Korean Lunch Box – Old School Style!
For our recipe today, let’s walk down memory lane.
We’ll start by taking a peek into a Korean classroom in the 1970s.
You’ll notice a large radiator in the middle of the room. This not only served as the central heating unit but also warmed up lunch boxes.
Place it on top and the dosiraks would get hot very quickly!
That’s because traditional dosirak (Korean word for lunchbox) containers are made out of Tinplate (or German Silver).
Tinplate consists of sheets of metal, coated with a thin layer of tin.
During the 1970s, the Korea economy was in the midst of industrializing into an export-based economy. Many household items and consumer goods were made via heavy industry.
Next, let’s take a look at the mix of banchans found in a traditional Korean Lunch Box .
The first is the pink sausage!
In Korea, this iconic sausage is known as Boon-Hong sausage (spelled 분홍소세지)
Almost everyone – including my parents – grew up eating it during this time.
During the 70’s, fresh meat is still too expensive to eat on a regular basis for the average Korean Family. (The average GDP was only $279 in 1970.)
So local companies begin to market cheap, processed meats as an alternative. This “pink sausage” was a huge hit among Koreans (as it was produced locally and even cheaper than SPAM – which was hard to procure).
It consisted of primarily mixed pork meat, corn starch and flour.
Since the sausage has so much flour in it, it doesn’t get a crispy surface when cooked like regular sausage.
So the common knowledge was to batter it flour and dip it egg wash before pan-frying to get that crispy texture.
(Yes, we have much to be thankful for in the year 2020!)
The second banchan is anchovies!
Since fresh meat is too expensive for regular consumption, mothers liked to cook with anchovies!
Anchovies are cheap but they’re filled with nutrition – high in Omega-3 Fatty acids and an excellent source of protein.
When stir-fried with the right ingredients and sauces, the banchan taste great!
Till this day, many mom make stir-fried anchovies as their go-to banchan for young kids.
The third banchan is the Sautéed Kimchi.
There’s not much to say about this other than to repeat that… Kimchi is the lifeline to Korea’s (Food) Culture & Society.
No matter how hard times got, you could still borrow some kimchi you’re your neighbors.
These three banchans – when served together with rice – will bring out a sense of nostalgia to any Korean who grew up in Korea before the 1980’s.
For extra points, add a fried egg, along with a sprinkle of dried seaweed flakes (kimjaban).
Optional: Shake up the entire dosirak up before eating!
(Oh, I can already see a tear rolling down from the Korean’s eye)
Heh heh – enjoy!
And if you make this traditional Korean Lunch Box at home, tag us on IG. We’d love to see!!
- 1 whole Korean Pink Sausage (분홍소세지) Or substitute with any sausage you like!
- 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour Or use Korean Pancake Mix (부침가루)
- 2 whole Eggs
- Few pinches Salt (To season the eggs)
- Cut your sausage into thin circles.
- Take out a bowl and place in flour. Thoroughly coat the sausage circles in the flour - get a nice even coating.
- Take out another bowl. Then crack-in 2 eggs. Thoroughly whisk the eggs and season it with a few pinches of salt.
- Now place the sausages in the whisked eggs. Move them around and make sure they get an even coating.
- Place frying pan on medium heat. Place in some vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to a low heat. Then place on the sausage pieces. Cook on both sides for a few minutes or until egg gets slightly crispy.
- Serve with rice - enjoy!
- 1 cup of Dried Anchovy (small-sized)
- 3/4 cup of Mixed Nuts
- 6-7 cloves of Garlic
- 1 whole Cheongyang Chili Pepper (or substitute with 1/2 Jalapeno Pepper)
- 1 stalk of Spring Onion (forearm length)
Sticky Soy Glaze
- 1/2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1/2 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Mirim
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 1/2 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
- Measure 1 cup of small dried anchovies. Set it aside. Give a rough chop to the mixed nuts (3/4 cup). Cut garlic (6-7 cloves) into bite-sized chunks. Then dice the chili pepper into small pieces. And dice the spring onion stalk into small chunks as well.
- Place frying-pan on a medium-low heat. Do NOT place any oil into the frying pan. Once the pan is hot, placed the mixed nuts in. Stir it around in the pan for 1-2 minutes or until the nuts get slightly toasted. Set aside and wipe out the pan.
- Now raise the frying pan to a MEDIUM heat. Place in some vegetable oil (~2 Tablespoons). Once the oil is hot, add in the garlic pieces. Stir the garlic pieces until they get a slight browning. Then add in the dried anchovies. Stir the anchovy around with the garlic for 2-3 minutes.
- After 2-3 minutes, quickly add in Soy Sauce (1/2 Tablespoon), Sugar (1/2 Tablespoon) and Mirim (1 Tablespoon). Stir everything together well so that its evenly mixed. Then add the nuts, diced spring onion and chili pepper pieces. Stir everything together for another 1-2 minutes.
- After 1-2 minutes, finish by adding-in Honey (2 Tablespoons). Give it a final stir and mix everything evenly. This honey will turn the dish nice and sticky. Now turn off the heat and garnish with Sesame Seeds (1/2 Tablespoon).
- Serve with a bowl of hot rice. Save leftovers in Tupperware and place in the refrigerator. It should stay good for up to 2-3 weeks.
- 2 cups Aged Kimchi (Kimchi should be aged and slightly sour)
- 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
- 1/3 Tablespoon Gochugaru (Korean Red Chili Flakes)
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- Measure 2 cups of aged Kimchi. Use a pair of scissors to cut the aged kimchi into small bite-sized pieces.
- Take out a frying pan. Place it on a medium-heat. Place in some vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, place in the chopped kimchi. Now add in minced garlic (1 Tablespoon) and stir-fry everything together for a few minutes - or until there is very little kimchi liquid left in the frying pan (reference video).
- Next, add in Gochugaru (1/3 Tablespoon). (Note: If you want it more spicy, you can add in 1/2 Tablespoon). Stir-it around and mix it in.
- Then add in Sugar (1 Tablespoon). Stir-it around and mix it in.
- Next, add in Sesame Oil (1 Tablespoon). Stir everything one last time and it's done. Serve with hot rice!