November 1, 2007｜Korean Peninsula
Dr. O Sung Chol
Director, Korean Social Scientists Society (DPRK)
Today in the DPRK we are putting great effort into encouraging folk cuisine in order to actively make full advantage of our ethnic character.
In the DPRK, cooking competitions and food fairs are being promoted annually on a nationwide scale. We are stimulating the interest and appreciation of the workers with the wide introduction and publicizing of folk cuisine with its regional specialties.
At specialist educational establishments and research institutes, we are training specialists who are gifted in folk cuisine, and in addition research projects are being actively undertaken on folk cuisine.
Still further, on national holidays and folk holidays it has become the trend that all households in the DPRK make and eat folk cuisine, and demand is continually increasing.
Wherever you go and look in the DPRK, there are a great many distinctive folk dishes cooked to the unique recipes of that locality, using the special produce and foodstuffs in that locality. This kind of activity is being widely encouraged.
Some representative dishes from folk cuisine are given below.
First, a dish since olden times from the Pyongyang region, the famous noodle dish Pyongyang raengmyon [cold buckwheat noodles] has become an internationally famous dish, and down to the present day too has an exquisite taste and high nutritional value, a local flavor, and is garnished with a variety of seasonings to whet the appetite.
In addition, one of the Pyongyang specialties of longstanding tradition is Taedong River gray mullet soup. It has a distinctive flavor, is of high nutritional value, and today is rated highly as a favorite food by the people of the DPRK.
Other widely known specialties of the Pyongyang region are Pyongyang onban [cooked chicken mixed in a broth with rice and mushrooms], Pyongyang fish congee, nochi (glutinous-rice savory pancake), kalbi [rib] soup, grilled kalbi, and Pyongyang roast chestnuts. They are served to the populace at specialist restaurants in the city or at a network of state-run restaurants.
Next are the specialties of the Pyongan-do region of mung-bean savory pancake and chotkal [salted fermented seafood], which have been passed down from olden times. They are not only available at specialist restaurants, but are made and eaten a great deal in homes as well.
The specialties of the Hamgyong-do region—including the celebrated dog-meat soup and maeuntang [spicy soup made with Alaska pollock]—of flatfish sikhae [salted fermented fish in cooked rice or millet], Alaska pollock sikhae, potato-starch noodles, corn-starch savory pancake, dog-meat kukpap [soup with rice], potato cakes, oatcakes, and kimchi made from mustard leaves are eaten not only by the people of this region, but widely eaten in all regions, including the capital Pyongyang.
The blueberry syrup and blueberry wine produced around Mt. Paektu in the Ryanggang-do region are popular with the people.
In the Hwanghae-do region there are the specialties of Haeju pibimbap [rice mixed with vegetables, sea cucumber, chicken, songi mushroom and chili sauce], buckwheat noodles, noktumuk [mung-bean starch jelly, resembling gelidium jelly], kimssam [foods, including meat or kimchi, wrapped in laver], and kim kui [grilled laver].
Additionally, the special produce of the Kaesong region from olden times of possam kimchi [kimchi wrapped in a large cabbage leaf], pyonsu dumplings [square-shaped dumplings with a meat and vegetable filling], sollongtang [ox-leg soup], loach soup, rice-cake dumplings, umegi (a kind of rice cake), yakpap [steamed sweet rice with nut and jujubes], and sinsollo [various ingredients cooked in a chafing dish] are even today dishes eaten that are fun to make. The special produce of Kangwon-do region of various fish dishes, including fish soup and saengson hoe [thinly sliced raw fish or other seafood], and wild plant dishes, made using parts of the turup tree [Aralia elata] and bracken, are well-known.
In the DPRK, which is placing emphasis on its ethnic character, positive effort will continue to be made to further promote our folk cuisine in the future too.
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