SOIGNÉ|Episode 19 - Seoul Michelin 1 star restaurant in Seoul (2018.12)
Creatrip's hidden favorite: Seoul Comtemporary Dining
Haemin @creatrip
2 years ago

Episode 19. 

Cuisine of the Three Coasts 135,000KRW

The location and geomorphological characteristic of each country play significant roles as food culture develops. The food culture of the regions encircled by mountains might differ with surrounded by coasts. Also, that of the countries with cold oceans must vary from warm oceans even if both are sea bound countries. 

Republic of Korea is one of the peninsula countries only a few around the globe and thanks to these characteristics, a wide variety of local seafood cultures have been developed along the fishing villages in the East sea, the Western sea and the Southern sea of Korea.

 The ‘East sea’ has a moderate coastline and deep water where the temperate zone fishes such as squid, saury pike, mackerel and yellowtail inhabit. In addition, cod and pollack be widely caught in cold winter.

And the ‘Western sea’, also known as the ‘Yellow sea’ named for yellowed clayey soil, has mud flat and shallow water in which crustaceans the shellfish and the cephalopod including croaker, cero and eel dwell.

 Lastly, the ‘Southern sea’ has irregular coastline with numerous islands. Lots of anchovy, hairtail, abalone and green laver can be found because of a year-round warm current and many kinds of seaweed, shellfish and oyster are especially being raised well in here.

Therefore, this episode presents three different characters of Korean coasts. We have focused on some local foods around the fishing villages. As each village has a variety of approaches to their own foods, we have tried to put a new spin on native foods by bringing some of their own flavor and making use of Western recipe to maximize their potential.

Jeju Bingtteok (제주 빙떡)

‘Bingtteok’ is a Jeju-style buckwheat crepe served with some sauteed daikon. These local ingredients are used to make a new crispy buckwheat puff that is stuffed with daikon cream as a first snack.

Jeju Bingtteok(제주 빙떡)

[the Western Sea] Manila Clam Tart (바지락 타르트)

The manila clam tart has been inspired from ‘Spicy Raw Clam Salad’ of Jangheung-gun, Jeollanam-do. The clam meat is steamed in white wine for its natural taste and dressed with chive pesto rather than red pepper. The clams’ chewy texture contrasts with a crispy tart crust which has a touch of kelp flavor and gives some lingering aromas of the oceans in your mouth.

Manila Clam Tart (바지락 타르트)

Goheung Yuzu Parfait (고흥 유자 파르페)

The last amuse is a yuzu parfait. The yuzu grown in Goheung has a great acidity thanks to cool sea breeze. There are some trout roe, pickled seaweed on the yuzu custard, topped up with crispy sweet laver chips that might be felt like looking into the deep Southern sea.

Goheung Yuzu Parfait(고흥 유자 파르페)

[the East sea] Spanish Mackerel Kimchi (고등어 겉절이)

The first appetizer is a seafood ‘Geotjeori’ which means ‘unfermented kimchi’. This salad, that is dressed with scallion pesto instead of red pepper, has been motivated from the ‘Large-eyed herring & Shirimp Geotjeori’ of Ganghwa-gun, Incheon. 

It just looks like a simple salad at first appearance but pickled Spanish mackerel, sweet shrimp and sea urchin roe are hidden inside so that you can enjoy various hints of the sea in one dish. Next to the salad is a quenelle of tofu and spanish mackerel that can boost the taste of a light bodied Geotjeori.

Spanish Mackerel Kimchi (고등어 겉절이)

[the Southern sea] Mussel ‘Seochi’ (홍합 서치)

The seafood ‘Seochi’ (means ‘Mix’) which is one of the cooking methods in Korea, can be widely enjoyed in the Southern regions. We made a special seochi combination between mussels and seaweeds. First, the mussels are cooked in lemon juice to give a refreshing acidity. And the kidney beans boiled in mussel soup would adjust the balance of overall flavors of the dishes, working well with creamy mussels and al dente seaweeds. “Seochi”

Mussel ‘Seochi’ (홍합 서치)

[the Western sea] Charcoal Grilled Blue Crab (꽃게 숯불구이)

The next dish is inspired from ‘Charcoal Grilled Blue Crab’ of Seocheon-gun, Chungcheongnam-do. This blue crab dish is literally grilled with the charcoal. Applying on this, we made a warm salad with the flesh of blue crab that is enhanced with cardamom and finished with burnt scallion chip which has a contrasting texture and charcoal flavor.

