Foodspiration from K-Movies by Jenny Chang

I realize I’m late to the game, having only recently watched the breakout Oscar award winning film, Parasite just a few weeks ago. Friends have been raving about this film for many reasons but mainly because a South Korean film was gaining notoriety in the film world and thus, Hollywood.

Born in Seoul, South Korea, I have an interest in Korean films and dramas. Mostly dramas, and if you have never seen a Korean drama, it’s the best soap opera ever and will suck you in from the first episode. It’s the perfect combination of unrequited love, wish-harm-to-you-villain, sentimental protagonist and/or hero all perfectly measured for a gut wrenching saga series. Admittedly, I’ve had to wean myself from watching said dramas. However in any K-drama series or movie, I am often inspired to cook something delicious as a result.

K-dramas and movies are notorious for featuring some of the best, most popular foods in Korea. You will see scenes that take place around a table where food is second to the action or drama about to unfold. Don’t be mistaken though, the food is meant to entice and entice it does. If not around a table, then a street vendor or cart selling the hottest, on-trend, instaworthy snack or bite around.

In the movie Parasite, you see the housekeeper rush to prepare a dish after the lady of the house calls to say they are on their way home from a rained out, camping trip and requests the housekeeper have these noodles ready for them when they arrive. The dish she prepares is called Ramdon in the movie but is known to Koreans as Jjapaguri because it’s a combination of two types of instant noodle dishes: Chapagetti and Neoguri. Chapagetti resembles the instant version of the Korean classic Jjajang Myun (aka. noodles in black bean sauce), while Neoguri is a noodle soup in a spicy seafood broth.

Before you turn your nose up to instant noodles, you should know that instant noodles in Asian countries is like cereal to Americans. Whole aisles are dedicated in grocery and convenience stores to instant noodles. It’s a staple in every Asian household. And today’s instant noodles are a far cry from the ones you might remember from days of old (Cup of Noodles or Maruchan – though I mean no disrespect to either brands).

Taking something so ordinary and ubiquitous as instant packaged noodles and elevating it with the addition of, arguably the most expensive cut of meat in Korea, Hanwoo beef (similar to Wagyu or Kobe) is clearly the director’s statement about the wealthy in Korea. It’s this contrast that piqued my curiosity about Jjapaguri and ultimately, made me try it at home.

I have to say, the result was enjoyable. I jazzed up the instant noodles a bit with the addition of julienned cucumbers and thinly sliced scallions but used prime ribeye steak vs. Korean Hanwoo (because who could get their hands on Hanwoo in the US).  The savory-ness from the Chapagetti was followed by a slightly spicy heat that hits you a moment later. The next time I make this dish, I would add a soft boiled egg vs. the steak, along with some stir-fried bok choy or even some chewy rice cakes (ddukboki).

That’s the thing about instant noodles, you can make them as elaborate or as simple as you wish. So next time you happen to be in the instant noodle aisle at your local grocery store or better yet, venture into your local Asian market, stop and consider how you might “fancify” your instant noodles to make them #instaworthy. You might find that you’ve created your own noodle mashup much like the Ramdon in Parasite!

Ramdon aka. Jjapaguri
Serves 2
  1. One package of instant Chapagetti
  2. One package of instant Neoguri
  3. One ribeye steak
  4. Julienned cucumbers
  5. Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Salt and pepper the steak on both sides. Sear in a cast iron pan for 3-4 min on each side, depending on thickness of steak and how well you like your steak cooked.
  2. Meanwile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add noodles and dried vegetable packet. Boil noodles until tender (about 3 min). Reserve about 1 cup of water from the noodles and set aside. Drain noodles.
  3. Return drained noodles to pot and add Chapagetti seasoning packed along with ½ of the Neoguri seasoning packet. Add reserved noodle water. Mix well. Add oil packet from the Chapagetti and mix well.
  4. Top with julienned cucumbers, sliced scallions and sliced ribeye steak. Other toppings can include soft boiled egg and stir fried vegetables.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

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