With last year’s meteoric rise of that famous Korean song that we do not need to name, Americans are finding themselves curious about anything and everything from Korea, and the food scene is no exception. Korean dishes are popping up on menus all across the country. Food trucks are capitalizing on the Kim-Chi craze, and Gochu-jang was one of the hottest flavors of 2012, with no signs of slowing its rise in popularity.
Gaonnuri, a high-end Korean restaurant, opened in New York last year and showcases Korean food in a beautifully artful way. Dubbed the “New Rainbow Room” by The New York Post, the menu had me at “Weakfish Gam-Jung and Rice”:
So let’s talk briefly about some interesting Korean dishes you may not have heard of:
Ganjan gejang: This is soy-marinated raw crab that is served on a split shell. The shell is used to scoop your rice once you eat the raw crabmeat. Traditionally, this was a preserving technique to keep the crabs, with harvest and preservation taking place in the fall. With this technique, the crabs could be eaten all the way through to the spring, when it is eaten to drive away spring fever. Each of Korea’s 8 provinces has their own special preparation for this dish, some using a spicy pepper preparation to make their version.
Golbaenji Muchim: a dish made from sea snail (sometimes squid or Pollack), it is an Anju (a dish consumed with drinking alcohol). The dish usually includes shredded vegetables, and a sauce of gochu-jang mixed with vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil.
Kim chi Mari Guksu: a cold soup made with somen noodles, Kim chi, and an ice-cold broth made from kamahi juice. This is a very popular summer dish in Korea, and one I have added to my list of recipes to make in the near future.
Jangjorim: a simple dish of beef and whole egg boiled in soy sauce, and a very popular banchan (side dish).
Hobak-Jook: this is a simple pumpkin and rice porridge made by soaking sweet or short grain rice, then pureeing in a food processor before adding to the pureed pumpkin. It is sweetened with brown and white sugar, and garnished with walnuts or pine nuts.
While we are on the subject of interesting dishes, here are a few condiments and ingredients taking a look at:
Kook Kanjang Aka: soup soy sauce that is less fermented and less salty. It is used in soups, stews, and broths. It is not as flavorful as regular soy sauce.
Daechu: red date, or jujube. Used like a date in Korean cooking, often with chestnuts, pine nuts, raisins, etc.
Deulkae garu: perilla seed powder (or “wild sesame”), this is the seed of the shiso plant and is used in certain soups and stews. It has a distinctive taste similar to sesame oil and is high in ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
Maesil Chung: green plum syrup. This is traditionally made by layering sugar and green plums and allowing it to ferment for 90 days.