While we were in Yeoju, we thought we should try Yeoju's specialty, Ssalbap 쌀밥. Upon asking what that meant, we realized that it was Ssal (uncooked white rice) and bap (cooked rice). So... Yeoju's specialty is rice-rice? Yup, pretty much. Yeoju and the region around Yeoju, including Ichon, is famous for it's rice. The best way to enjoy Ssalbap is to order Ssalbap Jeongshik 쌀밥 정식. Ordering jeongsik means getting a huge meal of various side dishes, many of which can be refilled if you eat it all. Here are some of our side dishes first.
Dubu Kim Chi 두부 김치 (Kim chi and Tofu), one of the most delicious side dishes or anju in Korea. The mix of cool tofu and spicy kim chi is the perfect combination.
Dotori Muk 도토리 묵 - A jelly like side dish made of acorns. As it has little flavor on it's own, it's been seasoned here with scallions, sesame seeds and soy sauce.
Dotori Jeon 도토리 전- a pancake made with acorn flour. In the middle, a piece of suk in the middle.
Doengjang paste 된장 with vegetables- Dip any green leafy veggies you like into this bean paste.
Doengjang jjigae 된장 찌재 f Korea's standard stews. It's broth is made with fermented bean paste, and usually you can find various vegetables inside like zucchini and onions. And of course, you must have some tofu.
But, really, the main point of Ssalbap Jeongsik is the Ssalbap. It is generally served in a hot stone bowl for maximum enjoyment. It took a little while to prepare as the stone bowl must be heated to a very high temperature. Finally it came to us. The yellow on top is called jopssal 좁쌀, it's a small yellow grain, and the brown is a red bean. After getting the stone bowl full of rice, the first thing you should do is remove all the rice right away. There will be a layer of rice stuck to the bottom, don't worry about that, that's the best part.
Next fill the stone bowl with hot water and wait for the water to boil. It will boil within a minute or so.
Then let cool, stir and enjoy!
Next time you stop by Yeoju or Icheon in your travels around Korea, be sure to stop and have some Ssalbap!