The most common lunch boxes back in Korea 1980, were made of stainless steel. Some kids would have thermal lunch boxes to keep their food warm - if you watched the Reply 1988 series, you would’ve seen some of these in the school lunchtime scenes! In these lunch boxes, the lunch menu would always be steamed rice and a couple of banchans (side dishes).
Out of the thousands of Korean banchans, the most classic lunch combo would be fried egg, egg-fried sausages, stir-fried anchovies, and cooked kimchi. These might be a very unusual combination for non-Koreans, but it’s actually a thing 😂 Now called the “Chueok eu Doshirak” (lunchbox of memories), you can even see this lunchbox set menus in Korean restaurants and bars.
Being the easiest and fastest to cook in busy mornings, those four banchan were the go-to for any parents’ packing their child’s lunch in the ’80s. The most important one was of course the egg-fried sausages! These aren’t your normal sausages you find in Countdown, but are quite Korean-specific instead. Commonly called the “pink sausage,” they are made of a mix of fish, chicken, pork, and flour. This “mixed sausage” was demanded mostly in the old days when Korea wasn’t necessarily the wealthiest country in the world. As it was much cheaper than sausages made of 100% pork, it was less of a financial burden for common families to use them in daily dishes. When you try it you’d definitely feel that it’s far from the sausages that we’re used to, and would feel a floury taste in it. Regardless of its authenticity as a “sausage”, for Koreans, this is a taste of our memories as a child and a taste that makes us smile. Many still love the “pink sausages” and these are still sold in Korea, and Korean supermarkets here in NZ as well!
Now, the anchovies might be something new to you as well. Koreans have these so-called “Myeolchi Bokkeum” (stir-fried anchovies) as one of the most basic banchans. These fishes are way smaller than those used in Western countries for pizza and pasta. Koreans use tiny dried anchovies to stir-fry in sauces for a crunchy, nutty, and a sweet-salty flavour.
Youtube | Happy Cooking
This week’s recipe of the “Chueok ee Doshirak” (lunchbox of memories) will be nice & easy since it’s just a mixture of simple dishes of banchans! Yet, you might need a few different ingredients 🤭 Let’s get straight into it then! (Recipe from Youtube channel NOTSUN_HOUSE)
Youtube | NOTSUN HOUSE
1) First, the anchovies. Stir the dried anchovies on a dry pan on low heat first, to get rid of the fishy odor. About 3 mins would do!
2) Add cooking oil and put the pan on medium heat - if you cook on high heat, the anchovies might burn easily.
3) Once the anchovies get slightly golden, add soy sauce, sugar, and corn syrup to the pan and keep stirring on medium heat.
4) Once all the anchovies are coated in sauce, turn off the heat and mix with sesame oil for the aroma, and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) before serving.
5) Next, the fried kimchi. Chop the kimchi in small pieces, and the onion in thin slices.
6) On a pan, stir fry the kimchi, onion, and tuna (optional) on high heat.
7) When the kimchi starts to soften, add sugar and chilli powder for more flavour.
8) Finally onto the sausage! If you can’t find a Korean-styled pink sausage in your local Korean supermarket, feel free to replace it with Spam. Chop the sausage or Spam into bite-size pieces.
9) Crack the egg in a bowl and gently mix the yolk.
10) Dip the sausage or Spam in the egg and cook both sides on a pan with cooking oil.
11) To go full-on K-retro, get a stainless steel lunchbox to serve the banchans on one half, and steamed rice on the other.
12) Finish off with a fried egg topped on the rice!
Youtube | NOTSUN_HOUSE
As a country that is known for its mixed rice dish - Bibimbap - some like to have everything in this lunch box with all mixed together! Of course, it won’t look as pretty, but I assure you that it’s pretty yum 😋 If you see anyone in Korean restaurants shaking a flat square stainless container up & down, they’re probably mixing this “Chueok ee Doshirak” to enjoy it in its fullest 👍 When your Korean food experience level is high enough, you should give the shaken up lunch box a go as well. Click on this link to watch the recipe on video!