Perhaps in another life, I would have been born in Asia. I absolutely love Asian food – Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, and of course, Korean. I also love to cook, though I do not get a chance to do it as often as I want to because of my work-life. Thus, I try to combine this passion with my love for traveling and cultures.
I celebrated my birthday at a Korean BBQ restaurant last year, and ever since then, I have been curious on how to make these great tasting dishes myself. So while in Korea this past December, I just had to jump on the opportunity to learn how to make some of the main Korean dishes and I was lucky to have found O’ngo Food Communications to teach me how to do just that!
I found O’ngo through Viator and I am so happy I did! It was a great experience from start to finish, from the friendly staff, to my cool classmates, our very knowledgeable chef and the delicious food I now know how to make!
For the the beginner class, the kind of dish you will learn to make depends on what day you enroll to take the class. Here’s the current schedule:
- Bulgogi (marinated barbecued beef) and kimchi (spicy fermented vegetable dish): Mondays and first Saturdays (lunch) and Thursdays (dinner)
- Haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) and sundubu jjigae (soft tofu stew): Tuesdays and second Saturdays (lunch)
- Dakbokkeumtang (spicy chicken barbecue) and japchae (glass-noodle salad): Thursdays and third Saturdays (lunch)
- Bibimbap (rice topped with meat and vegetables) and geotjeori(Korean lettuce salad): Wednesdays (lunch)
I enrolled on a Monday, so on the menu for me was Kimchi and Bulgogi.
Before class, I met my cooking classmates Kevin and Marcus from Australia and Marissa from California. We all hit it off right away and it was great to have them as my classmates :).
We made the Kimchi first and chef Aejin did a great job in teaching us the history and cultural significance behind Kimchi. We also learned the differences in Kimchi by region (for instance, the North’s kimchi is very different from the south). I learned that each family is very particular how they make their kimchi and it becomes a source of pride and differentiation. There are often discussions on who makes kimchi the best.
Kimchi is a very important part of the Korean culture and is Korea’s national dish. It can be eaten alone or used as a main ingredient for many Korean dishes such as kimchi stew, kimchi fried rice, kimchi pancake and kimchi soup.
Kimchi is also lauded for it’s health properties. Since it is essentially made of various vegetables, it contains a high concentration of dietary fiber and is low in calories. One serving provides over 50% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and carotene. It is also rich in vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron. In fact, in 2008, Health magazine named kimchi in its list of top five “World’s Healthiest Foods” for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth.
According to O’ngo,
Kimchi is Korea’s most well-known dish for its tantalizing spiciness and health properties. In Korea there are more than 130 different types of kimchi.
We learned how to make cabbage kimchi (with radish) from the South.
After we made the Kimchi, we let it sit and ferment and then moved on to making the Bulgogi. Bulgogi, which literally means “fire meat” in Korean, is dish that usually consists of grilled marinated beef and is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef.
The best part of everything (other than meeting these cool people) was then getting to eat the delicious meal we cooked :-D. Yum!
After we ate, it was time to take a tour of a traditional Korean market in Insadong to get to learn some more about the culture and some of the ingredients we had used to prepare our dishes.
I greatly enjoyed taking this class and overall, my time in Seoul, which is now one of my favorite cities in the world! I can’t wait to go back and I’ll definitely return to O’ngo Food Communications when I do. Maybe this time, I can take an intermediate class
If you’d like to make Kimchi and Bulgogi on your own, click here and here for some good recipes I found online (very similar to how we made it). Or better yet, head on over to Seoul because there’s no better way to learn than in the heart of where it originated.
Happy eating! 😀