Chefs share insights on Asia’s fermented foods from kimchi to fish sauce

Ha Mi-hyun, Korean author and CEO of Spoken Company, speaks during the #50BestTalks, a talk session held during the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants event at Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, Monday. Courtesy of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

“Hansik,” or Korean food, is garnering increasing attention on the global culinary stage. Reflecting this trend, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants was hosted in Seoul for the first time and the #50BestTalks, a talk session of the five-day international gourmet festival that kicked off Saturday, shed light on the fermented dishes of Asia under the theme “Food of the People.”Ha Mi-hyun, Korean author and CEO of Spoken Company, opened the session, drawing a metaphor between hansik and “danji,” a traditional pottery vessel used for fermented food. You can’t tell what’s in a danji from a distance. Its true beauty and contents are only revealed when the lid is opened. Just like Koreans — who seem reserved at first, but once you get to know them, they open up — danji reveals a rich inner world of stories, life and food culture in it,” she said during the #50BestTalks at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, Monday.

Ha traveled across the country, spanning some 620,000 kilometers since 2014, meeting local people and recording the undocumented spoken recipes of the people.She highlighted the vast array of kimchi varieties in Korea, emphasizing their regional and seasonal diversity, telling stories of corn kimchi, or summer kimchi infused with corn water, subicho kimchi featuring a specific Korean chili pepper and dureup kimchi made with aralia elata shoots.Not only just documenting the spoken recipes across the country, Ha also holds workshops and promotes seasonal produce in partnership with local farmers.“The reason for recording is not only to tell the stories of the past, but also to show that they are still delicious today. Ordinary is the 스포츠토토존 extraordinary,” Ha said.

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