Friday, May 20, 2005

the budae-jjigae dispute

Sometimes friends argue about the important things in life; sometimes they argue about the inane.

Last night featured a swim in the deep end of the inanity pool as my buddy Jang-woong and I discussed how to make budae-jjigae, a stew I've made many times.

I mentioned that budae-jjigae is fairly easy to make, but Jang-woong begged to differ, claiming that legitimate budae-jjigae requires the perfect broth, which is made by boiling a certain type of ground bean. I'd never heard of this before; the various budae-jjigae restos I've been to all use water as the basic broth (or so it seems). Jang-woong called the server over and asked her opinion. He was very leading, mentioning the bean-thing first and smugly waiting for her confirmation. She happily obliged-- "Oh, yes, of course we use that bean paste!"-- and my buddy enjoyed his moral victory.

Budae-jjigae comes in many forms, as is true of most Korean (and worldwide) stews. So I decided to ask some students today whether they've ever made budae-jjigae, and how they handle the broth issue. "Water," they said unanimously.

I'll have to present Jang-woong with this testimony when next I see him, though I doubt it'll shake his faith.


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