Colours of Korean cooking

21 May
Korean Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Choi Byung Koo and spouse Madam Kim Kyung Soo with Wu Chun (L). PHOTO: JAMES KON

Korean Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Choi Byung Koo and spouse Madam Kim Kyung Soo with Wu Chun (L). PHOTO: JAMES KON

THE fresh ginseng salad with green spears of asparagus, covered with slices of white fresh ginseng, white Korean dates (jujube), white chestnut, white pear and white shelled Korean pine nuts, sauced with lemon juice with honey and a bit of salt, caught Goh Kiat Chun’s eye.

“Is this served in Korean restaurants in Brunei?” asked the baseball-capped Brunei-born Taiwanese actor, singer, former model and gym instructor, popularly known as Wu Chun, who drives a white Lamborghini.

Unless you ask for it, fresh ginseng salad is not normally served in Korean restaurants, said Choi Byung Koo, the Korean Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, who hosted the luncheon meeting “to discuss further the invitation for Wu Chun to visit Korea”.

Wu Chun had been appointed Brunei’s Goodwill Ambassador to Korea last year during the October 9 Korean National Day.

“Due to his popularity among Koreans Wu Chun’s appointment as Goodwill Ambassador to Korea will help further the ties and friendship between our two countries and our two peoples,” said Ambassador Choi. He has been posted to Brunei for the one year and 10 months in a diplomatic career that spans over two decades. “I studied at the University of the Philippines when I was a junior diplomat in Manila during the time of President Corazon Aquino,” he said.

“One third of my life, I spend in airports. In 365 days, I spend 100 days in airports. I have been to Korea 10 times,” said Wu Chun.

“I saw Wu Chun’s movie (Saving General Yang) in Korea last month,” said the ambassador’s spouse, Madam Kim Kyung Soo. Wu Chun plays one of the seven sons of a Chinese general in local folklore.

While Madam Kim did not join the lunch for nine, she talked about the Korean food she served.

“I was in the kitchen to put the food on the plate and garnish … made punch and supervised from the beginning to the end. For the presentation, it is Western style. Korean traditional style is about (having) 10 to 20 dishes on the table and shared all together. It was my idea where to put the food and how to present it,” said Madam Kim.

“I used fresh ginseng (brought) from Korea by air. There are two kinds of ginseng: dry and fresh. For the tea, use dry ginseng and for salad, use fresh ginseng.”

On a white Bone China plate were assorted pancakes.

“The round one is made of mung bean, shrimp, squid, onion, garlic and squash. All ingredients are grounded and pan fried. Squash is pan fried with egg and garnished with red and green pepper. Prawn is pan fried with egg and garnished with leaves of parsley,” said Madam Kim.

Wearing heavy armour, Wu Chun plays Yang Liulang, one of the seven sons of General Yang, who falls in love with Princess Chai (Ady An) who is betrothed to the son of a rival clan leader, in his latest movie, ‘Saving General Yang.’ COURTESY OF PEGASUS MOTION PICTURES

Wearing heavy armour, Wu Chun plays Yang Liulang, one of the seven sons of General Yang, who falls in love with Princess Chai (Ady An) who is betrothed to the son of a rival clan leader, in his latest movie, ‘Saving General Yang.’ COURTESY OF PEGASUS MOTION PICTURES

Thin slices of bulgogi, literally firemeat, or grilled marinated beef, were served on a rectangular Hankook Bone China dish.

“I used tenderloin and marinated it with soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, black pepper, honey, onion, spring onion, and minced garlic. It goes very well with oyster mushroom and paprika. And I spread mashed pine nut and parsley on the beef,” said Madame Kim.

Bibimbap, literally “mixed rice”, is a mound of warm white rice ringed with fresh white radish cut julienne style (thin long strips like matchsticks) and marinated with red pepper and salt; mung bean jelly marinated with sesame oil and salt and other vegetables, served in a white Hankook bowl bearing the seal of the government of Korea.

“We, Koreans, are very much health-conscious. In that sense, we use various vegetables and basically five colours (red pepper, green onion, egg yolk, egg white and black mushroom). It is not scientifically proved but colours of the food are connected with the organs of our body … that we believe. Today, I used nine colours that go well with each other, specially chilli sauce to mix them with. Sometimes, I use beef, spinach, bean sprouts, lettuce, and seafood. Any ingredients are usable for Bibimbap. You only need chilli sauce (gochujang) and sesame oil to mix it.

“I bought the citron (fragrant citrus fruit between the tangerine and orange). It is found only in Japan and Korea. I used marinated citron with honey and some pear. Slivers of the flesh comes from the citron itself,” Madame Kim said of the citron punch served in a transparent bowl.

“Why do the Koreans use silver chopsticks?” asked Wu Chun.

Ambassador Choi said silver discolours if it touches food that has poison.

The Korean chef at the Korean Ambassador’s official residence, Kim Young Sun, also prepared kimchi, cabbage pickled in salt, mixed with soy sauce, bean paste and spices, fermented cabbage tinted clear pinkish red; fried anchovy and broad seaweeds (identified as kelp by Consul Kang Young-mi), served as side dishes in white-covered bowls.

Resident staff Roney and Bee Yee of Emperor’s Court served the food in official dinnerware with a pentagram and a taegeok, the yin and yang principles in a perfect balance, with four Korean characters below: Republic of Korea. The official dinnerware was made by Hankook, the first company in Asia to produce fine bone China made from calcinced cattlebone ash.

Bibimbap or mixed rice has five colours: red pepper, green onion, egg yolk, egg white and black mushroom

Bibimbap or mixed rice has five colours: red pepper, green onion, egg yolk, egg white and black mushroom

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