Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bibimblooper: Beware of broadcasting your culinary ignorance

I was reading a review in the Boston Globe about a new Thai restaurant ("In Norwood, Mint Cafe’s tried-and-true Thai dishes shine"). Google's Korean food news search pointed this Korean food fanatic to the review.

The Thai restaurant offered some Korean dishes. The reporter and I wanted to know why.
“The customers want a variety, they want a little bit of everything,’’ says Ohm Songtachalert, who runs the restaurants with a brother and sister.

Korean food certainly is becoming more popular in the U.S., so I'm not surprised that many restaurants are trying to find ways to add some Korean flavor to their menus to "catch the Hallyu" (Korean wave).

The Globe reporter reviewed the bibimbap dish on the menu:
Out of curiosity we order the famous Korean bibimbap ($13.95). The rice bowl is scattered with bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, with chunks of chicken. But the dish is a bit bland and dry.


Here I am stirring gochujang into my dolsot (hot rock bowl) bibimbap.
If the reporter had done her research, she would have discovered that bibimbap by itself is supposed to be a bit bland. Customarily, there is gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) with the dish or on the table, so the diner can add spice to suffice.

Yet I can't imagine a Thai restaurant omitting some type of optional spicy sauce, but maybe it's the Thai restaurateur who should have researched bibimbap before putting it on the menu.

Regardless of who commited the faux pas, it provided me with a "teachable moment" on a beloved Korean dish.

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