Three Meals A Day: Mountain Village: Episode 1
Na PD’s Three Meals a Day is back with its latest season. This time around, the cast is making their home in a cozy mountain village as they farm, cook three meals a day, and welcome special guests.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
The newest season of Three Meals is back with an all new cast: Yeom Jung-ah, Yoon Se-ah, and Park So-dam. They’re all fairly familiar with each other; Jung-ah and Se-ah have been best friends for about 10 years (and worked on SKY Castle together) and So-dam is a close hoobae of the two.
The women have come together at a cafe with Na PD to discuss the upcoming shoot. Na PD tells the cast to order generously and So-dam jokes that they’ll eat well at the cafe and end up eating grass over at the mountain village.
Na PD explains that their concept for the new season will focus on going back to the basics. The staff will be providing fewer resources than in previous seasons, with the cast relying on ingredients they grow and gather themselves. That seems to worry Jung-ah the most, to the point that as Na PD jokingly asks her not to cry.
Who will cook seems to be the biggest concern as it seems that none of them are particularly good at cooking. Apparently Jung-ah used to cook a lot, but she lost motivation because people kept saying her food tasted bad (aw, but lol). The trio decide that she’s still the best among them so she’s designated their main chef.
The cast divvies up the other tasks, like tending the fire, before the talk turns to sleeping arrangements. Jung-ah wants to know if they can all sleep together and Se-ah chimes in to explain that Jung-ah can’t sleep on her own. In the end they decide to just sleep in one room, with Jung-ah as the filling in a Se-ah-So-dam sandwich. Na PD has his own concerns, he wants the cast to enjoy themselves while working but the work and summer heat might exhaust them instead. Jung-ah reassures him they’ll be happy as long as they’re together.
A few days later, the cast is off to Jeongseon in Gangwon Province and Jung-ah is visibly nervous about driving. As they move further through narrow country roads, they’re in awe over the beautiful scenery and So-dam jokes that the green fields match her hair.
They’re excited when they finally arrive at the house and they set out to explore. There are personalized touches all over the place, like rainboots and hoes engraved with each woman’s name. While Se-ah and So-dam are still checking out the outdoor pantry, which is stocked with all the basics (rice, spices, etc.), Jung-ah ventures into the house.
Inside, they discover bean sprouts that the production team has sprouted for them, saving them valuable time, unlike in previous seasons.
After unpacking, Se-ah wanders around, looking for the stove. She recruits Jung-ah to help her search, but they end up having to ask the production team where the stove is. The team helpfully directs them to…a bunch of bricks. It takes them a second to register that they’re expected to actually build their own outdoor stove.
Se-ah says she thinks they should come up with a plan before moving the bricks so they don’t do their work two times over. Jung-ah, “I agree. So let’s move all the bricks first.” That gets an exasperated laugh from Se-ah but she does as Jung-ah says and moves the bricks to the front of the house.
While they’re hard at work a TV technician arrives to set up the cable and Jung-ah confirms that they’ll need it because she watches Kang’s Kitchen (it’s one of Na PD’s shows and you can hear the staff laugh when she says that).
They manage to assemble two brick stoves and take a much-deserved break with one thing off their to-do list. They have some cold barley tea and discuss what to have for lunch. They’re not sure what crops are available to harvest and when Na PD tells them there’s a map of the farm on the fridge, Jung-ah pops up to check it out before even finishing her drink. With a wealth of fresh veggies and greens available, they decide to cook bean sprout soup and radish bibimbap.
With their menu set, the women work together to start the fire. Just when things seem to be going well, it starts to rain. They rush to move their giant pots onto the stoves to prevent the fire from going out. Crisis averted, they prep the rice (and switch the lunch menu to bean sprout bibimbap and dwenjang jiggae). As the two pots boil away, everyone heads over to the field with the map to get some vegetables.
They explore the field and grab some green onions and chillies. When they try to figure out if the peppers they found are spicy, Se-ah tells Jung-ah to sniff it to see. Jung-ah examines and sniffs very seriously, then just as seriously tells the others she doesn’t know what she’s doing. In the end, Se-ah takes a nibble (they’re spicy) so they proceed to where the potatoes are. So-dam’s grandparents lived in the countryside so So-dam has some experience with digging potatoes, which is handy here. They dig up potatoes, and grab a squash too.
While they were busy in the field, the pots started to boil over and Na PD runs over to tell them that the rice smells burnt. Jung-ah rushes back to check on the rice, which looks brown on the edges. She yells for Se-ah to come over and help. They scoop out the rice and, thankfully, it’s not burned. The soup looks fine too, so after adding some more ingredients to the soup like dwenjang and gochujang, the trio being to cook the rest of the meal in earnest. There’s lots of washing, chopping, and dicing.
Se-ah tastes the soup and it seems in need of a little salt. Instead of salt, Jung-ah heads to the fridge for some anchovy fish sauce. Chef tip from Jung-ah: If you put anchovy fish sauce into dwenjang soup, it will deepen the flavor. They make some seasoning sauce for the rice and after letting the soup boil, they go in for a taste test. It gets a thumbs up from everyone.
