Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Korean Cuisine Primer

Now that we've been here a few months, we've had a chance to try a few different local dishes. We've only skimmed the surface at this point, but I thought I would do a post for all our friends back East to get a quick "taste".  I've also tried to link an online recipe to each one, in case you're feeling adventurous!

Rule #1 - if it's red, it's going to be spicy hot! Be prepared!

Kimchi - 김치 - a traditional fermented Korean side dish, often cabbage with garlic and red chili pepper. There are mild and strong versions - and Koreans eat it with everything at every meal. We'll be bringing back one or two kimchi pots, like the following, for our home decor.

Kimchi Pots in Itaewon

Bulgogi불고기 - Korean Beef BBQ and Galbi갈비 - grilled short ribs, are popular meat dishes. Restaurants that serve them are often referred to as "Beef and Leaf", since they can be eaten with a wrap of lettuce. A number of side dishes accompany them - vegetables, kimchi, bean paste, fried anchovies, noodles, salads, etc.

If you finish something, they will bring you not attempt to clean your plates!

Bibimbap비빔밥 - a mixed rice dish with sautéed vegetables and chili pepper paste, often topped with an egg and beef. Very tasty and my "go to" dish when I'm out and about. It, too, will come with extra sides and can be served in a hot stone bowl. 

One restaurant had these crunchy little guys as a side - stir fried, dried anchovies.  
Rob was brave enough to try them...I was not:

Budae jjigae - 부대찌개 - Korean Army Stew - After the Korean War, food was scarce in South Korea. People made use of surplus foods leftover from the US Army, such as hot dogs and spam, and incorporated them into a traditional spicy soup. It is still popular in South Korea today. Other ingredients can include vegetables, cheese, noodles (ramen and elbow), ground name it!

Mandu만두 - dumplings filled with meat, noodles, vegetables, etc. Yummy pockets of goodness!

Hotteok호떡 - a warm, sweet or savory stuffed pancake - often sold as a street food from the many vendors around town and especially nice during the cold winter months. My favorite is filled with cinnamon, honey, chopped nuts, and brown sugar.

Soju - a Korean vodka traditionally made from rice, wheat, or barley. It is strong stuff - and sorry, no recipe for you on this one!  :)

And to finish the list for now, there's Coffee - 커피 - pronounced "keopi" in Korean. Every corner has a coffee house or cafe. I enjoyed this beauty at the Kid's Sand Cafe while Michael played.

Let me know if you try any of these - interested to see what you think!

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