My boys and I often take a drive to eat at a local Korean eatery. Only fifteen minutes away, an international meal always awaits. We love the limited menu of the place and the simplicity and flavors of the food.
There’s basically one main dish to eat there:
* Soup *
Hot, still-boiling, served on a scorching plate, the soup bubbles in fury as it’s laid down on the table. Inside are different mushrooms and a broth that’s made to order, from white, their version of mild, to spicy. Be weary, though- the spiciest kind may cause you discomfort.
Speaking of spice, did you know that eating spicy peppers actually confers some medical benefits?
A study was done on capsaicin, the main component in chili peppers, and found it may play a role in obesity prevention, blood flow, and antimicrobial properties involving the gut. To read more on the study, discussed in Science News, click here.
Korean diet and your health
Is there any evidence showing that a Korean diet can positively affect our health?
Yes. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2014 titled Beneficial Effects of Korean Traditional Diets in Hypertensive and Type 2 Diabetic Patients actually does show that a traditional Korean diet resulted in better glycemic control in diabetics and lower blood pressure in hypertensives.
The starters themselves, to my husband and I, who prefer vegetarian meals, are fantastic enough, even before the soup is brought out. There are a variety of options, all included with the meal, and they consist of kimchee, broccoli and alfalfa sprouts dishes, and spicy cucumbers.
Then comes the soup.
It’s actually more than just soup. It’s the whole kit and caboodle.
The soup is piping hot, served in a special dish that retains its heat. And when I say hot, I mean still boiling.
It is this intense heat into which a raw egg can be cracked.
It waits alongside the meal, awaiting your decision. If you choose to add it in, you do so yourself- literally crack it alongside an edge- and watch as it cooks in front of your eyes, in the intense heat of the soup.
Additionally, a big bowl of delicious rice is served on the side, which you may choose to add into the soup. Otherwise, barley/corn water is added to the remnants of the rice bowl once its contents are empty and this ‘rice soup’ can be enjoyed as a dessert. It’s their version of rice pudding.
In addition to this delicious food is the drink. Alongside your meal, you will be served either iced barley-corn water in the summer, or hot barley-corn tea in wintertime. It is absolutely delicious and I have, since being introduced to this delicious drink, not only fallen in love with it, but purchased my own barley and corn tea bags in the nearby Korean mart. I make the drink and take it with me to work. My personal favorite is the barley tea. You can purchase your own barley tea bags (or a smaller option to try first) or corn tea bags via Amazon using this link. These are organic, sugar-free, caffeine-free and calorie-free.
More to come on the teas in an upcoming article.
So does Korean soup specifically contribute to better health? A registered dietician and professor of nutrition and food science weighs in in the topic in this Eating Well Article called Discover the Health Benefits of Korean Cooking, where she specifically mentions soup as being something Koreans tend to include at every meal, a tradition which may help keep them slim and healthy.
If you’re local to the area, you can embark on this international culinary adventure yourself at Soft Tofu in Fort Lee, NJ. They don’t have a website, but their google link can be accessed here.