I’m a strong believer that you can learn a lot about a culture through its food. The way ingredients are grown and cultivated, the process in which dishes are made, and, of course, the way the end-product tastes all offer a glimpse into the heart (or should I say stomach) of a place.
And what better way to get a glimpse into Korean culture than by attending a cooking class and learning from someone who understands these aspects and wants to share the beauty of Korean cuisine with others.
This blogpost is brought to you in collaboration with OME Cooking Lab
OME Cooking Lab lets you experience the tastes of Korea. Starting off with a guided market tour, you’ll purchase fresh ingredients which you’ll be using to make a variety of traditional Korean meals. In a matter of hours, you’ll learn how to make a number of dishes and get to indulge in them when you feast together at the end.
Traditional market tour
Typically, the class will start off by touring through a traditional market and purchasing the ingredients which will be used during it.
However, we had to forgo the traditional market tour this time around because of the Coronavirus – and postponed to have it at a later date.
The menu for the day
We all found a place at the table, and in front of us were all the ingredients we would be using that day to prepare our dishes.
Our teacher Miyeon started us off by going over the dishes that we would be making. Today’s menu would include 닭갈비 (Dakgalbi), 된장찌개 (Doenjang jjigae), 잡채 (Japchae), 김치전 (Kimchi Jeon), 해물파전 (Haemul Pajeon), and 오이 김치 (cucumber kimchi).
Let’s prepare our ingredients!
Did you know that there’s a correct way to cut vegetables for each dish? I sure didn’t!
For Japchae, in particular, it was explained to us:
Long cut, long life!
Meaning, you should cut your vegetables long because it signifies that you were wishing the person a long life.
Later on, I asked our teacher whether there are any other aspects of Korean cuisine like this. She gave two examples:
- Koreans eat rice cake soup on New Year’s day. If you eat rice cake soup, it means that you will get one year older.
- If you eat noodles on your birthday, it’s believed that you will live long.
Let’s start cooking!
After everything was cut, we began to prepare our dishes. Simultaneously to being taught the instructions, we were also given stories and explanations.
Korean cuisine incorporates many colours to beautify the food. In many dishes, you’ll find reds, yellows, blacks, whites, and blues! For example, looking at Bibimbap, you can see all of these five colours. And make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you visit the palaces and other places in Korea, because you’ll be sure to see these colours as well!
There are three essential ingredients you’ll need for many Korean dishes:
1. Soy sauce
2. Soybean paste
3. Gochujang (red pepper paste)
In Korean cuisine, fermented seasoning determines the taste of the food. Because of this, many Koreans will make their own seasoning by making soy sauce, soybean paste, and gochujang (red pepper paste) at home.
잘 먹겠습니다! “Thank you for the food!”
As the saying goes: the best is left for last.
Once the food had all been prepared, we sat together and enjoyed what we had put our hearts into making.
Great food, with great company. I couldn’t have thought of a better note to end the class with.
Before leaving, we were gifted with a cookbook that included the recipes for the dishes we had made, among many others. We were also given our own packet of fresh ingredients to take home with us and make 된장찌개 (Doenjang jjigae) that we had learned to make during the class.
For anyone wanting to experience a piece of Korean culture, learn more about Korean cuisine, be in the presence of great company, and learn from the expertise of a talented and kind cook – then I highly recommend stopping by OME Cooking Lab during your next trip to Seoul.
You can find OME Cooking Lab at:
If you see Miyeon, please tell her I say hi!
Have you tried any Korean food? What has been your favourite?
Let me know in the comments below!
A big heartfelt thank you to Miyeon and OME Cooking Lab for giving me this opportunity to experience an important piece of Korea by learning how to make delicious traditional Korean dishes.
For more blogs about Korea, click here.