Ever since I first came to Korea nine years ago, there has been one dish that has held a special place in my heart - 닭갈비. A gorgeous mix of chicken, rice cakes, spring onions, sweet potato, cabbage and red pepper paste cooked together in a big iron pan at your table. Chuncheon is known as the place to go for authentic 닭갈비, but I never had a chance to visit there until now. Finally, my dreams of the real thing were fulfilled and I have the photos to prove it.
Everything gets shoved in the pan...
Everything gets stirred around...
The ajumma looks at you scornfully as you try to stir things round yourself, snatches the scraper off you and informs you that the rice cakes are ready to eat.
You snaffle all the rice cakes and wait impatiently for the chicken to finish cooking. Drinking beer helps calm your frazzled nerves...
The chicken has been deemed ready by the ajumma and you may tuck in. One of my dining companions pointed out that when the sweet potato is soft, then the chicken is ready to eat.
After stuffing yourself, the ajumma sends in one of her young men to forcefully clean your pan with what looks disturbingly like a windscreen scraper. He proves to be very effective.
Now comes the decision that separates the men from the boys... Rice or noodles? For me there can only be one answer - BOTH!
The ajumma tosses and turns rice and noodles as you drain another glass of beer and pat your distended stomach, then it's time to get down to business and clean your plate...
Enjoy the blissful state of spicy chicken nirvana, then leave the restaurant stinking of slightly charred fowl and feeling slightly guilty for consuming a day's worth of food in one sitting.
We went to 명동 1 번지, located about midway down the 명동 닭갈비 골목 (Myeong-dong Spicy Chicken Street) in the centre of Chuncheon. Our friends recommended this place to us, but there are many others on the street and I'd love to hear your recommendations. You can call 명동 1 번지 on 033 256 6448.