Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[Visit DAEGU 2011] Daegu’s Local Foods

1_ Steamed beef ribs with spicy and sweet flavor, 
     Dongin-dong Jjimgalbi 

In the 1970’s many restaurants began to emerge as lunch time demand from civil servants increased in the Dongin-dong area near the Daegu City Hall. Among the restaurants one menu stood out, jjimgalbi. These restaurants become popular because they were both in great locations and it allowed for the diners to enjoy beef ribs at a relatively affordable price during this time of economic hardship.

This dish boasts a distinctive hot flavor which is accented by garlic, red pepper and herbs. The traditional way to combat this spice is to eat the meal with a piece of refreshing ‘White Water Kimchi.’ The price varies greatly depending on the beef as dishes served with Hanoo (Korean Beef) cost up to 25 USD and those using foreign beef cost approximately 15 USD per serving.

2_ Flat pot sticker, Napjak Mandu

Set apart by its lightness, this mandu (pot sticker) is almost tasteless. The faint taste they do have comes from putting starch noodles into the pot sticker, shaping them into crescents, boiling them in water once, frying them, then sprinkling them with a soy sauce found only in Daegu for the last 40 years. The current custom is to eat these pot stickers with hot spices, or to mix them with tteokbokki (a boiled spicy dish of sliced rice cake, cabbage, hot pepper paste and eggs) or spicy vegetable salad.

3_ Ttarogukbap, Rice served with a separate bowl 
     of spicy beef soup

This Daegu speciality is a spicy beef and vegetable soup served with rice. ‘Ttaro’ meaning ‘separate’ and ‘gukbap’ meaning ‘soup and rice’ this dish is literally translated as ‘soup and rice served separately.’ This dish gained popularity in the 1950’s during the Korean War as it keeps you warm with the spiciness of the red pepper and garlic with the succulent taste of beef.

For over fifty years, Daegu was the only area with the habit of eating rice and soup separately as other regions have customarily mixed rice in the soup. ‘Ttaro’ means ‘separate’, and ‘gukbap’ means ‘soup and rice’ in Korean, so that ‘ttarogukbap’ as a compound word means ’rice and soup served separately’. This dish has an unrivaled after-taste that seems spicy as well as refreshing with leek and radish cooked in a soup of beef shank, and plenty of powdered red pepper and chopped garlic. It is the epitome of the unique ‘spicy and burning` taste found only in Daegu.

4_ Makchang-gui, Grilled beef tripe

This dish might frighten off some individuals after they find out that it is made from pork intestines, but is much like chitterlings in the United States. The preparation is a bit different as it is cooked on a grill/griddle right at your table. This is a favorite nighttime food and is normally accompanied by Soju or beer.

To properly prepare Makchang you must make sure that when you grill it is both crispy on the outside while staying soft like a marshmallow on in inside. After it is finished pluck it from the hot grill and eat it with a slice of garlic, green onion, and soybean sauce.

Because of its popularity there are many Makchang restaurants in Daegu, costing normally 4~6 USD per serving. If you decide to have Makchang while you are in Korea, Daegu is surely the place to try it. 

5_ Rice cakes with hot and spicy sauce,

Ddeokbokki is a dish well known throughout Korea, especially by high school and university students, due to its affordability. This classic food is prepared by boiling rice cakes in a combination of cabbage and red pepper paste. This snack was originally reserved as a Royal Food but it is now enjoyed by everyone.

Dukbokki of Daegu is very different from ordinary dukbokki of Korea. Apart from flour dough and bits of cabbage, it is totally covered with spicy sauce. Mrs Ok Hyeon Yoon started selling this special kind of dukbokki in 1976 at Shinchon market place and it was nicknamed the “dukbokki drug” as the great taste became renowned for its addictiveness. Spices such as chili powder, curry and pepper not only stimulate your palate, but can make you even dizzy in the head and stomach. It is different also in terms of the fact that it does not contain anything other than pure sauce or very red soup (not even a piece of spring onion) with just flour dough amidst this “sea of sauce”. It is a delicatessen that is also consisted of fried dumplings that contain glass noodles and fried fish cake which you dip in the sauce to eat. Daegu dukbokki had been very popular among the people of Daegu who love extremely spicy food, and as it was introduced through media many times that dukbokki, through its spiciness is a great healthy food that can help in dieting efforts, its popularity spread throughout the country. Subsequently, there had been many types of spicy dukbokki that appeared in Daegu, such as Emperor Dukbokki, Shinchon Grandma’s dukbokki, Shin Rice Cake, Shinchon Emperor Dukbokki and etc and they have become all very popular in other cities.

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