I just recently came back from a trip to Seoul, South Korea – a beautiful cultural haven. Korea’s history shows that it has been through countless challenges and immeasurable heartache, resulting in the split between North and South Korea. With thousands of years of that kind of history, Koreans carry themselves with a certain pride and perseverance that comes with long suffering years. And with that comes the rich culture that it showcases today. One can experience this rich culture through Korea's food!
Korean cuisine is something very close to my heart, as it is attached to many fond memories of my year studying abroad and coincides with many aspects of my church culture. The foods I most love are bulgogi and bibimbap, two very popular dishes. Bulgogi may sound familiar, as it is very well known. It is barbecued beef served over rice with several side dishes.
Bibimbap is a bit different: a mixture of rice, vegetables, meat, egg, gojuchan (hot red pepper paste) and most likely some extra side dishes. Often times one is able to barbecue the meat on a table burner and then combine it with the rest of the dish. The result is something so simple yet so delicious. What is more, it can be reproduced at home!
My personal recipe for bibimbap calls for julienne-cutting (slicing into matchstick-sized pieces) carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, fresh garlic, fresh ginger and scallions, and adding bean sprouts and spinach. Mix this all together and drizzle with sesame oil and a bit of sugar, salt and pepper. Thinly slice some beef and flash fry it in a hot, lightly oiled pan with soy sauce and vinegar. Remove the meat, then add the vegetable mixture and flash fry till al dente. Add meat to fried vegetables and cover for a few minutes. In a separate pan, fry a few eggs sunny side up. Serve meat and vegetables over hot white rice with fried egg on top. Make sure to have soy sauce and gojuchan at the table. This is a very tasty and quick-to-prepare meal.
If you are ever in Korea, make sure to try at least one of these two dishes – and then try to make it at home!