The Marmot's Hole

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Tag: Korean food

Flavour of the Month – Consumption Without Awareness Is Potentially Unhealthy

blue_crabHumans process mostly food and ideas

When either one are tainted, there can be some very unhealthy results, for example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently classified processed meat and red meat as being carcinogenic to human (link) (still less of a risk than smoking cigarettes) and according to one local report, retailers in Korea saw a sharp drop in meat sales (link). While eating less red meat and eating more vegetables is great idea (IMHO), there are other local food sources that are worse than eating red meat, for example, crab organs and certain types of cephalopods (squid, octopus, etc.) contain unsafe levels of metals, notably cadmium (as used in modern batteries):

Samples of seven species of cephalopods and crustaceans were collected from major fish markets on the Korean coast and analyzed for mercury (Hg) using a direct Hg analyzer and for the metals cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb), chromium, silver, nickel, copper, and zinc using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The distributions of heavy metals in muscles, internal organs, and whole tissues were determined, and a risk assessment was conducted to provide information concerning consumer safety. The heavy metals accumulated to higher levels (P < 0.05) in internal organs than in muscles for all species. The mean concentrations of Cd, which had the highest concentrations of the three hazardous metals (Cd, Pb, and Hg), in all internal organs (except those of blue crab) exceeded the regulatory limits set by Korea and the European Union. The Cd concentrations in all whole tissues of squid and octopus (relatively large cephalopods), red snow crab, and snow crab exceeded the European Union limits. The estimated dietary intake of Cd, Pb, and Hg for each part of all species accounted for 1.73 to 130.57%, 0.03 to 0.39%, and 0.93 to 1.67%, respectively, of the provisional tolerable daily intake adopted by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives; the highest values were found in internal organs. The hazard index (HI) is recognized as a reasonable parameter for assessing the risk of heavy metal consumption associated with contaminated food. Because of the high HI (>1.0) of the internal organs of cephalopods and the maximum HI for whole tissue of 0.424, consumers eating internal organs or whole tissues of cephalopods could be at risk of high heavy metal exposure, therefore, the internal organs of relatively large cephalopods and crabs (except blue crab) are unfit for consumption. However, consumption of flesh after removing internal organs is a suitable approach for decreasing exposure to harmful metals. (link)

Meaning that certain seafood organ parts are not safe to eat though the flesh is relatively safer to eat in moderation and despite this, there are other problems with eating crabs if they have ingested algae that forms toxins. This also means that certain Korean marinated crab dishes are very likely unsafe to eat and should be avoided.

As for the ingesting of ideas, currently there is much political discussion over the Korean Government’s decision to take up regulating the content of Korean history books, specifically pertaining to history in the late 19th and 20th Centuries. There is the obvious concerns by politicians over the biased interpretation of factual information regarding Korea’s recent past, since as one Korean historian has put it, “The current textbooks contain various problems. I decided to participate (in working on the new government-regulated history texts) because I want the new textbooks to serve as an opportunity for the public to more closely approach our history based on more clear and accurate facts.” (link) The NPAD has reacted vehemently against the state-controlled revision of history books simply because they perceive this to be an attempt of certain political elements to legitimize their version of history and because they have their own interpretation of historical fact, which is based more upon their political beliefs, as opposed to fact (IMHO) . As per Moon Jae-in, head of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD):

Pushing forward the state-penned history textbook plan is a conformist and totalitarian concept,…It denies liberal democracy.

It is odd that the government would choose this time to pursue this issue, considering the more urgent financial and social needs of Korea (household debt, chronic under-employment, economic issues). Though the Saenuri Dang claimed that they won due to public support for the Park Geun-hye government’s decision to start writing history textbooks (they wish!), it would be more accurate to say that, due to the NPAD’s focus upon ideologically-driven issues instead of developing better economic plans and strategies, the public is distrustful of their ability to help them in their daily affairs.

Considering the ruling parties attempts to trick the public into partaking of their own ideology, it might be best if actual historians were to decide how to narrate Korean history, providing they could avoid any undue pressure from political elements.

