If you ask me to join you in the kitchen, 9 times out of 10 I will do whatever I can so we can cook up some goodness together.
So when I get a message from my friends over at Sofitel that they will have an award winning Korean chef teaching a cooking class one afternoon, I will do what I can to make sure I attend!
Add in the fact that I will be with some of my favorite blogger friends, and I know, for sure, that I will be in for an afternoon of fun, food, and friendship! I don’t think there is anything much better than that.
Chef Bo Ik Jang is an award winning Korean Master Chef from Grand Ambassador by Pullman Korea and he has come to kick off the year with all Sofitel Philippine Plaza in all the grandeur and color that Korean Cuisine has to offer. Chef Bo Ik Jang, together with Kyungku Caleb Han, F&B Operations Manager of Spiral, welcomed us to the Korean section of the best luxury buffet in Manila to a very special treat.
I had met Caleb earlier in Spiral last year. He shared one of his favorite dishes that his mother prepared for him when he was younger, during Spiral’s Mother’s Legacy Celebration.
Yesterday, however, in his newly promoted position, he was again, teaching me more about Korean food and wine. Sometimes, there is a synchronicity in life. It’s amazing when it happens, and I quite like that I am inexplicably drawn to certain things at certain times. When I realize what’s happening, I quite like it, and of course I delve into learning as much as I can.
Like recently, I am drawn to learning more about Korean culture, food and wine.
From our recent Best Buddies online Holiday party done “Gangnam Style” in Korea with our regional director, Sue Trone, to learning more about Korean food and culture with my brother in law, Marco over at KIWA in Solaire, and now to being invited to learn the difference between regal dishes reserved only for royalty and special occasions, to every day dishes much like our dishes here in the Philippines which are versatile and easy to make when you have fresh ingredients on hand.
For our time together, Caleb started us off by explaining some of the different kinds of wine we could enjoy with Korean cuisine. This was so interesting for Sabrina and Jackie and I, because we had never tried Korean wine before.
Learned a little bit about Korean Rice Wine and how to make two new dishes that I know my kids will love. For some reason, I’m really being drawn to Korean culture, food, and wine lately! Thank you @sofitelmanila for inviting me to learn new dishes from award winning Korean Master Chef Jang Bok-Ik! I had a blast with @gojackiego @sinfullysabrina and @loustoked If you want to experience a Korean feast as Chef would prepare, be sure to visit #spiralsofitelmanila before the end of the month! PLUS if you dine in with a Korean citizen, you’ll get a 30% discount! #sofitelmanila
Caleb shared with us how this first type of Korean rice wine (Mageolli) was considered the secret to beauty for Korean women all over the world. It was fresh, but not sweet, yet light and wonderful when it’s chilled. Caleb surprised everyone in attendance when he said that one bottle of these delicious rice wine was the equivalent to 100 bottles of Yakult! So it’s even better to drink a wine like this because it has what we need for a healthy tummy!
Caleb proceeded to explain the benefits of a glass of Ginseng (Insamju) wine. I was impressed with this particular Korean alcoholic beverage, because it was in a pretty bottle with a large piece of Ginseng root. It was earthy and strong, and felt like it had a higher alcohol content than the rice wine, so I sipped and looked for my rice wine glass again.
Some of the benefits to drinking this Ginseng wine include increased overall health if you drink one serving (or one shot) for 25 days straight. It acts as an appetite suppressant, is good for those people who have issues with blood sugar, can aide in fertility, and is considered an aphrodisiac for men.
The last wine Caleb shared with us was a red wine (Bokbunjaju) which is made from, berries. (I think) All this wine tasting might have had me giggling a little, by this time. I enjoyed this wine. It was also served cold, but still my favorite was the first milky wine made from rice with digestive benefits as well.
By this time Chef Bo Ik Jang was ready to teach us about the two dishes he prepared for us to learn. He was also preparing for the dinner service at the same time, but I could see we were in for a real treat in authentic Korean food when I realized that Caleb would not only act as our F&B Operations Manager, but also as interpreter to Chef. I don’t think it gets more authentic than that.
Gu Jeol Pan is a dish reserved for royalty in times passed. It is a DIY kind of dish that you enjoy on very special occasions. It’s a healthy mix of vegetables and crab sticks rolled in a wheat wrapper. The wrappers might even remind one of a thicker wonton wrapper. In this case, Chef made the dish extra special (and healthy) by using mandolined radish wrapper instead of the pan fried wheat wrapper.
I think my kids would LOVE this dish. I have said it before here on the blog how kids will eat anything that they can hold with their hands. The fact that all of the ingredients are presented in a flower like fashion, leaving you the choice of what to include in your wrapper already is appealing to kids.
Of course, you would want them to get a little bit of everything in each Gu Jeol Pan Roll, but if they even just take half of the vegetable choices in this dish I would be happy na.
Ok, I have made Japchae before. Two things I never realized. The Japchae noodle is actually made from sweet potatoes. AND in the Korean culture, you eat your noodles and rice at the end of the meal, much like Chinese food. ( I learned this from my recent visit to KIWA Korean Grill in Solaire.)
This recipe is pretty straight forward and can be adjusted by adding a chili marinade for my favorite Korean rice dish Bi Bim Bop. When I learned that the ingredients can be used interchangeably between the noodle dish and the rice dish that is popular amongst many people who enjoy Korean food, it was a revelation.
No wonder I love both of these dishes! They are not only colorful, but a complete meal all in one!
I always enjoy attending cooking classes, tasting new food, and learning about the history or culture behind the dishes and customs of different cuisines. Seeing as how I have been drawn to Korean culture lately, I thoroughly enjoyed our quick class and informative talk on Korean wines.
Thank you Sofitel for inviting me to this exclusive engagement! I’m looking forward to more cooking sessions with your chefs!
If you would like to enjoy the dishes that Chef Bo Ik Jang has specially prepared for the Korean Atelier in Sofitel’s Spiral Restaurant, be sure to visit before the end of January!
For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 2 832 6988 or email H6308-FB12@sofitel.com.