Digital Artefact- Korean Cuisine

Throughout this semester I have been undertaking  auto-ethnography research, which is both a process and product, stated by Ellis, as a means of exploring a culture other than my own. In making this digital artefact I believed the best way to convey my experience was through a Youtube channel as well as snap-chatting each step in the recipe through snapchat in order to condense the method for the viewer, making it more engaging.

Im a 20 year old english girl who has lived in Australia for nearly 9 years, still visiting England very regularly. Growing up our cooking was very ‘traditional,’ for example, every Sunday we would have a roast dinner consisting of roast beef, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire pudding, gravy and roast potatoes. It was the type of cooking where ‘comfort food’ was very common and cooked often. This was a completely different cooking method to that of Korean.

To understand this new way of cooking I took to a reliable Korean blog/forum which described the ingredients and methods as well as discussions of people who had made the recipe form all around the world. This was a really good example of the way in which globalisation has changed the consumption of culture and cuisine through an online platform. People from all around the world are engaging with Korean food as I means of understanding and experiencing its culture.  This made understanding what I was cooking a lot easier, however the method… a continuous issue. At times I tried to turn the dish into something I was familiar with and when it wasn’t I struggled to like it, comparing it to something I was familiar with in order to describe it.

The biggest issue for me was the sourcing of ingredients and the fact that I am allergic to Chilli and seafood, which is two of the main ingredients used in Korean cuisine. I wanted to find all the ingredients in local supermarkets to make it easier for not only myself but other people to find the ingredients. I live more than an hour from any of the Korean speciality stores and I’m sure many people would be in the same boat. This left me feeling as though it was a cuisine that the Korean culture didn’t want to share. I was often frustrated substituting authentic Korean ingredients with things that were similar in Coles, Woolworths or local fruit and veg shops, the overall product didn’t seem to work quite as efficiently as I was fantasising. I felt extremely disconnected from this cuisine because of the lack of ingredients i was able to find, although from what I have researched Korean culture is extremely welcoming and wanting to share their culture with everyone. This is one of the biggest contradictions I found in my research and that of experiencing.

Below is my first attempt at a South Korean dish known as ‘Bok Choy with Soybean Paste,’ this is a dish that is commonly used as a side dish. Rather than having entree etc, Koreans tend to put all different dishes on the table at the same time creating a sharing atmosphere, one that I’m not particularly accustomed too. Here is a funny little blog I came across in regards to Korean table manners.

I really struggled as you can see with the first recipe. I substituted and the outcome was an absolute disaster. A taste and texture I still cant remove from my memory.

My second attempt below is really interesting as I found a Korean section in Woolworths that had pre-made mixes (music to my ears), this was a completely different and lazy way of cooking but I felt as though the product that I ended up with was a lot more authentic due to the flavours and consistency. When questioning the authenticity, I discovered that the ‘Street kitchen‘ company is from Melbourne and made in India. So how authentic does it then become? Its interesting to see the flow of globalisation, we are a country obsessed with experiencing different cultures and cuisines as if they are trends for example, sushi, indian, thai, Mexican etc. At first I though the dish was amazing, mostly because I was eating, enjoying and experiencing completely new flavours that I thought were authentic, but after reading that? I swapped my chopsticks for a fork.

 

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Something I discovered for my own interest was that ginger can be used to substitute Chilli. It packs some serious heat! Which led me to a side project that i have been working on for DIGC202. After spending so much time looking for recipes that didn’t involve chilli or seafood, I made a subreddit as a way of assisting others who had dietary issues in order to find recipes quickly and easily.

Below is my second attempt cooking Bulgorgi Beef:

 

Due to these allergies paired with sourcing ingredients I struggled a lot finding recipes that  I could actually eat in order to experience the culture. In moving away from side dishes and main dishes which mostly consisted of chilli and seafood, I decided to make Kkwabaegi (twisted donuts!) I was really excited to make these donuts because when i was little I visited Spain and had homemade donuts on the beach that they were selling in a paper bag, hot. I know Korea and Spain have nothing to do with each other culturally but every donut I have ever eaten I compare to those I have had as a kid and it destroys the experience EVERY time. Optimistically, I thought they were going to turn out like the ones on the beach as a child, they didn’t. Instead they tasted like sweet bread and had the consistency of scones. Maybe I did something wrong, or maybe it didn’t live up to the Spanish donuts, whichever it was I was really disappointed and they ended up getting thrown away. Below is Kkwabaegi experience:

 

For previous research and detailed explanations of each recipe please look at the rest of my blog. 

