-Cycle 2, Item 115-
30 (Sat) April 2011
* * *
at CBS Wedding Hall Buffet
with Wife, Dominic, and the In-Laws
Gujeolpan (구절판) is a Korean wrap dish. It consists of eight individual ingredients--such as, typically, beef, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, zucchini/squash, carrot, cucumber, egg whites, egg yolks--that are sliced/shredded with razor precision and lightly seasoned and/or stir-fried, then wrapped in a paper-thin, palm-sized pancake--typically made of flour--and dipped in a dressing--typically mustard-based. The name breaks down as “nine (gu) folded (jeol) platter (pan)”: 8 items for the filling + 1 pancake. While the flavors and textures are extremely delicate, each bite manages to represent a perfectly balanced meal. Gujeolpan is categorized as court cuisine, so called because it was once a dish fit only for the royalty. In preparing both the stuffing ingredients and the pancakes, 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.
Gujeolpan done right.
At this wedding hall buffet, however, where my wife’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.