Fancy yourself a dab hand in the kitchen? Why not show off your masterchef skills by dabbling in DIY dining at your local Korean restaurant. We’re talking cook-your- own Korean barbecue, bubbling hot pots and hands-on bo ssam. It’s creative cooking without the cleaning!
In the winter months, there’s nothing better than gathering friends and family around a bubbling steamboat or hot pot. Steamboat is popular in many Asian countries, including the shabu-shabu and sukiyaki of Japan, Thai suki in Thailand, the fiery Sichuan hot pots of China, and Korea’s jjigae stews.
Popular Korean hot pot ingredients include kimchi, tofu, thinly sliced meats, seafood, sweet potato noodles, and plenty of vegetables. As the pot bubbles away, the stock becomes infused with all of the flavours and nutrients of those fresh ingredients.
Some versions even feature instant ramen noodles, sausages and melted cheese, inspired by the budae jjigae, or Korean army stew. A popular dish in the post-war years when food supplies were scarce, this resourceful recipe utilised American ingredients salvaged from the deserted military bases. Today, it’s a comfort-food favourite during the cooler months. Try Korean hot pot at Yeonga in North Melbourne, or the Korean steam bowl at Sydney Madang.
There’s no need to wait until summer for your next barbecue. Gather your friends and family around the grill of your local Korean barbecue restaurant, then cook up your own smoky bulgogi beef, juicy galbi beef short ribs, or daeji bulgogi (chilli pork). Unlike a sausage in a slice of white bread, Korean barbecue is a complete, nutritious meal, thanks to the addition of banchan, a colourful collection of side dishes, including raw salads and fermented vegetables.
Another fun way to get hands-on at your local Korean restaurant is to order the bo ssam, such as the bo ssam platter at Kong in Melbourne. ‘Ssam’ literally means ‘to wrap’, so bundle barbecued brisket, chilli chicken, pulled pork and crackling into cos lettuce leaves, top with a dollop of kimchi or ssamjang, then roll up and eat with your hands. Finger food never tasted so good.
For more Korean cooking ideas, learn the secret to creating a balanced Korean meal, or host your own Korean dinner party.
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