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Masters of Seollal Food

2011/02/03 | 433 views |  | Permalink | Source

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The Lunar New Year is one of the few times of the year most Koreans have an assortment of special foods and delicacies.
From fancy tteok or rice cake to hang-gua or Korean confections to Korean pancakes these treats are still largely only handmade if you want it to taste good.
But can hands keep up with the fast pace of orders this season

While the Lunar New Year is a busy time for all, it's especially more hectic for certain people.

[Interview : ] "When Lunar New Year's day arrives, there's no time to rest".

[Interview : ] "The workload is immense".

[Interview : ] "I've been doing this for exactly 14 years".

They are the masters of delicious New Year's Day treats. At this time of the year, their adroit hands know no rest. Let's take a look at their impressive techniques.

The one food item that everybody seeks during the Lunar New Year is tteok, or Korean rice cake. We visited a tteok shop well-known for its master of tteok.

But wait a minute.

At this place, everyone looks like a master. So where is the real one, then[Interview : ] "Are you the master of making tteok[Interview : ] "No, I am not. She is".

[Interview : ] "Hello. My name is Kim Ok-hui, the master of tteok".

And here she is, a true guru of tteok.

[Interview : Kim Ok hui, Master of tteok] "Several years have passed since I started this job, so now everything comes natural to me. I now find myself more engrossed in the task, and realize that within me lies a fierce passion for this job".

It is hard to imagine that such skills actually do exist. The incredible techniques of this master helps the shop deal with the staggering volume of orders during the Lunar New Year holiday.

[Interview : Lee Ae-sim, Tteok shop employee] "She is a one-in-a-million genius when it comes to tteok pieces".

So let's see what this one-in-a-million master of tteok can do with her hands. They play with the tteok dough this way and that way. And amazingly, each and every honey tteok weighs 24 grams. Unbelievable!

[Interview : Kim Ok hui, Master of tteok] "Don't be so impressed by this, because I have something even better up my sleeve. Follow me".

She decides to reveal her secret weapon, which is none other than this intimidating knife that she can wield freely.

[Interview : ] "I'll cut this piece of pounded rice cake with this knife. I've been using this knife for over 20 years".

So let's see what she can do with it.

Nobody can match her speed and agility as she chops up the tteok into smaller pieces. One big thump, and the piece splits into two just like that.

[Interview : Kim Ok hui, Master of tteok] "Because I always had to make a great quantity of tteok in a limited amount of time, I practiced this a lot. So I naturally became very fast".

On top of her unchallenged speed, she boasts perfect accuracy. The ruler shows that each tteok piece is exactly 4 centimeters long.

Of course, the tteok she makes are simply delectable.

[Interview : Jeong OK-jo, Customer] "It's as if a machine is cutting all the tteok. I was just amazed. All the tteok pieces are shaped exactly the same".

[Interview : Hong Seok-pyo, Customer] "The tteok tastes fabulous. It's the best in the world".

This bustling market in Seoul greets the most customers during the Lunar New Year.

The source of this sizzling sound turned out to be the Korean pancakes, which are also a must-have food for the New Year's Day.

[Interview : Jeon Sun-hui, Owner of a Korean pancake shop] "With the Lunar New Year's Day just around the corner, we are very busy".

[Interview : Park Yeong-suk, Owner of a Korean pancake shop] "Some of the best-sellers are pan-fried pollack, round meat pancakes, skewered food, and mushroom pancakes".

But there is a master of Korean pancakes who, no matter how busy she is, makes each one with care and love.

[Interview : ] "Hello. I am the master of Korean pancakes".

And this is that legendary master.

She first shows off her flipping skill, which is very important to maximize the deep taste of the pancakes.

Just one bite can render the eater speechless.

[Interview : Kim Yeong-ran, Customer] "It tastes so good and savory. The taste must be better because it's the work of a master".

[Interview : Kim Do-sang, Customer] "I keep coming back here for every New Year's Day. It reminds me of my mother's cooking".

Out of all the different pancakes, her specialty is the round meat pancake. So what's her tool

[Interview : Han Sang-pil, Master of Korean pancakes] "This spoon is my No. 1 treasure. I've been using it for about 13 years, and I can never part with it".

She starts to make the round meat pancakes with her spoon. In the blink of an eye, she forms little balls of batter.

[Interview : Han Sang-pil, Master of Korean pancakes] "The key to making the round meat pancake is to use the spoon to clump the batter into a ball. This keeps the ball intact and is a much
speedier method than using one's hands".

And after she flips them into the air to remove any unnecessary oil, the round meat pancakes are done.

It's hardly a surprise that her stall is always crowded.

[Interview : Lee Bo-ram, Customer] "She is simply amazing. She is the best".

[Interview : Park Yun-sik, Customer] "The taste is out of this world. I am speechless".

This is Insadong, where another master is hard at work.

[Interview : ] "Come and buy delicious glazed rice puffs. Come this way! Delicious glazed rice puffs. Come on".

Lee Yeong-seok has long been a celebrated figure here, thanks to his glazed rice puffs.

[Interview : Lee Yeong-seok, Master of glazed rice puffs] "Glazed rice puffs are a traditional Korean snack. It's like a Korean-style biscuit".

This traditional snack is made with roasted sesames or beans, which are mixed with starch syrup. It brings a smile to everyone's face.

[Interview : Whitney, Customer USA] "This is really good. It was very sweet. It's baked fresh, very nice. I enjoyed it".

[Interview : Jo Eun-suk, Customer] "The sweet taste of the Korean traditional snack is the best".

So what technique does he use to make such delicious and addictive morsels

But don't be impressed just yet. His truly amazing skill is revealed when he cuts this big piece of rice puffs.

People cannot tear their eyes away.

He maintains just the right amount of strength, speed, and the angle of the knife to cut the rice puffs into equal pieces.

[Interview : Lee Yeong-seok, Master of glazed rice puffs] "This is possible because I am accustomed to the task. I'm doing it instinctively, since I can't use a ruler to measure all the rice puffs".

But this master still has bigger dreams to pursue.

[Interview : Lee Yeong-seok, Master of glazed rice puffs] "It is my dream to continue to cherish this traditional Korean snack and to find ways to turn it into a global snack beloved by all".

These masters have come this far and achieved such great feats thanks to their perseverance to excel in what they love to do. Their resplendent talents will shine yet again this holiday season.

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