Category Archives: Blog

The Healing Powers of Korean Food Remedies

Foods That Heal

Mothers around the world love cooking soothing foods for their sick children. It’s just how mothers are. In Korea, however, there are foods widely believed to not just be soothing for the sick, but can treat and prevent diseases, lead to recovery and boost health.

Koreans have been using foods as remedies since the monarchy days of Korea. There’s a widely known written document of these culinary remedies, found in Donguibogam, edited by a royal physician during the Joseon dynasty in the 17th century. It consist of 25 volumes of how ailments affect organs and what can be done to treat and prevent diseases. It is still highly regarded and widely used by Eastern Medicine doctors. There may be little to no scientific data on the powers of these foods but they are nonetheless widely believed to be curative. Here are some of these Korean healing dishes.

Samgyetang is chicken with ginseng soup. It’s made with a whole small chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, garlic, red dates, peeled chestnuts, and ginseng. It is believed to help regulate body temperatures as ginseng warms up the body, especially the stomach. Another warm soup is Kongnamul-guk, soybean sprout soup, served with Korean chili flakes or without. Commonly believed to help cure adult hangovers, they say the saltiness and the natural vitamins found in soybean sprouts, helped “clean” the liver and stomach. Another is Miyeok-guk or seaweed soup. It’s made with a protein broth, usually beef broth and seaweed. In Korea, new moms are given this as part of their recovery diet in the hospital. Seaweeds are rich in minerals – calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine – considered important during pregnancy and lactation.

Jook or rice porridge is a Korean staple for the sick, especially those with stomach aches. It’s made by slow-boiling rice that’s been left out to soak in water for many hours. The soft, moist texture of the porridge is easily swallowed and digested to calm the stomach. Kimchi. Two types commonly consumed for health benefits are ggakdugi, or spicy radish kimchi for hangover, and mul-kimchi, or water kimchi, said to hydrate and replenish the body with salts that sweat out.

Baesuk or Korean pear punch/tea is a traditional Korean punch/tea made by poaching or steaming Korean pear with black peppercorns, honey, and ginger. If served hot, commonly used as a remedy for the common cold, sore throat, or cough. Ginger to keep the body warm, the honey to soothe the throat, and the Korean pear to help with digestion. Yuja-cha or yuja tea, made with yuja marmalade in hot water. The tea is often enjoyed in the winter, to warm up, or to treat cold, because it is especially high in vitamin C. Yuja has 2.3 times as much vitamin C as the equivalent amount of raw lemon juice.

Trying Korean Healing and Soothing Foods

Want to know more about Korea’s healing foods? Find out more when you dine at UW Seattle 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.