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Over the last few years, Korean food has taken off in popularity in Australia, with Korean restaurants drawing in curious and hungry crowds especially in the inner-city areas in Melbourne and Sydney. First-timers and puritans alike have never had a better spread of authentic Korean options and ingredients.
Relying heavy on pickling and fermentation, Korean food is bold, flavourful and extremely addictive. Mouth-watering and loaded with health benefits, this cuisine is perfect for today’s discerning diners.
At the heart of Korean cuisine is Kimchi, the fermented cabbage and vegetable that’s equal parts spicy, tangy and crunchy. This dish is so integral to the Korean culture that they celebrate a “Kimchi Day” every year! During this time, family members and neighbours gather in each other’s kitchens to cook, trade recipes, and share stories. It’s no wonder – making kimchi is so easy and fun.
Sydney’s Korean-born chef and restaurateur Heather Jeong told Selector Magazine of the remarkable rise in popularity of Korean food in Australia in recent years.
“When I arrived in Australia in May 1976, there were less than 10 Korean families living in Australia, so most Australians hadn’t even heard of Korea, let alone Korean food,” she said, adding that there were no Korean ingredients in terms of sauces and vegetables, or staples we take for granted like tofu or nori. Her mother had to make everything from scratch, like drying fresh red chillies and grinding them to make chilli powder and chilli paste.
According to Jeong, Australia has one of the best Korean food scenes outside of Korea today because of the large number of Koreans living here, the availability of ingredients, and the culture of good food.
Nowadays, it’s easy to find key Korean ingredients such as gochujang (hot pepper paste), jinganjang (Korean soy sauce), gochugaru (hot pepper flakes) and chamkireum (toasted sesame oil) in your local supermarkets and Asian groceries. So why not take the opportunity to rope in a friend (or two) to whip up your very own Korean feast with tried and tested favourites such as Bulgogi Stew, Sweet and Crispy Korean Fried Chicken, Bibimbap and BBQ Galbi?
Here’s are some more delicious Korean dishes to try at home this week.