Dak-galbi: South Korea’s most fascinating dish

(CNN) — Whereas all eyes are on South Korea’s Gangwon Province for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Video games, the promise of spicy, stir-fried South Korean rooster has turned our gaze to the regional capital of Chuncheon.

Because the area’s most in style dish, dak-galbi is a type of warming winter meals that is greatest shared with your entire household.

Ready atop a cast-iron skillet within the middle of the desk, the jumble of components contains marinated rooster, cabbage, candy potatoes, perilla leaves (from the mint household) and tteok bokki (Korean rice desserts) — all topped with candy and spicy gochujang sauce (a fermented Korean chili paste).

However dak-galbi is not only a low-cost, ubiquitous meal. Rising within the 1960s after the Korean Conflict, “commoner’s galbi” has grow to be a logo of the town’s resilience.

“I hope folks do not come to Chuncheon simply to eat dak-galbi with out understanding its historical past,” Choi Jeong-Yern, proprietor of a second-generation dak-galbi restaurant in Chuncheon, tells CNN Journey.

“I hope folks study that Chuncheon’s iconic dish was created out of the ache that folks carried after the warfare. It is a native meals that has a historical past and a narrative.”

The dak-galbi story

On June 25, 1950, the Korean Conflict started with the Battle of Chuncheon, the place a sequence of assaults all however leveled the town.

“After the warfare, rooster farms grew to become the livelihood of people that had been poor and virtually begging on the streets,” says Jeong-Yern. “There was agony and ache, even after the battle was over.”

Throughout this darkish period, dak-galbi was a cheerful discovery. The dish made use of low-cost, copious components, creating one thing comforting and communal that introduced folks collectively.

“It is a native meals that has a historical past.”

Joeng-Yern Choi, dak-galbi restaurant proprietor

“The story of dak-galbi began from a pair who had been operating a well-liked pork restaurant within the 1960s,” Park Sung-Soo, a Chuncheon tradition tour information, tells CNN Journey.

“Someday, they ran out of pork and determined to make use of rooster, which was cheaper and extra considerable. They stir-fried the rooster in the identical approach because the pork, and the dish was a success.

“Different folks began serving the identical dish, one after one other, and ultimately there have been many dak-galbi eating places in Chuncheon.”

The place to search out it

A stir-fried chicken dish, "dak galbi" is best enjoyed in the northeastern city of Chuncheon.

A stir-fried rooster dish, “dak galbi” is greatest loved within the northeastern metropolis of Chuncheon.

Graham Holliday

Dalk-galbi grew to become so symbolic of Chuncheon that the town devoted a complete street — MyeongDong Dakgalbi Road — to the purveyors.

Vacationers can wander the fragrant lane, selecting between tiny family-run eating places.

Regardless that there are dozens of eating places on MyeongDong Dakgalbi Road, Jeong-Yern says each has its personal model.

“Each restaurant on this historic alley contributes its personal particular style to the dish,” she notes.

“Our restaurant’s dak-galbi is gentle and never too spicy, which is one thing we’re pleased with. I consider dak-galbi as my very own historical past. My dad and mom began this restaurant, handed it to me, and now my son will run this place after me.”

eat it

The dak-galbi expertise is interactive, and sometimes messy, therefore the elective aprons supplied at most eating places.

Often, eating places present a cast-iron plate constructed into the center of the desk, the place teams can stir-fry the mess of components collectively.

“Dak-galbi has a standard style that each member of the household can take pleasure in,” says Jeong-Yern. “This iron plate dak-galbi has a bonus of many individuals having the ability to share it.

“That is why everybody likes it … It is a style that is good for group eating, and even little children can eat this.”

Some benefit from the combination by itself utilizing chopsticks, others prefer to wrap it up inside perilla and lettuce leaves to devour it like a taco.

“A part of the enjoyable is cooking with your loved ones. Once you eat the meat itself, you possibly can benefit from the style and tenderness of the rooster,” says Jeong-Yern.

“However whenever you wrap the mat within the lettuce, it comes collectively as a brand new style. I would describe it as refreshing — it is one other solution to take pleasure in dak-galbi.”

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