Daniel Gray is a Korean-American Adoptee that returned to Korea in 2005 to rediscover his roots. He is a Korean food expert that has appeared on Bizarre Foods, Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain and more. He does food tours, events, and consulting in Seoul and owns two restaurants: Brew 3.14 and Brew 3.15 in Seoul.
Breakfast: Stinky Soybean Stew
Stinky Tofu Stew
Breakfast yesterday was Cheonggukjeong Stew. I know I said that it is skinky, but that is how Koreans describe it themselves. The beans that are used in the stew are only fermented for a short time so it don't have a lot of time to mature. As the beans mature, they lose that strong scent and become more of a paste. Cheonggukjeong is made with beans that are still quite ripe- think of them as a fruit that is super ripe yet almost on the verge of spoiling. The beans are whole and the soup is rich and thick. The entire meal is like a bowl of navy bean stew with ham- just a little spicier. You should give it a try.
The Best Jajamyeon in Seoul by Daniel Gray Jajangmyeon 짜장면: Korea's favorite hand pulled noodles in an black sauce is also a favorite dish of mine. It's so famous they even have a holiday for it. It's filling and hearty like a bowl of spaghetti but with Asian flair. It's one of those dishes that you can get whenever you need a quick meal and it doesn't break the wallet. It's a pretty ubiquitous dish and every Chinese restaurant must have it. If it does it well, the place becomes famous. If it is just alright, it is just a meal and gets classed in with all of the other places in the city. I can't say I have had any seriously terrible jajangmyeons except maybe some delivery places (where the noodles are overcooked and terribly clumped together so it takes like 10 minutes to get the sauce mixed into it) but even then it is still edible. With the noodles, I love to get fried dumplings and a place is good fried dumplings or some other sides like tangsuyok
Just in case you were wondering, one bottle of Soju contains 540 calories. That's like 4 beers. So to put it in perspective, you would need to walk about two hours to exercise it off. (Walking two hours with a soju hangover is not an easy task.) Soju originally was made from rice but whenever there were rice shortages, people were forbidden to make Soju. Alcohol producers the started to use sweet potatoes and tapioca to make an ethanol based alcohol. Overtime they doctored up the taste so it has a smooth, crisp taste that goes great with raw seafood and grilled meats. The world drinks a lot of Soju. 61.38 Million cases of soju were produced in 2012 with Korea consuming about 2.75 billion bottles of Soju a year. You would think that everyone would be falling over drunk in Korea, but this is not the case. The alcohol is only about 17-19% so a bottle won't wreck you (but two or more might.) Koreans judge how good of a drinker you are by the number of bottles o
Seobu Gamja-guk One of the dishes that came out of necessity is gamja-tang or pork-bone potato stew. This dish has its origins from the Incheon dock area where laborers that were working in the construction wanted to have a cheap and hearty food after a long day of work. The soup consists of pork spine that is slowly cooked with potatoes and topped with sesame leaves. The result is a satisfying dish that goes great with a bowl of hot rice. This was often cooked throughout the day and then eaten at the end of the work day. This dish goes perfectly with a chilled shot of Korean soju. After the first train line was built that would connect the Incheon area with Seoul, one entrepreneur decided that he wanted to make a restaurant focused on this dish. The first restaurant of this type was built near Noryangjin station, which was near the end of the han river railway construction. The dish became a big hit and soon many copycat restaurants started popping up all over Korea. The name gam