Become a Korean Masterchef with a cooking class in Busan

Busan cooking class

“Smelling and tasting is the heart and soul of what Korea is. As much as pop culture wants to globalize, food is the best way for Koreans to share their soul and culture […] You eat who you are. No one describes who you are like your food.”

– Hooni Kim, Korean celebrity chef 

On their recent trip to Busan, our travel consultants Jon, Karin and Aaron were lucky enough to test-drive the wonderful Bapsang cooking class. 

Busan is Seoul’s seaside cousin: slightly smaller, slightly cooler, slightly more footloose and fancy-free. It’s famous among Koreans for its long, sandy beaches and laid-back coastal character, and among foreigners for its colourful Gamcheon district (recognisable from a zillion Instagram snaps). 

Getting under the skin of such a big city on a short trip is always a challenge. Gamcheon is pretty, but it feels somehow unreal — and eating at restaurants and hotels for breakfast, lunch and dinner won’t give you an idea of how the average Busanite lives. 

That’s where the Bapsang cooking class comes in. This introduction to Korean cuisine is an amazing short-cut right into the heart of life in Busan, with an expert chef as your instructor and guide.  

How a cooking class in Busan works

Cooking class in Busan

Meet Minkyung, or Min for short: your Korean cooking guide. Min runs the class from her apartment, which means that in addition to a crash course in Korean cooking, you’re getting a privileged peek into what life is like in a real Korean home. 

Min has travelled all over the world, spent her career in hospitality and studied traditional Korean cuisine — and it shows. She’s a real pro, with a deep knowledge and love of the local food culture and ingredients. She’s even a certified temple chef! 

After a welcome drink, you’ll begin by taste-testing and learning about some Korean sauces: how they’re made, where they’re from and what they’re used for. (Min actually makes her own soy sauce, which shows no small measure of dedication to her craft). 

Once you’re au fait with the condiments, it’s on to the cooking — but not before you don your white, pinafore-dress-style traditional cooking apron. (Don’t worry, there are ‘regular’ aprons if this is beneath your dignity). 

The class takes place standing around a kitchen island set-up, with mini hobs and cooking stations to be shared between you. Min guides you through every step of the process, offering helpful tips and explaining substitutions you could use in place of difficult-to-find ingredients. She is a mine of information — not just about food, but Korean culture in general — so be sure to take the opportunity to pick her brain. 

Cooking class in Busan

Our gang cooked a three-dish menu of seaweed soup, bibimbap and pancakes: all staples of Korean cooking that you’ll find throughout the country. 

Once you’re finished with your labours, you’ll sit down to eat Korean-style: on cushions on the apartment floor, with your dishes arranged on a personal-sized ‘bapsang’ table. 

On our visit, Min provided extra accoutrements like green plum syrup with soda water, pickles to go with the food, and traditional home-made sweets for afterwards.  

The whole experience lasts about three hours, which is a really nice amount of time to dig into the local food culture without getting overwhelmed. You’ll get the recipes for your dishes to take home with you, and a cute certificate to prove that you’re now a Master Chef. 

We’d recommend the Bapsang cooking class to anybody visiting Busan, but if that’s not enough, we have an entire trip designed around food and drink: A Taste of Japan & South Korea. 

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