The Cuisine of Hamgyong Province

Today’s Ryanggang Province, North Hamgyong, and South Hamgyong are encompassed within the region of Hamgyong Province.

The terrain of Ryanggang Province, North Hamgyong, and South Hamgyong mainly comprises rugged mountainous areas, including the Baekdu Mountain Range, and coastal areas along the East Sea.

Due to this geographical diversity, the people of this region have developed various distinctive cuisines, relying heavily on rice, barley, beans, potatoes, and abundant seafood harvested from the nearby seas.

A prominent characteristic of the local cuisine is the abundance of dishes made from grains such as rice, barley, and potatoes, alongside a diverse array of fish-based dishes.

The cuisine of Hamgyong Province is characterized by the generous use of garlic, chili peppers, and bold, refreshing flavors, often devoid of unnecessary adornments.

The staple foods of this region primarily consist of rice, barley, potatoes, noodles, and rice cakes. Areas like Samsu, Gapsan, and the vicinity of Baekam are known for their barley cultivation, where barley is utilized to make various dishes such as rice, noodles, and rice cakes.

Barley rice cakes, made by steaming barley flour dough and stuffing it with sweet bean paste, are a specialty of the region. Barley pancakes, known as “guimi-jeon,” are also popular, especially during festive occasions.

Potato dishes have flourished in this region, with the local potatoes being notably large and flavorful. Potatoes are used to make a variety of dishes, including rice, rice cakes, noodles, and syrup. Among these, Hamheung-style potato noodles are particularly renowned.

In terms of meat dishes, Hamheung-style grilled ribs, braised beef, and steamed chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and various seasonings, known as “yeongye-jjim,” are famous. The term “yeongye” refers to slightly larger chickens than regular ones. These dishes are traditionally enjoyed on special occasions like New Year’s Day.

The region’s seafood cuisine boasts dishes made from various fish species such as pollack, saury, mudfish, and squid. Areas like Cheongjin, Gimjae, Myeongcheon, Gyeongseong, Gilju, Buyeong, Hongwon, Sinpo, Liwon, and Bukcheong are known for their abundance of pollack. Pollack dishes, pollack soup, pollack roe, and fermented pollack roe are widely consumed in this region.

Additionally, dishes made from local specialties such as saury, mudfish, squid, and seaweed are highly regarded. Particularly famous are the saury broth and steamed crab dishes from the Bukcheong area.

Other renowned dishes include dishes made from seaweed and kelp, such as seaweed crab soup and seasoned kelp. Local wild vegetables and mountain herbs add distinct flavors to dishes like pickled cabbage and stir-fried fernbrake.

The signature dish, Hamgyong Province Bibimbap, consists of rice topped with seasoned beef and bean sprouts, served with seasoned soy sauce and broth on the side. Unlike traditional bibimbap, Hamgyong Province Bibimbap features a generous amount of locally grown bean sprouts, imparting a refreshing and savory taste. When eating, the hot broth is poured over the rice bowl and mixed thoroughly.

 

Hamgyong Province Bibimbap Recipe:

Ingredients (Serves 3):

Basic Ingredients:

  • 500g white rice,
  • 300g beef brisket,
  • 200g bean sprouts
  • 3g sesame seeds,
  • 10g soy sauce,
  • 15g green onions,
  • 10g garlic,
  • 3g red pepper powder,
  • 0.5g ground black pepper,
  • 30g seasoned soy sauce

Instructions:

Cook the white rice until fluffy. Boil the beef brisket, slice thinly, and marinate with red pepper powder, sesame seeds, green onions, garlic, and ground black pepper. Season the broth with soy sauce, salt, and ground black pepper. Blanch the bean sprouts and season them. In a bowl, place the cooked rice and top it with seasoned beef and bean sprouts. Serve with seasoned soy sauce and broth on the side.

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