredients, Pine Nut Oil has turned into a health food in the states because of it's anti-oxidents and reported weight loss benefits.  However, on top of all that silliness, Pine Nut Oil also has an interesting history in Russia where it was once the basis of 10% of hard currency.

Pine Nut Oil is pretty delicate so you don't want to use it much over heat.  Instead, use for adding flavor like you would a very expensive olive oil.  Since Spanish, French, and Italian cooking all use nut oils you will find that Pine Nut Oil will blend flawlessly into recipes.  Nobody will know that you've gone all fusion on them because they are used to the flavor already being there.  It's brilliant!


Since we live in South Korea and we love to buy local, we get our Pine Nut Oil from street markets like this one in Seoul.  We have not purchased it at any of the local markets but we imagine it would be there as well.  Folks in the states can order it online from places like

Shopping Note: 국산 basically means "handmade/homemade"