The KCC’s final exhibition of the year takes you on a trip to Korea’s culinary capital:
Taste of Korea: Jeonju
22 Nov 2018 – 12 Jan 2019 | Mon-Fri: 10am – 6pm Sat: 11am – 5pm
Korean Cultural Centre UK
In partnership with the Korea Traditional Culture Center The Taste of Korea: Jeonju introduces this culinary city and its dynamic and vibrant food scene, presenting 7 of the region’s traditional dishes which for centuries have attracted visitors from all across the nation. Famous for its food festival and local markets, in 2012 Jeonju was designated as a ‘Creative City for Gastronomy’ by UNESCO.
Owing to its fortuitous geography – surrounded by mountains and fields with clean soil and air – the city boasts an abundance of fresh ingredients including rice, vegetables and fruits from the Honam Plain, as well as wild plants and mushrooms from the mountains. With the Yellow Sea on the west coast of the city, there is also a plentiful supply of fresh fish and crabs. Utilising the city’s fresh natural ingredients, a passion for cooking and culinary invention it is no wonder that Jeonju has become a byword for the very best of Korean cuisine.
As the climate is warm, the local recipes are full of strong flavours, usually made with either seafood or chilli based sauces. Jeonju is particularly known for its Bibimbap (vegetable rice bowl with chilli paste), Kong-namul-gukbap (bean sprout soup with rice), Dolsot bap (hot stone rice bowl), Omogari-tang (spicy fish stew), Jeonju Pyebaek (ornate wedding dishes), Baekban (10 seasonal dishes) and Hanjeongsik (traditional platter of 14 dishes).
Inspired by Jeonju’s exquisite food culture, the exhibition includes displays of Jeonju’s representative dishes. Also, on display are photographs of Jeonju’s most popular food destinations and its famous street food.
The exhibition is kindly supported by the Embassy of Republic of Korea, Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation.
Seven Traditional Foods of Jeonju
Bibimbap (Vegetable Rice Bowl with Chilli Paste)
Bibimbap is a Korean dish that consists of a colourful array of different sliced vegetables on top of a rice bowl, all mixed with some red pepper paste. The translation is quite simple, as it is rice (bap) that you mix (bibim). This simple recipe has evolved over the past 1,000 years and is well-known for its unique structure and health benefits. It is also the ultimate comfort food for Koreans as the mix of rice, vegetables and fiery Gochujang relieves stress.
Kong-namul-gukbap (Bean Sprout Soup with Rice)
Bean Sprout Soup with Rice, Kong-namul-gukbap is perhaps the most popularised Jeonju dish. The origins go back to the Goguryeo Dynasty when kong-namul (Bean sprouts) were not so well regarded because of their plentiful supply. However, they became a valuable ingredient in Jeonju, whose high quality kong-namul was in part because of the city’s clean and fresh water supply. Rich in vitamin C and aspartic acid, a type of amino acid that helps the cells in our body to work, Koreans believe that this hot, spicy, delicious soup can ease the symptoms of the common cold.
Dolsot Bap (Hot Stone Rice Bowl)
Dolsot Bap is a rice dish cooked in a hot stone pot and served straight off the stove. Originally, it was only made for special guests or the head of the family. The stone pots have a heavy lid which prevents moisture from escaping, resulting in a deliciously cooked rice as well as nurungji (scorched rice). Dolsot Bap is often cooked with around a dozen or so ingredients, including chestnuts, ginkgo nuts, pine nuts, mushrooms, soybeans and vegetables.
Omogari-tang (Spicy Fish Stew)
Omogari-tang is a spicy fish stew boiled in a hot stone pot. `Omogari’ in Jeolla province’s regional dialect means a hot stone pot, and tang means stew. Jeolla’s capital Jeonju is known for making the stew with freshwater fish, seaweed, and other seasonings, all placed in the Omogari. To make omogari-tang, siraegi (dried radish stems and leaves) are placed at the bottom of the pot with various fresh water fish, then the stock is poured over it. The stock is made with desalinated sea water to maintain the original taste of the fresh water fish. This thick stew is spicy and aromatic — made all the more mouth-watering by the marinated, tender fish. Omogari-tang is one of Jeonju’s signature dishes.
Jeonju Pyebaek (Ornate Wedding Dishes)
Pyebaek is a part of the traditional Korean wedding ceremony, in which the bride after having bowed to her parents-in-law offers food to the groom’s family. The Pyebaek in Jeonju has a reputation for being particularly magnificent and includes ‘Hanji chicken’ -boiled or grilled chicken that is colourfully decorated with Korean paper ‘Hanji’, eggs, carrots, water parsley and cedar mushrooms.
Baekban (10 Seasonal Dishes)
Baekban is a full-set meal that consists of cooked rice, soup and side dishes made with seasonal ingredients. Jeonju Baekban incorporates 10 locally grown ingredients —mostly vegetables. It is well-loved by many and traditionally enjoyed during the summer months.
Hanjeongsik (Traditional Platter of 14 Dishes)
Jeonju Hanjeongsik is a sophisticated meal comprised of 14 small dishes, including soup; kimchi; salted fish; fermented crab; dried and pickled vegetables; steamed meat and vegetables; stew; thinly sliced meat; raw beef; fish and savoury pancakes. The preparation method varies according to the season to enhance the flavour of each unique ingredient.
Food Attractions in Jeonju
Jeonju Hanok Village
Uniquely central, the Jeonju Hanok Village has 700 residences and is recognised as the outstanding landmark of the city. The village has been the winner of numerous tourism awards and is mentioned in the Michelin Guide as a must-see destination.
The food provided in the village is very traditional, which adds to the ambience. At Jeonju Hanok Village, visitors can enjoy traditional Korean life and traditional foods like bibimbap, the most well-known dish from the Jeonju region.
Jeonju Nambu Traditional Market
Jeonju Nambu Traditional Market opened in 1905 at the site of the Joseon-era Nammunbakk Market, located just outside the Southern Gate of the city. Currently the market is comprised of about 800 stores with 1,200 workers selling vegetables, fruits, food, dried fish, furniture, silk goods, and general goods.
The market was revitalised with the creation of the Youth Market which saw an influx of young shopkeepers and entrepreneurs, this has given the marketplace an exciting vibe like that found in Seoul’s Hongdae or Samcheong-dong.
The Friday and Saturday Night markets draw in many visitors with a multitude of delicious treats, ranging from traditional dishes such as mung bean pancake (nokdujeon) to fusion treats like bibimbap served in rice paper.
Street Food in Jeonju
Jeonju is rich in culture and history with a developed street food scene that offers a wide variety of sweet and savoury snacks as well as full meals. Some of Jeonju’s most famous street food includes Baguette Burger, Octopus Skewers, Bibimbap Croquet, Shrimp Dumplings, Pung Nyeon Bakery’s Choco Pie and lmsil Cheese & Chicken Skewers.