Special Dishes in Kaesong
Kaesong, located in the western area of central Korea, is a beautiful city with a time-honoured history and culture. It was once the capital of Koryo (918-1392), the first unified state in the Korean history, so it is famous for particular food culture as well as many relics and remains.
Among the local specialities are boiled rice and rice cake as staple foods, including rice served in meat soup, rice hash, yakpap (sweet rice dish), gourd-shaped rice cake soup, kyongdan (glutinous rice ball) and umegi. Typical of them is Kaesong yakpap, or yaksik. It is prepared with sodden glutinous rice which is steamed and, mixing it with honey or glutinous rice jelly, sesame oil, chestnuts and jujube, heated with steam once again.
In olden days honey was called yak (medicine), so the boiled rice mixed with honey, yakpap. According to historical records, it was also called michan (beautiful boiled rice), hyangban (fragrant boiled rice), and japkwaban (rice mixed with different fruits). It was widely known as koryoban to neighbouring countries.
Kaesong yakpap was a holiday food on the 15th day of the first month by the lunar calendar and on birthdays, and for guests. Conspicuous among rice cakes is kyongdan. It is made by kneading the flours of glutinous rice and glutinous Indian millet, or other glutinous cereals, and rice flour with hot water, shaping them into chestnut-sized balls, boiling and dressing them with various flours and honey or glutinous rice jelly.
The name kyongdan is derived from its shape like round beads. Kyongdan is often used in preparing tables for feast for their colourful dressings.
Typical among non-staple foods are soups like chuothang, thoranthang and yolgujathang, wrapped-up kimchi, chicken stew with insam in it, peppered glutinous rice paste, and steamed Kaesong radish with seasoning.
Yolgujathang, or sinsollo, is known worldwide as a high-quality dish with delicious taste and high-nutritive value.
It had been regarded as best in the Kaesong area when sinsollo was served at a wedding or banquet table.
In olden times the women in the area had to see off their husbands for seasonal labour and wait for them to return home around New Year’s Day or the spring time. They did their utmost to prepare kimchi with inadequate materials by wrapping them up, got it seasoned and served their men. Hence the name wrapped-up kimchi. Sweets and drinks are the other local specialities of Kaesong. Kaesong, well-known for its long history and brilliant culture, is also famous for its special dishes.
Yakpap (sweet rice dish)