According to my rather superficial search on Yelp, there are approximately 265 Korean Restaurants in London. Well, there is only one in Oxford, where I spend most of time at, plus the newly opened Seoul Plaza convenience store in Cowley... right, at least I have a sure place to get ingredients from.
'It's a thing now.'
Korean food is in fact trendy, and not just because of the unbeatable eating shows. 'Everything needs to be super fresh, when you cook Korean.' The various health benefits of Korean food definitely add to the popularity of the dishes, listing reasons such as:
'Every meal also includes plenty of vegetables, most indispensably in the form of kimchi—robustly flavored, fermented vegetables. Besides providing phytonutrients and fiber, kimchi also supplies lactobacillus and other “good” bacteria that some experts think can help boost immune defenses.'
To prepare for the journey I tried my best to gain some knowledge (and courage) to actually cook something eatable, and hopefully tasty. In search of insights I listened to various programmes with my favourite being Bon Appetit, a Chicago-based food podcast, where professional chefs weighted in on the growing popularity of Korean dishes in the US. Some takeaways are surely applicable to the situation in the UK as well, even if the Korean diaspora is significantly smaller in the latter.
According to our experts the preconceived notion about Korean food is in fact changed due to the second generation Asian immigration in the '60s, and the activity of their descendants which not only brought affinity for the flavours but exposure to the taste. Influences are spreading easier than ever before, but the palettes used are still different for generations.
From a cooking perspective the taste is very natural and it's easy to combine with ingredients that comforts the bridges gap between Western and Korean taste.
Without giving away too much things I need to try out:
Goji berries with gin and since I'm getting older and wiser.... the apparently best soup for a hangover: an old-school Korean version of chicken soup, with kimchi and radish.