If there’s one place in Kingston Borough that I find fascinating, it’s New Malden High Street with it’s plethora of Korean eateries. I’ve noticed that there’s a load of Karaoke available too. It seems Koreans are up for it: there’s the paradox, because those I’ve met in the flesh seem very quiet, almost shy.
Our tutor Hyung Soo, chef, New Malden resident and ambassador for all things Korean, chose week 3 of our Hansik Cuisine course to open our eyes to Korean drinking culture.
He brought 5 different types to class at Kingston Charles Centre: chrysanthemum rice wine, Korean Whisky, rice wine of 6% abv, Soju (similar to Sake from Japan, 16-21% depending on brand) and home-made Makgeolli – a drink of green tea and chrysanthemum flowers at 8%. ‘Maeltiva Su’ a ‘Soju aimed at girls” (14% abv) is also available.
In Korea, Soju is very cheap compared to here in the UK despite its high alcohol content. A speciality available from H-Mart New Malden, is Bokbunja: black raspberry wine at 15%. Korean whisky is made from sticky white rice, not barley. A different enzyme is used than in Sake.
Lager? Hyung Soo explained that the quality isn’t great judging from the nightmare morning-after head he experienced. All the alcohol I sampled tasted unusually herbal, aromatic even.
Koreans love to play drinking games, there is a one-shot etiquette and it’s considered bad manners to have an empty glass or to serve oneself. However, people don’t tend to drink without food, better than just getting hammered don’t you think?
One delicacy often eaten with alcohol is Yukhoe – a kind of Steak Tartare served with julienne pear and a raw egg yolk on top. In the past, this was a dish for aristocracy since the meat used has to be of the highest quality and is very expensive. Sirloin, Brisket or Flank can be used.
Cover the beef with kitchen towel and place in the fridge for at least 8 hours, after which cut into julienne strips. Sprinkle over sugar and place in the fridge once again.
Chop the pear into julienne, submerge in sugar water.
Mix the following ingredients in a bowl: sugar, chopped garlic, dark soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, a pinch of black pepper and a tablespoon of sesame seeds – then add the sliced beef and stir to coat.
Present the raw beef as a pattie/burger and garnish with sliced cucumber, the soaked pear strips and a raw egg yolk, sprinkle pine kernels to garnish.