‘CockAsian’ Korean spicy chicken truck ready to roll in Texas

American small business owner and Korean food fan Candie Yoder, is gearing up for her soon to be launched Korean spicy chicken food truck dubbed “CockAsian.”

San Antonio Port, where she was initially set to open for business, has banned Yoder, calling the name “offensive”.

Yoder doesn’t see what the big deal is:

“I was getting so many shocked and surprised reactions about me choosing to do an Asian themed truck that I wanted to do some play on words about it,’’ she said.

“Our name actually was a play on the fact that I am Caucasian and cooking Asian. It also worked with the fact that we are featuring Korean fried chicken as our headline item.”

We’ll have to see how this plays out, but Korean food fans (and the government money trying to get more of them) should be happy with the menu.

Korean Fried Chicken Korean BBQ – Pork & Beef
Japchae – Korean Stir Fried Noodles with Veggies – Add Pork or Beef
Bibimbap – A rice bowl topped with fried and pickled vegetables, meat and an egg
Galbi – BBQ Beef Short Ribs

Small Plates –
Spicy Fried Tofu with Sexy Sauce – Pressed tofu fried and served with a spicy sauce
Dumplings – Pork and Vegetable
Homemade Kimchi – Variations weekly

Dessert –
Hoeddoek Korean Sweet Pancakes
– Chocolate
– Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Pecan

Why no Korean restaurants on Asia top 50 list?

Food blogger Tom W., writes in the Wall Street Journal about why South Korea made no appearance on S.Pelligrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, held in Singapore recently.

Mr W. discredits the list as a marketing stunt and “flawed on its face” –none of Beijing’s lauded restaurants appear on the list, for example– but he does offer some interesting insight on the ROK’s absence from the list.

…having eaten at roughly half the restaurants included I find it unsurprising that Korea doesn’t feature at all. This is because the Korean restaurant scene is far behind its regional peers.

In Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and elsewhere there is a focus on authentic but progressive cooking with a respect for the ingredients. Here in Korea the choice at high-end restaurants is between reconstructions of bad Western, Chinese or Japanese food, or traditional Korean food where the emphasis is on the display of wealth and variety of ingredients rather than the quality of the food.

While I have had some decent ‘reconstructions’ of non-Korean food, the pickings are pretty paltry for foreign cuisine –and may the heaven’s open up and shower me in the glory of some good Thai or Vietnamese food someday down here in Busan.

You can read the rest here.

So many kinds of wrong

A Kimchi Ramen Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Really?

To quote ZenKimchi:

Yes, we do a Kimchi Grilled Cheese at the Journal, but you have to be seriously stoned with the Taco Bell closed to want to eat this.

(Damn you, JoongAng Ilbo! Damn you!)

PS: It’s come to my attention I may have taken the post title from here.

Hmm… Boyangsik

The Korea Times’ Han Sang-hee offers some boyangsik suggestions to beat the summer heat.

I have a suggestion of my own, too.

Also on the summer food front, the wife and I recently went to Pyeongnaeok, a North Korean-style noodle joint near Euljiro 3-ga, to try their chicken muchim and chogyetang, buckwheat noodles served in a tangy chilled chicken broth with chunks of chicken meat. Highly recommended.

Kimchi — It’ll Get You Laid

From here.

(HT to Scott)

ZenKimchi March Madness 2010

Unrelated to March Madness in the USA — oh, and BTW, G’town will be playing West Virginia in the Big East finals — Joe is putting together ZenKimchi’s March Madness 2010:

It’s time for ZenKimchi’s March Madness, sponsored by hi EXPAT!

Korean foods from different regions compete for fame and glory on the international stage. Which cuisine will reign supreme?

Here’s how it works.

It all starts at midnight Seoul Time on March 14th. Every day pairs of foods from the regions of Seoul-Gyeonggi, Northern, Southern and Central will vie for your votes. Each region has sixteen foods. The winners of each region will square off in the semi-finals and finals. By the end of March, we will award a lucky Korean food the title of 2010 World Champion.

Read the rest at Zenkimchi.

