November 13, 2015
Mikkeller Bar Seoul Cuisine
Chef Taejun Eom is the Head Chef of Mikkeller Seoul. His cuisine is focused on bringing together his traditional Korean background with his Western culinary training, with an emphasis of creating Korean tapas that pair perfectly with Mikkeller beer.
A native of South Korea, he began his culinary journey while working at a Chinese restaurant of a 5-star hotel in Seoul. During this time, he took classes at a local culinary school on weekends. The experience inspired Taejun to learn to cook professionally. Even while completing his mandatory military services in Korea, he delved into cooking books. He was particularly influenced by The Professional Chef by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
The passion led him to matriculate into the renowned CIA, where he was introduced to the intricacies of fine Western cooking. Months before his graduation, he was given the opportunity to work as a one-day apprentice at Eleven Madison Park. His talent and energy were immediate recognized by the restaurant's chef who offered Taejon a job even though he was still a student. For 16 months, he had gained valuable experience at the 3 star Michelin-rated restaurant.
At Eleven Madison, he learned the valuable lessons that the dishes must contain not only chefs' skills but also their philosophy. This led Taejon on a soul-searching journey across the United States, during which he experienced a variety of menus from famous restaurants. He sought to establish his own philosophy that he would like to imbue in his own kitchen. His answer to these questions was to bring together the Korean and Western culture, bridging his background with academic discipline in European cuisine in one place. In realizing this goal, he returned to Korea and joined Mikkeller Seoul.
Beet is prepared in multiple ways in this dish. Beets are glazed, smoked, honey-pureed and jellied in Spontanbeetroot. By playing with a variation on a single ingredient, Beet Salad harmonizes a variety of texture in a single dish. Pairing with Spontanbeetroot is recommended, which will further emphasize the salad's flavors through the beer that was used to prepare the beets.
Pork Belly is cured then sous vide-cooked with pork stock for 24 hours, which yield a juicy but tender, rich and salty slab of meat. Sautéed kimchi, cheese and walnuts brings out pork belly’s roasted aroma and flavor. The fattiness of the pork is balanced with the grassiness and the sourness of the arugula puree. Barrel-aged, full-bodied beers are recommended as they play off nicely with the pork’s delicious melted fat.
Cockles, in-season during November-March, boast their chewiness and sweetness this time of the year. Cockles are complemented with a sauce that use the traditional Korean chill pepper sauce and red vinegar reduction topped with cheese that enhance the flavor. It is also accompanied by sesame leaves that add fresh grassy notes. Refreshing beers such as the Vesterbro Pilsner are recommended so that they can balance out the spiciness of the dish.