Lunch is served! Na PD comments from the sidelines that their meal looks like something out of the Joseon era and the ladies finally sit down for their first meal. Jung-ah is the first one to dig in and they comment favorably on the depth of the soup’s flavors. Bite after bite, it’s all praise for their simple, yet delicious meal.
So-dam comments that even though it’s only been a few hours at the village, it feels like a long time and Jung-ah agrees that this is like a physical exam. While they rest up, before washing the dishes, Jung-ah discovers an old school radio and cassette player. To her surprise, it actually works and they play some music from the late 1980s while washing up. Se-ah comments that the singers even sound younger on cassette tape.
Se-ah and So-dam take on the dishes while Jung-ah cleans up and sings along to the tape player. Once that’s done, the trio take a break and discuss dinner. Se-ah asks again for their dinner plan and Chef Jung-ah is at a loss due to the limited choice of ingredients. She suggests picking some vegetables from the garden and blanching them.
So-dam asks if the plan is to recreate a version of their lunch. She starts looking up recipes for potato pancakes and Jung-ah comments that having eggs would be awesome. Jung-ah and Se-ah decide to go check out the chicken coop to see if they can collect any eggs (So-dam has a fear of anything feathered so she sits this one out).
We get a little introduction to the three different kinds of chickens at the house as well as what kind of eggs they lay. (Those are some fancy chickens). They spot an egg in the corner and worry about the chickens freaking out if they spot interlopers taking their eggs, so they devise a plan to distract the chickens. Their elaborate plan is…feeding the chickens. Lol.
But they didn’t really need to do anything as the chickens start to file out after Jung-ah and Se-ah walk into the coop. Jung-ah pours them some feed anyway and then they search the coop for more eggs.
Since the chickens are free range, the two of them end up roving around the chicken pen to look for more eggs and luck out with a total of four. Back at the house Se-ah carefully washes the eggs and marvels at their colors.
They discuss dinner again and we see that two hours ago during lunch, they had wanted to make savory pancakes since it was raining. But because they have no flour, So-dam had suggested making potato pancakes instead, complete with homemade potato starch.
With that earlier suggestion in mind, they decide to have potato pancakes and a garden salad for dinner. They head off to dig up some potatoes and pick veggies for their meal, and Se-ah turns up the aegyo to say that they’ll leave the mountain village with excellent skin from all the vegetables they’ve been eating. While So-dam grates the potatoes, Se-ah starts julienning them to make another dish besides potato pancakes.
Jung-ah asks for some music and So-dam, the youngest of the three, has trouble working the cassette player (this cracks the staff up and Jung-ah ends up showing So-dam how to insert the tapes).
The grated potatoes sit in a strainer so that the potatoes’ liquid (and natural starch) will drain out into the bowl underneath, and they get started on the salad. While Jung-ah is washing away, So-dam searches online for an oriental salad dressing recipe.
Se-ah checks out the recipe So-dam picked, but laughs to see how similar the recipe is to their potato pancake sauce. In the end, they decide to put a spicy twist on their salad dressing to shake things up a bit. So-dam finishes up the dressing in no time, and the unnies help prepare the potato pancakes, which involves squeezing out any excess liquid from the grated potatoes and then mixing it in with the potato starch.
Jung-ah starts cooking and she looks like such a pro that Na PD asks how long she’s been in business. She offers some to the production team and has a taste herself and gives her verdict: it tastes bland. So-dam dips a piece into the sauce she made and gives Jung-ah another taste. Jung-ah says the sauce is delicious and So-dam feeds a piece to Se-ah as well.
After cooking the potato pancakes, Jung-ah stir-fries the julienned potato strips, with So-dam adding in seasoning from the side. As for their garden salad, they pour on the salad dressing and top it with grilled eggplant slices and fresh berries.
With the table setting finished, they sit down for dinner. All of the dishes get decent reactions but when asked which dish is the best, it’s unanimous: the garden salad with spicy dressing.
As they’re wrapping up dinner, Jung-ah asks if they’ll be eating three meals the next day (they only managed two meals that day). Na PD asks for their breakfast plans and casually says they’re doing so well with just the items on the farm that they probably won’t even need to go to the supermarket.
He’s met with gasps and head-shakes so he gives them an offer. He’ll purchase potatoes that they dig up (by the box!) and the women can then use that money to buy items they need at the local supermarket. Each box holds about 44 lb. and they’ll get 15,000 won per box (about $15).
The sun has set and while Se-ah and So-dam tackle the dirty dishes, Jung-ah packs the leftovers for refrigerating. So-dam works out and sets up the sleeping mats for everyone before hopping into the shower.
