Gujeolpan (구절판) nine treasures rollup
Many people have this idea that all Korean food is hot, bold, spicy and heavy with the aroma of sesame seed oil, garlic and ginger. Take the time to study Korean royal cuisine, you will find that it’s well-balanced, heavy on the vegetables and always aesthetically pleasing.
One of the classic Korean meals to come from the Korean palace is called gujeolpan(구절판), or nine treasures roll-up. Gujeolpan is actually the Korean name for the tray, not the meal. But now the tray and the meal are nearly synonymous.
The gujeolpan goes back to the early Joseon dynasty in the 14th century. In modern times, you can find it served in fine Korean restaurants or at Korean wedding banquets. Many Koreans also eat it during New Year’s Day celebrations.
This is a gujeolpan tray. The wraps are served in the center tray and the optional stuffings are served in the trays surrounding the center tray. Notice the beautiful octagon shape and gorgeous lid for keeping the contents safe.
The nine treasures traditionally consist of miljeonbyeong, which are thin wheat pancakes (or you can use thinly sliced vinegar-soaked radish), beef, cucumbers, carrots, Korean chives, two kinds of mushrooms and strips of fried egg yolk and white. The colors of the foods and the perfection of the julienne technique are all important to the presentation of this dish. The dish is usually served with two types of dipping sauces as well.
If you want to try to make this dish yourself, Chow.com has a good recipe to use. It takes about two hours to make, although some of the items can be made in advance, but the time is worth it to have a taste of Korean history.
Update Sept. 16, 2009: If you would like to buy a tray and start making your own gujeolpan, you can find them from time to time on eBay. The one I featured from thus’s shop at etsy.com has been sold.