Meet Chung Jae

About

Name: Chung Jae Lee

Position: Owner of Little Miss Korea and author

"Food brings people together in all cultures and we are so lucky in Australia that we have so many different traditions in our backyard."

What is a favourite dish that you make that is particularly representative of your cultural heritage? Why is this dish important to you?

It is Korea’s national dish and Koreans can’t live without it. Korea has 4 distinctive seasons so a lot is made at the end of summer when Chinese cabbages are still available and affordable and pickled. Years ago the kimchi was buried underground in traditional clay pots but now with Korean leading the way in technology each household has a specially designed “Kimchi Fridge”.

What three ingredients are particularly representative of your culture’s cooking and why?

Chilli powder, Bean paste and Garlic.

Good quality chilli’s are sun dried and then crushed 5 x times into chilli powder, Korean chilli powder isn’t an instant hit it creeps up slowly and is used in soups, side dishes, fries and pretty much anything Koreans cook.

Soy Beans are the base of bean paste and this is used as a base of some soups, slow cooked meats and really good cooking with tofu.

Garlic is used in nearly every thing we cook in Korean cuisine even fried on a BBQ but the average amount eaten per day per person is one garlic head.

Are there any myths about your cultural food traditions you’d like to debunk? Are there any you can confirm are true?

Koreans just don’t eat BBQ’d meat we eat so many tasty vegetables and roots from the mountains promoting good health. We do love out meat but we also eat a lot more than 5 vegies a day!!! It is true we are not big fans of Lamb but for those who have travelled overseas are getting adventurous and giving it a go!

What difference do you think A Taste of Harmony can make?

Bringing people together with food is common in all cultures and a Taste of Harmony is a special time when we can remind ourselves of the importance to enjoy the small things in life and not work too hard.

Why is this important to you?

Food makes people one, we all need to eat to live and this is a part of life and this is why we should gather together with the same interest.

Has anyone from a culture different to your own influenced your style of cooking? How?

Every country has beautiful flavours and style so I cannot chose and each country has developed their own palates. I respect each food cultures and try to understand and learn. The bottom line is you need to understand the flavours of each ingredient you use in your cooking.

When Australia’s workforce sits down to share their meals together for A Taste of Harmony, what do you hope they will talk about?

Korean BBQ and not talk about work just get to know each other with small chit chat.

How can Australia’s workforce make their work lunches more interesting?

Explore and just try and combine! For eg. In Korean cuisine we have a dish relating back to the war days called “Budae Kimchi Jungol”. This dish was made from the USA and Korean army troops by combining everything they could find to include in this kimchi based soup.

If we had a peek in your fridge at home, what would we find?

Eggs, locally made cheese, dried fish, icecream and a good old Aussie Beer!

Do you have any personal stories or experiences that demonstrate the value of cultural diversity?

I had the pleasure of working with Malay born chef Cheung Liew for OzAsia where we put on a banquet of Malaysian and Korean foods where we hosted a 5 course dinner titled “From Penang to Seoul”. Our guests were treated to a Korean and Malay dish for each course.

"Food brings people together in all cultures and we are so lucky in Australia that we have so many different traditions in our backyard."

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