Dramaverse Basics: Food 201
Chef Choi runs a tight ship in the food-centered drama, “Pasta” (파스타)
A couple of months ago, I did a little piece on common foods found in drama and I had so much fun writing about (and sampling) all that food, I thought I’d give it another go. Since I covered a lot of the basic drama foods last time, I decided to dig a little deeper and see what delicious treats I could discover. Believe it or not, I found quite a bit which means I’ve got seven more tasty Dramaland treats for you to try.
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kimchi (군고구마 & 김치)
The Choi Family is enjoying a little quality time together as they snack on sweet potatoes and kimchi in “Bride of the Century” (백년의 신부)
This unusual sounding combination is the stuff Lee Hong Ki’s (이홍기) character, Choi Kang Joo, lived on in the haunted romantic drama, Bride of the Century (백년의 신부). I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t too keen on trying this on at first as my only experience with sweet potatoes comes in the form of the marshmallow covered mess that typically finds its way to the table every Thanksgiving, here in the U.S. (Yuck!) However, Hong Ki and his co-star, Yang Jin Sun (양진성), made these street-roasted sweet potatoes covered in kimchi look so good, I just had to try it and you know what? It’s actually quite delicious! As in so good that after 30 some odd years *ahem* I can finally say I like sweet potatoes!
- Pancakes (전)
Drinking on an empty stomach isn’t a good idea which is why Na Bong Sun brings Chef Kang a buckwheat pancake to snack on in “Oh My Ghostess” (오 나의 귀신님)
I don’t know how it is for the rest of the world, but here, in my house, when I say pancakes my kids immediately start cheering for a towering stack of syrup-drenched happiness. However the pancakes you find most often in dramas aren’t sweet at all, instead they’re savory and sometimes spicy. These pancakes are really more of a batter covered mixture of ingredients that are then fried until golden, brown and delicious. What goes in these plate-sized pancakes all depends on the chef as really, anything goes. My personal favorites are kimchi pancakes (김치전) and vegetable pancakes (야채전), which are sometimes made with seafood as well. Yum!
As a side note, there is a sweet pancake in Korea called hotteok (호떡). This tasty street food is popular during the winter months and for good reason! Yeasty dough is filled with brown sugar and crushed walnuts and is then griddled to perfection, the sugar inside melting into gooey syrup that is nothing short of perfection. These delicious snacks are the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter day.
- Chicken Feet (닭발)
Tak Ye Jin and Baek Seung Chan enjoy several tasty treats during their downtime in “Producer” (프로듀사).
I’m just gonna shoot straight with you on this next one. I love food and I love to try new things but I have yet to bring myself to try the sweet and spicy chicken feet I’ve seen so many characters in dramas devour. It’s not that I’m (completely) opposed to the idea of trying this dish; it’s just that I have yet to find a place near me that actually sells them. I suppose if I ever did find a place (or actually visited Korea) I’d give this one a go but it’s not a dish I’m going to attempt to whip up at home. (I can hear my kids’ screams of terror already.) Still, Gong Hyo Jin (공효진) and Kim Soo Hyun (김수현) made them look awfully tasty as they munched on a plate of these sweet-hot feet in Producer (프로듀사) so who knows? Maybe chicken feet will end up being my new favorite snack? I mean, anything’s possible, right?
- Live Baby Octopus (낙지)
Cha Ki Young and Park Tae Yeon enjoy a little live octopus in “The Greatest Marriage” (최고의 결혼).
Yes, you read that right. Live. Baby. Octopus. I never would have believed this one was actually a thing until I watched Park Si Yeon (박시연) and No Min Woo (노민우) chow down on them in The Greatest Marriage (최고의 결혼). I admit I was a bit horrified as those wiggly little tentacles smacked Park Si Yeon in the face but hey, I eat sushi so really, what’s the difference? While I’ve never tried this one personally (fresh seafood is hard to come by when you live 1,000 miles from the nearest ocean) I have it on good authority that baby octopus are actually quite delicious when eaten live. When I asked how to handle those tentacles when they smack you, I was told to just bite down hard and they’ll stop wiggling. Yeah… I don’t think I’ll be trying this one anytime soon.
- Fried Chicken (닭강정)
According to Sung Dong Il in “Answer Me 1997” (응답하라 1997), you can’t have a soccer watching party without fried chicken.
Moving away from the more adventurous side of drama food, fried chicken is one of the staples of the Dramaverse. It’s the backbone of any good soccer party, the go-to food for hungry idols and the sole source of income for many Drama Land parents. While fried chicken is a pretty common food here in the U.S. the Korean version is a bit different in that you can get about a zillion different varieties ranging anywhere from plain, to spicy-sweet, to fruit flavored. Personally, I’m a fan of the sweet and spicy version but after watching BTS’ Jin devour a box of fruit flavored chicken, I’d be willing to give strawberry chicken a go.
- Seolleongtang (설렁탕)
Seolleongtang is both life and love in the drama “Shining Inheritance” (찬란한 유산).
Nothing says loving like a big steaming bowl of seolleongtang, at least that’s what Ban Hyo Jung’s (반효정) character, Jang Suk Ja, told everyone in Shining Inheritance (찬란한 유산). She built her empire on this delicious bowl of beefy goodness so I’m gonna say she knows what she’s talking about. This milky white soup is made of ox bones and beef brisket and it is, without a doubt, the most beefy tasting soup I have ever eaten. The bones are slowly cooked for hours (or even a day) so every bit of meaty goodness is extracted from them and then seasoned at the table so everyone can get it “just right.” Making this soup is definitely a labor of love but it’s well worth it, just know a typical recipe makes way more soup than any one person could ever eat. Of course, ordering a bowl at your local Korean restaurant is easier and equally delicious so maybe start there; you’ll be happy you did.
- Bingsu (빙수)
Baek Geon Woo treats Lee Jung Joo to bingsu that’s as pretty as a flower in “Jeju Island Gatsby” (제주도 개츠비).
It only seems right to wrap this food post up on a sweet dessert, bingsu. A popular summertime treat made of shaved ice and various toppings, bingsu is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day. Toppings range anywhere from green tea and black sesame to fruit, cereal, crushed cookies, mochi and of course, pat (팥, sweetened red beans). Out of all the Korean food I’ve forced my kids to eat, this is the one I actually get requests for and who am I to say no? There’s nothing better than a bowl of perfectly sweetened red beans covered in shaved ice, a rainbow of diced fruit and a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. Now if only I could get Baek Gun Woo to share a bowl with me… *sigh*
So there you have it, seven more drama foods to tempt your palate and tantalize your taste buds. I admit, some are a bit more adventurous than others but that’s part of the fun. What I want to know is, which of these food are you tempted to try? Are there any on this list that are already have a home on your list of favorites? I want to know all about your drama food adventures to be sure to leave me a comment below!