Before coming to South Korea I hadn’t known much about this country, neither about its cuisine. (Well once two Korean guys cooked for me and Jakub, but they used Polish ingredients mostly so I don’t know if that counts). I had been in Japan before South Korea and everything seemed so perfect there. I said to myself ‘I’m going to South Korea but probably food won’t be as good as in Japan.’ Oh how wrong I was! I’m not vegan but in Japan I was eating a lot of vegetables (sometimes fish too) I liked it but I knew that deep inside I missed meat and later on I landed in Seoul Incheon…
Osaka was my last destination in Japan. I met there Lauren from USA. She was teaching English in Seoul. It was great opportunity to me to talk with her about South Korea. She told me this: ‘In South Korea kimchi is everywhere, you walk down the street and you can SMELL kimchi, sometimes you enter a subway and there is that smell of kimchi again.’ I laughed so hard, it seemed so funny and unreal. But little did I know that she was telling the thruth. Kimchi was the very first meal I had in South Korea. Since then I could smell kimchi in a lot of places. Kimchi is a Korea’s national dish, with hundreds of varieties. Two best-known are cabbage kimchi (paechu) and raddish kimchi (mu). The process of making kimchi includes fermentation that’s why the taste is sour.
Kimchi is mostly used as a side dish. But there are many kimchi dishes out there. Kimchi stew, kimchi soup, kimchi fried rice and more. Kimchi has absolutely an amazing taste. Specific yet so tasty. Beware! Sometimes it could be veeery spicy, but I guess that’s the one of the reasons why I love it so much. By the way have you seen THIS video from Korean drama? Why did that women throw kimchi into this guy’s head? Come on!! So much waste of kimchi, If I were him I would eat that ^ ^
There I was after long time no eating meat and I got invited for a barbecue (Gogigui in Korean). Hell yeah! The best thing about Korean BBQ is the fact that it’s DIY. It’s so much fun! You take a piece of meat, and put it on a grill. You wait, you eat side dish along (kimchi, salad, radish, green chilli pepper and much more; it depends on the season), you talk, you turn meat around, you drink soju (Korean vodka-like liquor) or makgeolli (Korean rice wine) and you start taking a meat from a stove with your metal chopsticks (yes, they have metal chopsticks in South Korea, how cool is that?).
Our Korean friend showed us the special way of eating BBQ. You grab the lettuce or seasame leaf, put the meat inside and wrap it (you could see that in THIS video, although I was making fun with camera focus). If you want more waiter can bring another piece of meat (maybe a bit bigger this time?). You can order many variaties of meat. Our number one is BULGOGI. But you should try Samgyeopsal and Galbi too. The best thing about dining in South Korea – you don’t pay for a side dish! You want more rice? Ask, they will bring more for free.
You know that feeling when you suddenly feel hungry? You start to look for a place to eat and then you notice a food booth. Even if you hesitated for a minute you are coming closer. You don’t worry about consequences. Hotteok is looking at you, you can smell that it’s good. You just have to eat that Hotteok! Don’t know what Hotteok is? TRY, it tastes like pancake.. and it is a pancake. The very good pancake. While you in South Korea you just have to try some of the street food. There are so many!
Beondegi are boiled silkworm pupae. Yes. The silkworm pupae. So why the hell did we eat that? To be precise- it was only me who ate that. It was in Busan, I was together with Jakub, my brother Norbert and Korean friend Kyubin. We were walking, and we felt that extraordinary smell.. It was me who insisted on trying that. And only me dared to do it! (I guess maybe I wanted to prove something but actually it doesn’t prove anything :D). It was eatable, and maybe even tasty but the smell was awful. Anyway I recommend everyone to try it 🙂 It contains a lot of proteins so it’s healthy! They sell it in a plastic cups, you can ask for just one piece and they won’t charge you anything.
Oh Gimbap! You great, great gimbabp You saved us many times in those cold days. You can say gimbap is a Korean version of sushi. Ingredients can be the same, for example fish with rice wrapped in a seaweed. The main difference is that in Japan they add vinegar to the rice. Whenever we were feeling hungry (and we are hungry very often) and a convenience store was nearby we were going inside and we were buying gimbap. The fun thing was that we didn’t know what kind of gimbap we were buying because we don’t speak Korean. So that was always exiting to eat. Sometimes we bought it in advance, and in a moment of sudden need for FOOD we took gimbap out : ) It’s very tasty and cheap!
And last but not least…
What would life be without SWEETS? I had already tasted Chapssalddeok in Japan as Mochi but for Jakub it was something new. Chapssalddeok is a rice cake with sweet bean pasta. Sweet bean pasta is our number one, absolutely. I don’t know why we don’t have sweets with it in Poland. Chapssalddeok is good but if you are going to Gyeongju try Hwangnam bread! It’s even better.