This is one of my favourite go-to appetizer. I usually have a block of firm tofu or what is left of it in my fridge. When the midnight craving hits you but you’re too lazy, a few of these poppers will satisfy your appetite. Make the salted cucumber salad in advance and store in fridge for even quicker snack.
When I was younger, I thought Korean food had a good amount of vegetarian options. We eat a lot of meat but there are also many side dishes that looked vegetarian. As I got older and started cooking, it was surprising to realize how little is available for vegetarians and vegans. Salted shrimp and fish sauce are common seasoning in Korean cooking, making the popular dish like kimchi inedible for vegans.
Yeolchajib is not just an ordinary pancake place, it is one of the few surviving restaurants from pimatgol, a lost alley in Seoul. Pimatgol is the name given to a narrow back alley in Jongno back in Joseon Dynasty. Back then, the nobles would ride their horses or carriages on the main Jongno street. The peasants, reluctant to pay respect each time they face the nobles, avoided using the main road and took a detour through pimatgol instead. The back alley eventually thrived with small eateries selling affordable food and drinks to hungry bypassers. The name pimat literally means “to avoid horses”.
I remember school lunches from my childhood. I was in grade three or four when school lunch program was first introduced to public schools in Korea. 감자채볶음 was one of the popular banchans that eventually pleased even the pickiest kids. I for one already loved it as this was also my mother’s go-to recipe. Unlike many other Korean side dishes, the dish is not spicy nor too salty and therefore perfect for children.
The key is to julienne the potato nice and thin. Blanch the potato in boiling water to prevent it from becoming a big lump (due to starch). Season with generous amount of salt. Eat with rice or as is.
With the Japanese occupation followed by the Korean War, the peninsula had suffered countless loss of historic gems over the past hundred years. Many restaurants, eateries, and jumak (peasants’ bar), carrying memories and stories of ordinary people in history, disappeared in the ashes of destruction.
That is why Imun is special. A sole survivor of past centennial stands humbly in the back alley of 21st century, serving the ordinary people as it had always been. The actual opening year was in debate for a while as it was assumed sometime between 1902~1907. They finally settled with the year 1904 as Imun’s official birth year, making 2017 as its 113th year.
Mun Hwa Og may be just another old seolleongtang restaurant in Seoul, but there are number of reasons why this place is worth a visit. Since its opening in 1952, the restaurant stood in the exact same spot for past sixty-five years, unlike other old restaurants on the list that were forced to move out of their original location due to redevelopment. I asked the owner Lee Sun-ja, a humble lady with friendly smile, if she has a photo of the old structure. “Oh, our building is the same as it was before when we first started,” she replies, “we’ve only done minor interior renovation.”
For mainland Koreans, yukgaejang is a hot, spicy beef stew. The brownish-red broth is the result of generous amount of chili powder. The slices of beef, leeks, and strands of gosari, the baby bracken fern, make up the popular hangover soup.