Sunday Lunch in Korea

My lovely co-teacher, Jason, took me for a wonderful, and healthy, lunch on Sunday. I love Korean food, the flavours, the spices, and the wonderful picture it creates when laid out before you. Sitting on the floor tucked beneath the table, oft times with a central fire to cook the food just the way you like it. You can season your meat as much, or little, as you want, and no-one cares how much, or little, you use! Cooking and eating together is such a part of the way of life here. Meals are about taking time, about enjoying the food, and the variety of textures and flavours. So being taken to lunch really is a truly memorable experience.

ori(duck) baeksook

Sunday lunch was one of those truly memorable experiences for me. We had ori(duck) baeksook(boiled soup)

It is suggested that these  soups  contains nutrients which can replace those lost through perspiration during the hot Korean summer. Koreans believe this meal is to be eaten on the hottest days of summer to maintain stamina and fight the heat. So food here also always seems to come with a beautiful story, or belief, behind it which just heightens the experience I think. Of course I had the added benefit of having a native born Korean who was able to tell me all of this. Poor Jason spent half the meal with his dictionary out as I fired endless questions at him as to what this was and what that was. He is a very patient and kind young man who always manages to find the answers for me.

Jason using the dictionary again!

We had a duck samgyetang and it was delicious. The duck is stuffed with glutinous rice and then boiled in a broth with ginseng, dried seeded jujube fruit, garlic, and ginger. Other herbs can also be added. Only whole, uncut, ingredients are used as they then retain the maximum amount of their nutrients. There are the usual array of wonderful side dishes.

The whole meal - I love side dishes

There was a glutinous rice dish that had all sorts of beans added and was topped off with the heavily crisped skin of the duck. The skin was all sticky and sweet and was just perfection in both look and taste.

Crispy Duck skin with rice and beans

We each had a bowl of a cold kimchi soup which I really enjoyed. I like kimchi but I could never eat it in the quantities the Koreans do. Many of the kids I work with tell me they have rice and kimchi for breakfast! Kimchi is a traditional Korean food eaten with almost every meal and dating back some 2000 years. It is made mainly with cabbage, although other vegetables are used, and it is fermented.

Kimchi Soup - cold

There were some divine pickled jalapeno peppers, a real hot and sweet taste. There was the root of a flowering plant that was coated with ssamjang. Ssamjang is a wonderful sauce that I can highly recommend and I seem to eat it with almost everything these days.

Ssamjang is a mixture of soybean paste, chilli paste, minced garlic and sesame oil. Of course you can buy it everywhere here but I did find a recipe if you fancy making some;

soybean paste -2 tblsp

chilli paste – 1 tblsp

sesame oil – 1 tblsp

honey – 1/2 tblsp

spring onion (scallion) -1 stalk, finely chopped

garlic – 3 cloves, minced

sesame seeds – 2 tsp

Mix it all together and enjoy the experience – its great with sausages, and actually with pizza too!

Nothing is wasted here, things we would traditionally throw away as not the best bit to eat are eaten here. The leaves, the uppermost green part of spring onions (scallion) – slice them thinly, coat with a dash of ssamjang and a few extra sesame seeds for colour and flavour and you have a side dish which looks and tastes wonderful.

Salt is served quite differently here too. Put some into a small dish and add a few drops of sesame oil and then use it to dip selected items of food into rather than sprinkling it over the top of everything. Try it, it really is a taste sensation and then you just get that supper salty flavour with a few things rather than everything.

Needless to say, I ate far too much, but it was just so good and such fun. Jason is a very interesting young man and so he is good company and very helpful in teaching me about Korea and the way of life here. I have learned a lot from spending time with Jason and I enjoy his company. He is a little younger than Amelia, but has lived a very different life to her and so has a very interesting and wonderful outlook on life.

My co-teacher Jason

Thanks for a great lunch Jason and for introducing me to yet another wonderful Korean food experience.


2 Responses to “Sunday Lunch in Korea”

  1. that is “ori(duck) baeksook(boiled soup)” and that sauce with root is called “gochoojang” and it means “chilli sauce”.

  2. Thank you Jason!
    See, Jason is my teacher! And I am truly grateful to have him as so.

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