The Slow Food Movement is a lifestyle change that is slowly but surely taking health-conscious Seoulites by storm.
I first had an inkling about it when I was in Seoul about four years ago. Back then, I spotted “Slow Food” signs on some of the 죽 (juk), or porridge eateries.
When we went back last year, it was prominently displayed at almost every traditional eatery there !
A bit more about the Slow Food phenomena.
It started in Italy and slowly made its way across the globe to Korea, a natural fit for the country since a lot of hansik (traditional Korean) dishes are considered ‘slow food’, or food that has involved patience, love, and compassion in its preparation. The gradual fermentation of kimchi, of miso paste, of lovingly grown ginseng are all evidence of this philosophy towards foods.
Basically the movement is of the idea that hurriedly prepared fast food will – because of the callousness and lack of sincerity in its preparation, inevitably be not so good for your physical and spiritual well-being.
It sounds like a stretch, but I think I know what the Slow Food people are talking about. There’s something different and so delicious about lovingly prepared food made from fresh produce. Its a mentality I think the Japanese adopt too – where even something mass produced like Yoshinoya’s beef bowls can taste so different from its indifferently prepared Singaporean counterpart.
This time around in Seoul,we ate at two “Slow Food” places.
The first dish was the winter staple, Ginseng Chicken or Sam-gye-tang.
We had our Sam-gye-tang at a quiet little Mom and Pop restaurant on the upper floors of a shophouse in Myeong Dong after a long evening shopping.
The literal translation of this specialized eatery would be ” Go-bung Sam-gye-Tang” serving mainly ginseng chicken
They take huge pride in their signature dish – and how they source the ingredients as well as the origins of their recipe are all printed out on the paper placemats on our table 🙂 The sweet ajumma running the place tried to explain to us the gist as well and made some recommendations.
Slow Food takes a little while to come, so we ordered a starter – haemul pajeon, or seafood pancake (seen many times on my blog heh )
So home-cooked and delicious with minimal oil and hearty fresh seafood !
The ginseng chicken porridge arrived about 15 minutes later, piping hot and smelling so good !
The broth is unbelievably savoury, I tell you, and the ginseng chicken was fork tender and so delicious.
The more we ate, the better we felt inside. The benefits of Slow Food are immediate. It is almost like you are consuming the sincerity of the person who prepared it.
Happy Winter Bunnies !
We each get a little tumbler of ginseng liquor to pour into the porridge. This immediately releases the most intoxicating aroma and its perfect on a chilly winter’s day when your timbers need warming.
The view outside
Our second Slow Food experience was having dinner at a Juk house opposite the Super Junior recording studios – LY wanted to stalk them doing their radio show and I just wanted warm soupy sustenance.
So we had Bon-Juk !
I ordered the abalone porridge, or 전복죽 (jeon-buk-juk)
Again, so delicious ! Slow cooked rice porridge with tender abalone and mushroom slices perfumed with ground toasted sesame seeds. Virtuous and life giving, literally.
LY and A had the beef porridge, which was more hearty, but equally soul warming.
본죽 (Bon Juk)
199-1 Euljiro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울시 중구 을지로2가 199-1)
Bon-juk is one of the most successful porridge and slow food chains in Seoul. It even has references in recent pop culture, namely the hit drama series Boys Over Flowers. The So-Eul couple (Kim Bum and Kim So Eun) have done CF’s for the chain. (So Eun worked part time as a porridge eatery waitress in the show)
Try it if you have the time in Seoul and are craving for some good old homey congee!