As part of Korean Cultural Week, Chennai celebrates the Southeast Asian nation’s cuisine, including bibimbap and bulgogi beef
If the many scenes extensively featuring food in K-Dramas are anything to go by, Korean cuisine promises to be warm, comforting and delicious. And such was the food at ‘Celebrations of the Korean Culinary Arts’, organised over the weekend as a part of the Korean Cultural Week by the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chennai.
The consulate, in collaboration with The Leela Palace, Chennai, introduced five Korean dishes on Sunday evening to the diners at Spectra restaurant, with the aim of promoting the cuisine in the city and giving diners a peek into the nuances that go into creating the piquant flavours of these dishes.
Korean food places emphasis on using many vegetables and little oil.
“We went through a list of around seven to eight dishes, their recipes and the ingredients that go into them before zeroing in on five dishes. They had an interesting amalgamation of flavours which we were sure would appeal to the Indian palette as well,” said Rohit Tokhi, executive chef, speaking about how they planned the menu.
The diners were ushered in; tables had a bowl of kimchi placed at the centre. Probably the most popular part of Korean cuisine and known world over, there was a lot of pressure on this seemingly simple side dish to deliver since it is widely considered to be the perfect accompaniment to most other dishes.
The kimchi helped elevate the jeon (pancakes with chopped seafood). While japchae, or cellophane noodles, with vegetables and meat had an interesting combination of flavours, it is the texture that stood out; Chef Tokhi said that the potato starch noodles used made the dish unique.
Bibimbap is generally served as a large dish, however at the event, compact, individual portion-sized bowls filled with rice, beef bulgogi, vegetables and an egg were served.
“With bibimbap, I felt the strongest connection to the cuisine here in South India. It reminded me of a bowl of warm, comfort food akin to a bowl of hot rice and rasam that many of us turn to,” said Chef Tokhi.
Bulgogi, the pièce de résistance of the meal, did not disappoint. The small pieces of tenderloin were perfectly marinated and cooked, and it was remarkable how tender the meat was.
“The produce we used was fresh, all locally sourced and the ingredients were from our kitchen. We only had to specially source the noodles for the japchae and the Korean chilli powder,” he added.
While it was the first time that their kitchen was serving a spread of Korean dishes, Chef Tokhi said that the dishes they put out will soon find a permanent place in the hotel’s buffets and brunches.
Interested in whipping up these dishes at home? Recipe videos by Chef Tokhi are available on the Facebook page of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chennai.