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Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Wed Mar 08, 2023 7:47 am

Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

Choi's vegetable kimbap would likely please Attorney Woo Young-Woo with its artful display of colorful sliced veggies and a bit of mild fish cake.
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I had never envisioned myself as a fan of South Korean K-dramas, but that was before a Netflix promotion drew me into the fictional life of Extraordinary Attorney Woo.

Now I’m almost through binging this sweet, sometimes challenging drama about the brilliant 20-something Korean attorney Woo Young-woo (played by Park Eun-bin), who, as Netflix explains it, “faces challenges in the courtroom and beyond as a newbie at a top law firm in Seoul and a woman on the autism spectrum.”

Before long I had added a Korean module to my Duolingo routine so I could learn characters in hangul, the Korean alphabet. And most of all, I found myself deeply craving the only food item that Young-woo enjoys: Kimbap.

What’s a kimbap? Sometimes spelled gimbap or kimbab, it’s a popular Korean street food. Its name comes from the Korean words for “seaweed” and “rice,” and it looks quite a bit like a Japanese futomaki sushi roll.

Please don't call it sushi

Please don’t call it sushi, though. Yes, it’s made with black seaweed rolled and fillings and sliced into rounds that look like maki sushi. But it’s distinctly Korean and distinctly different. It’s flavored with sesame oil, not vinegar. It’s stuffed with a hefty mix of ingredients but not raw fish. And it’s wrapped in seaweed that’s thinner and more delicate than Japanese nori.

Most important, kimbap is culturally and historically distinct. It is one of the most iconic Korean comfort foods, like Mom used to make if Mom was Korean.

Woo Young-Woo loves kimbap because she can see everything that’s in it. You know what? That sounds kind of appealing to me, too. So where could I find some? I couldn’t spot it on the online menus at a few local Korean eateries. But then someone whispered a secret: You can get it at Choi’s Asian Food Market in Lyndon (607 Lyndon Lane, 426-4441).

I’m always up for a trip to Choi’s, one of my favorite Asian markets, so off I went. Sure enough, right on the front counter stands a cooler loaded with long black rolls of both beef and vegetable kimbap. It’s affordable, too: $4.99 for beef kimbp and just $2.99 for a vegetable roll. (The latter, a sign points out, is not vegan or vegetarian. It contains a small amount of fish cake, although they’ll remove that on request.)

Another sign politely asks the public not to touch the box: “We serve you kimbap.”

Coincidentally, the man in front of us in line was buying kimbap too, and when the woman behind us saw what we were doing, she wanted some as well. Yes, it’s that popular, and Extraordinary Attorney Woo is very likely due some of the credit. It hit Netflix’s Top Ten list within weeks of its U.S. launch, and was the platform’s most-viewed title last August. By the end of 2022, Netflix named the series one of its most popular non-English titles ever.

Season Two is supposed to launch some time next year, and I for one can hardly wait. In the meantime, I see more trips to Choi’s for kimbap in my future.

Kimbap comes home

We brought home a beef roll and a vegetable roll and enjoyed them both. I think I’m starting to see why they appeal to Young-Woo. Arranged neatly on a white plate, Choi’s version looks very much like the plate shown in the show’s opening credits.

Both beef and veggie rolls are similar, with the obvious distinction of the main ingredient. The seaweed wrapper is very thin, so although they’re well fashioned, it’s a good idea to pick up each roll with one finger holding the seam to keep them from falling apart. There’s no vinegary flavor to the sticky, short-grain rice, with a faint hint of sesame imparting a more savory character.

The fillings are neatly chopped and arranged, rolled into an artful, display. Both contain crisp julienne carrot strips, tender cucumber, crunchy Asian pickles, and a portion of scrambled egg. The meat version also includes a portion of thin-sliced, well-done beef; the veggie item contains a small strip of mild-flavored fish cake in an otherwise all-vegetable combo.

I loved the way that each slice presents a variety of colors, flavors, and textures, and yes, you can see everything that’s in it before you bite. One roll made a filling, affordable lunch, and I’ll definitely go back for more.

