Have you ever wanted to be treated like royalty? It seems enticing, especially when it comes to food, but have you ever thought about if your everyday food was once fit for kings? In Korea, some food that used to be only for royalty or aristocrats is now readily available to nearly everyone! Here are a few familiar Korean dishes that used to be a part of the royal court cuisine:
Bibimbap used to be known as goldongban (골동반). The royal court cuisine offered significantly more side dishes than what was available to the commoners. Not only does the royal court bibimbap, or Jeonju bibimbap, have more side dishes in it (thirty of them to be exact), but it is also cooked in beef bone broth rather than water.
Originally, japchae was not made with beef or noodles. Japchae was initially a dish with stir-fried vegetables and mushrooms. It wasn’t until the 20th century when cellophane noodles were added to this luxurious dish. Today, japchae has become more accessible as many Korean restaurants cook it as an appetizer.
When one thinks about tteokbokki, an image of the spicy red sauce covering the soft and chewy rice cakes may be the first thing that comes to mind. Traditionally, tteokbokki was made with a soy sauce base. This traditional version of the favorite rice cake is called gungjung tteokbokki (궁중떡볶이). The royal court tteokbokki can also be called tteokjapchae because of how the preparation is similar to that of japchae.
This dish is a savory Korean pancake made by seasoning sliced or minced fish, meat, or vegetables, coating them in wheat flour and egg wash, then pan frying them until they are golden brown. The royal court made their jeon using mostly poultry and red meat, while the commoners used more vegetables; however, today, jeon is sold as a restaurant menu item or as street food.
Braised Short Rib
Also known as galbi jjim (갈비찜), these braised short ribs are incredibly juicy and tender. Traditionally, the short ribs are braised in a light but flavorful broth with other ingredients such as radish, shiitake mushrooms, and carrots. Back then, this savory dish was only for the aristocrats. As short ribs are still a bit pricey, galbi jjim remains a dish for special occasions.
With time, traditional Korean dishes were modified as more ingredients became more readily available. Although the recipes have changed, the heart of the dish remains the same.
Do you know of any other Korean dishes that used to be a part of the royal court cuisine? What food do you enjoy eating when treating yourself?