These days, I have been busy decluttering my things as we just moved a week ago. While digging into the boxes that were heavier (or lighter) than me, I stumbled upon my mom’s CD collection of drama and horror films from the early 2000s. Out of all the CDs piled up, an original copy of the 2003 Korean historical drama, Dae Jang Geum got my attention. Seeing Jang Geum, portrayed by actress Lee Young-Ae, on the CD cover made me feel like being taken back in time when I was just a 3rd grader, lying on her stomach with her eyes glued to the TV every night, admiring Jang Geum‘s intelligence and prowess both in the royal cuisine and in the medical field.
Dae Jang Geum, known as Jewel in the Palace in the Philippines, was televised by GMA Network from November 2005 to March 2006. The drama was in fact very successful that it was shown almost worldwide just after it was originally aired in Korea. It also sparked people’s interests to dive into the Korean culture, especially the Korean Cuisine. Jang Geum inspired the younger me to dream of myself wearing Hanbok while doing wonders in the Royal Cuisine. It’s kind of funny and embarrassing whenever it comes to mind now, but it turns out that my childish dream never disappeared and grew stronger instead.
I grew up helping mom in the kitchen (if being the food tester is considered helping.) However, it was only a few years ago when I tried being the cook. My mom taught me her own recipes but I thought they were too plain so I experimented a lot… which yielded unfavorable results. The only decent food I could serve, without the fear of people lining up in the comfort room, is carbonara. I thank the heavens for giving me some mysterious power to cook it minus any threat to the eaters’ well-being. ㅎㅎ
I studied Korean Language in the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines (KCC) located near my workplace in Bonifacio Global City. I loved learning the language but I also itched to try Hansik or Korean Cooking to be able to prepare myself jjajangmyeon and to learn other Korean recipes as well. I was keen to join the class but I wasn’t able to pursue it as my work schedule suddenly changed. Sad, right? But I did not give up on my dream **cue Hercules OST** and resorted to browse for some Korean recipes online.
I finally got the steps to a great jjajangmyeon, thanks to Maangchi and other sources. Next came the ingredient shopping. I didn’t think it would be different to what I usually do whenever I shop for any other ingredients so I was taken aback after realizing that I will be cooking Korean food. You know, Korean food = Korean ingredients + Korean way of cooking. So there… I bet you already have a clue about what happened next. ㅠㅠ
After the painful case of jjajangmyeon, I vowed to be contented in eating Korean food. Whenever I hang out with my Elementary Korean 1 classmates (and our teacher if she’s available), we would always eat out and you don’t even have to guess what we munch on! We even call our class “Bibimbap”. ㅎㅎ Going back, we went to a certain Korean restaurant after class once and among all the dishes I’ve tried there, I instantly fell in love with their gimbap.
Gimbap or kimbap is a seaweed rice roll made of gim – a sheet of dried and roasted seaweed like those used in some variants of Japanese sushi, and bap or rice in Korean. Gimbap can be made with all kinds of fillings and has also many variants to choose from.
Don’t be confused!
Thinking that I’ve already healed my broken heart from the incident months ago, I mustered up my courage to be in action in the kitchen again. I looked up for the recipe online and got Maangchi as my instructor for the second time. The ingredients for gimbap are actually easy to find in the local supermarkets here (except for the danmuji or pickled radish).
Next, of course, is the preparation. I started by mixing rice with some seasonings and then I set it aside to cool. For the filling, I used carrots, avocado, cucumber, spinach, eggs, and beef. After all the chopping, mixing, and frying comes the most challenging part is the gimbap rolling!
It was actually fun rolling the gimbap. Imagine grasping firmly on the sushi mat to shape the roll wrapped inside and unfolding the mat to be greeted by a perfect gimbap made by your own hands – how cool is that? Be careful though, as too much grip may cause the gimbap’s fillings to burst out of the mat. I also feel obliged to warn you about putting too much rice over the gim.
The last thing to do is to slice the gimbap roll. Remember to wet the knife before and after every slicing 1. to make it easier, and 2. to avoid rice sticking on the knife which could ruin the next slice and you will cry because your pretty gimbap got destroyed. **sniffs**
Now, I am proud to present you the very first gimbap I’ve made since I walked the earth~!
I really had a great time preparing my first gimbap. Doesn’t it show? Fortunately, it passed my mom’s taste test with flying colors. Her reaction made me think that with some more practice, I could be the modern Jang Geum of the Philippines. ㅋㅋㅋ Kidding aside, I will strive to be better at cooking and make my country proud – be it Filipino or Korean cuisine. ㅎㅎ
Written by Krew Member: Miao Canlas