Author Archives: Seattle Korean Restaurant

The Story of the Korean Zodiac

Like much of Asia, South Korea has a long history of observing the Chinese-style lunar calendar. It is for this reason that our Seattle Korean restaurant recognizes the familiar Chinese zodiac.

The legend behind the Chinese zodiac is told in many different ways. Some people will say that it started with Buddha inviting animals to witness his departure from Earth, while others claim it was China’s Jade Emperor inviting the animals to a celebration of his birthday. Some say that all animals were invited, and the only twelve animals who showed up were rewarded with a position on the calendar, while others tell that a competition was staged to see which animals would get the most esteemed positions on the calendar. Even the specific animals that belong in the calendar are somewhat contested. However, the most widely-accepted version places the rat in the first position, followed by the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and finally the pig.

Pork in Korean Food

As is the case with many Asian culinary traditions, pork is a big part of Korean food. At our Seattle Korean restaurant, you can find everybody’s favorite “other white meat” in the form of our barbeque pork dishes, our pork and potato soup, our herb steamed pork, and more. Come and get your fix of pork today!

The consumption of pork goes back far into ancient history. Bones discovered in south-eastern Turkey show us that pigs were first domesticated as a food source as early as 8,000 BC. The practice made its way into China at some point around 4,900 BC. The cultivation of pigs for pork spread to Korea and throughout the rest of Asia from there, and has remained a significant part of many traditions to the modern day.

The Magic of Hangul

Are you familiar with the Korean alphabet? Though the language is not widely spoken outside of North and South Korea, it has risen in popularity in recent years among American students, currently representing the fifth most commonly studied language. You might look at all the foreign symbols on the menu at our Seattle Korean restaurant and find them intimidating, but it’s actually quite a practical alphabet.

The Korean alphabet, hangul, is not quite as complicated as it looks. Unlike the Chinese alphabet, which has thousands of letters, hangul is a phonetic system with only twenty-four symbols. These symbols, which are logically organized into fourteen consonants and ten vowels, are combined into single symbols that each represent one syllable. This alphabet is recognized as one of the most practical alphabets in the world, and a triumph of Korean ingenuity.

The Most Sustainable Seafood

With many of the ocean’s fish populations in danger of being harvested into oblivion, places like our Seattle Korean restaurant need to be more and more concerned with sustainability. You can participate in the sustainability movement by seeking out species of seafood that are commonly farmed, or that have shown themselves to be more resilient to overfishing. To this end, please take a look at this partial list of the more sustainable fish populations:

Salmon
Black Cod
Clams, Scallops, Mussels, and Oysters
Tilapia
Octopus
Squid
Yellowfin Tuna
Dungeness and Stone crab
Atlantic, King, and Spanish Mackerel

The Curious Origins of Tempura

Who doesn’t love tempura? The Japanese sure do. Americans do. Korea has also embraced this fried favorite in a big way. At our Seattle Korean Restaurant, you can enjoy this classic with either vegetables or seafood. But what is the story behind this dish, exactly? The answer might surprise you.

Anyone familiar with the Japanese language may have noticed that there’s something unusual about the word “tempura”. After all, the syllable “tem-” cannot be properly written in the Japanese alphabet. This is because “tempura” is actually not a native Japanese word.

Tempura was actually brought to Japan in the seventeen hundreds, when missionaries from Portugal and Spain arrived in the country. Though the specific facts are obscured in history, it is thought that the name was derived from the Portuguese word “tempero”, which translates to “condiment” or “seasoning”. You can actually find a dish similar to the Japanese tempura in Portugal to this day, where it can be found under the name peixinhos da horta.

Everybody Loves Shiitake Mushrooms!

Long before it reached our Seattle Korean restaurant, shiitake mushrooms were revered for its great taste and medicinal properties. Its history as a food goes all the way back to prehistoric times, its first recorded use appearing as far back as AD 199. The Chinese and, later on, the Japanese and Koreans have been cultivating the mushrooms for over a thousand years, using it not only as a food but as a medicine, an agent to empower the chi, and a means to battle the effects of old age.

