Delicious delicacies from Korea with love

Updated: 2014-03-16 08:10

By Ye Jun(China Daily)

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South Korean TV drama series My Love From the Star has suddenly become very popular in China. Meanwhile, some Korean foods that appear in the TV drama also have become popular among fans in Beijing.

The main female role in the TV drama, played by Korean actress Jeon Ji-hyun, mentions repeatedly that as a kid, she and her father had deep-fried chicken and beer when it snowed for the first time in winter.

That same character, pictured as a food lover, also mentions or tries Korean liquor, ramen, hotpot, kimchi and even sea worm in the TV drama.

Fans of the show have sought after deep-fried chicken and beer in Korean restaurants in Beijing. Some of these restaurants have also been seizing the opportunity to promote Korean food.

According to Song Hoon-chon, general manager of Secret Garden Korean Restaurant, his eatery has put out a line to advertise the foods - "you don't have to wait for the first snow to eat deep-fried chicken and beer".

Meanwhile, the restaurant has decided to take a further step. Recently, they introduced soy crab, which also appeared in My Love From the Star.

According to Song, soy crab is among the top three Korean delicacies, along with bibimbap and Korean barbecue. While Bibimbap and Korean barbecue have become quite well known in China, soy crab has not. Song explains that's probably because soy crab costs a bit more.

The restaurant cooperates with The Pro Soy Crab, a Korean company with 34 years of history. The company uses only the freshest swimming crabs in March and April, which are full of roe.

Kim Kyung-jin, president of The Pro Soy Crab, says the company has inherited and guarded Korea's tradition to make high-quality soy crabs. The company's headquarters in Seoul has been frequented by the country's entertainment and sports stars. It has branches in South Korea's Busan, and Japan's Tokyo and Osaka.

The sea crab is imported from South Korea, and marinated in soy sauce for two days by The Pro's specialist. As a result the crab looks very tempting with orange roe and snow-white flesh. The crab is eaten without further processing, tasting tenderer and fresher than any sashimi. But it has a slight saltiness from the soy sauce and a sweet aftertaste because the crab is very fresh. There is an apparent soy fragrance in the mouth and on the nose.

Beijing-based gourmet Dong Keping says Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong province has a similar marinated crab. "The Korean soy crab is of very high quality, judged by Chinese standards," he says.

Delicious delicacies from Korea with love

Jiangsu and Anhui provinces make a "drunken crab" marinated with soy sauce and rice wine. That drunken crab is marinated for three or four days, a bit longer than the Korean soy crab. Therefore it tastes a bit salty. Also, the crab used is river crab.

Spring and autumn are when sea crabs lay eggs. Therefore they contain a lot of roe and taste the best, according to Song Hoon-chon. They are rich in protein and vitamins, apart from being a gourmet treat.

Secret Garden Korean Restaurant is a popular hangout for Korean businesspeople and foreign diplomats because it is near the embassy area. It has a good name among Chinese people for offering authentic Korean fare.

A bottle of Korean soju is a necessity to pair with the soy crab. So is a bowl of kimchi and bean sprout soup, which warms up the belly.

Soy crab is called a "rice killer" in South Korea, because it is tasty and to pair with steamed rice. The best way to do it is to put rice in the shell of the crab, so that it can get the taste of the crab.

In between, one can try the restaurant's grilled meats, grilled vegetables and fried starch noodles with vegetables. There are side dishes for free, including kimchi and marinated turnips.

The managers are Korean. It is said many Korean people will come in the evening for a drink over sashimi.

For people of other nationalities, it is a good spot to try authentic Korean food, and explore more about Korean delicacies and culture.

 Delicious delicacies from Korea with love

Secret Garden Korean Restaurant introduces soy crab, a popular delicacy in South Korea. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 03/16/2014 page7)