The Beauty of Korean Food

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Beauty of Korean Food
The Institute of Traditional Korean Food

A food-focused trip to Korea was revelatory. I'd been familiar with many Korean dishes: the barbecue, the namul and banchan (side dishes) and hearty soups and stews, but nothing prepared me for the delicacy of banquet dishes, the complexity of ginseng chicken soup eaten at a restaurant serving only that dish and the richness of soondae (blood sausage); even the barbecue tasted far more refined.

The Beauty of Korean Food gives us a glimpse into the variety of the cuisine, which many people think of as being meat-heavy and almost overwhelmingly spicy, garlicky and pungent. But much of it can be subtle and delicate: emphasis is placed on the cooks' cutting skills, presentation of the food and balance between all the dishes.

The book does give recipes for the familiar Korean barbecue but there are also lighter dishes such as rice porridge with abalone, fish fillet dumplings, noodles in chilled white bean soup and tofu hot pot.