How to Shop at a Korean Supermarket

Adina explores the aisles of Korean food in HMart!

Released on 4/26/2017

Credits

Starring: Adina Steiman
Director: Vince Cross
Cinematographer: Ben Dewey
Camera Operator: Kevin Dynia
Editor: Dana Cataldo

Transcript

00:02
Wow, the entire anatomical form of the octopus is intact.
00:07
I'm just gonna go for it.
00:11
Yeah, I'm gonna be chewing for a while.
00:18
Yes, chances are you too will be tempted
00:20
to put an entire baby octopus in your mouth
00:22
when you come to H-Mart,
00:24
a growing chain of Korean supermarkets
00:26
with locations all across the country.
00:29
That's because while the store is filled
00:30
with beloved staples like mountains
00:32
of bulgogi for barbecue
00:34
and miles of kimchi,
00:35
the real action happens when you deep-dive into the aisles,
00:39
discovering just how much you love
00:40
gochujang-marinated squid,
00:42
crunchy seaweed snacks,
00:44
and the messiest, tastiest, fried chicken ever.
00:47
It's time to get lost in the supermarket.
00:52
So, you look over here.
00:54
Looks like just an assortment of romaine lettuce
00:57
and other types of greens.
00:59
But, then you start to get into
01:01
these really interesting leaves.
01:03
This is perilla leaves.
01:05
Which has this amazing, kind of like,
01:08
minty-licoricey aroma.
01:11
They're kind of related to shiso leaves
01:13
and in Korean cooking, they're used in pork stews
01:17
and sometimes marinated in soy sauce
01:19
and used as a vegetable side dish in their banchan.
01:23
You have mallow leaves.
01:25
Crown daisy leaves,
01:26
which almost look like carrot leaves,
01:29
but have kind of more minerally flavor than spinach does.
01:34
These are the moments that make me so, so happy to be
01:37
in places like this.
01:39
In the fresh produce section
01:41
you have something that does not look fresh at all.
01:43
That looks, in fact, very, very old
01:45
and slightly moldy.
01:46
But it actually isn't.
01:47
It's dried persimmon,
01:49
so just like with dried figs,
01:50
the white powdery stuff you see on the surface is sugar.
01:54
And this is a common ingredient in Korean desserts,
01:57
or you could just eat it as a snack.
02:01
Here, durian is kept in the freezer container,
02:05
not just because it needs to be kept frozen,
02:07
but because the aroma of it
02:09
is so powerful that if left unfrozen
02:12
and out in the open,
02:13
it would permeate the entire store.
02:16
Most supermarkets do not have a cabbage section.
02:19
This gentleman here is unloading the serious napa cabbage.
02:24
You might grab one of these
02:25
to make a very small batch of kimchi.
02:27
Kimchi is made at home in very large containers,
02:30
so this is like an intensive cabbage operation.
02:33
It's kind of like, woah.
02:39
I was just going to talk about how
02:42
this type of flat cabbage stacks really well
02:44
and isn't as rolly-polly and yeah...
02:48
This is all of the other things,
02:50
well, some of the other things
02:52
that you need to make kimchi.
02:53
In this case, salted, wild shrimp.
02:56
Now, these don't look like shrimp, in the jar,
02:58
but if you come in pretty close,
03:00
you can see lots of tiny little eyeballs,
03:03
because these are tiny, little baby shrimp.
03:05
And another thing that you generally put in your kimchi
03:09
when you're fermenting it
03:10
is this fermented, sweet rice sauce,
03:13
which is basically the food that the bacteria feeds on
03:16
as it ferments the kimchi.
03:18
To make your kimchi a reality,
03:20
you need one of these
03:22
and they've got them here.
03:24
These are the jugs that they ferment the kimchi in.
03:27
If you can see back here,
03:29
there's actually even a ceramic vat
03:32
that you can put your kimchi in.
03:33
H-Mart supplies all the ingredients you need
03:35
to make kimchi yourself,
03:37
but it also serves as a showcase
03:39
for the insane variety of kimchi that you'll find in Korea.
03:42
The only challenge is discovering your favorite.
03:45
So what we're looking at here
03:48
is a shocking variety of kimchies.
03:52
Young radish kimchi.
03:54
There's also vegan kimchi,
03:55
which is a respectable lifestyle choice.
03:59
White kimchi.
04:01
So, this is the less spicy,
04:03
more quickly fermented kimchi
04:05
so it's crunchier, a little bit more salad-like.
04:08
Chive kimchi.
