Don’t apologize for Korean food
The New York Times Style Magazine published an article on Sept. 28, 2009 about a Korean restaurant in Berlin, Germany, called Yam Yam, run by proprietor, Sumi Ha.
The article talks about the history of the restaurant but the paragraphs that caught my attention the most were Ms. Ha’s comments about her culinary philosophy.
Yam Yam’s authentic Korean cuisine is unmodified for the German palate. Ha sources vegetables from a Korean-born organic farmer who grows the bean sprouts and other native vegetables outside Berlin. More generic ingredients are also organic, so “they all taste awake,” she said. To this end, Ha might serve a drink of crushed watermelon and honeydew. The kitchen serves only halal meats (with the exception of organic pork). And even though a few customers find the spices too intense, Ha refuses to modify the food.
“I tell people that it’s just not possible to tone it down,” she explained. “The hotness of paprika is mild compared to the fire in other cuisines that use chili. Anyone who can’t handle Korean food is too sensitive. A lot of Koreans warned me that I needed to lighten up the spices, but I hope my success gives them the confidence to start cooking the food as it is intended.”
This is my philosophy when it comes to authentic Korean cuisine. Don’t water it down, don’t tone it down and don’t apologize to anyone for making authentic Korean food.