Though ancient medicine lacked the finer tools of modern day, modern science can confirm many of shiitake’s long-celebrated benefits. Shiitake contains valuable nutrients and powerful anti-oxidants, serving to balance bodily nutrition and fight the harmful effects of free radicals that age your skin and other bodily tissues. Substances in shiitake can also lower cholesterol and prevent the growth of cancerous tumors. It would seem that the doctors of the old East knew what they were talking about!

Don’t Be Afraid of Shrimp!

Our Seattle Korean restaurant is your source of everyone’s favorite crustaceans, be it in one of our hot pots, one of our tempuras, or a good old-fashioned Korean barbecue dish. However, you might have heard that these curly little morsels may not be your heart’s best friend, that perhaps their cholesterol level is surprisingly high for an ocean-based food. Have no fear, though, for we have good news for cautious shrimp fans.

One important thing to understand is that there are two kinds of cholesterol: LDL cholesterol, that creates a deadly plaque inside your blood vessels, and HDL cholesterol, which actyally cleans out LDL cholesterol. While shrimp do indeed feature a high cholesterol-to-mass ratio, and they have been shown to raise the level of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, it has also been observed that they raise the level of HDL cholesterol even more. Researchers agreed that this adds up to a favorable ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol for those with a shrimp-rich diet.

Meanwhile, shrimp is also providing a solid serving of vitamins, omega-3, selenium, zinc, and other vital nutrients. So come on down to Old Village, and don’t be afraid to dig into some shrimp!

The Production of Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is an integral part of the food at our Seattle Korean restaurant. It’s one of Korea’s most important seasonings, and a vital ingredient in many of the dishes we serve. But what, exactly, is soy sauce? Where does it come from, and what does it take to create this phenomenal condiment?

The first step is to soak and steam the soybeans, then combine them with roasted wheat grains.
The next step is to bring about the growth of koji mold in the mixture. This breaks down the proteins of the soy and the carbohydrates of the wheat into something that the Japanese call shoyu koji. This process takes roughly three days.
The shoyu koji is mixed with salt water to ferment and age for several months.
After the aging process, the shoyu koji has become a thick, mash-like substance. This substance is pressed and strained through a cloth to filter out the fluid. This is called “raw” soy sauce.
The raw soy sauce is heated so as to pasteurize the mixture and stop the chemical reactions, stabilizing the soy sauce. Now it is ready to be enjoyed!

The Fish vs. Flax Debate

In our increasingly health-obsessed world, people are looking to foods like fish and flax to give them the omega-3 that they need. Naturally, fish are the favored source here at our Seattle Korean restaurant. Not only is fish a more delicious way to get your omega-3, but there are also important nutritional implications that bear mention.

The big distinction between the omega-3 that comes from seafood and the fatty acids provided by flax and other plant-related sources is that seafood contains EPA and DHA fatty acids, while flax contains ALA fatty acids. EPA and DHA are the types of omega-3 that your body needs, and ALA is only valuable in that it can be converted by your body into EPA and DHA. The omega-3 found in flax is therefore less readily available, and requires your body to do more work before it can properly benefit from it.

Further, there has been some evidence that flax may be a risk factor for prostate cancer. This information is inconclusive, and further research is required, but men may wish to favor seafood as a source of omega-3 until more information is available. Until such a time, you can get your fatty acids at Old Village.

Korean Thanksgiving

The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates a day of thanksgiving! For our Seattle Korean restaurant, Thanksgiving is celebrated towards the end of September. It is around this time when Koreans observe Chuseok, a three day holiday of food, family, and remembrance.

Chuseok, alternatively called Hangawi, is similar to America’s Thanksgiving both thematically and in practice. It is a time when family gathers to spend quality time together, sharing traditional food and partaking of traditional activities. It is also a time when the burial mounds of dead relatives are visited and tended to. Though its origins are somewhat unclear, it can probably be traced back to ancient religious rituals involving the harvest moon. It’s the biggest and most significant of Korea’s holidays, so come by and celebrate it in style with Old Village!