"Tell me what you watch, and I'll tell you what you eat ..."

All this inquiry got me thinking about food, and it didn’t take me long to realize that this was not the first time a television series has sent me rushing to a local eatery to enjoy something I just watched.

For instance …

The Taco Chronicles on Netflix fired my appetite for birria before birria was cool. The pandemic was going full bore in the autumn of 2020, but that didn’t stop me from heading for the Jeffersontown shop of I Love Tacos to sample birria. “Long-simmered, tender and juicy beef brisket is piled high on a tortilla that has been grilled in spicy adobo sauce,” I wrote, “served in traditional style with cilantro and onion, with a tub of rich, intense beef broth seasoned with chopped onions and cilantro for dipping or spooning on your taco.”

Something similar had happened a year earlier. “While I was binge-watching the Taco Chronicles on Netflix last week,” I wrote in August 2019, “I got to the sequence on carnitas, and immediately realized that I had to get up and go either to Michoacán or, at the least, to a really good local taqueria. Once I checked my wallet, La Catrina Mexican Kitchen in New Albany got the nod.”

I could easily go on, and on and on. But I think you’re getting the picture. From Jiro Dreams of Sushi to Babette’s feast, Big Night, Chocolat and beyond, television can make you hungry. In a good way.

Read this article on LouisvilleHotBytes:
https://www.louisvillehotbytes.com/stre ... rean-crave


You'll also find this commentary in LEO Weekly online later this week:
http://www.leoweekly.com/category/food-drink/
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Carla G

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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Carla G » Thu Mar 09, 2023 11:27 am

I felt the same way about Puerco Pibil from Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
"She did not so much cook as assassinate food." - Storm Jameson
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Robin Garr

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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Thu Mar 09, 2023 12:10 pm

Carla G wrote:I felt the same way about Puerco Pibil from Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Yep! Sit down and watch the screen, and get hungry!
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Ray Griffith » Thu Mar 09, 2023 9:05 pm

Bravo for highlighting that kimbap is not the same as sushi! I often get some for trips out Incheon and about half the time, one of my coworkers says: “oh, I see that you catered yourself some sushi”. After a bit of a back and forth: “How do you know?” I answer: “My mom is Korean and I only grew up on the stuff” :D
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 10, 2023 8:05 am

Thanks for the reality check, Ray! I love Choi's ...
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Marybeth B » Thu Mar 23, 2023 9:37 pm

You should watch "Let's Eat". (The first season is free on Tubi.) It has some of the greatest Korean food scenes I've seen in any K-drama (and I have seen a lot of them!). It's been years since I watched it, but just hearing the theme song again makes my stomach growl.

No whale trivia, though.
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Fri Mar 24, 2023 9:10 am

Thanks for the advice, Marybeth! I'll miss the whale trivia, but that sounds good!
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by looi » Mon Mar 27, 2023 9:19 pm

Korean cuisine is influenced by the Japanese due to its occupation by the latter for years. For the similar reasons, Vietnamese has French and Chinese influences, Indian has Portuguese and Persian elements, Malaysian with British and Portuguese, etc.
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Carla G » Tue Mar 28, 2023 9:55 am

looi wrote:Korean cuisine is influenced by the Japanese due to its occupation by the latter for years. For the similar reasons, Vietnamese has French and Chinese influences, Indian has Portuguese and Persian elements, Malaysian with British and Portuguese, etc.


Yet another reason to thank immigrants for ways in which they enrich our lives.
"She did not so much cook as assassinate food." - Storm Jameson
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Tue Mar 28, 2023 10:21 am

Carla G wrote:Yet another reason to thank immigrants for ways in which they enrich our lives.


True, Carla, although these immigrants were generally colonizers and enslavers, so our thanks is kind of a double-edged sword. But what would a banh mi be without a nice fluffy baguette?
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Andrew Mellman » Tue Mar 28, 2023 4:24 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Carla G wrote:Yet another reason to thank immigrants for ways in which they enrich our lives.


