The beauty of Korean food is not high-priced
fancy restaurants with ironed-white tablecloths and waiters in tuxedos; but
the little place around the corner where the woman that looks like your mom
(if you have a Korean mom) makes the best Kim-chi-jji-gye you've ever
had. In other words, simple food prepared with care by people who know food,
and love to make it.
Unlike Western food, Korean food is meant to
be shared; the main dishes are served in big stew pots and everybody either
eats right out of the same pot or spoons some into small soup bowls in front
of them. Around the main dishes are dozens of little dishes containing
kim-chi of various kinds, and a myriad of other side-dishes which are an
integral part of the meal; as shown above. Finally each place has a bowl of
rice in a covered bowl which is eaten with the main dish and the
side-dishes. To serve all those side dishes, the -ban-sang-gi (반상기) or
dinnerware set is used. Dinnerware sets consist of rice bowls, usually
covered, sometimes not, low soup bowls, and a myriad of small, low bowls,
sometimes covered, and various sized small plates to place all the varieties
Because of all the side dishes served with a
Korean meal preparation is time consuming and require a number of different
recipes for each little side-dish.
Restaurants that serve meats such as
bul-go-gl, gal-bi (shown at left), and the like, are popular
places for people to meet, and have a few drinks with the meal. Drinks with
meat usually are so-ju, a clear rice wine drink similar to Sake, or
mak-geol-ri (막걸리) a white unrefined rice wine served cold. Our
Dwen-jang-jji-gae (된장찌개): Is a
stew made of a soybean paste and anchovy stock it is typically served as the
main course or served alongside a meat course. It contains a variety of
vegetables, shellfish, and tofu. It is normally served in a stone pot, still
boiling when it arrives at the table.
Kim-chi jji-gae (김치찌개): Is a
stew made with kim-chi, pork, and tofu. It is a common lunch meal or
compliment to a meat course. It is normally served in a stone pot, still
boiling when it arrives at the table.
Bul-go-gi (불고기): Thinly sliced
beef marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar,
scallions, and black pepper, cooked on a grill (sometimes at the table).
Bul-go-gi literally means "fire meat." Variations include pork (dwae-ji
bul-go-gi, 돼지불고기), and chicken (dak-bul-go-gi 닭불고기).
Gal-bi (갈비): Is pork or beef
ribs, cooked on a metal plate over charcoal in the centre of the table. The
meat is sliced thicker than bul-go-gi. It is often called "Korean
barbecue" along with bul-go-gi, and can be seasoned or unseasoned. A
variation using seasoned chicken is called dak-gal-bi.
Sam-gyeop-sal (삼겹살 - our
favorite): Thick slabs of bacon grilled on a grill or over open
charcoal. Commonly grilled with garlic and onions, dipped in sesame oil and
salt mixture and wrapped with ssam-jang (a somewhat spicy bean paste based
sauce) in lettuce.
Gal-bi-jjim (갈비찜): Is made by
made by brazing marinated gal-bi (beef short rib) with diced potatoes
and carrots in soy sauce (gan-jang).
Tteok-guk (떡국): Tteok
means rice cake and it is boiled with broth and some vegetables to make a
Man-du-guk (만두국): Is the same
as tteok-guk (above) but without the rice cake and with dumplings
instead. A version with both the dumplings and the rice cake -
tteok-man-du-guk - is also available.
Galbitang (길비탕): Is a hearty
soup made from short ribs.
Samgyetang (삼계탕): Is a
soup made with Cornish game hens that are stuffed with ginseng, hwang-gi
Here is the secret recipe for for
Dwen-jang-jji-gae (된장찌개) from the best chef on our staff:
3 cups water
1/2 cup 멸치 (myeol-chi - small, dried, anchovies)
1/3 cup diced onions
1 small potato
1/2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup 된장 (Dwen-jang - bean paste)
1/2 tsp 고추가루 (go-chu-ga-ru - red pepper powder)
1 cup sliced tofu (the firm type)
1/4 cup sliced green onions
First put water and 1/2 cup 멸치 (myeol-chi)
in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Then put in 1/3 cup diced onions, 1
small potato, 1/2 medium zucchini, and any other vegetables, and cook 5
minutes. Then put in 1/4 cup 된장 (dwen-jang) and 1/2 tsp ground red
pepper. Cook 5 minutes and when the vegetables are cooked, put in 1 cup
sliced tofu, and green onions. Serve with glutinous rice, dried laver, and
And here is the chef's
secret recipe for 갈비 (gal-bi), or (불고기 - bul-go-gi)
6 cloves garlic
1 pear (originally an Asian pear is called for but a very ripe/sweet US
pear should work)
Add & mix 1/4-1/3
cup soy sauce (Korean or Chinese not Japanese)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp Korean rice
wine (청하 - cheong-ha) (a dash of white wine may work)
Layer with sauce and
marinate 4 hours
Use 1.5 Kg of beef or pork depending on the dish you are preparing.
Grill or fry &
serve with glutinous white rice (steamed
or boiled), kim-chi, 되장 (dwen-jang - Korean bean paste, and
small lettuce leaves (about the size of your hand)
This sauce can be used
for either gal-bi (beef or pork), LA gal-bi or bul-go-gi;
I would recommend bul-go-gi as the meat should be easier to
For beef or
pork gal-bi take a small rack of short ribs and have the butcher
cut it in half lengthwise so you have short-rib bone pieces about 3-4
inches long take the meat off most of the bones and marinate it as
directed leaving about 3 -4 bones for each person. This is best grilled.
gal-bi take the short-rib rack and cut it lengthwise in about 1/3-1/2
inch slices so you have a long strips of meat with 3-4 bone cross sections
in them. Marinate and grill or fry.
Bul-go-gi, the easiest of
the three is just beef (beef round tip, top-round, bottom-round or
whatever you want to use) sliced very thin (about 1/16 inch) and cut into
large bite size pieces. If it's sliced thin enough it is almost shredded
and falls apart into pieces when you cook it. With the bul-go-gi I
like to add a medium onion or green onions cut into peanut sized pieces,
sliced mushrooms or black olives (not too many), or any combination of the
above. If you are using very tough meat add a minced Kiwi fruit to the
marinade to tenderize it. When you eat bul-go-gi
you are supposed to have quite a few side dishes but you can get by with
just some good kim-chi. A big supermarket should have it. Look for
the fresh looking stuff with a lot of white cabbage visible in the jar.
When you eat it you should take a small lettuce leaf, put in a wad of
beef, a dab of bean paste and a bit of rice, wrap it up and pop it in your
mouth (the kim-chi is eaten on the side). But we often just fill a
plate with beef and rice and dig in.