Food, it is often said, brings people together. It can help bridge cultural gaps, it is celebratory, and there’s nothing more ‘in’ at the moment than Korean food.
So, to mark the meeting between US President Donald J Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un this week we decided to look at what might be on the menu.
Although the meeting is being held in Singapore, we’d like to think there’ll be a range of Korean options on offer too. Not that Singapore’s cuisine is limited. Malaysian cuisine is vast, varied and delicious! There’s Laksa, there’s Satay, there’s Beef Rendang, Nasi Goreng….the list goes on and on.
We’re sure however, the Korean delegation will want to showcase the cuisine of their country. It’s fair to say there are not many North Korean cookbooks available here in the West, however there are recipes and dishes that we do know something about.
How about Pyongyang cold noodles? They’re black and made from buckwheat, served in a clear, cold broth. They normally have dried egg, a few slices of meat, and hot sauce. Or Bindae-tteok – a fried green bean pancake prepared using mung beans, green onion and kimchi? Kimchi, by the way, is HUGE in North Korea. Our source tells us the North Koreans would eat it with every meal if they could…..
Chokpal is pig’s trotters cooked with soy sauce and various spices and additional ingredients can include onion, leeks, garlic, cinnamon and black pepper while Gajami Sikhae is a fermented and salted food prepared using flounder and additional ingredients such as quinoa, garlic, ginger and chilli flakes.
Meat is in short supply and usually only available to the general public during the public holidays of the birthdays of Kim il-Sung and Kim Jong-il, when extra meat is included in government rations provided to the population. Then it’s goat, rabbit or pork.
If you’re looking for dessert, don’t be fooled by Sundae – it’s not what you think! Sundae in North Korea are traditional Korean sausages that are a popular street food. However, those with a sweet tooth might like to round off their meal with Yakbap. Don’t panic, this is not a Yak burger. Yakbap is in fact a traditional sweet dish which is prepared using steamed glutinous rice, chestnuts, dates, honey and other ingredients.
So, there’s a range of dishes for the chefs to get started with to prepare a menu for this historic occasion.
However, most of all, we’re hoping they serve noodles at this meeting – and that they are long. Noodles are hugely important, and symbolic, in North Korea as long noodles represent a long life or a long marriage, and long noodles are served to people at weddings. It’s very rude to say no to noodles in North Korea – so go on gentlemen, tuck in!