Generally speaking, Ian and I are lovers of international food. While we love burgers and fries, our true favorites list is as long as my arm: Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Japanese, Catalonian, and so on.
So, when we moved to Korea and began to have difficulties eating the native food, we were pretty disheartened. Gochujang has it's good points, but when things are smothered in the (sometimes too) dark, spicy flavor, it can really ruin a meal. Vegetarianism is it's own problem. Not only do Korean's consume huge amounts of pork, beef and chicken, but fish is considered a seasoning here. So, it's difficult to find anything that is truly animal free.
Lately, we've been cooking our own Korean food and we've really started to love it. When we have control over the details, it's a lot less frustrating. We're American and therefore our versions are naturally Westernized. But, I wouldn't say our food is worse for it. Korean cuisine lacks flavor depth. Not enough acid, sodium or any sort of brightness to the taste.
There are quite a few resources on the internet for cooking vegetarian Korean food. One of my favorites is a blog called "Alien's Day Out." She chronicles her food life as a vegan in Seoul. It helps me choose restaurants and find out how to cook Korean dishes that are both delicious and meat free.
Here are a few things we've made in the past few days.
Egg white bibimbap (rice, cucumber, fern, carrot, cabbage and lightly fried bellflower root). In the bowl is a banchan (Korean side dish) courtesy of Alien's Day Out. It's pretty much kimchi pre-fermentation (cabbage, vinegar, soy sauce and gochujang). Delicious.
A better look at the bibimbap.
A better look at the faux-kimchi banchan.
Today's lunch was amazing. Those pancakes are actually pumpkin pachingeh (easy Korean veggie pancakes made with a simple flour batter). We had steamed veggies and some more faux kimchi with them. Dip the pachingeh in soy sauce for the most delicious results.
As you can see, we eat very well and very healthy. All colors represented. Low on the caloric intake, but very high in nutrients.
We have more recipes to try out before Mom gets here, so stay tuned.