A Weekend With Ancestral Korean

The first day I was exposed to cooking was probably the worse day . Sitting here writing, I’m reminiscing about my first day when I decided to take up my ladle. Making it one of the best days I can possibly imagine .

I came back from school , it was a terrible day as that day I had a mob of students after me ; even one of my teachers decided to gang up on me . Thank god for typing no one has to visualize my writing , while my teacher squinted her eyes — she also decided to place a target on me . She screamed and kicked me out of her class despite my essay being good.

My so called “friends” decided to make my life a living nightmare for the next 5 hours until school was over. Teased , criticized and put down in front of the entire school during recess, made me squirm and caused me to start a fight . I threw my fist to one of the kids and landed myself in the discipline office .

It wasn’t my fault but I couldn’t keep myself together.

When I reached my room , I went out to the common area and turned on my favorite channel in that dingy dark room . Gordon Ramsay’s “F-Word For Food” was playing . Watching him plate and cook — made my eyes water . I went to the kitchen to try out my hand with cooking , it was my worse dish but I had the best feeling . I can say officially that was the worst egg curry one could make .

Now , after years of cooking, I grew and made my way into improvising dishes from all around the world . So this week I decided to use my own palate to try experimenting with traditional Korean dishes.

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From Kimchi to Miyuk (Seaweed soup) I decided to make it from scratch for the biggest fans of my food . Being in Europe sometimes it becomes impossible to find key ingredients to make amazing and authentic Asian inspired dishes. Lack of certain spices and certain vegetables , makes one emphasizes on the fact of matching the right flavors, doing tons of research and coming up with the best representation .

The day started , with me frantically walking to the store to find the best ingredients . Although I love shopping with my partner — when I’m making my big dishes I prefer doing it alone for the sake of feeling inspired . Sometimes he tends to constantly rush me , leaving my thoughts hanging within the clouds .

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With my music playing and the stove flaming, I decided to start with my favorite dish, Kimchi. Kimchi, as everyone knows, is a staple food in any Koreans diet . Koreans enjoy their everyday meals with Kimchi . Sometimes , just plain white rice mixed with a big dollop of Kimchi is enough to get them through the day . So marinating and making the mixture for the Kimchi begun , surprisingly Korean food involves the least amount of cooking and focuses on the flavors of the ingredients itself . This became prominent in the process of making this Kimchi .

My next move was making the famous Miyuk .

Miyuk was the birthday or postpartum soup . A soup representing life and recovery was something I needed this week . To revive and feel alive again . Unfortunately , seaweed comes in only one version in Europe , the typical sushi seaweed . Although the flavor is the same , slightly concentrated but this seaweed can’t retain the shape , instead, it becomes part of the soup . The fishy taste of the seaweed just brings the ocean to the steps of your taste buds.

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The Kimchi is done and is left in the living room to continue absorbing and pickeling while the other 5 dishes get prepared . Why am I not surprised when my partner decided to snack on them before anything was done , even-though it was utterly flattering to see him love my dish , I had to swat his hands a couple of times to ensure the suspense stays a suspense until the feast .

Miyuk is an interesting taste for many Europeans , so when they enjoyed it without understanding the symphony in their mouth it made my heart skip a beat . I believe cooking is the same as making love , each process goes on with such love and delicate care .

Every onion and garlic are chopped not only for the sake of flavor but it was a form of foreplay to make sex interesting .

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I realized that each and every pot there had a piece of my heart sliced and diced into it . My stress melted away as the pots simmered . It was pure joy from the home made steamer for the steamed eggplants to the broth for the pickled eggs . All of them were part of my soul.

This unknown energy became part of how the dishes eventually tasted like .
Korean dishes are a symphony of sourness, sweetness, and spiciness together . They come together to balance each other at the same time triggering each and every palate of your tongue. While the Kimchi contains all the mouthwatering flavors ,the eggplants calm you down with its water like internals and the pickled eggs coats your tongue like butter with its yolk.

I would say if Beethoven was here , his symphony would’ve gone in a different direction based on this food .

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Finally, as we slurped the leftovers of the miyuk , you can feel the saltiness at the back of your throat and the warmth sliding down to your stomach. It allows you to feel filled without feeling guilty. Their simple pleasures of enjoying ingredients as a minimalistic dish with strong — balanced flavors give’s one the mind food they need to go one with their day to day routine.

Sometimes , we all need simple pleasures and Korean’s understood their ancestor’s food and their intentions while creating such strong flavor as well as respecting the produce of the land.

We all need simplicity in our lives, Korean cuisine amplifies that with a party in your mouth.

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