Exploring international cuisine can be a great experience for dinner at home or used to bring something fun and unexpected to your next event. Here are some Korean flavors to try on for size. Keep in mind that Korean foods are a bit on the spicy side and also pickled. Those two flavors keep your palette wanting the next bite!  A lot of Korean foods also work very well as hors d’oeuvres. Mini pancakes stuffed with duck, Kimchi served in miso soup spoons, or Mandu wrappers filled with stir fried vegetables all work nicely.

If you’re looking for a really fresh idea for a seated served dinner go all out Korean with a family style approach of the Korean Barbeque grill in the middle of each guest table! There’s no exposed flame, so don’t worry about that! Something wonderful happens when you get a table of people cooking together with an arsenal of chopsticks and wonderful condiments like lime soaked rice, fresh mushrooms, stir fried vegetables, fresh garden lettuces as well as chile paste and numerous other sauces to try. Yes, there’s cost associated with renting the Korean barbeque grills, but remember you won’t need any centerpieces, as the grill becomes the showcase!

If the Korean flavors are a bit to foreign to your taste, try using the grills with a Mexican flare making your own fajitas at each table. Take that chicken fajita for a spin by drenching your chicken in a citrus marinade and topping your fajita with a nice pear or mango salsa. It’s all about trying something new and interesting that will keep your guests talking for a long time. (Note: You will want to check with your venue to make sure they allow this type of dinner service.

Also to note:
Use non-reactive utensils and bowls when cooking with Kimchi, red beans and hot peppers; They spoil if prepared with aluminum or copper.

Suggested reading for Korean Cooking:

The Korean Table- Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels

Korean Vegetables- Young Jin Song

Quick and Easy Korean Cooking- Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

What wines go well with Korean Barbeque?

New World Merlot or Shiraz from Australia work well with the flavors of soy, garlic, spring onion & brown sugar flavors often found in Korean dishes.

Bring Korean flavor to your dinner table with this wonderful recipe from Chef Owner Debbie Lee from Ann-Joo, Los, Angeles:
Bacon wrapped rice cakes with a jalapeno ponzu sauce:

Soy Sauce 1 cup

Rice Vinegar ¼ cup

Mirin 2TBS

Sugar 2TBS

Oranges, juice of  2

Lemons, juice of  2

Limes, Juice of  2

Garlic Cloves  2

Jalapenos, sliced  2

Water 1 quart

Salt as needed

Rice Cakes, Cylindrical, halved  6 each

Sesame oil 1TBS

Bacon Slices, halved 6 each

Chives, chopped  1TBS

Sesame seeds  1TBS

To make Ponzu sauce, combine soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, sugar, citrus juices and garlic in a small stockpot and simmer 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer and chill in an ice bath. Place in a serving dish and garnish with jalapeno slices and refrigerate.

Bring water to a boil in a medium stockpot over high heat. Add a pinch of sal and rice cakes and boil for 2 to 3 minutes, just to soften the rice cakes. Remove the rice cakes from the water and immediately cool in an ice bath. Drain rice cakes, drizzle with sesame oil to prevent sticking and reserve.

In a 400 degree oven, par bake bacon for about 5 minutes, then reserve.

To make skewers, wrap 1 bacon slice around each rice cake. Thread 2 rice cakes per skewer.

Cook rice cakes on a nonstick pan on medium high heat for 5 minutes on each side or until bacon is crispy and thoroughly cooked.

Remove rice cakes from pan and arrange on a platter. Garnish with chives and sesame seeds. Serve immediately with jalapeno ponzu sauce.