Serenaded with traditional Korean music
I know there is more – much more – to Korean cuisine than Korean BBQ. Through the wonders of living in Los Angeles, home to the largest Korean population outside of South Korea, I have been able to sample a handful of Korean foods. These were typically at informal events and homemade, though, with no induction other than “JUST EAT IT!” And while I could have made the effort to experience Korean food out of the realm of AYCE BBQ and kimchi, I am shamed to say that it never struck my interest. Until, that is, I watched The Kimchi Chronicles. I followed Marja on her quest to get in touch with her Korean roots via food – leaving a trail of saliva behind me.
Sorry about the visual. What I am (poorly) getting around to saying is that thankfully the Korean Tourism Organization invited me to their Korean Cuisine and Tourism evening, hosted at the traditional Korean restaurant, Yong Su San. Travel industry professionals (and me lol) were treated to an evening of music, information on what to expect and where to visit in South Korea, and food, glorious food.
mushroom porridge made with sweet rice
Mixed vegetable salad of bean sprouts, radish and apricot
My favorite dish of the evening! I have been searching for store bought (which I know won’t compare) but to no avail. If there any Korean grandmothers out there that can cook this dish and would like to stuff me silly with it, I would be the most gracious dinner guest ever.
Tang Pyeong Chae
Thin sliced mungbean jelly marinated in sesame oil
I need more of this dish in my life as well. Gods be good, I need to hit up a Korean market this week.
Skewered sea scallops with mushrooms sauteed in sesame oil
Scallops AND mushrooms on a skewer? Yes, ma’am!
Korean pancake with egg battered fish or meat
I have actually eaten this before, both as banchan and at a little party a Korean-American friend held at her house. Her mother whipped up a bunch of dishes for us, many dishes a hybrid of typical American party foods with a Korean twist, but others just straight up Korean comfort food, like Jeon. I’m proud to say I was the most enthusiastic white girl at the gathering, eating my fill and making Korean mom glow with pride.
Kaeseung Bossam Kimchi
Gaeseong cabbage kimchi stuffed with radish, pine nuts, jujube & pickled seafood
I hate to be this stereotypical, but anything to do with kimchi is heaven for me. As we were dining family style at large, round tables that sat eight people, we had to share all of these dishes. I am only partially ashamed to admit that I did whatever it took to keep this dish within arms reach so I could gobble up the lions share. Hashtag sorry not sorry.
Beef, shrimp, mushroom, assorted vegetables to be wrapped with small thin crepes
This dish was my learning curve, because it arrived at the beginning of the meal and it was through this dish I learned we were eating family style. No, Rachael, that whole plate of Gujeolpan is not just for you! Take one and pass, you oinker!
Fresh egg battered king prawn
Anything to do with prawns is a winner in my book, and this crispy, zucchini laden shrimp fritter is no exception.
Slow braised short ribs, radish, chestnuts, ginkgo and dates in soy based marinade
So meaty I could only snack on one of these beefy delights. Not my favorite dish of the night personally, but definitely an overall crowd favorite.
Another knock-out dish; so elegant in its seeming simplicity. The bowl was a LOT bigger than my photo will lead you to believe, and this was one of the few personal dishes we did not share. After everything we’d already gobbled down, it was my absolute pleasure to scarf and slurp this down, setting my belly on maximum overdrive.
Mixed vegetables & beef over rice
Ah, yes, a true classic. I did not partake in this dish (I chose the cold noodles), but my friend said this bibimbap was a knock-out.
Chilled cinnamon ginger punch
A common dessert-y digestive, this cinnamon punch was precisely what my stomach craved after that delicious feast. I was raving about it equal to the food.
Now that we have become more familiar with the traditional food of South Korea, which alone is good enough a reason to visit as far as I am concerned, let’s add some obligatory visuals to sweeten the pitch:
I mean – can you even?
Stop it, Korea. Stop it this minute. You are gorgeous.
Let Korea get on your “To Visit” list, take photos, eat lots of Korean cuisine and send me a postcard!
photos of Korea courtesy of Korean Tourism Organization