According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, our inflation has been at an all-time high in 14 years, with 8.7% in January, beating the forecast of both private economists and BSP of 7.3% to 8.3%. This economic situation is due to the increase in essential goods and services.
With the price increase of meat and vegetables, people needed more ideas about what to cook for their families.
Some people leaned into Korean cuisine for ideas—partly because of the Korean wave, but mostly, Korean food is known for its healthy yet affordable approach to food.
Last Thursday, March 16, the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines held a “Korean Home Cooking with Sangkap Pinoy” workshop in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Their event aims to bring Filipino closer to Korean food made at home.
During the workshop, the participants cooked two dishes: Lapu-Lapu Maewuntang, Spicy Stew with Lapu-Lapu, and Lapu-lapu Jeon or Lapu-lapu Pancake. The Sayote Janggaji or pickles were prepared beforehand by Chef Lily Min.
These said meals are called Banchan—small side dishes served with cooked rice. It usually consists of bap (or cooked rice), guk or tang (or soup), and kimchi. There can usually be around three, five, seven, and nine side dishes best served in a meal. It can go as many as 12 side dishes but is usually more common in Korean royal cuisine.
The first Korean dish that Chef Lily taught was Maewun-tang, or spicy fish stew. Coming from its name—a combination of two words, “maewun” (hot and spicy) and “tang” (soup)—this is a hot spicy fish soup boiled with gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste), chili powder, and various vegetables such as kangkong, bean sprout, and radish, which are readily available at our local markets.
Maewun-tang is one of Korea’s most popular dishes while drinking alcoholic drinks. As you can see from your favorite K-drama or K-variety shows, they allow customers in specialty seafood restaurants to select the fish they want for their soup. The soup is made from leftover fish parts if they ordered sashimi on the side.
The next dish was the Lapu-lapu jeon or pancake. Jeon is a fritter in Korean cuisine made in whole, sliced, or minced food. These pancakes are usually seasoned, coated with wheat flour, egg wash, and pan-fried. Korean pancake is an easy recipe that can also be made by busy people, most especially workers, and students.
Jeon can serve as an appetizer, a side dish, or an anju– food eaten with alcoholic drinks, the Korean version of our local pulutan.
The last dish that Chef Lily taught in the workshop was Jangajji, or pickles. With chayote and its seasoning consisting of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, Chef Lily brought it to a boil and stored it in a tight container. The difference between kimchi and pickled vegetables is that the former is fermented, and the latter is not.
When the workshop ended, the participants learned how to cook Korean dishes without breaking the bank.