If it’s fast food you’re after, this isn’t it. Korea’s traditional fermented sauces are the original slow food; left to ferment in jars like these on hillsides and rooftops, sometimes for decades. Okay, so it’s not going to win any beauty awards, but this humble paste is what gives Korean food its uniquely rustic, pungent flavor.
Korea’s food is about tradition, not fashion. Its restaurants are simple, its service’s brisk and its flavor’s not for the faint hearted.
This one’s a paste made from fermented beans and some soup to match, some raw garlic and some whole pickled chilies just here. It’s what one Korean friend described as the culinary equivalent of tough love. But tough love, it seems, is exactly what New Yorkers want these days and Londoners, and Tokyoites too. Korean restaurants overseas are now beginning to collect coveted Michelin Stars, including this one in New York. Its owner, Hooni Kim says Korean food used to be seen as cheap and cheerful, but the attitude of chefs abroad is changing.
We don’t have these co, you know we don’t have famous chefs in Korea. We have these mothers who have, for generations and generations have cooked for their family, their family only, and these people, I think, are currently the best chefs in this country. The rise of Korean food hasn’t come as a complete surprise here. The South Korean government has been trying to raise the profile and the image of the nation’s cooking for years, inviting top international chefs to Seoul for inspiration.
Korean farmers are now exporting twice as much produce as they were a few years ago and the trend has boomeranged back home with upscale Korean restaurants starting to appear in Seoul. This late entry into the gastronomic world has left some Koreans wondering: how can something their grandmother makes suddenly be so cool? Lucy Williamson, BBC News, South Korea.