CULTURE BITE KOREA 🇰🇷
WHAT A MONTH!
Learning about Korean food this month has been a BLAST! I’ve learnt so much, everyday, and there’s still just so much more to learn and EAT! A huge thank you thank you thank you x 10000 to Sasha from @earthlingsasha and her mum, Sue, for teaching me so much about their wonderful culture, inviting me into their home, and just being all-round legends. Thank you!
10 THINGS I LEARNT ABOUT KOREAN FOOD
Home-cooked Korean food is actually very healthy and has an extremely nourishing and satisfying quality about it.
They’re big on stews, soups, glass-noodles, small lightly seasoned side dishes, zucchini, perilla leaves, cabbage, daikon radish, barley tea, pears and pear-flavoured things, apples, corn syrup.
Meals are made to be shared.
Stainless steel is the popular material for chopsticks, bowls, cups, plates. I think it brings a different feel to the table, although I can’t quite explain this.
Textures which are celebrated: chewy/bouncy/slippery/sticky from RICE, POTATO STARCH, JELLIES, ARROWROOT AND BUCKWHEAT NOODLES. crispy/crunchy on the outside from FRYING.
Flavours which are celebrated: lots of spice + more sweet than salty + nuttiness all together. tangy kimchi. sesame oil. pungent onion + garlic. vinegar. mustard. fishy/seafoody. cakes/desserts aren’t overly sweet. dishes are not too salty and salty sauces are often given on the side.
Very vegan friendly ingredients are very easy to find. They love vegetables and tofu!
A lot of excellent fermented and preserved vegetables! Kimchi, soybean paste, radish, root vegetables.
Seaweeds often compliment dishes.
IT IS SO DELICIOUS.
VEGAN KOREAN OPTIONS IN SYDNEY
So… everyone has been asking: WHERE CAN I EAT VEGAN KOREAN IN SYDNEY?
I don’t want to get your hopes up because in reality, it is still very difficult to find vegan Korean food, especially main meals. Whilst cooking vegan is so easy because the pantry staples (see below!) are so vegan-friendly, restaurants are still meat, seafood and egg heavy.
I’ve been lucky enough to eat out with @earthlingsasha and her mum Sue (who speaks Korean), and they showed me a few places to go. NOTE/TIPS: THESE ARE NOT VEGAN RESTAURANTS so you’ll want to double-, even triple-check what you’re ordering with the wait-staff. These aren’t your weekend-brunch cafes, these are KOREAN RESTAURANTS and you need to be CULTURALLY AWARE when ordering/asking for changes. Have patience and don’t expect that waitstaff will even know what you mean by ‘vegan’ - they’re also extremely busy!
1. Myeongdong Korean Restaurant - HIGHLY RECOMMEND
We had the BIBIM-NAENGMYON without egg and beef (ASK): cold buckwheat/tapioca noodles with spicy sauce, served with pickled radish and cucumber.
We also had the DOLSOT-BIBIMBAP, without egg and meat (ASK).
We also could eat 9 out of 13 Banchan (side dishes) on the day that we went - but this might not be the case on your visit. I would assume, however, that the Banchan changes from day-to-day. Be sure to ask what contains fish-sauce. The waitstaff were happy to explain to us which ones did and which ones didn’t.
GO EARLY it gets exteremely busy!
2. THE BASAK - highly recommend
Cheap FRIED street food - get the seaweed rolls and the sweet potato! It’ll cost you $5. and heads up: the sauce is NOT vegan.
3. BAKEHOUSE GARDEN
DIY rice paper rolls! GO EARLY it gets busy. Lots of vegetables. The yellow stuff is strips of EGG. There is not other vegan protein and the dipping sauce is NOT vegan. Feel free to bring your own, we did - Sasha brought tofu and sauce :P (Also I can suggest the dipping sauce from my KIMCHI PANCAKES recipe, or just bring some sweet chilli)
Korean bakery with EXCELLENT fried sticky rice balls - I would recommend the mini ones (un-filled) covered in cinnamon sugar. The large ones are filled with red bean! They also have black sesame mochi filled with red bean and strawberry filled mochi too. I LOVE THE LITTLE CINNAMON BALLS.
5. THE MANDOO
Small and bustling freshly-made Korean dumpling spot in Strathfield. Eftpos $20 minimum (I had to run out and find an ATM oops). One option for vegan dumplings: VEGETABLE AND SOYBEAN DUMPLINGS - they’re filled with glass noodles and what looks like meat, but is in fact soy bean protein! Not bad, but not amazing. I would spend all that money at the Basak on the little seaweed rolls instead :P
THE BEST VEGAN KOREAN FOOD EVER. They have the most delicious home-cooked and traditional bibimbap, you can get kimchi, and seasonal specials from Sasha and Sue themselves. Also 100% vegan for SURE.
KOREAN PANTRY STAPLES
Soy Sauce: a premium soy sauce will add a delicious difference to your dishes without having to use fish sauce.
Gochujang - Korean Red Pepper Paste: spicy spicy goodness.
Doenjang - Fermented Soy Bean Paste: similar to miso delicious, grainy and flavourful paste for soups and stews.
Gochugaru - Korean Red Pepper Flakes:
Sweet Potato Noodles: use this to make Sasha’s Japchae!
‘Tteok’ Rice Cakes: make some of my tteokbokki!
Korean Tofu: different to Chinese tofu, stronger soy bean flavour, more grainy!
‘Kim’ Seaweed: seasoned sesame oil flavoured seaweed on EVERYTHING. Perfect just with rice and Kimchi
Apple Syrup: my Korean sweetener of choice!
Ssamjang: A delicious garlicky, soybean-y, spicy dipping sauce!
Ddukbaegi: Clay cooking pot
Dolsot: Stone cooking pot
KOREAN SUPERMARKETS IN SYDNEY
Eastwood Mart, Rowe St, Eastwood 2122
Hana Asian Grocery, Railway Parade, Eastwood 2122
S-Mart, Rowe St, Eastwood 2122
Ko-Mart, George St, North Strathfield 2137
Hanaro Mart, Strathfield Plaza, 16/11 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
KOREAN SHOPPING LIST/RECOMMENDATIONS
Vegetables/Herbs to try:
Bracket - Young Fern Shoots
Red Bean Steam Buns
Black Sesame Steam Buns
Vegetable Steam Buns
Kimchi Dumplings (Mandu)
Vegetable Dumplings (Mandu)
Yakgwa Korean Biscuits
Fresh tteok rice cakes