Food glorious food in South Korea (Day 253)
We have so enjoyed the food, glorious food in South Korea. Now in Chuncheon, this place doesn't let the side down!
Another travel day today, one train and two buses and no deep and meaningful conversations. We listened to music together on the train which was lovely, listening to music that took us back to when we were courting. (What a delightfully old-fashioned word). We are now in Chuncheon, the capital of the Gangwon Province, northeast of South Korea. We wanted to come to this area, but the accommodation seemed really pricey. I left it for a couple of days and was fortunate to find a tiny yet reasonably priced Airbnb here. It will do. We’ve just returned this evening from another delicious meal at a restaurant that our host recommended. It was in Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street, named after the speciality dish of the area which Tim had - Dak Galbi This is chicken stir-fried in a heavy iron pan in the centre of the table mixed with sliced white cabbage, spring onions, sweet potato chips, tteok, which are rice cakes (but nothing like those lightweight one we have in the UK – these are completely different, soft and chewy) in a rich sweet and spicy sauce. At the last minute, the waitress added some thick noodles, stirring them around so that they also got coated with the hot sticky sauce. Using my chopsticks I ate all bar the chicken. I haven’t eaten meat for over 35 years now, my tiny way to reduce our human impact on the environment. We also had another speciality dish of the area, Makguksu, which is buckwheat noodles served in a spicy chilled broth with vegetables. The locals often look concerned that we may not be able to handle the spiciness of the food, but I think Tim and I are becoming immune to the heat now. Perhaps Tim has converted from “Chicken Korma” man to Vindaloo man! We are really enjoying the food in South Korea, eating delicious meals all over the country. For example, the hot mung bean and onion pancakes called Bindaetteok from Gwangjang Market and Haemul Pajeon, seafood vegetable pancakes we made in our cooking lesson in Seoul with Anne. The various types of bibimbap which I personally enjoy, both the hot and cold ones. These have a base of either rice or noodles, layers of different types of vegetables, getting your 5 a day here, and then some kind of protein. I will definitely attempt to make them when we zoom back home for a month. Perhaps I’d better not make the raw fish one though, known as Hoedeopbap. With many meals, we are given a range of side dishes which come free. The most common is kimchi, quintessential to any Korean meal. It is usually made in bulk with napa cabbage, like a Chinese cabbage, and each leaf is coated with a chilli paste mixed with julienne of vegetables. Once it is fermented, it is kept in its very own fridge. My favourite side dish is Vegetable Japchae, the other dish we made in Seoul, This is noodles made from sweet potato starch, known as glass noodles as they go translucent when cooked and are stir-fried with various vegetables with a hint of soy sauce, ginger and sugar. Other meals have been grilled eels, raw fish called “hoe”, a speciality in Busan, the Korean style bbq of beef (Gogigui) that Tim enjoyed in Daejeon, and the many different types of stews, from silky tofu to thick rich seafood stew. Puddings don’t seem to be a big thing over here (yet) apart from Bingsu which we had the other day in Busan at the café that makes the best Bingsu in the whole of Korea, according to our friend Imsoon. Coffee is a big thing though with coffee shops on every corner and Starbucks is a very common sight.
The food is so healthy here, each meal has a balanced combination of carbs, protein and plenty of vegetables. Sadly we have noticed that the western style of rubbishy sweets, crisps and drinks full of E numbers are permeating into society and a few of the children are looking a bit chunky. Please, Korea – don’t go down that slippery slope. Look at the consequence of other countries, the obesity, the number of Diabetics, the effect this has on society and on the health service. Stop now! Food, glorious food. I wonder what delights we will eat tomorrow.