Gyeongju sundubu

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A quick update: We’re in Gyeongju, one of the larger cities in South Gyeongsan Province, and a major center of Korean history, as it was the capital of the Shilla Dynasty.  People throw the word Shilla around like it was yesterday, and South Korean identity is tied strongly to the scientific and artistic achievements of that era, but the dynasty lasted from 668-918 A.D.  This is a very old country.

Diane’s family spent a lot of time here while she was growing up, and so we’re using the city as a base to explore the southeastern coast.  We spent a day and a half in Jeonju, in North Jeolla Province (about which I have a lot more to say in future posts), and would have liked to spend more time in Jeolla-do in general, but we couldn’t figure out an itinerary that wouldn’t have involved driving nearly all day between the southwest and southeast corners.  In any case, I wouldn’t give up any of the meals we’ve had so far in Gyeonsannam-do.

I’ve divided them up into three posts that follow.

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Our first meal in Gyeongju was 순두부찌개, sundubu-jjigae. This is one of my favorite things to eat, one of the foods I start to crave if I haven’t had Korean food in awhile.  It’s usually made with a clam broth, spiced to the gills with red pepper, and filled with a very soft, fresh bean curd, one step before becoming full-fledged tofu.  We chose to eat at a restaurant called 맷돌순두부, Mehtdolsundubu, but the whole area was crawling with sundubu restaurants.  Koreans really love trends, and food trends especially.  Clearly, one person had had a bright idea to sell sundubu in this area, and everyone had followed suit.

I couldn’t really blame their entrepreneurial spirit, though.  The bean curd was especially fresh, almost closer to 비지, biji, a soybean puree, than soybean curd.  I’m not sure how and why this locality became known for its sundubu-jjigae, but its proximity to the ocean probably helped the clams and the clam broth taste clean and clear.

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And I got to try 빈대장아찌, bindaejangajji, a strong-tasting fish, like anchovies on steroids, pickled with burning hot green peppers, which is what you see here in this little jar.

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2 Responses to “Gyeongju sundubu”

  1. lina Says:

    wow – i (almost) can’t keep up with it all~! won’t there be at least one entry about the latest crazy fashion trend to hit the streets?

  2. Diane Choo Says:

    My favorite part about the Gyeongju sundubu was that it had all these nooks and crannies for the broth flavor to crawl into. Yummy!

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