While So-dam showers, Jung-ah and Se-ah sit down for a drink and snack. Jung-ah really loves her music, so Se-ah starts to look up songs to play for her. Jung-ah’s been rocking out to old school music all day, so her request for Infinite’s Be Mine catches Se-ah off-guard. But Infinite it is, and as the music plays they start doing these adorable shoulder shimmies. After their mini dance session, they settle down to sleep.
The next morning, So-dam goes up to the chicken pen with her unnies, but she watches from outside while Jung-ah and Se-ah check to see if there are more eggs. So-dam comments that the chickens look pretty, not scary like she thought they would. On their way back to the house, they pick some vegetables too.
Jung-ah takes out their leftovers from the fridge while Se-ah starts the fire, but she’s having difficulty lighting the kindling. So-dam comes over to add newspaper and some oil on the fire to help it burn.
Jung-ah starts to make stir-fried rice by sautéing the vegetables, however, it seems that Jung-ah is standing on the wrong side of the stove and the wind is constantly blowing the smoke into her face. She keeps rotating but has no luck and it looks like she’s taking part in a cooking battle.
They sit down for a breakfast of vegetable fried rice, egg soup, and grilled eggplant. As they eat up, Na PD comments that the table is vegetarian once again and Se-ah confidently replies they’ll have meat for dinner. That means they need to harvest enough potatoes to fill five big boxes.
The cast carries on with their meal and Jung-ah eats with such gusto, it’s no joke. It’s like her whole body is enjoying each bite as she has this habit of letting her arms fly up after stuffing a wrap in her mouth.
Noticing that So-dam’s soup is running low, Se-ah gets up to give her more, and gives So-dam all the remaining eggy bits (aw, unni love). We see five empty boxes lined up on the ground, awaiting their potatoes, and So-dam suggests that they should start their work now before it gets too hot.
Meanwhile, Na PD’s stepped away to pick up the season’s first guest. It’s actor Jung Woo-sung . We get a tiny ab show while the staff mikes him up and in the car, he asks what the cast got up to the day before.
Na PD fills him in: they cooked, ate, cooked, ate, had some wine. Woo-sung laughs at the wine part and says that sounds like Jung-ah.
Woo-sung and Jung-ah go way back, as they’ve known each other since the 90s (they’re also represented by the same agency, along with So-dam). He’s half apologetic as he says that poor So-dam is the only young ‘un now that another old fogey’s joining them.
Back at the house, Se-ah and So-dam prepare to start harvesting potatoes while Jung-ah washes the dishes. They take strap on face cheek masks and bucket stools. I know the stools are practical but man, are they goofy looking.
During Woo-sung’s car ride to the house, he says he can’t cook but will eat anything, and claims he’s not particularly good at doing anything except washing dishes.
Na PD jokingly asks when he’ll see the “two of them” on the show (referring to his famous BFF Lee Jung-jae) and says he’s already planning ahead for the 10 year anniversary show.
Woo-sung walks to the house and when he spots Se-ah and So-dam digging away for potatoes, he decides to surprise them by popping up from behind some bushes. They crack up and he asks what they’re up to and where Jung-ah is. They let him know she’s up at the house, so Woo-sung continues up the path and looks around for Jung-ah but she’s nowhere to be seen. He sits on the porch for a while and then decides to play some music to tempt her to come out.
Upon hearing music, Jung-ah asks if the production team turned on the music, then asks if she turned it on but forgot, lol. All the while Woo-sung hides around a corner and when Jung-ah STILL doesn’t come out, he starts to sing along. That’s what finally piques Jung-ah’s interest and she pokes her head out to see that Woo-sung is sitting by the door.
I’m very excited to be covering the show and about this season’s all-female cast. I’m really liking the chemistry and how comfortable they are with each other. During their initial meeting, So-dam was already joking about eating grass over at and reaching out for Jung-ah’s hand for comfort.
Since Jung-ah and Se-ah have already been friends for a decade and they just worked together on SKY Castle, I worried it might be hard for So-dam to fit in. Throughout the episode, if Jung-ah needed help her first instinct was to call for Se-ah. But So-dam has proven herself to be quite useful, (contributing recipe ideas, looking up how to build the brick stove and relaying advice from her grandma) so I have a feeling the unnies will be calling for So-dam more and more as the season progresses. It’s also nice seeing a rising star and it seems her success with the film Parasite hasn’t given her an ego.
I was surprised at how quickly they got settled in and started dividing up the tasks. I remember from previous seasons, especially in the beginning, there was a lot of awkward standing around, as the cast members wondered what to do. Not sure if this is a gender difference or simply a demonstration of the chemistry these three ladies have, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of their teamwork.
I love the small touches that the production staff put in, like the bean sprouts and cassette player on the porch. The cassette tapes and the old school music give the episode a retro feeling. It’s such a nice way to inject levity and to give the cast members a topic to talk about.
When I saw their names engraved onto the rainboots and hoes, I knew these ladies would have their work cut out for them. Luckily, their first guest is here and I think Woo-sung will turn out to be a fun and very handy guest.
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