Making kkwabaegi!

Over the last couple of weeks, I have again struggled to find recipes that don’t have chilli or seafood in them. I have however zoned in on a dessert this week and found Kkwabaegi (twisted donuts). The ingredients are below:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour for doughnuts, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 packet of dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons: 7 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • corn oil for frying
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder (I used cinnamon sugar)

Method: 

Make the coating

  1. Add 2-3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon powder to a brown paper bag. Shake to mix well. Set aside.(I used cinnamon sugar here which is exactly the same, i just didn’t want to create a mess)

Make the dough

  1. Fully melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add milk, sugar, and salt. Mix well until everything is well dissolved. Crack an egg into the saucepan and mix well. Add the yeast and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes. (This should change the texture from runny into a lumpy mixture)
  2. Transfer to a large bowl. Add 3 cups flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. When everything is well mixed, use your hand to knead the dough for a few minutes, and shape it into a big lump. Cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, usually about 1 hour to 1½ hours.kkwabaegi dough
  4. Deflate the gas with your hand and knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s soft and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap again and let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour until it doubles in size again. (Let rise for as long as possible, this makes the donuts more light and fluffy)

Roll out the doughnuts

  1. Uncover the dough and knead it for a few minutes. Put 2 tablespoons of flour on the corner of your cutting board to use for dusting. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.divided
  2. Take a piece of dough and roll it out on your cutting board so it forms a rope 10 inches long and ½ inch in diameter. If it’s sticky, sprinkle some flour on the area you’re working in. When you roll out the dough, move one hand upward and the other downward so that the rope is twisted in between your hands as you roll it. (I really struggled with these instructions and ended up just trying to twist them and let them sit.)making twisted donuts
  3. Take the dough off the board, hold it aloft, and bring the ends together. The tension in the dough will twist it as it hangs. You can add as much tension as you like, but I think the best looking kkwabaegi has 3- 4 twists in it.
  4. Place the twisted dough on a floured cutting board or tray. Repeat with the rest of the pieces of dough.
  5. Let the doughnuts expand for about 30 minutes. 15 minutes in, gently flip each doughnut over with your hands so the bottoms don’t get flat and all sides expand nice and round. (I forgot this stage which is probably why my donuts were light and fluffy and were more of a doughy consistency) 

twisted donut dough rising

Fry the doughnuts

  1. Heat up 4 inches of oil in a deep skillet over medium high heat, until the temperature reaches 350° F. Lower the heat to medium heat, then gently set each doughnut into the hot oil by hand. Be careful not to get your hands too close to the oil. Add as many pieces to the oil as your skillet will allow, enough so the doughnuts can sit in the oil without pushing against each other. (I used a deep fryer for this, which was a lot easier)
  2. Cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally gently flipping them over with tongs, until they get crunchy outside and are evenly golden brown.
  3. Strain the cooked doughnuts. Put them in the brown paper bag with the sugar cinnamon mixture. Shake a few times until they are evenly coated. This is best done when the doughnuts are still warm. Repeat this with all the doughnuts until they are all cooked and coated.

kkwabaegi (twisted Korean dougnhuts: 꽈배기)

Serve

  1. Serve hot.
  2. You can freeze any leftovers for up to a month. To rejuvenate them, take them out of the freezer and thaw at room temperature for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

This was all taken from: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/kkwabaegi

Below is my experience of cooking:

 

 

 

Experiencing Korean food so far

Experiencing South Korean food first struck me while watching state of play. Over the last two weeks I have explored two different recipes, experiencing and cooking them in two different ways.

