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« A Simple Before Morning Meal by Farid Zadi | Main | Ramadan in Lebanon by Nadia »

October 13, 2005

Korean Lunch at Mom's by Ji-Young Park

P1010001_1My parents eat lunch or dinner like this everyday. My mother has even more banchan in her pantry.

My mother cooks all day long when she is not working. If anyone is imagining that a quaint Korean halmuni (grandmother) is preparing all this food, think again. My mother is very stylish, attractive, even a bit imposing. She has her own business and travels quite a bit.

I'll explain what these dishes are individually in subsequent posts. I will provide recipes as well. In the "old" days it would have been impossible to prepare food like this for daily eating without domestic help or a large extended family living close together.

However, even the poor could feast on special occassions by preparing and sharing foods together. We did that alot too in Korea when I was little.


Rice is the staff of life in Korea, noodles come a close second. Traditionally rice is eaten at almost every meal even with noodle dishes. There is a Korean saying that even the poorest (wo)man can survive on a bowl of rice and one banchan or a thin soup. A typical Korean breakfast is just that, rice, a bowl of soup and one banchan.

Eating habits have changed somewhat with Industrialization, but I'll get into that later.


This is a traditional bap sot. Bap means rice, sot means pot. Bap is synonymous with food. "Have you had bap yet?" Means, "Have you eaten yet?"

The ridge on the pot is necessary for cooking in a traditional Korean stove, which is basically a hole in the ground in which a single cylindrical coal is inserted. The hole in the ground stove is actually ingenious. I will discuss this later.


Rice cooked in a traditional steel or dol (granite) sot develops a crust at the bottom called nurungi. Water is added to the pot and simmered to make a gruel. It has a nutty and slightly sweet taste. It's prized as a treat by many, my children love it. The nurungji is also dried through further cooking in the pot, removed and air dried for a day or two and eaten plain or deep fried until it puffs up and sprinkled with sugar. In Korea it's possible to buy pre-made nurungji.


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My mom makes a kind of nurungji, the rice crust at the bottom. She's always made rice in a stovetop pot, never a rice maker. We never even had one, and I have one I inherited from a Nikkei friend, but I have yet to use it (well, the amount of cooking I do, that's another story). So I've always been of the mind that wimps and amateurs use rice cookers. To me, the rice tastes better from a pot, and my mom's favorite thing was the nurungji, which she wouldn't let anyone else have.

That broiled fish looks so appetizing!

I wish I could cook things beyond ramyon (well, I can cook Western food, but not Korean food).

Hi Lily

I took photos of my mom's kimchi making process. I will post it soon. I will try to cover the range of Korean recipes.


i am so happy to find a korean who i can communicate regarding food. my son-in-law is born in korea and was adopted. he loves kimchi and i have tried making them but has not found one recipe that he liked. hope your mom's cabbage kimchi is the one he likes

All of this looks so interesting. I'd love to watch your mom cook!

Oh! And taste the food too. I'm enjoying reading about what your mom cooks and about Korean cuisine.


Hi Lance,

Thank you for the interest. My mother is really excited about showing off her cooking. I took photos of her making napa cabbage kimchi. I'll post that soon.

Looking forward to your individual subsequencial posts: recipes, narrative and pictures.

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