Monday, October 24, 2011

The Origin of Buta Kimchi is Jeyuk Bokkum

Buta Kimchi is a Korean-Japanese dish that originates from Jeyuk Bokkeum or 제육볶음 in Korean. Jeyuk means 'pork'. Some bloggers have used 'stirfry' as a translation for 'bokkeum', but I don't like using 'stirfry' as it refers to the traditional Chinese cooking technique of "cutting [food] into small pieces and stirring constantly in a lightly oiled wok or frying pan over high heat (Webster's Dictionary)." Jeyuk Bokkeum does not require constant stirring, but constant attention, so I prefer to use 'saute' as a translation for bokkeum. Jeyuk Bokkeum is also known as Dwaeji Bulgogi (돼지 불고기, 'fire pork' or barbecued pork). "Thinly sliced pork is marinated in a spicy chili pepper paste (gochujang) based sauce typically with lots of fresh garlic and ginger (Eating and Living)."

The red pepper paste not only adds spice, but masks the gamy smell (비린내) of pork. Korean food is really good about masking the 비린내 of meats. You will notice this in Jeyuk Bokkeum as well as other meats like crab and beef, etc.

Posted by tastingkorea

The Origin of Yakiniku is Korean BBQ

Yakiniku/Korean BBQ via Chef Taro

Yakiniku is a popular dish in Japan, but its origins are in Korean BBQ. Korean immigrants started the original form of yakiniku, known as horumon-yaki, by grilling tripe and large intestine. Later on, they added meats used in Korean bbq and called it 'yakiniku'. The Japanese have added their own flourish to this dish, but "it remains close to its Korean roots (Chef Taro)."

Here are the most common meats grilled in Korean bbq:

According to Simon Park of "The Heart of Food", "Samgyeopsal is nothing more than uncured pork belly, sliced thin like bacon but with the rind removed. The name, which translates to “three layered meat”, is a description of the strata of meat and fat that invariably makes up this cut. Typically, it is prepared in the Korean BBQ style i.e. cooked and eaten at the table one piece at a time. Traditionally, the cooked meat is dipped into a salt & pepper dipping sauce prior to consumption."

Wikipedia has an excellent overview of Korean bbq and the types of meat grilled.

Posted by tastingkorea

The Origin of Meat Jun

Meat jun, a popular dish in Hawaii, originates from the Korean dish '고기전' (meat fritter), pronounced 'gogijuhn'. '고기' stands for meat and '전' stands for 'fritter'. 고기전 is usually made by seasoning meat and then dipping it into batter to be fried. There are many variations of this dish as can be seen here, but here are a few of the well known versions, usually made of beef:

Pork 고기전 or 돼지 고기전 via 빵굽는타자기

According to Grace Keh of San Francisco Food, "This is one of those Korean dishes that is commonly presented at parties and feasts, but for some reason, this dish is rarely served up on casual dinner tables. In fact, this applies to many different “jun” dishes including the ever popular fish-jun (생선전). The reason is perhaps due to this being the type of dish that requires quite a bit of preparation and time, and historically, food like “jun” were prepared for the emperor of the country. Meat or fish needed for this dish was not readily available for the common folk. Even in modern day Korea, when a special occasion comes up, the ladies will gather to make all kinds of jun. . . . it’s not readily made or served in Korean restaurants. You would also have to ask for “Gogi-Jun”, should they have it. It will be more commonly found at buffet restaurants, or at any Korean festivity." Outside of these occasions, you will see jun most frequently prepared for jesa (제사), a Korean ceremony to honor one's ancestors.

Here is her English recipe for 고기전:

Posted by tastingkorea

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mu is NOT Daikon

Mu (무 in Korean) is a Korean variety of the white radish that is mistakenly referred to as 'daikon'. But as these pictures from Kitazawa Seed Co. show, they look quite different:

As you can see, mu is shorter and rounder than daikon.

According to grace from New Asian Cuisine, "loaded with vitamin B6, magnesium, riboflavin, copper and calcium, the radish has an important role in Korea’s most important everyday dishes. Korean Radish, known as mu, is crisp and sturdy, with an unmistakable crunch that stands up well to cooking and flesh that ranges in color from white to pale green. The leaves of the Korean Radish are edible, and can be used in salads and side dishes, especially in kimchi."

To choose a good quality mu, look for ones that are "firm and the skin is a little shiny, without any scratches. The top should be a little green (Maangchi)."

Raw mu has a strong bitter/spicy taste, so I would soak or handle in a way that removes its excess flavor before serving.

Here are some recipes that call for mu:

Korean Radish Soup or 무국 (eating and living)

Posted by tastingkorea

Nalchi Ahl is NOT Masago

Nalchi Ahl (날치 알) is roe that comes from sweetfish.

Credit: ec21

Masago is the Japanese name for roe that comes from capelin.

Here are some recipes using nalchi ahl:

(Hwe - raw fish)

This recipe adds a twist to the original hwe dup bap by adding a fried egg as well as using Sprite in the hwe sauce, but otherwise, it is quite authentic.