It has still been extremely hard to find authentic Korean ingredients which has changed the way I am experiencing the culture in my own home. Cooking techniques also differ significantly when compared to my English background of cooking. For instance when making the ‘seasoned bok Choy’– the recipe asks to blanch the bok Choy rather than cook it in the pan, in which I over cooked it for the recipe. This changed the taste and texture. The fact that I substituted ingredients also changed the way I made the recipe and unfortunately the end product, which you would of seen through my humorous commentary.

I substituted these ingredients because they were authentic Korean ingredients that I couldn’t find in Coles, Woolworths or a speciality fruit and veg store. I would of had to visit the city in order to facilitate these ingredients which was nearly impossible due to my limited amount of free time.

During my first blog post, I mentioned the different speciality stores around Sydney, although I have yet to visit one I took off to explore the ways people were experimenting with Korean ingredients but adding them into there own culture rather than recreating the Korean culture ( we will leave that to Korean restaurants hah). As we can see from the linked website Taste, an online food magazine, the recipes deemed as South Korean have been cultured in order to make it easier to cook with no authentic Korean ingredients but to keep some of Korean authenticity through cooking, look and name of the dish. I believe these recipes on ‘Taste’ are very culturally appropriated and don’t entirely give respect to authentic Korean ingredients and culture, supported by the Ellis & Bochner, 2000 reading, it was agreed that researchers, “wanted to concentrate on ways of producing meaningful, accessible, and evocative research…forming a representation that deepens our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us.” Through vlogging my experience on Youtube, blogs and twitter, I was able to share the content across different mediums in order to give everyone easy accessibility to my research and understanding of Korean food. This gave me a greater understanding of cooking Korean food and I gained a lot more respect of the culture, researching and locating ingredients in order to keep the dishes extremely authentic (or as authentic as i could make it.)

For instance the dish below which i made using the Bulgogi Beef Premix ‘Street kitchen,’ is also shown on this website. These ingredients don’t include any authentic ingredients which may alter our respect for Korean culture.

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Taken from here

My second attempt as documented looked at a pre bought Korean mix (as seen in the picture below) that I found at Woolworths. This was new to Woolworths and was on special as a promotion. This was my first experience in finding Korean ingredients in a familiar place. It was convenient because I didn’t have to drive far to the city in order to grab three key ingredients and the bulgogi beef was delicious and CHEAP!. Although all I cooked was the beef in the premixed sauce and rice it gave me a true experience of what Korean food tasted like rather than trying to rely on an english background of cooking methods while cooking something completely foreign and from scratch.

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When comparing the two recipes and sourcing ingredients, the premix was a lot cheaper to make and my whole family loved it, which is very suprising. My family don’t really like to try any new foods, we tend to stick to what we know is good. This experience therefore brought Korean culture into my home and we even sat at the table for the first time in a long time, talking about different cultures that we could try. As also stated in the Ellis reading, “Auto ethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist.” This alone supports the idea that even though what I’m researching and experiencing isn’t turning into true authentic Korean food, I’m experiencing and trying to understand a culture in my own way and what it means to me and others.

One thing I did pick up on in the premix was how hot the dish felt. At first I thought it was chilli (which I’m highly allergic too) but turns out it was ginger and this got me thinking of ways I could actually use ginger in many dishes rather than chilli in order to get the spice of a dish ( something I have been hoping to find for a very long time).

Next I am interested in making something sweet. Probably Kkwabaegi, Twisted donuts! (because who doesn’t love donuts). The first recipe turned into a bit of a disaster but the second wasn’t difficult, was easy to make and included an authentic flavour. I tweeted Chris and we questioned how authentic the premix really was. Manufactured in Victoria, made in India, named South Korean.

Due to the mixture of cultures the familiarity may be one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. This being said, some of the ingredients in the premix were still authentic Korean.

Stay tuned to see me cook Kkwabaegi!

(1) Individual Research: Korean Food

After watching the South Korean gamers in State of Play, I was extremely hungry. Hungry because of all the delicious looking food that seemed to be used as a celebration for when the gamers came home.

Korean cuisine which has evolved over many centuries, is largely based on Rice, vegetables and meats. Traditional Korean foods also have a large number of side dishes as well as having kimchi with every meal.