Charcoal Grilled Blue Crab (꽃게 숯불구이)

[the East sea] Steamed Baby Squid (오징어 통찜)

The last appetizer is motivated from a ‘Braised Baby Squid’ of Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do. This baby squid’s texture remains soft even after cooking and all parts can be eaten up to the guts. However, it is a bit hard to come by at the moment since it easily loses its freshness and dies so fast.

Originally, the squid’s guts have the most extraordinary taste, but for this time, the whole squid is steamed to maximize the texture of its body. Underneath is spicy romesco sauce and contrastively dotted with squid ink sauce on the side. Finally, the red cabbage salad has comparable visual as purplish color as a steamed squid.

Steamed Baby Squid (오징어 통찜)

[the Western sea] Barely Risotto with Dried Corvina  (굴비 보리 리조또)

The dried Corvina, a typical specialty of Youngkwang, Jeollanam-do, a distinct position in Korean seafood. The combination between barley risotto and dried corvina reminds of this ‘Boree-gulbee’ (means ‘barley-corvina’). You can find a fresh corvina everywhere at the moment, but traditionally, it is best enjoyed after being stored and preserved with the barley so that its flavor could be permeated into a corvina while drying and ageing. The dried cod grated on the risotto adds a touch of umami and interesting texture to the dish.   

Barely Risotto with Dried Corvina (굴비 보리 리조또)

[the Southern sea]  Steamed hairtail and Butternut squash (갈치 단호박 찜)

The next dish is motivated from a ‘Steamed Hairtail and Sweet pumpkin’ of Mokpo, Jeollanam-do. A hairtail, that is widely consumed especially in Korea, is so sweet and soft to be melt in your mouth. But not using any red peppers as usual, we made a white-colored steamed fish by cooking it in a green pepper butter instead. 

You can find an obvious contrast between this soft, spicy fish and a crispy, sweet butternut squash cooked with a maple syrup and champagne vinegar. But it still maintains the overall direction with the inspiring dish by applying the ingredients and recipes.

Steamed hairtail and Butternut squash (갈치 단호박 찜)

[the Southern sea] Monkfish (아귀 구이)

Monkfish is a typical fish widely caught in the Southern sea of Gyeongsangnam-do and Chungcheongnam-do. It does not seem to be that popular abroad because of its threatening appearance, however, the unexpected sweetness and softness make itself more attractive.  

This can be done by cooking it as a steak rather than a Korean-style steamed fish. And crispy cheese crust on the surface would let the fish have a chewy texture like a meat. Finally the assorted mushrooms as garnishes, the symbolic ingredient of the land, would remind of their habits as of hiding under the deep sea.

Monkfish (아귀 구이)

[the Southern sea] Goheung Yuzu Sorbet (고흥 유자 소르베)

The first dessert as a cleanser is yuzu sorbet connecting with a previous amuse bouche. Unlike other citrus fruits as lemon, lime or grape fruit, yuzu has more delicate and oriental flavor. In addition, the yuzu grown in Goheung has a great acidity and minerality thanks to cool sea breeze.

Sea buckthorn Fruit mousse (산자나무 열매 무스)

Sea buckthorn fruit is famous for attractive acidity and rich vitamins. Although this fruit is not cultivated in Korea, it was adopted as one of the main ingredients in dessert course focusing on the fact that it is normally grown along the seashore which is equivalent to this sea-themed episode.

Sea buckthorn Fruit mousse(산자나무 열매 무스)

Seaweed & Buckwheat “Island” (파래와 메밀 "섬")

The main dessert is an astounding combination between buckwheat and green laver. Umami taste of the seaweed chip has been added to the nutty flavored buckwheat ice cream that makes a clean finish. This also symbolizes an “Island” that has some ‘trees’ represented by seaweed chips and ‘stones’ by black sesame cake.

Seaweed & Buckwheat “Island” (파래와 메밀 "섬")

Petit Four (꼬두람이)

Sweet laver white pavé chocolate, Hazelnut coffee cookie choux, Sweet pumpkin caramel sable, Korean raspberry(bokbunja) jelly.

Petite Four (꼬두람이)

Wrapping up

Every time I choose to define the topic, there always have been a clash between concern and expectation. That’s why further efforts are needed to represent creative foods within a certain title than just simply preparing for delicious foods. 

However, it is a certainly great experience that I can develop myself while exploring new food culture and forming a new idea of creative dishes from them. I have never thought so deeply about Korean oceans like this before.

The more I thought, I can be sure that the food culture is not only a creation of human and but a cooperation with huge nature. I am feeling a great sense of responsibility as a chef now.

Come to think of this, 19th episode in the fifth year of restaurant SOIGNÉ could be regarded as another collaboration between the professionality and our passion for pursing a new possibility.

As always, many thanks for enjoying our SOIGNÉ episode.