Thursday, October 23, 2014

Flavours of Korea

One of the best aspects of Korea which any tourist will remember is their culinary and unique dining style.
 
If you are not familiar with Korean dining, you will be amazed when you are served with a lot of side dishes for free. Koreans calls these free side dishes as "service". 

Samgyeopsal, the famous Korean barbeque. Usually served with side dishes.
On top of the "must taste" in Korea is the barbeque which is called samgyeopsal. When you order this, it comes along with side dishes mostly veggies preserved in chili powder.
 
Some of the side dishes can be chopped spring onions or chopped vegetables fried in egg batter.
 
Samgyeopsal is served as a slice of pork or beef. It is placed on the barbeque grill and cut into bite size pieces using scissors when half cooked. The heating continues until the meat is tender and crispy. Take note that when the meat gets cold, its crispness is lost.
 
Koreans usually eat the sliced meat by making "sam". They wrap the meat in lettuce leaves with rice and a combination of side dish vegetables. This wrapped mixture is what they call "sam" and they eat it whole.
 
Nengmyeon, usually served after samgyeopsal.
In usual course, nengmyeon is served after samgyeopsal. I was amazed about this delicacy because it is noodles in cold broth and served with ice. The noodles is sweet and the sourness of the broth can be adjusted by a seasoning the restaurant provides. In the Philippines, all our noodles are served hot, that's why a cold noodles for me is something different.
 
Of course, when you say Korean food, what comes first to mind is bibimbap.
 
Bibimbap is a mardi gras of chopped veggies with rice, egg and ground beef. When Koreans eat it, they would add a little sesame oil, chili sauce and sometimes three table spoons of soup.
 
Tuna bibimbap, a mardi gras of vegetables with
tuna as replacement for ground pork.
The picture in this post is that of a modified bibimbap. Instead of putting fried ground beef, fresh tuna was used. 
 
Bibimbap is my favorite because it allows me to eat veggies in a tasty way.
 
This course is pretty much like a vegetable salad but eaten as a main course.
 
Koreans also like beef. In fact, beef in Korea is imported from the USA. A very famous beef soup is called calbeetang. This is similar to bulalo in the Philippines.
Calbeetang, hot beef soup with wasabi-like seasoning.
The soup can taste like wasabi with the addition of a seasoning. It also includes dates and chopped spring onions.
 
This is best eaten in the cold of winter when a sip of hot soup provides warmth.
 
In Korea, there's just an array of noddle types to choose from. These noodles are of different color, texture, shape and ingredients. Some are made from rice, beans or flour. Some are even handmade.
 
Dumpling noodle soup.
If one want's to eat noodles in Korea, I recommend that you try the dumpling noodles.
 
This noodle soup has a salty broth with dumplings, chopped spring onions and strips of friend beaten eggs.
 
It can be eaten for lunch or dinner and usually the serving is filling.
 
One of my favorite side dishes is the crab preserved in chili powder. As I said, it is a "kimchied" crab.
 
The sauce alone of this side dish is worth an entrée. Combine it with rice and your taste buds will be satisfied.
A kind of side dish. This is raw crab "pickled" a la kimchi.

The crabs even with shell can be eaten. Just be careful when you are wearing false teeth. The shell anyway is not that hard to chew and you can bring it out of your mouth when drained of juice.
 
In one restaurant that I and my friend Jina dined, we were served with white kimchi.  
 
Prior to this dinner, I thought kimchi only comes in red color. But there is a white kimchi, which has a vinegarish taste. It is like a vegetable salad in mild vinegar dressing.
 
White kimchi
The white kimchi also has sliced apple, radish, carrots and spring onions. This was served to us as a side dish for samgyeopsal. It comes along with shredded sorts of onions and blends with the taste of barbeque.
      
From down south in Busan, there is this delicacy which every visitor must try.
 
It is called kwisigukbap. It is a sliced pork soup with rice. It is best eaten with salted shrimp paste and radish kimchi.
 
In Busan, the famous restaurant serving this cuisine is found in the traditional market just walking distance from Haeundae Beach.
Kwisigukbap, a delicacy from Busan.
Here are more Korean foods to satisfy your palate.
A steamy soup for winter time.
Korean pancake with side dishes and soup.
 

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