Alas, the Korean royal cuisine course that I have been waiting for has begun this week. I was hoping to do a daily post, however I think I'll update every few days (my friend Tom from tomeatsjencooks will so not forgive me for this!). Normally this course is offered in a span of 4 months, but for folks like me who is too impatient to endure the 4 months, we do a 2 week intensive 'crash' course instead, haha. So where exactly am I taking this course you may ask?
The Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine is located in a quaint neighborhood in Wonseo-dong (right by Changdeokgung Palace, near Samchung-dong & Gahoe-dong). There are a handful of schools where Royal Cuisine is taught. However, there are many reasons why this one stands out. The president Han Bok-Ryeo (한복려) of this institute, is the daughter of Hwang Hye-Seong (황혜성), who was the successor of Han Hui-Sun.
'Han Hui-Sun' became a kitchen court lady at Toksugung Palace during the reigns of Kings Gojong and Sunjong. She was designated the 38th Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1971. Due to her, we have an important connection to the royal cuisine of the Joseon period" (from the Korean Royal Cuisine website).
It's the real deal.
The daily grind...
As the only foreigner (or non Korean native) in the class, I have to listen more intently, seriously focus, and take copious notes. In Korean and English that is. My team (the class is split up into 4-5 students/table) consists of 3 ajummas (moms who you definitely do not want to mess with). I found out today that they are all culinary teachers at different schools! No wonder they were efficient with amazing technique, and they moved faster than Korean mosquitoes. This really says a lot no? haha. These ladies are great, they allow me to work on the 'easiest' recipe, in which I seem to keep messing up somehow.
Each class starts with an hour lecture on royal cuisine history, in which I fall asleep half way into it mainly because I can't understand everything. Even with my fluent Korean, the reading/writing/Chinese characters that get tossed in pushes me to go into full day dreaming mode. Oh Sarah...however the one hour demonstration that follow is pretty cool, where there are a handful of well known teachers /chefs that teach the course. Including the president herself (this is why we are paying the big bucks)! Then the 'feasting' of what we made for lunch. Oh yeah...
This is our view from the window...this neighborhood lies right by Bukchon village where
everyone goes to check out all the beautiful hanoks (Korean traditional homes).
Day 1: 6 of the 7 dishes we prepared and I just made the zucchini soup to the right.
잣죽, 나박김치, 미역지반, 북어보푸라기, 애호박젓국조치, 매듭자반
Candied dashima knots with pine nuts.
Day 2: I made the easiest recipe of the day-탕평채 Tangpyeongchae.
This was my version. Yeah, tried to style it differently but got in trouble b/c I was supposed to toast, then crumble the seaweed instead of just using scissors to make thin slices.
Cleaning out the crab. Again, I did not do this one. The other ladies in my group apparently
like the challenge and choose the most tedious recipes to work on.
게감정 Crab soup. You take out the raw crab meat, mix with beef and other items...pack in the shells,
pan fry the shells, then add it in the soup. Even the teacher said that she may make this once a year! Way too much work for just crab. Well, this is what the kings ate!
The beautiful hwangari jars on the terrace.
For those who are looking for Korean cooking classes in English, a 2 month (once a week) course is offered @ this Institute! My good friend Wonil Lee (owner of Bean Table, you can find a blog post on this site) teaches the course. I hear it's not as intense as this royal cuisine class in Korean, but it's a great way to learn the basics of what Korean food is all about:)