Cooking Korean style
Posted October 15, 2010on:
So while Nick was tip-toing into North Korea, I spent the afternoon dipping into Korean food culture at the O’ngo Cook school in Seoul. I was the only person booked on to the session, so I had a nice one-to-one with Chef Heyjin.
This course was billed as banchan which covers the multiplicity of side dishes that make up a Korean meal. They don’t separate the meal into courses but bring everything on at once aiming for a 70-30 mix of carbs to protein.
The basic ingredients were the usual suspects: chilli, garlic, soy, fish sauce. What appears to give the distinct Korean flavour is the subtle difference in these basic ingredients. Korean soy sauce is a bit heavier and sweeter than Kikkoman (but the latter can also be used); the fish sauce is more intense than a Thai version; and sesame oil, sesame seeds (occasionally ground) add another distinctive note.
For the Braised Tofu in Soy Sauce, we sliced a tofu block into 5mm slices and seared in a little veg oil till golden on both sides. We then poured into the pan our sauce made from chopped white part of spring onion, chopped garlic clove, 1.5 Tbsp soy, 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 3Tbsp water. The tofu continues to cook in the sauce which reduces to a sticky coating. Done.
We also made a Cucumber kimchi. A whole cucumber (the knobbly Asian variety) was rubbed with salt and washed then cut into four 8cm pieces. We then made two cuts lengthwise at right-angles stopping short 1cm from the end. The cucumber was then placed in a pan of hot water with 2Tbsp sea salt and left for about 15 minutes at which point the segments became sufficiently pliant to allow for a stuffing – made by combining a small bunch of Korean chive (chopped), qtr onion sliced, 1Tbsp chilli powder, 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp garlic, ½ tsp minced ginger, 1 Tbsp sugar, sesame seeds.
Then came Bulgogi, a Korean beef dish; seasoned Soybean sprouts and finally braised potato in a soy sauce.
We sat down to our feast but it soon became obvious that all this food would not get eaten. So Heyjin made up a take-out tray which happily Nick devoured atop the North Seoul Tower.