Grits in Korea

This is a blog supplement to my article appearing in The Korea Herald this week.

Wow, it’s taken me two and a half years to get around to sharing one of the finds that was one of the reasons for starting the Food Journal.

During the short stint where I tolerated–lived–in Seoul, I lived down the street from a great pizza place and a smattering of Chinese grocery stores. This was near Bongcheong Station on the Green Line. The pizza place is, unfortunately, gone. Yet the Chinese groceries are still there. I went by there recently to do research and picture taking for an upcoming SEOUL Magazine article.

The bigger store, which isn’t saying much, is a lot of fun. It’s like exploring the Asian markets back home. It has all the exotic stuff that makes you think, “Ahh… Asia!”

It has freezers with Chinese sausage and coolers with Chinese beer and fresh cilantro. The spice selection is great, as well as the bottled sauces and liquors. The big find, for me, was the dried corn in various forms. One of the forms is a course grind, similar to grits and polenta.

When I saw this in 2005, I picked it up. It was only 2,000 won. I cooked it like traditional Southern grits and–well, it worked!

If you can get your paws on these, this is how I cook them, based on The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.

Garlic Cheese Grits (serves 2)

1 cup Milk
1 cup Water
1 clove Garlic, chopped
1/2 cup Ground Corn Meal (Grits)
Salt (to taste)
Black Pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup Cheese, grated (Cheddar, Monterey–any semi-hard cheese–not Parmesan, Brie or–geez–sliced cheese)
A Big Ole Hunk o’ Butter

1. Combine the Milk, Water and Garlic and bring to a boil.

2. Rinse the Ground Corn and add it to the pot with a healthy pinch of Salt.

3. Reduce heat to medium and STIR!!! Stir constantly for around five minutes, until it starts smelling, um, corny.

4. Reduce heat to simmer, like barely a flame. Let it sit for fifteen to twenty minutes. Stir every few minutes or so to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

5. Turn off the heat. Add the Cheese, Black Pepper and Butter.

6. Eat.

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8 thoughts on “Grits in Korea”

  1. Only one problem:
    You do not make grits from yellow corn!
    Take it from a sometime southerner – grits are properly speaking made from hominy (alkalized), not yellow corn. Only a yankee would call polenta “grits”. For shame! It would be lovely if there were in fact grits available in Korea, and I thank you deeply for contributing a delicious and acceptable *substitute* for grits, but lets not go around thinking that polenta and grits are the same thing, sweetie!
    Next thing you’ll be telling us that Southerners drink their tea hot and unsweetened . . .

    Reply
  2. Honestly, I always preferred the yellow grits growing up over the white hominy. And I’ve shown many times here that I am far from being a purist. According to Wikipedia, “grits” are made from corn and “hominy grits” are made from hominy.

    And to quote fellow Souterner and food expert Alton Brown:

    “Although there are many, many differences between here—the Southern United States—and here—Northern Italy—the absorption rate of water into a tiny grain of cornmeal is not one of them. And that means that grits and polenta are exactly the same thing.”

    Reply
  3. Alton Brown is a picky, picky man . . .(incidentally, I once took an anthropology class from the lady who occassionally shows up on his show as an expert). But it can’t be said that color is the only difference, nor that it doesn’t matter to Southerners. Somewhere out there, the lunchladies of my college, brave souls that they are, are sharpening their cleavers and preparing for a trip to the land of kimchi to take their revenge . . .be careful, my friend!^^

    Reply

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