True, Carla, although these immigrants were generally colonizers and enslavers, so our thanks is kind of a double-edged sword. But what would a banh mi be without a nice fluffy baguette?


It does go a long way in explaining a number of vagaries in cuisine, serving, et al (eliminating 150 years of colonizing!) . . . Two quickie examples (there are a LOT more!)

1. When you go to a Thai restaurant, you normally are given a napkin rolled around a fork and a soup (or serving) spoon. This traces back to the period when Anna was living in the household of the King of Siam! As shown in King and I (as well as the novels and in her auto-biography), Anna was afraid that her fellow Brits would be unable to use chop sticks, so she and the King devised a modified cooking style involving cutting food into smaller pieces and utilizing the larger spoon to assist melding sauces and gravies with the basic stir-fry obviating the need for the suddenly King-outlawed chop sticks in urban areas. Forks and serving spoons are still de rigueur today, especially in cities and regions open to foreign tourism

2. A number of people here in Louisville over the decades have referred to Vietnam Kitchen as "real" Vietnamese food, while Basa, namnam, District 6, and many others have been called "Americanized." Yes, but also very much no! VK can be thought of as "country" or "peasant" Vietnamese cuisine only minimally impacted by 150 years of French control, while the other demonstrate the growth of urban cuisine under the direct control of the French! After 150 years my thesis is that BOTH are true Vietnamese dishes, closer to each other than usually thought and more like (for example) California cuisine versus Southern cooking in this country, different yet in many key ways highly similar?

;
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Wed Mar 29, 2023 6:49 am

Andrew Mellman wrote: ...
1. When you go to a Thai restaurant, you normally are given a napkin rolled around a fork and a soup (or serving) spoon. This traces back to the period when Anna was living in the household of the King of Siam! As shown in King and I (as well as the novels and in her auto-biography), Anna was afraid that her fellow Brits would be unable to use chop sticks, so she and the King devised a modified cooking style involving cutting food into smaller pieces and utilizing the larger spoon to assist melding sauces and gravies with the basic stir-fry obviating the need for the suddenly King-outlawed chop sticks in urban areas. Forks and serving spoons are still de rigueur today, especially in cities and regions open to foreign tourism

2. A number of people here in Louisville over the decades have referred to Vietnam Kitchen as "real" Vietnamese food, while Basa, namnam, District 6, and many others have been called "Americanized." Yes, but also very much no! VK can be thought of as "country" or "peasant" Vietnamese cuisine only minimally impacted by 150 years of French control, while the other demonstrate the growth of urban cuisine under the direct control of the French! After 150 years my thesis is that BOTH are true Vietnamese dishes, closer to each other than usually thought and more like (for example) California cuisine versus Southern cooking in this country, different yet in many key ways highly similar?


Well argued, Andrew!
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Carla G » Wed Mar 29, 2023 1:34 pm

I guess what I was trying to say, without overthinking it, is that there are so many ways that immigration (for whatever reason) at least carry the benefit of exposure to alternative life styles. By being open to trying foods unfamiliar to us, we open ourselves to new ideas in a relatively safe and non-threatening way. (Except for those Indian hot chilies! Whooooo! Lethal!) We open ourselves to the idea of inclusion. If we can eat, celebrate, and grieve with our neighbors surely we can live peacefully with them as them and they become less scary.
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Re: Streaming and dining: Korean drama imparts a crave

by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 01, 2023 8:58 am

Carla G wrote:I guess what I was trying to say, without overthinking it, is that there are so many ways that immigration (for whatever reason) at least carry the benefit of exposure to alternative life styles. By being open to trying foods unfamiliar to us, we open ourselves to new ideas in a relatively safe and non-threatening way. (Except for those Indian hot chilies! Whooooo! Lethal!) We open ourselves to the idea of inclusion. If we can eat, celebrate, and grieve with our neighbors surely we can live peacefully with them as them and they become less scary.


I'll second that motion, Carla!

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