One of the best ways for me to learn about other cultures is through cooking classes. I’m lucky that my local community college has a phenomenal culinary arts program and they offer evening cooking classes for those of us eager to taste the world for $65 a class. I figure that by the time I’m able to resume my active travel schedule, I’ll know what to expect – from kimchi to doro wat.
Recently, I took a class on Korean food and it was fantastic. Although I’d eaten at Korean restaurants, I’d never attempted to cook it on my own. After this class, I will definitely be incorporating Korean dishes into my regular rotation.
One of my favorite new recipes was Bim Bim Bap, a dish of beef, chicken, or pork served over a mixture of rice and vegetables topped with a fried egg.
I was thrilled to learn how to make dumplings, too. Mandu dumplings probably came to Korea with the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Personally, I prefer steamed dumplings, but no matter how you cook them, these dumplings are fantastic. This recipe included pork, tofu, onion, cabbage, and bean noodles. The dipping sauce was made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, green onions, and sesame seeds.
But I also loved Bulgogi, a marinated beef dish that we ate in lettuce wraps. The marinade, which consisted of soy sauce, sugar, green onions, garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and chili paste, was so good I may just coat everything with it in the future!
But you can’t enjoy Korean food without kimchi. Ignore everything you’ve heard. If you like spicy food – really, seriously, spicy food – then you have to at least give kimchi a try. Although I don’t imagine I will make it from scratch, I would definitely buy some of this delicious dish to serve with a Korean feast in the future. But unlike many Koreans, I doubt that I’ll be eating it with breakfast!
If you’re curious about trying new foods, consider taking a class at your local community college or trying the lunch menu at an ethnic restaurant. You may not love everything you try, but it may be an eye-opening experience that leads you to adopt new favorite foods and learn more about the cultures that created them.