The volcanic island of Jeju is full of life–around 1,800 species of plants and over 4,000 species of animals. As the winter rolls in and you feel the chill in the air, the small animals up on the Mount Halla descend to the foot of the mountain in search of food. For the villagers, the season is their golden opportunity to hunt the pheasants. The birds are another important source of nutrition for the people on island where rice farming is nearly impossible.
Traditionally, the hunting is done in groups and usually with ferocious dogs ready to chase the birds that are unable to fly long distance. Pheasant hunting is called 꿩사농 (ggwong-sa-nong) in Jeju dialect. The captured bird is immediately frozen in snow to be cooked, dried, or even enjoyed as sashimi.
Noodles in beef broth was one interesting variation of korean noodles dish that I came across in Seoul. In Daejeon, where the traditional kalguksu noodles is famous for, the broth is often seafood or vegetable-based. Dried anchovies or whole clams are boiled to release the savory flavour of the soup. However, in the old part of Seoul where seollengtang, or beef bone soup, has been widely consumed, it is no coincidence that here the noodles are served in same type of beef broth.
Cold buckwheat noodles is now a popular dish in South Korea but many are aware that naengmyunis regional food originated from Pyeongyang, the capital city of North Korea. ㅡMy local friend who is in love with Pyeongyang-style naengmyun told me that I must try Wooraeok, one of the oldest restaurants and a pioneer responsible for popularizing such significant dish in Seoul.
The city of Seongnam is more known as popular residential area in Gyeonggi-do province. Geographically it is not part of Seoul but the city is conveniently connected to Gangnam and other parts of Seoul through Metro. When I hopped on a bus at Daejeon Government Complex bus terminal that was bound to Seongnam I really did not have much thought on where I wanted to go. It was simply the bus to Seongnam was what was available at the moment. Soon I got off in a town that I have never been before and started to venture off into the snow.
Daegu is a city that I try to stop by whenever I travel to Busan or anywhere in Gyeongsang-do. The metropolitan city has rich history of culinary fare and it is not too difficult to spot a restaurant that has been operating for decades. Apparently, the city of Daegu has selected 10 dishes and named them “Taste of Daegu” to promote their city’s own culinary creations. And this day we were about to get a taste of one of those ten – and ironically, it’s a Daegu creation that is called “yaki udon”.
There’s Pho in Vietnam. And Udon in Japan. In Korea, Kalguksu (칼국수, literally translated to “knife noodles”) is the simple, basic noodle soup made with flour noodles and fish or vegetable broth. You can find this humble dish all over the country but Koreans know that a version from Myeongdong district in Seoul has made itself famous over time. What I didn’t realize was that locals from Seoul also go to the streets of Seongbuk district–the old town up north of the river–to seek noodles restaurants with history.
Few weeks ago mom and I decided to have naengmyun (냉면: cold buckwheat noodles) for lunch. She insisted that out of many naengmyun places in Daejeon we would go to a place that makes Pyongyang-style noodles. Her reason was that ever since she was young she was told that the recipe originated from capital of North Korea is the best for mul-naengmyun (물냉면: buckwheat noodles in icy broth). On the other hand, it is known that Hamheung (another city in North Korea) style is the one to go if you are craving for bibim-naengmyun (비빔냉면: buckwheat noodles mixed with spicy sauce).