30 (Sat) April 2011
Gujeolpan (Not Really)
at CBS Wedding Hall Buffet
-Mok, Yangcheon, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
w W and DJ, In-Laws
Gujeolpan (구절판) is a Korean dish. It’s a wrap that consists of 8 components for the filling, typically, beef, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, zucchini/squash, carrot, cucumber, egg whites, and egg yolk, which are sliced/shredded with razor precision and lightly seasoned and/or stir-fried. The components are wrapped in a paper-thin, palm-sized pancake, typically made of flour, and dipped in a dressing, typically mustard-based. The name refers to the serving vessel, a box that contains 9 compartments (8 components for the filling + 1 pancake): “nine (gu) compartment (jeol) platter (pan).” The flavors and textures are extremely delicate, combined to represent harmony and balance. Historically, gujeolpan was court cuisine. It’s labor-intensive, certainly not something that lowly peasants would’ve made for themselves back in the day. Today, the dish is the ultimate expression of hospitality, either at home or in a restaurant, because of the time and effort involved. It’s elegant in presentation and delicate in flavor.
At this wedding hall buffet, however, where W’s cousin was getting married, the gujeolpan was not really the real deal. First, it only had 7 items, including a raw and unseasoned and over-powering red bell pepper. Second, they were all roughly cut. Third, instead of flour pancakes, it was served with pickled radish slices, a short-cut common in situations without the luxury of kitchen servants. I can forgive the chicken, though unusual. In the end, it was more of a salad than a bona fide gujeolpan.
(For more details re food, see WHAT)
(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)