It’s a unanimous “masisseoyo” (delicious)!
After hearing this compliment from the guests, I became so curious about this Korean appetizer called bugak. The reality cooking show Youn Stay opened my eyes to these very delicious-looking gim (seaweed) chips. I could still hear the crackles in my head as the diners sink their teeth into each piece. They all raved about the soy-based dip that comes with it, too.
So, what did I do since nowadays, it is not easy to visit Korea nor any Korean restaurant? I searched online for an easy bugak recipe! I found one and I immediately did it. Not once, but thrice!
All I needed was a pack of rice paper and a pack of seaweed sheets for the many times I will surely crave for it. This is the easy way. The traditional and complicated way is to make a paste out of glutinous flour. This paste will serve as the seaweed coating. But I didn’t have much time for that as I wanted to make them right away! Haha! To shorten a long story, I brushed some water on a sheet of rice paper, put the gim on it, then pasted another wet rice paper sheet on the other side of the gim. This way, each surface of the gim has a sheet of rice paper pasted on it. I left it to dry for about one hour. I cut it according to my preferred shape or size. I deep-fried it in low heat, and voila! I made my first bugak! Sprinkling some sesame seeds on the sticky rice paper before frying is optional.
Now, making the dip is a bit tricky. I could not find the perilla leaf oil in the store. So I used strong sesame oil instead. I’m not sure if they registered the same flavor as the one in the reality cooking show nor if both oils are the same. So, using a blender, I “liquified” two blocks of soft tofu. I added sweet soy sauce and sesame oil to my liking. It could pass for a dip. Haha! Refrigerating the excess dip for the next serving is highly suggested. I also discovered it tasted better when cold.
Knowing the foodie that I am, I also tried making the sweet potato bugak by thinly slashing some sweet potatoes to form “chips.” I enveloped each slice into a wet rice paper sheet, cut it, and let it dry for an hour before deep-frying. Same as the seaweed bugak.
The rice paper can be made into chips as well based on the recipe. Cut each rice paper sheet into pieces. They will flower up beautifully like the rest of the chips when deep-fried. The flavor will come from the dip, though, as the rice paper is not seasoned.
I also want to learn how to make the squid ink bugak
like those in Youn Stay. I have not looked at any recipe for it. I hope that
cooking it would be easy. Do I have to squeeze the black matter while the squid
is raw, or do I have to cook it first? The search is on.
Anyway, there is a lot more to learn in watching Youn Stay. Thanks to my Korean language teacher for recommending it to me. Aside from regularly seeing Park Seo-Joon there, I felt like I’m on a Korean historical trip whenever I watch it. Everything about the place is impressive, including the work attitude of everyone. Since we can only satisfy ourselves by watching travel and lifestyle programs in the meantime, we better get that inspiration from this reality show. It’s the first Korean reality show that I watched and liked. It has an all-star cast headed by the recent Oscar Best Supporting Actor, Youn Yuh-Jung, who played the owner of the hanok (traditional house) village. The other top-billers are Park Seo-Joon (as the sous chef), Choi Woo-Shik (as the intern), Jung Yu-mi (as the chef), and Lee Seo-Jin (as the second-in-command to Youn Yuh-Jung).
For now, I will just behold the bugak.
(Thanks to Angie's Table for the video recipe in her channel.)