Hmm… Gamja Fries with Chopped Galbi

At Zenkimchi, Joe McPherson writes:

I’ve hinted it many times, and we just keep getting confirmation after confirmation. The Korean government and corporations dream of conquering the world with their prissy pretentious overpriced “well-being” concept of Korean food–you know the postulations like “Americans pay $300 for Japanese food, why not Korean” and “Americans only eat hamburgers, so they’ll like Korean food because it’s well-being.”

But reality blows their sanitized fabrications out of the gukmul.

Read on about Korean junk food’s invasion of America at Joe’s blog.

Fine Dining in a City Without Heart or Spirit :)

Food porn from Sunday!

Jaha Son Mandu

Sansachun, Jaha Son Mandu

Pyeonsu, Jaha Son Mandu

Pyeonsu, Jaha Son Mandu

Tteok Manduguk (Rice Cake Dumpling Soup), Jaha Son Mandu

Had lunch at Buam-dong’s Jaha Son Mandu, which easily ranks as one of my favorite restaurants in Seoul. As the name would suggest, the house specialty is hand-made mandu, or dumplings. Here we have beef and shiitake mushroom pyeonsu and a very colorful rendition of tteok manduguk.


Gokju (Grain Wine), Sanchon

Dinner, Sanchon

Dinner, Sanchon

Dinner, Sanchon

My wife’s Mongolian friend and her French fiancé were visiting Korea, so we took them out to Sanchon in Insa-dong.

I hadn’t been to Sanchon in over 10 years. It was one of those places my old Lonely Planet* really loved, and for good reason. Run by a rather colorful Buddhist monk and expert on Korean temple food, Sanchon specializes, unsurprisingly, on Korean Buddhist cuisine. It goes without saying the menu (which consists of just two options, “lunch” and “dinner”) is completely vegetarian. The dinner menu consists of 16 different dishes, which you can read (in English) here.

*For the record, I actually like the Lonely Planet. A lot. It was a lifesaver in East Africa, really helpful in China and served me quite well when I first came to Korea. Sure, the Korea guide isn’t much use to me now, but given how long I’ve been here, I’d better know more than what’s in the LP.

Seungmu (Monk Dance), Sanchon

Seungmu (Monk Dance), Sanchon

Seungmu (Monk Dance), Sanchon

Seungmu (Monk Dance), Sanchon

One of the things that makes Sanchon perfect if you’re taking out guests on visit to Korea is that in the evening, it hosts performances of Korean traditional music and dance. What you see above is a performance of the Seungmu, or Monk Dance.

Sin Yetchatjip Teahouse

Sin Yetchatjip Teahouse

Sin Yetchatjip Teahouse

Sin Yetchatjip Teahouse

Insa-dong is famous for teahouses, of course. Everyone has their favorite; if I had to choose, I’d probably go with Sin Yetchatjip, which I wrote about here. It’s a cozy little place, and quite atmospheric.

Yongsan Gamjatang

Yongsan Gamjatang

Yongsan Gamjatang

Yongsan Gamjatang

Yongsan Gamjatang

Went to Yongsan Station to watch “Inglorious Basterds,” which I found to be rather disappointing.

What was not disappointing was the gamjatang, a specialty of the Yongsan Station neighborhood. There are a couple of places in front of the station — some of them might seem a bit, ahem, gritty, but the prices are good, and the food even better.

“It’s like this Korean-Mexican fusion thing of crazy deliciousness” . . .

It’s Korean yet not really Korean — it’s what happens when second-generation Koreans experiment with traditional Korean food around Los Angeles. As per the NY Times article, a new type of Korean inspired food is finding fans. The success of “Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go” — Korean Tacos sold from a truck — is only one sign of the changing tastes and influences that are converging.

Mexican and Korean culinary influences seem to be mixing more readily, due to the influx and steady mixing of both cultures in food spaces from DC to Los Angeles.

One friend just told me how surprised they were to see Mexican workers making kimchi at one restaurant in Washington, DC, that was Korean-owned. Apparently this is just the beginning.

The article is here.

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