Author Archives: Korean Tofu House

Differences Between Korean and American BBQ

The Battle of the Barbecues

Barbecue is loved the world over. But not all barbecues are the same. Different regions and cultures have their ways of preparation and cooking styles. Americans are crazy about barbecue and it is one of the nation’s iconic dishes. What sets it apart from, say, Asian varieties, like Korean barbecue?

Barbecue is a matter of regional pride in the US, forms of barbecuing, an expert says, are 4 different styles, exemplified by certain states. Carolina-style barbecue is named after North Carolina and South Carolina. Pork is the main meat. A whole hog goes over a pit, then shredded, chopped or pulled. Sauce in N carolina is vinegar-based; it’s mustard-made in the south, sometimes called ‘Carolina gold.’

Texas-style barbecue is all about beef, especially from chest and shoulder muscles. It’s very thick, tough meat that requires very slow cooking. They don’t use sauces, but instead a mix of herbs and spices called a ‘rub.’ Texas is especially known for its smoked brisket.

Memphis-style BBQ is best known for its pork ribs, served dry, without sauce, or wet, with sauce. The sauce is sometimes very sweet, because of molasses. Then finally, the Kansas City-style BBQ. Kansas City is where Carolina and Memphis pork barbecue meet Texas beef barbecue; said to be the best of both worlds. The style boasts of pork ribs and beef brisket. The sauce is thick and tomato-based, sweet and spicy.

While traditional American forms of barbeque are roast pork, ribs, brisket or chicken, Korean traditional barbeque is beef, but also chicken and pork varieties are used. The beef is grilled with skewers, called neobiani, the origin of bulgogi. Bulgogi is barbecued or pan-fried beef that has been marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, minced garlic, green onion, black pepper, and sesame oil, and so on, including ground pear or honey. Korean barbecue is somewhat sweet.

When it comes to sides, the American barbecue usually comes with plenty of coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, macaroni salad and potato chips. Korean sides include rice, lettuce and mixed banchan, which is assorted vegetables, pickles and kimchi. At an American restaurant, food will be prepared in the kitchen and brought to the table. At most Korean barbeque restaurants, food is prepared at the table with a built-in grill or stove top. A wait staff can do the cooking or the diners themselves. However, for both the American and Korean versions, it’s the eating, the getting together of folks enjoying a meal as one that defines barbecue.

Dining Korean Barbecue in Seattle

If you’ve been around and tried the different American-style BBQs, experience Korean BBQ for a change, here at Korean Tofu House in the University District at UW Seattle.

The Awakening of America to the Korean Diet

How An immigrant Cuisine is Becoming Mainstream

Korean food is the latest in the influx of East Asian influences on the American diet. However, it’s been some time that the kimchi, bulgogi, and bibimbap have put up signs of culinary conquest across America. It should have long taken its place alongside other immigrant cuisines but it looks like it’s still floundering. There are not too many Korean restaurants as there are Chinese eateries and sushi bars.

In 1965, Chinese immigration surged in the US as soon as the quotas were removed. In the 1990s, the Japanese came and pushed future America’s sushi obsession. However, the boom of Korean cuisine in the past few years in the US is not about the same as the Chinese and the Japanese footprints.

The 1970s and the 1980s in the US saw a spike in Korean immigration, the time when the Korean economy was stagnating. There were about a million Koreans in the US in 2007, though only one-fourth of them were already here in 2000. It was around this time when Korea was witnessing a rebirth in economic activity. Korean ethnicity made up already 2.7% of all immigrants in the US, however, Korean cuisine’s popularity rose much later.

While chef-run restaurants are a sure way to get one’s menu noticed by the dining public, Korean chef-run restaurants came into being only around 2009-2010. The Japanese were ahead and taught Americans what real sushi was. Chefs are also able to establish their brands. Now there are many such chef-run restaurants that are Korean in New York City, for example, where a high concentration of Korean-Americans call home. There are many K-Towns around, providing an alternative cuisine amidst the proliferation of other international cuisines and regular American fare. Many of these Korean restaurants stay up late to very late in a city that never sleeps. Soon enough, Korean classics may experience its zenith in this country.

In the Heart of UW: A Favorite Korean Hangout

Korean Tofu House has been a water-hole for the UW community in Seattle, serving Korean dishes so well-loved, we’ve been here more than 10 years. Come for a visit and see.

Banchan: A Common Sharing of Side Dishes

Keeping Meal Times Interesting

Banchan is an important part of Korean cuisine, absolutely indispensable and always accompanies any and every meal. Even if dinner is simple and humble, to a full spread at elaborate janchi ceremonial celebrations and royal court cuisine, banchan is present. It is a definitive part of Korean cuisine.

Though banchan comes in an infinite variety, it can grouped into culinary techniques. There’s fermentation and pickling, exemplified by kimchi and jangajji. There’s the lightly seasoned ingredients, as vegetables, roots, sprouts, so there’s namul muchim. Then you have lightly sautéed or stir fried, so you have bokkeum. And then, jorim, which is braised in seasoned broth or sauce, and jjim, which is steamed. There is also a variety of jun (thinly pan-fried savory pancakes and small meat patties), associated with larger feasts. Three of these are always standard in any Korean dinner setting – kimchi, namul muchim and jorim.

Banchan, small servings of different taste adventures, each offering a unique flavor to a dining experience, is also healthy food, sometimes referred to as medicinal. The side dishes balance out the main courses at the table. Banchan is light and non-greasy. They help digest the meats and rice and are filling in themselves, and delicious, as well.

Have you tried Kimchi

The most popular among them is kimchi. It’s an immune system booster with its lactic acid that results in the process of fermentation. It’s also rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, a known cancer fighter and antioxidant. Whatever is in your banchan it will not increase body weight, though they are filling. They lower risks of cardiovascular diseases as well as neurological illnesses. The isoflavones in beans and mushroom strengthen bones. Then, because they have no preservatives, they are good for skin health.

More importantly, banchan is communal meal. It is meant to be shared whilst one has his own bowl of rice and bowl of soup. The Korean meal is a gathering and sharing of entrees and sides, serving elders, and refilling small plates and glasses with a sense of innate hospitality. Meal times are always interesting with banchan.

Different Taste Adventure with Banchan

When you are around UW, come to Korean Tofu House and enjoy your banchan more. With the varieties we have, it’s an adventure in taste. Come together, eat Korean and eat healthy.