Good Food Blog
Korean foodPosted at 11:27AM, 06 June 2008 by Graham Holliday - Blogger
As Jenni wrote yesterday, Japanese food in the form of sushi bars and teriyaki taverns is quite the rage across Britain. These days, you're more likely to find office workers munching down raw fish and rice than a plate busting full monty down at the local greasy spoon. But what of Japan's near neighbour, historical rival and fellow economic wunderkind Korea?
Korean food isn't hip, but having lived in the country for nearly two years I fail to see why it hasn't yet caught on. I first became interested with Korean food by thumbing through a rarely opened Asian cookbook of my mothers in the late seventies. Stark soups with cubes of tofu and glass noodle dishes festooned with bean sprouts looked about as foreign as food could be.
From pies and curries to the far east is a big step. When you're looking for a change from the sushi bar and steamy shabu shabu snackfest, here's a short guide to five Korean hits. Served in a searingly hot stone bowl, Bibimbap consists of rice, chopped mushrooms, carrots, cucumber, courgette and lettuce, topped with a raw egg - which cooks in the heat of the bowl - and bean sprouts. Those who like it spicy can add a spoonful of the sweet and spicy gochujang. Great for lunch or dinner.
Korean food isn't hip, but having lived in the country for nearly two years I fail to see why it hasn't yet caught on.
For a lighter lunch try Mandu. These are steamed dumplings stuffed with spicy minced pork, garlic, onions, glass noodles and flavoured with sesame oil and soy sauce. They're sometimes served as part of a soup, mandoo kuk. Ideal when you need a filling, but not a stuffing.
If you're eating with friends and you're up for something more substantial and a bit back to nature try ordering Sam gyeob sal. This consists of strips of pork belly bacon you get to grill at the table, before wrapping inside lettuce and sesame leaves, adding raw garlic, chilli and samchang which is a glorious mix of fermented soy beans and chilli paste. Eating Korea barbecue can be a bit daunting for the newcomer, but Josh at The Food Section has some do's and don'ts.
Kimbap is Korean style maki. The seaweed rolls are filled with rice, strips of cucumber, pickled raddish, egg strips and ham. Just like maki, these are eaten as small morsels and dipped into soy sauce. Koreans eat them like we eat our sandwiches, only these are a bit healthier.
Lastly, how about a KFC or Korean fried chicken? Not greasy, quite spicy, served with raw shredded cabbage drizzled lightly with and mayonnaise and ketchup. Or if that's all a bit too ordinary sounding for you, try Dak galbi, a spicetastic, cook at your table, chicken dish.