Yi yeol chi yeol (Yi yŏl ch’i yŏl) – not just for Korean dishes!

When I was in Korea, I learned that there was a good reason I loved hot food in the summer: it was curing like with like. Pyongyang nengmyeon (cold noodles) in the middle of winter? Makes sense! 1 Flaming hot … well, so much of Korean food is red, hot, and spicy, that you can pick your favourite dish and it will fit the bill for beating the summer heat by sweating it out.

Today for lunch, I improvised a bibimbap with some below-par jalapeños in a failed attempt to up the spice-level. (What’s wrong with peppers in Pennsylvania?). A good dollop of Gochujang came to the rescue, mixed with a hint of sesame oil and soy sauce. Veggies were chopped up cucumber, sweet pepper, lettuce, and sprinkling of spring onion, over a few scoops of cold rice (too lazy to microwave) and I put a little fried egg on top. I forgot all about the toasted sea weed I have in the cupboard 😭

No photographic evidence of my lunch, too tasty to stop for a photo!
“비빔밥 – Bibimbap” by jamiefrater is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

But it was dinner when I surprised myself. I still had a nice little savoy cabbage hiding in the fridge, and it sure wasn’t going to get better by just staying there. Yet I associated this particular vegetable with winter stews and hearty, warming dishes. Would I dare…?

Apparently, yi yeol chi yeol also works for Flemish winter dishes: I boiled the cabbage leaves for ±10 mins, then rinsed what I would eat in cold water, and chopped them in smaller pieces. (Oh, take the big midrib (is that what you call it?) out before boiling). Then I fried up some uncured bacon pancetta cubes, added the savoy cabbage and seasoned with “pezo” (family abbreviation for pepper and salt, or peper en zout) and copious amounts of nutmeg. Finishing touch was to throw a nice chunk of real butter in there for the final minute or so. None of that plastic margarine stuff for me, thankyouverymuch.

A big white plate with a blue circle edge, piled with fried savoy cabbage speckled with tiny pink pancetta cubes, and on the righthand side a few baby potatoes in the skin
Savoy cabbage with pancetta.

Served with cute little baby potatoes, that little winter dish hit the spot on a day the temperature officially hit for the first time this year 91F/33C. I scoffed down this little mountain of cabbage and taters without any trouble. For somebody who spontaneously combusts as soon as the temperatures hit 80F/26C, that’s pretty good evidence that “heat cures heat”. Now if only I could find some jalapeños with some real fire in them in this Commonwealth I might survive this summer… Suggestions in the comments, please!


  1. Incidentally, the only times I’ve had digestive issues with cold noodles was in summer!

2 thoughts on “Yi yeol chi yeol (Yi yŏl ch’i yŏl) – not just for Korean dishes!

  1. Nonna

    Njamnjam…niet veel nodig om iets lekkers met veel groenten op je bord te toveren. Creatief zijn ook in keuken is top.👍

    Reply

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