Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hwedupbab - A perfect meal

A perfect meal doesn't have to be at a Michelin-starred or high Zagat-rated restaurant. In fact, it rarely is (for me), if only because a perfect meal generally cannot involve pretentiousness. The elements are simple: excellent fresh delicious food in good company with good conversation. One of the best meals I've had in all of 2009 was my grandmother's hwedupbab, Korea's version of chirashi. Hwedupbab is a bowl of hot rice topped with julienned lettuce, cabbage, perilla or shiso leaves (I prefer perilla, also known as ggetnib), cucumber, slivers of garlic, a couple slices of spicy pepper such as jalapeno and cubes of sashimi (any type of sashimi is fine, but my favorites for hwedupbab are hamachi, maguro (toro is too fatty and the subtle flavor gets lost in the spicy red pepper sauce) and salmon. Drizzle with a bit of toasted sesame oil and prepared cho-gochujang (Korean vinegared red pepper paste), mix together have one of the world's greatest culinary creations. I don't know about hwedupbab anywhere else because I generally only eat my grandma's, so...too bad for everyone else who doesn't have the chance to eat my grandmother's hwedupbab because it is truly one of the BEST FOODS EVER. I ate this meal in the company of my grandmother and my little bro on a warm summer day in California sitting in our kitchen/dining room, adding a little more of this and a little more of that as we ate and it was truly a perfect meal.

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