Have you ever tasted Korean kimchee? Kimchee is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made primarily of cabbage with a variety of seasonings and is often described as “spicy” or “sour.”
I was invited to a special dinner hosted by a friend of a friend, who lived in Korea for 2 years. I was looking forward to an authentic Korean dining experience, and the meal I had Saturday night was everything I hoped for. It was amazing! Korean food rocks!
We started our Korean culinary adventure with a few appetizers. Korean kimchee pancake is like an Asian frittata made with chopped kimchee, chopped scallions, Korean pancake mix, and eggs. It is easy to make and tastes great, especially when dipped in a chili paste and soy sauce. Our hostess also served vegetable, beef, pork, and leek dumplings, all served with a dipping sauce made of Korean hot pepper paste known as Go Chu Jang and soy sauce.
Accompaniments adorned this traditional Korean table, including plain bean sprouts, sautéed tofu with kimchee, spinach, and sautéed gosari. Gosari is also known as fern bracken, and resembles long, thin, green sea beans. It is very flavorful and made with minced garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce!
The main course was delectable, beef bulgogi (fire meat) lettuce wraps—a Korean taco! The beef was infused with flavor; it had been marinated in 40 cloves of minced garlic, chopped green onions, sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Then the beef was sautéed and served with brown rice. A dipping sauce known as ssamjang (pre-packaged and available in Asian markets) which is a mix of Korean hot pepper paste and Korean bean paste, similar to miso, and delicious! I craved them the next day, I should have asked our hostess for a care package to go.
As the food is spicy, the best beverage of choice is crafted beer; it complemented the food nicely. We also drank ice cold soju, which is similar to vodka. If I were to describe Korean food, I would say it is simple, easy to make, and loaded with flavors including spicy, salty, sour, and surprisingly all very healthy for you.
Dessert was simple fresh fruit: Asian pears, orange segments, kiwi, and blackberries…the perfect ending to a spicy dinner.