korean foods. i need a crash course.
korean is actually one of my top four favorite world cuisines. But a bad experience at the zion market in san deigo's food court revealed that i dont know all that much about the culinary tradition. any insight into the korean culinary world would be appreciated.
(btw the 'bad experience' was ordering what i think is called dduk bogi --the rice cakes in spicy kochujang. is it suppose to taste like gnocchi in a sauce that does not know whether it should be dessert sweet or spicy [think spegghetio's sauce])
I don't know if your duk bo gi was outside of the range of prep for it. I have had it where it is quite sweet and spicy. The duk (rice cake/rolls) are cooked in kochuchang but I know you put sugar in too...my roommate in college that way from his mom's recipe. I've had it various ways but usually the spicy far outweighs the sweet. But I guess your description might be close...or just an extra teaspoon in the prep in the food court.
I think the best way to learn is to just try as much of it as you can, ideally at places that come recommended by people who might know. For better or worse, Korean food is really a cuisine based on home-cooking, with more comfort quality than a refined standard. So many people judge what's good using their mom's cooking as the standard.
Sadly, there is a lot of bad Korean cooking (in restaurants and other commercial ventures) out there. It's a shame that many newbies try this bad stuff and write off the whole cuisine out of hand. The good stuff is really really good, downright addicting.
This is true of ddukboki as well, and you just probably had a bad example. Keep in mind that ddukboki is primarily street food, usually eaten after a night of drinking and carousing. In Seoul you find street vendors making it hot and fresh and no two people will make it the same. So much depends on the quality and freshness of the dduk as well.
Just write it off as a bad experience (the first clue might be that you got it at a mall food court!) and be ready to try again.