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Traditional Korean Kitchen

Traditional Korean Kitchen

The traditional Korean kitchen features wood fires, but modern times have brought gas and electric stoves. Most of the cooking is quite simple. A good heavy frying pan, a wok and some saucepans or flameproof casseroles will see you through many of the Korean dishes. The only other unusual vessel you need is the traditional pot used in 'steamboat' or "firekettle" meals if you want to serve Sin Sul Lo in true Korean fashion. This pot has a central chimney surrounded by a moat, which holds the food. It cooks and keeps hot at the tables because the chimney is filled with glowing coals. Get the coals ready an hour or more beforehand in an outdoor barbecue, an hibachi or a metal bucket so they will be well alighted and glowing when needed.

The food can be arranged in the pot well ahead of serving time and the whole pot placed in the refrigerator. Just before starting the meal, the moat is filled with boiling stock, the cover put on the pot to ensure particles of coal don't fall into the food, and the coals or briquettes (which should be alight and glowing) are transferred to the chimney with tongs. To protect the table, put the pot on a heavy metal tray and put the tray on a thick wooden board. After the broth has simmered for a while, and the contents of the pot are heated through, guests pick out food with chopsticks and eat it with rice and a dipping sauce. At the end of the meal, the stock is served as soup.

These pots are usually sold at Chinese stores. While some models in polished and ornate brass are quite expensive, the modest anodized aluminum versions are cheap and work just as well. In Korea, the pots are either individual-size silver ones, or larger stainless steel versions. Of course you can always substitute an electric frying pan or deep fryer or wok, three quarters filled with stock; or use any fairly deep pan on an efficient table burner.

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