Spe­cial Dishes in Kaesong

Korea (English) - - CONTENTS - Ar­ti­cle: Kang Su Jong

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.

Photo: Kang Chol Song

Wrapped-up kim­chi

Yak­pap (sweet rice dish)

Ky­ong­dan

Chuothang

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