Borscht in Busan
My friend and I took a trip to Busan last month to visit the aquarium and try out the new bullet train (KTX) to Seoul
One thing that struck me as we walked around Busan station was the abundance of Russian signage, and I set out to find some good Russian food. Walking along Shanghai Street across from Busan Station, we saw more Russian shops than Chinese, and one, called USSURI turned out to be the treasure trove we were searching for.
It’s a cozy restaurant/coffee shop/bar, but seems to have a regular clientele among the Central Asian expats. They sell pastries on the street in front of the shop, as well as a dense, dry, rye bread, perfect for sopping soup.
Prices are moderate, and the menu, in Korean, Russian, and English, offers soups, steak, salad, dumplings, and dessert, with prices ranging from 4,000 to 10,000 won. A plate of buttered dumplings (meat, potato, or vegetable) costs 4,000 won, as does a bowl of borscht with bread and a couple of garnishes.
Borscht is a slightly sour-sweet soup usually made with pork stock and vegetables, seasoned heavily with dill and bay leaves. It is usually served with a dollop of sour cream in the bowl. I know of at least three varieties of borscht.
My mother makes it Mennonite style with canned tomatoes, cabbage and good pork stock. There is also a Mennonite “Summer Borscht” which uses beet or sorrel greens. The Ukrainian version, especially common around my hometown in Manitoba uses the actual beet root, and is a dark red. According to Wikipedia, there are other varieties from across Russia, Eastern Europe, and even a Hong-Kong style borscht, which resembles the Mennonite version of my ancestors,
For recipes, see Maggie’s excellent Mennonite recipe site, or for the Ukrainian version, look here.
It is possible to find beets occasionally in Emart, but they are so prohibitively priced (3,000 won for half a bulb) that they are only used as salad garnish in restaurants such as Sannae(산네) in Sokcho.
To make a good broth, buy some bones from your local butcher. Beef bones are prohibitively expensive in Korea, so go with pork. You can point to the animal diagram to show which part of the animal you’d like. Korean Potato soup (Kamja tang 감자탕 /hae jeong guk 해정국) is usually made from the spine, but for borscht, it’s better to use leg bones and the like. You should be able to get enough for a good soup for about 5,000 won.
The bones need to be soaked overnight in cold water to let a lot of the blood out. The next morning, cover the bones with water, and then bring slowly to a boil. There will be a lot of coagulated blood in that broth, too, so dump it out and rinse the bones again. Now you’re ready to make some good soup. Boil slowly on the smallest burner at the lowest setting all day, and then set it in a cool place overnight. The next morning skim off all the fat, take the meat off the bones, and then go ahead with making your soup.
Real borscht is just a bit sour and a bit sweet. You can use all sorts of things to get the flavour right—lemon juice, any variety of vinegar, pickle juice, etc. For sweeteners, sugar is fine, but you could try a bit of honey or Korean cooking syrup. Finally, if you can’t find the sour cream (it’s available at Hannam Mart in Seoul in a big 1l tub, which you can use as starter to make your own), use some plain unsweetened yogurt (You can make your own by mixing one bottle of drinking yogurt with 1 liter plus 1 small “bonus” 185 ml carton of milk, and then placing in a yogurt maker, an oven with the internal light on, or on a really warm ondol floor overnight).
For the best commercially available (beet) borscht you’ll still have to head over to G’News in Oakbank, Manitoba, Canada or my mom’s place. In Korea, though, head over to Shanghai Street and indulge yourself!
New Contest—Find the Russian Restaurant!!!
Show me a restaurant in Sokcho that serves Russian food, including Borscht, I will treat you to it!