Do you like spicy food? – Every Korean person I meet
Korean Shabu Shabu, Spicy Please?!
In Korea, meals come in all shapes and sizes but many prefer the wide array of soups to be found throughout the country. Korean Shabu shabu is an example of largely successful yet imported fare enjoyed by the masses. Shabu shabu is Japanese onomatopoeia and characterizes the swirling sound the food makes as it’s placed into the steaming pot. Three courses destroy any notions of lingering hunger one might have upon leaving. We all know the feeling.
Some meals just don’t do the trick but not here. Thus, snacking beforehand is not a smart move. To address the spicy question, it’s a no brainer and welcome thanks to years of precedents. Honestly. Some people come to this country with no desire to learn the language, eat the food, or enter the other realms found within Korean culture. And that’s okay. I get it.
The pot arrives, filled with a red broth and accompanied by plates of thinly sliced meat and vegetables to get things started. Not all foreigners enjoy everything about Korea. That’s a given, but that well-known Korean pride extends into the kitchen and when a “visitor” turns down an offer of food, people notice and talk. Oh, they talk. Standard icebreakers between locals and visitors will at least include one inquiry about spicy food and whether or not one can use chopsticks.
Thick or thin noodles go into the pot to soak up the mixed flavors created from the boiling meat and green veggies. On the former, asking about one’s taste preferences is a prerequisite and neglecting to do so could lead to trouble. People work really hard in kitchens and restaurants to churn out some really tasty food. So in order to avoid yet another “embarrassment” where this country’s guests might not enjoy the culinary experience, the question is valid.
My palate is not as bold as the amazingly tough and adventurous Wife, but yes. I like a bit of spice until it reaches that point where each subsequent bite burns away all remaining taste buds. But that’s not Shabu Shabu. Of course, many varieties of this exist in and out of Korea. Originating in China and making its way to Japan in the 20th century, shabu shabu ranks among some of the best food experiences one can have in any setting.
Round Three, Fried Rice
The final round is a great finisher but in some cases, tapping out is totally understandable. The staff will ask if it will be necessary once the noodles are gone. When proceeding, some restaurants take the pot away while others will create round three at the table. But one thing is certain. That fried rice is probably the most delicious variety found inside this country. Mixing all those broth flavors with rice and assorted vegetables will soothe even the savagest of souls. There’s nothing better.
Shabu shabu satisfies just about any palate and promises an enjoyable culinary event. Even if it’s an import, Koreans love this meal and the culinary experience found inside a Korean Shabu shabu restaurant is hardly replaceable. Basic fare includes a milder version with a simple beef broth but for the more adventurous types, the redder the better. The menu depends on the restaurant but there are quite a few chains that serve a fairly standard recipe.
What’s your recipe for a delicious meal? Is it Shabu Shabu? Do you like it spicy or not? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below:)
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