Posted by tastingkorea

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Introduction to Korean Food in the Media

- an in-depth introduction to the main types of ingredients used in Korean cooking

- a nice introduction to the Korean food scene in New York City's Koreatown and its flavors as well as some classic Korean dishes

A good overview of Korean drinks. 20 Delicious Korean Drinks from CNNgo

Posted by tastingkorea

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blogs on the Seoul Food Scene

SeoulFood is a blog that covers what to do and where to eat in Seoul. Written by two Korean Americans, it features great photographs and reviews of restaurants and cafes in Seoul with an emphasis on comfort food/homestyle cuisine. The writers really give you a sense of the food and ambiance through the sumptuous photography and lucid commentary. (Updated April 25, 2012: Although no longer updated, it is a great resource for learning more about Korean restaurants and food. The main writer Dustin Cole is currently working for Seoul Eats listed below.)

Seoulfoodgirl is a blog geared toward the traveler in Seoul. Marie, a San Diego native, writes about her food/dining experiences in Korea. There is a lot of information for the traveler as she writes in-depth about the service, ambiance, and menu as well as practical information like pricing and directions.

Balwoo Korean Temple Cuisine: Dodeok Salad with Citron Dressing (Seoul Eats)

Seoul Eats is a blog written by a number of writers, including Dustin Cole and Daniel Gray of O'ngo Communications, a company founded by Korean food writer and consultant Jia Choi, that specializes in Korean cooking classes and food tours. It is an all-around guide for restaurants, cafes, etc. It features a lot of interesting food events as well and is a good resource for learning more about Korean food culture.

Korean-Vietnamese Food in Seoul from Boy.Girl.Seoul.Food

Boy.Girl.Seoul.Food. is a blog written by a German couple living in Seoul. The woman is Vietnamese, but not much is said about the "Boy". They both contribute to each review in a "he said/she said" format. The blog covers all kinds of restaurants from burgers, ramen, and bbq to various cuisines like Indian, Italian, American, and, of course, Korean.

FoodQuest is a great blog focusing on the street food, snacks, and desserts in Seoul and other places. "FoodQuest is about my global search for funny, strange, cute, smelly, and most of all, delicious snacks." The author, Sora, a Korean-Hungarian Canadian, writes in a very approachable manner, explaining the nature of each dish and how it is prepared and eaten.

Posted by tastingkorea

Finding Your Own Style of Korean Cooking

I was researching fernbracken and came upon this post. The author wants to cook and blog about every recipe in Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen. I remember watching "Julie and Julia" and being inspired to undertake a similar endeavor in regards to cooking. But I never saw myself being devoted to a specific cookbook.

Prior to watching that movie, I had thought about mastering a list of standard Korean recipes, finding the right combination of ingredients for me and tweaking them to my taste. That is a goal of mine, to find and adapt the recipes to my taste and know them by heart so that I can prepare them at whim. I have a good sense of my own visual taste and palate, so I know what to look for in Korean recipes.

I got a sense of this by spending hours and hours browsing through the many cookbooks available to me when I lived in Seoul. I would often go to the cookbook section of bookstores and just browse here and there, allowing my instincts to guide me. There are many wonderful cookbooks in Korean, but after trying a few, I have decided to search the web as there are so many wonderful resources online as well. And doing a search for recipes gives you a greater variety of choices to choose from. You can see how different home cooks chose to handle a recipe and get insight into the various ways one can prepare a certain dish. This can be encouraging for the beginner cook as well, giving one a greater sense of freedom to create and experiment.

I wouldn't worry too much about finding the perfect recipe. Just explore and experiment, take note of what you like, what worked, what didn't work, and proceed. As you continue on your journey of culinary creation, you will get a better sense of what you want in a dish and prepare them according to your taste.

Posted by tastingkorea

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Great Books for Learning About the Essentials of Korean Cooking

When I first started to explore Korean cooking in-depth, I came upon this wonderful primer for understanding the basics and how-to's of Korean cooking, 요리 기초 백과 (Basic Food Encyclopedia). It was written by the editorial team of 주부생활's educational division, a popular magazine for Korean homemakers. This book is a wonderful introduction to the world of Korean cooking for beginners and a great reference for more experienced cooks. It covers a great deal of information about the ingredients, techniques, and tools used in Korean cooking as well as explaining why foods need to be prepared a certain way for flavor or practicality. I have prepared quite a few recipes from this primer and can personally recommend it as everything I have made from this book has been delicious.

Although this book covers a great deal about how to prepare ingredients for Korean cooking, I wanted a deeper exploration of the ingredients used. I found this in a book by the same authors called 주제별 요리 백과 (Topic-based Food Encyclopedia). There is quite a bit of overlap between the two books as they are both primers for Korean cooking. However, there is a significant variation in the material covered as each book has a different focus. '주제별' greatly emphasizes the ingredients used in Korean cooking and the recipes are different for the most part.

Many Korean foods use ingredients easily accessible through your local supermarket. However, there are quite a number of Korea-specific ingredients that are used like 고사리 (fernbracken), 미나리 (water dropwort), and 연근 (lotus root) and many others. These can be purchased at Korean supermarkets or some other Asian grocers. This book also covers Korean-specific preparations of common ingredients like cucumber, rice, beef, and other foods. I highly recommend this book as it will give you a better sense of how to handle ingredients for Korean recipes.

Posted by tastingkorea
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