What I found interesting is that many international cuisines available to us at Coles etc. are Mexican, indian, Italian, asian. Yet its nearly impossible to find any traditional Korean ingredients without going to a speciality store. This results in people making Korean food which is often inauthentic.

For me, Korean food is something which is completely foreign, I think the furthest I have ventured would be Thai food at a restaurant. With that being said, I looked for Korean recipes on google, in which many had been changed slightly to fit our culture or access to ingredients which provided inauthentic traditional Korean food. So instead I looked on forums and discovered this blog which provides you with a really good understanding of Korean culture as well as the food you are making.

After exploring this Korean Food blog with recipes passed down through family members. I knew this would be authentic and found myself searching for the easiest recipes, why? Im English. I grew up with traditional cooking, pies, roast dinners etc. This kind of cooking is completely foreign to me. So here goes…

Ingredients: (4ish?)

  • 2 Bunches of Bok Choy – (Easy thats a universal vegetable)
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 Green onion, minced- (I found myself in a local veg shop googling ‘what is a green onion?’ results, SPRING ONION people! We are purchasing spring onions.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Doenjang (fermented soybean paste)- (No idea what I was looking for, so again took to google. Picture me now stood in coles, learning about soybean suppliers. Result, instead of me waiting a week for the delivery of soybean paste I googled, ‘what was the closest bean to a soybean?’ results, Butter Bean (partly estimated too) I was thinking that I could just mash them up into a paste?)
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

 

What I thought would be an easy recipe turned out to be a disaster. I got home and realised that I purchased Spinach instead of Bok Choy (“universal vegetable” haha) and I forgot the sesame seeds!

My mum also informed me they sell soybeans in the frozen section which i could of mashed as an alternative. (Tad late there mum!)

What I realised very quickly was that, Korean food ingredients were very hard to come across, making it nearly impossible to make Korean food in your own home or somewhat difficult resulting in wanting to just make something you are familiar with instead. This also lead me to believe that there is a strong Korean food culture and sense of pride, with food that should only be made properly and with the correct ingredients, hence there appears to be more Korean restaurants rather than available ingredients. Does this suggest that Korean cuisine is just that Korean, and we shouldn’t be trying to make it?

Ultimately through researching however, I found that Koreans are very accepting and willing to share their culture with all different nationalities. So why aren’t ingredients easily accessible? After reading this news piece we can see a massive increase in Korean restaurant bookings, which is supporting the sale of Korean ingredients in Coles, describing Korean food as the new ‘mexican.’ (Personally though I couldn’t find many ingredients there other than my sesame oil which was reasonably cheap ($3.75).

Day 2 of cooking Korean food…

  1. Heat water in the kettle.
  2. Pour flavouring on noodles in a bowl
  3. Put noodles in the microwave for 2 minutes
  4. Steal chopsticks from sushi-hub
  5. Eat noodles with chopsticks and call it Korean Cuisine.

Okay I lied, it isn’t Korean at all, I am just really struggling to find Korean ingredients due to the amount of effort and accessibility. I was pointed in the right direction by my BCM240 teacher, Charlotte Allen (Thank you!) on twitter, who has a friend who cooks Korean Fried chicken (Yum!) Please check out the video below.

 

How yum does that look? I will definitely be trying that! The problem as I spoke about before is ensuring the food is authentic by using all the right ingredients. Im allergic to Chilli and seafood… Yeah I know it sucks! Theres a lot of stuff I cant even go near and on top of that a lot of Korean foods have chilli in the dishes, which makes it hard to ensure what I’m making is authentic if I have to take out a main ingredient which gives the dish its flavour.

What do you think, does it lose authenticity if you are taking out ingredients? I was thinking a great way to filter recipes would be to tag ingredients within recipes so you can search for recipes without certain ingredients to get around being able to make Korean food that is still authentic.

For instance, next I will be making Bulgogi which is a marinated Korean BBQ beef, ‘simple yet delicious’ apparently. Im still trying to work out whether I should make the Korean Fried Chicken without Chilli. I will also be filming it similarly to how I did with the Bok Choy recipe, so if anyone had any comments for improvement that would be awesome! (Hopefully I can get the right ingredients for this one… haha!)