Monday, 1 June 2009

Korean food delights: Part 1 해장국

From time to time friends and people I've met or taught have asked me what Korean food is my favourite. Over the years I have changed my opinion, but still love the things I did when I first came here back in 2005. I now have a definite favourite. A few months ago a restaurant opened up near my workplace called 뼈큰 청진동 해장국. It's open 24 hours a day and sells different Korean dishes, many of which are very good. The restaurant sells something called 해장국, or haejang gook which is essentially a soup dish.

I have tried many meals at this place and my favourite without a doubt is 뼈큰 전골. this translates roughly to a casserole dish using pork backbone with spinach, leeks, mushrooms, rice cakes all thrown into soup. It might not sound nice or even look good but it's very very tasty.

The meat is already cooked but you crank up the heat on a gas range and wait for the meal to come to the boil. After simmering for a short while it's ready to eat. You place your meat into a bowl along with the vegetables and soup and separate the meat from the bone. There can be quite a lot of bone and it can be messy, but eating is worth the wait.

For me the soup is the best part. Very rich, flavoursome and a little spicy too.

This meal is very filling but for some, like me, there is more to come if you so wish. My girlfriend and I always order some rice which is fried in the pan that the meal was cooked (of course most of the soup/meat has been removed) with a few vegetables and seaweed. Koreans love rice but to me just eating rice is not enough, it has to go with something else. I place this rice in a bowl which I saved some of the soup and create a new dish which again is very good

Like every other Korean meal there are several side dishes but here I love the kimchi. I've never liked kimchi until this place. It's crunchy, spicy and tasty. Like most Korean meals this is cheap and tasty and has some nutritious value too. Definite value for money and always satisfying

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