04:09
It practically looks like chives floating in tomato sauce.
04:14
Okay.
04:18
Chives still have this slight crunchiness to them.
04:20
Definitely get some heat in the back of the throat
04:23
and a very powerful kind of oniony, garlicky punch to it.
04:27
Not many people know that in Korea,
04:29
there is a tradition of eating raw fish as well
04:33
and the way that it varies from the Japanese tradition
04:36
is really fascinating.
04:37
You can't exactly see the differences here,
04:40
but the fish tends to be cut a little bit more coarsely.
04:44
It's served with a kind of gochujang
04:47
just like barbecue would be.
04:49
And then here we have a rainbow of fish eggs.
04:53
Got everything from squid and tree mushroom salad
04:57
to baby octopus salad.
05:00
Forget about fancy, flavorless slabs of filet.
05:03
Here in H-Mart's meat department,
05:05
the focus is on extra fatty, extra chewy,
05:08
extra flavorful cuts.
05:09
Often pre-marinated to become
05:11
even more delicious than before.
05:14
The Korean barbecue tradition is extensive
05:17
and it is fully represented here at H-Mart.
05:20
This practically looks like extra thick strips of bacon,
05:24
but they've been slice through like this
05:27
so that the fat can kind of render out more evenly
05:30
and it gets extra crispy and delicious.
05:33
They've got your fan of meat here,
05:35
so this is everything from wagyu short rib.
05:39
Some other cuts that I'm not immediately familiar with.
05:42
Lifter meat.
05:44
I don't know what that is,
05:45
but between the marbling
05:46
and the tender little slices,
05:48
I predict intense tenderness and deliciousness.
05:52
You've got your tongue.
05:54
Usually in supermarkets, it's really hard to find bones.
05:57
And bones are so good for soup,
05:59
in this case, pork back bones cut up
06:03
into just the right size to go into a pot.
06:06
Super-useful.
06:07
And ending, appropriately enough, on tails.
06:11
All the things you love in Korean barbecue,
06:13
usually you can choose marinated
06:14
or un-marinated for your meat.
06:17
In this case, you don't even have to marinate it yourself.
06:19
You can choose from the rib eye,
06:21
the bulgogi, short ribs,
06:23
red eye steak, I kind of want one of each.
06:27
Jowe meat, how often do you find jowe meat
06:32
sliced, marinated, ready for you to barbecue.
06:35
And gizzard too.
06:36
Continuing the love of the chew.
06:38
(upbeat music)
06:48
Sometimes, things just kind of blow your world wide open
06:52
like fish meat sausage with cheese.
06:55
I've never heard of this before.
06:57
It looks kind of like something you would feed to kids.
07:00
And, apparently, it converts into a piggy bank
07:02
once you're done using it.
07:06
For a culture in love with all things fishy and fishcake,
07:11
I can see this being a really popular kids snack.
07:14
And a strange cross between American cheese and fish.
07:19
Never experienced anything like this before.
07:21
Yes, ramen comes from Japan,
07:23
but the Korean varieties here are the perfect showcase
07:26
for the country's love affair with seafood and spice.
07:29
Basically, an aisle-long valentine
07:31
to the joys of a fast noodle soup.
07:34
Guys, it's a wall of ramen.
07:36
It just keeps going.
07:39
It starts out with some varieties
07:41
that you might be familiar with
07:42
and quickly morphs into a parade of udon and spiciness.
07:48
Fish cake, there's some oysters in that one.
07:51
Soybean paste.
07:53
If you need your chapagetti, they've got it.
07:56
But since I don't have a hot plate
07:57
and a sauce pan with me, I'm headed to the snack aisle,
08:01
where the ocean theme continues.
08:03
Crispy seaweed snack with almonds.
08:06
Beautiful presentation here.
08:07
The almonds are kind of layered in between
08:10
kind of like a sandwich.
08:14
So it's nutty from the sesame oil
08:15
that they usually toast the seaweed with.
08:19
Obviously, also nutty with almonds
08:21
and I'm seeing some whole sesame seeds in there too.
08:25
The first thing that hits the table at a Korean restaurant
08:28
is banchan, the little dishes of appetizers
08:31
that add a rainbow of color
08:32
and intense flavor to everything else you eat
08:35
and you learn just how vast
08:37
the world of banchan really is.
08:39
The other beauty of a Korean supermarket
08:42
