1.058 Nurungji Baekban


4 (Thu) March 2010

Nurungji Baekban


at Bon-Ga

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Korea-

with MtG

Technically, the only requirement for a meal to qualify as a “baekban” (백반), which literally means “white” (baek) “meal” (ban), is a bowl of white rice.

The rice usually comes with a soup/stew, a meat/fish, and a variety of “banchan” (반찬) (side dishes). This describes almost any Korean meal, but it’s a matter of perspective, the idea being that all the individual components combine to form a complete and balanced eating experience, everything together. Though one particular item may be emphasized in name, usually one of the soup/stew or meat/fish items, a baekban is often judged by the quality and variety of all the dishes offered.

Here, the meal nominally centers around nurungji tang (누룽지탕), a simple water-based soup (tang) containing nothing more than burnt/toasted rice (nurungji).  Nurungji is a culinary remnant of a bygone era when rice was cooked in steel or stone pots over open flames, usually resulting in burnt/toasted rice at the bottom of the vessel.

In a way, baekban is supposed to exemplify the ideal home-cooked meal (see most recently 1.031 A Typical Korean At-Home Meal), even though a home-cooked meal would never be referred to as “baekban.”


Clockwise from bottom left corner: stir-fried anchovies, stir-fried fish cake strips, braised beef, spicy pickled squid, nurungji-tang, dried laver, seasoned bean sprouts, kimchi jjigae, steamed egg.

Center row from left: seasoned fernbrake, radish kimchi, kimchi.

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