Saturday, 19 January 2013

Trip to historic city Jeonju, Korea

 
My visit to Korea in October 2012 was planned to attend Jeonju ( city in south west) International Fermented Food Expo.
 Well, when I arrived from Seoul, actually it was more like City market day with  fermented salted fish stalles and local food exhibition but I have not been this historical city and most famous bibimbab is born here, my 2 sisters and I decided tour the city and taste famous Jeonju Bibimbab.
 
Jeonju is Lee sungyae, founder of Lee dynasty, was born here. Still you can visit his house.

South west region ( Jullado) is well known for farming,  having good rice farm and rich sauce of vegetables and fish , seafood as well. Specially Jeongu Bibimbab is the most famous dish.
The story goes, 29 ingredients are needed for the Jeonju Bibimbab but this might be for the Royal court in olden days, Lee dynasty era


 Hanok village ( traditional Korean house village) is very charming and can stay in  house with family who lives there, experiencing olden days life must be quite something . But unfortunately I could not get a room , all fully booked with Jeonju Festival guests.

Food show from Jeonju catering college was very impressive, young and enthusiastic students try to make their marks here, the food ,they made were had quirky and modern twist, displayed beautifully.
Talking to these wannabe young chefs, I thought Korean food will be safe by these young chefs and will develop as  a well regarded international cuisine. It was very comforting to know.

Move to Temple food section. Korean temple food is totally organic and vegetarian food. Temple food is a phenomenon In Korea as the most healthy food.They look fantastically photogenic and appetising , certain stillness like zen quality but I can not say they are the most healthy food!!
this temple food exhibition inspire me to develop recipes.

I discovered new dish, Jeonju's speciality, cabbage pancake, so simple and delicious. Slightly salted cabbage ( Chinese cabbage, Baechu) leaves , dip in the pancake batter and shallow fry, but surprisingly, a tasty snack.

I bought a few jars of salted seafood ( jetgal) with spicy sauce , oyster, scallops, sea squats known as Mungae, which is my second favourite after oyster ( has very special sea muddy flavour), they were all delicious with hot steamy rice, but sadly I could not take to home in England!!!

We, my two sisters and I took taxi to see Hanok village and famous Jeonju Bibimbab restaurant ( recommended by KTO), loved Hanok village being in the central of city, a few minutes  walking distance, we entered restaurant. ordered bibimbab set menu. They brought 10 different Banchan ( side dish) and clear soy bean sprout soup and sauce.
Well!! they looked fit for the King! according to our taxi driver Jeonju bibimbab needs 29 ingredients to make properly, but modern bibimbab which we had  9 - 10 ingredients . I do not know I could be able to taste all 10 ingredients let along 29.
it was delicious, I loved different wild mountain vegetables and clear soup were a good match!

I had a chat with an American and a French tourist, they seemed very impressed by food and city itself.

My initial disappointment was vanished at the end of our visit, Jeonju. Loved experience of local food and culture, they inspired me a few new recipes I am going to cook !
I should travel to Korea and take different region and city but distance and travel cost prevent me.
Lady monk at Temple food
I need a sponsor or win a lottery to fund my travel perhaps!

Travel to Jeonju : take train or Express bus from Gangnam Express Bus Terminal. takes only 3 hours and cheap, can be done as a day trip. I am so glad I did this trip !!

 

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