is the built-in selection of ready-made banchan.
08:46
Everything here is so delicious.
08:48
I'm gonna start off with these adorable, small clams.
08:52
This is probably a really bad idea
08:54
to try to eat in the middle of a supermarket,
08:56
but they look so irresistible.
09:03
I'm realizing the worst thing to ever try to eat on camera.
09:09
The varieties continue, so here,
09:12
level of pan-fried fish, actually fish cake.
09:18
Not too spicy,
09:19
even though there's a fair amount of gochugaru,
09:22
the Korean red pepper flakes, on it.
09:25
It's just really good.
09:27
And then, you morph over to a salted, raw section.
09:31
Everything from small clams and squid
09:33
to a mixture of pollock,
09:37
also marinated in a chili-type sauce.
09:43
Delicious, chewy.
09:44
The chili sauce is basically
09:46
conquers every possible type of seafood
09:49
you can throw at it.
09:51
And the seafood flavor goes really well with it.
09:54
Many regions of Korea have brutally cold winters,
09:57
but the teas Koreans drink to warm their bellies
09:59
have nothing to do with Lipton in a tea bag.
10:02
You're gonna see a lot of teas made from things
10:04
that you never even knew you can make tea from,
10:07
like corn silk.
10:09
You get into some really fascinating varieties
10:11
like roasted adlay tea.
10:13
If you enjoy buckwheat,
10:14
why not drink tea made from buckwheat?
10:16
Pumpkin and yam tea, walnut tea.
10:19
Mushroom codonopsis lanceolata yam gruel.
10:23
I mean, I can even imagine the levels
10:25
of wellness you would achieve drinking this tea.
10:28
Right alongside H-Marts impressive selection of ingredients
10:31
is a mini food court,
10:33
where fish-shaped, Japanese snacks
10:34
stuffed with red bean paste
10:36
mingle with other hybrid treats
10:38
that have now become classics in Korea.
10:40
Like double-fried chicken,
10:41
drenched in honey or chili sauce
10:43
and a uniquely tangy take on the spicy tuna roll.
10:46
Thankfully, there's an array
10:48
of classic Korean simmered stews too.
10:51
After all this shopping, I'm ready for a snack.
10:53
You know, just like a little nibble of something.
10:55
So, I went to the barbecue chicken section
10:58
and came back with this amazing assortment of fried chicken.
11:03
Half regular, honey-basted fried chicken
11:06
and half doused in this sweet Korean spicy chili sauce.
11:10
Fried twice.
11:14
It somehow manages to be super-saucy
11:17
and really crunchy at the same time.
11:20
It's really great.
11:22
[Customer] What brand you got?
11:23
It's the barbecue.
11:24
[Customer] Oh barbecue there?
11:25
Yeah.
11:26
One side honey, one side Korean spicy.
11:28
Can I try it?
11:29
Sure, please.
11:30
Ah, that's two pieces, thank you.
11:33
Sure.
11:34
Kimchi, in addition to being kind of like a pickle
11:36
that's eaten alongside foods,
11:37
is also used as the primary ingredient
11:40
in this jjigae, which is a stew.
11:44
So the kimchi basically permeates the broth
11:46
and turns the whole thing into this kind of spicy,
11:48
tangy cauldron of flavor.
11:55
Actually, I'm seeing some little chunks
11:57
of pork belly in here.
11:59
It's actually a really, really healthy, invigorating thing.
12:03
It's my favorite thing to eat when I'm having a cold.
12:05
And last, but not least, kimbap.
12:08
So, this is a spicy tuna kimbap.
12:11
This is kind of like the Korean version of a maki roll.
12:14
So this is cooked tuna, usually canned tuna.
12:17
You've got the yellow pickled radish there
12:19
for some crunch and flavor.
12:21
In this case some cucumber,
12:23
some carrots in there too,
12:24
looks like some scallions in the tuna
12:26
and probably some spicy mayonnaise
12:28
just because that's always a good idea.
12:32
Spicy, pickley,
12:33
a little bit fishy from the tuna.
12:35
It's a delicious snack or a lunch
12:38
to take with you.
12:39
It's just a uniquely Korean version of sushi
12:42
that I'm absolutely obsessed with.
12:45
Yes, after my light snack break,
12:48
I went back to the aisles of H-Mart and shopped some more,
12:51
because that's the thing about Korean food.
12:53
The more you discover about it,
12:55
the more you fall in love with it.
12:56
I, for one, have almost run out
12:58
of the seaweed snacks I picked up on this trip.
13:00
And when I finally do,
13:02
I know where I'll be headed to discover my next obsession.