Food and culture are blended together in many countries and that’s definitely true about Korea. One cannot fully appreciate the one without the other. Lucky for me, I love both food and culture!
Last Saturday I was treated to a feast of both Korean food and Korean culture and I walked away a very happy Cindy! Seriously, even though I’d been looking forward to the event for weeks – almost months – it didn’t disappoint. It was amazing! And by now you are probably wondering what I’m talking about… well, unless you’ve read the title. ^^
I was lucky enough to attend Culture.licious’ first Korean cooking class with their Korean home cook, Kyunga. Since you all know I love eating and cooking Korean food, this class was a match made in heaven. And it really was as Kyunga was fabulous. She was knowledgeable, friendly, and comfortable teaching the group of us – I believe there were eleven students in all – the dishes of the day. Kyunga patiently answered all our questions along with Wendy Chung, Culture.licious’ lovely founder – with help from James, Kyunga’s husband and another Culture.licious helper (I’m sorry, I didn’t get her name but she knew a lot about hamburgers in New York – food facts always stick in my mind).
We learned four dishes – two mains and two banchan (반찬), Korean side dishes (although, in keeping with the standard North American preference for three-course meals, one of the mains was presented as an appetizer and one of the banchan was presented as dessert). I was super excited about the two banchan as I’d never made either and quite enjoy them both.
What did we make?
First up was haemulpajeon (해물파전), or Korean seafood pancake which I love to order when out with friends. I loved how, along with explaining and showing us how to make it – and allowing some student volunteers to make their own – Kyunga explained some of the culture around the dish. The Korean penchant for sharing food often surprises Westerners when they arrive in Korea and haemulpajeon is always shared.
I was so excited to learn how to make oi muchim (오이무침), a common banchan of spicy cucumber which is so quick and easy to make. I’m definitely making this one again.
But the highlight for me was when Kyunga taught us about mat tang (맛탕), which are candied yams. I love mat tang so I was ecstatic to learn how to make it. This was our dessert – along with some Korean pears – but I’ve had it more often as a banchan.
Our final dish of the afternoon was the main course – and an all-time favourite of many people – bulgogi (불고기), Korean-style marinated beef or more literally “fire meat”. The secret… marinate your meat overnight!
What did I like about the event?
Seriously, everyone involved from Wendy to Kyunga to the other “students” were so nice that it was just a lovely afternoon. It was wonderful meeting new people who had an interest in Korean food and I absolutely loved chatting with Kyunga beforehand. Friendly people make all the difference.
The dishes we learned were authentic and easy to replicate at home – perfect for either a novice or experienced cook. We were each given a recipe booklet so we could make all the dishes at home.
Our gift of Korean barley tea, bori cha (보리차), was lovely and much appreciated. I used to drink this often in Korea – especially cold.
The balance of instruction and participation was perfect. Every dish was explained while Kyunga prepared it and afterwards, volunteers were able to help or make their own version. Plus it was fun to see how others’ haemulpajeon turned out. Note to self: don’t make it too thick!
What didn’t I like?
Other than having to go all the way to Mississauga (and that was my choice), nothing! I truly wouldn’t hesitate recommending Culture.licious or Kyunga’s Seoul Food from Korea class to anyone.
Want more details?
Interested in learning more about Culture.licious (I totally recommend it)? Then check out their website and Facebook page. And it’s not just Korean cooking classes; they also offer other cultural cooks as well. I’ve only attended Kyunga’s Seoul Food from Korea class but the pictures on the Facebook page make them all look great! Here’s the full list:
- Kyunga – Korean Cook
- Aleks – Former Yugoslavian/Bosnian Cook
- Jay – South Indian Vegetarian Cook
- Minh – Vietnamese Cook
- Lizka – South American/Panamanian Cook
- Raymond – Goan/Kenyan Cook
Seriously, I loved the afternoon! If you get the chance, take one of Kyunga’s classes. You won’t be disappointed. And I’m not the only one who loved Kyunga’s Seoul Food from Korea class, check out the review on Food Junkie Chronicles
Oh… and I have more pictures for you! Click an image for a bigger version, if you like. ^^ This is a new format for pictures on Life’s an Adventure 2, please let me know what you think!