27 (Sun) March 2011
Linguine con Spinaci alle Vongole with Oyster Mushrooms
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
w W and DJ
I’ve finally come to terms with the unavoidable fact that the quality of a wine incorporated as an ingredient makes an enormous difference in the finished dish, particularly when the dish involves a light sauce, such as pasta alle vongole. That seems patently obvious now, this late in the game, but not so much at the get-go. Most recipes call for “dry white wine,” without further comment. Some TV chefs have been heard to advise something like, “If you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it,” but, seriously, with the exception of wines that have gone bad due to age or poor keeping, what wine these days can’t be drunk?
Looking back at my own hits and misses, I see that the wine was the ultimate determinant, all other factors being more or less equal. My heavy-handed approach to vongole favors oaky full-bodied chardonnays that provide a solid base for the butter, herbs, and aromatics that I tend to use. In tonight’s miss, I employed an overly acidic and wispy sauvignon blanc that resulted in a slightly tart sauce that wasn’t as savory as I would’ve liked.
The problem here in Korea is that wines are still relatively expensive. Anything of quality will run close to 20,000 won and up. Anything below 10,000 won will likely be poorly balanced and short on flavor. Wines between 10,000 to 15,000 won, which someone of my income bracket would consider a reasonable price range for daily drinking and cooking, are hard to come by.
(For more details re food, see WHAT)
(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)