Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
Last week, we took on a Caribbean destination: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This week, our spreadsheet and random number generator offered us an interesting choice. North Korea.
We all have our ideas and opinions about North Korea. And because the country is so often surrounded by a cloud of controversy, uncertainty, and secrecy, we forget that it is a real place with real citizens and a unique culture. We were intrigued to learn more about their cuisine.
It was difficult to uncover what the popular dishes in North Korea are. From my understanding, the national dish is Kimchi, which I cannot buy locally and did not have time this week to make from scratch. Through a little research, I learned that the average citizen in North Korea likely cannot afford to dine out and often solely consumes basic staples, such as kimchi and rice. I checked out a few blog posts, and across the lists of popular foods in the country, one dish prevailed: Naengmyeon.
Disclaimer: there were a lot of authentic ingredients we could not get in our rural Alberta community, so we made some swaps. This is the recipe we followed:
Because I couldn’t buy pickled radishes locally, I started this recipe by making some the night before. They turned out super yummy and the colour was so pretty! I just thinly sliced fresh radish and added them to a jar with equal parts vinegar and water as well as some sugar and peppercorns.
I prepared the simple broth and placed it in the fridge to chill. I cooked the medium-boiled eggs and beef and set it to one side while we chopped some cucumber and pear.
I bought pre-cooked oat-fibre spaghetti noodles as I could not find anything remotely close to myun, buckwheat, or soba noodles at our local supermarket. Plating (or bowling?) the dish was really fun as we could get creative with our presentation. I think it was a very visually appealing dish.
Honestly, I did not like the broth that much. I think it was the beef broth that threw it off, I might have liked it better if the chicken to beef broth ratio was 2:1. What was surprising, though, was how much I enjoyed a cold noodle/soup dish. It was actually pretty refreshing! Mack ended up throwing his in the microwave though!
While we ate, we watched a few YouTube videos about tourism in North Korea:
While North Korea might not be at the top of our travel bucket list and naengmyeon may not be our meal of a lifetime, this was certainly a really unique learning experience for us. Have you had anything like it before? Stay tuned for next week’s country!