Over the past few weeks, I have taken my very first cooking classes ever. After doing a Google search and sending an email, I signed up to take three cooking classes from Ongo Food Communications. The person who runs the place is a Korean-American chef who is also the author of Seoul Eats, a food blog that I often read when searching for good places to eat.
When I arrived, I walked into what seemed like a state-of-the-art kitchen set-up. Since I had never taken a cooking class, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Considering the “kitchen” in my Seoul shoebox (I mean apartment) consists of two burners and a 24-inch by 18-inch counter space, it looked impressive. There were eight work stations, which could fit two people. Additionally, there was a demonstration counter in the front of the room with a huge mirror above it, so people could see what was going on.
When class started, I claimed the space in the very front of the class, so I could see the Korean instructor cook. She was a young woman whose slicing and dicing makes my chopping look like a first grader’s. She cut with such precision, accuracy, and speed (none of which I have). It all looked so easy; I learned how to chop correctly because I didn’t know how! My food turned out just as tasty as hers, but not as pretty.
The first dish she showed us how to make was japchae (glass noodle stir fry). There are different variations of the dish, but it’s basically made using glass noodles and vegetables (carrots, onions, mushrooms, spinach, meat if you want), and it’s garnished with small slices of egg and the white part of the green onion. Of course, this is all sauteed with a delicious and easy-to-make sauce. Since the only japchae I’ve had in Korea has been either on the street or part of the school lunch, the japchae I made was no comparison. It was way better.
The second dish we made was spicy stir-fried pork (jaeyok bokkeum). I won’t go into the details of the dish, but it’s basically pork, onion, and awesome-tasting sauce all stir-fried together. It was equally delicious.
For my second class, we made spicy chicken stew (dakdoritang or dak bokkeum tang) and bean sprout salad (kongnamul muchim). Here are the pics.
For my last class, we made stone bowl mixed rice (dolsot bibimbap) and bean sprout soup (kongnamul guk). I’ll elaborate on the bibimbap. Bibimbap is considered a very balanced Korean dish because it has the perfect amount of grains and vegetables. It also has a wonderful balance of colors. Most bibimbap contains carrots, spinach, bracken, bean sprouts, and a small amount of beef placed on top of a mound of rice in a stone bowl. Everything is a little undercooked because you have to heat up the stone bowl on the stove. While the stone bowl is heating, you have to fry an egg in a pan and then place it on top of the veggies, rice, and meat in the stone bowl. You let it heat up until you hear the rice on the bottom crackling and getting crispy. Then, you take it off the stove and mix in gochujang (hot pepper paste that is used for many spicy Korean dishes). Dolsot bibimbap looks beautiful before you mix it up. After you mix it up, it doesn’t look very good anymore.
The best part about the cooking classes was eating the food I made. Everything turned out great, and I can’t wait to continue making all this food.