The following happened in the present-day Haeju area of South Hwanghae Province during the closing years of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392).
A low-grade government clerk was informed early in the morning that Japanese pirates were making an invasion upon the area. Before leaving for the Suyangsan Fort, he ordered a kitchen maid to prepare meals and follow him.
The maid hurried with making rice and several dishes and put them in a wooden basin. She asked a servant to carry it, and rushed towards the densely wooded fort with a soup pottery in her hands, together with him.
After the battle, the clerk, who felt hungry, came down from the fort with soldiers and asked the maid to bring the meals.
Looking at the rice which was all jumbled with dishes, he scolded the maid. But a soldier, who could not alleviate hunger, took a spoonful of the mixed food.
And he told his colleague that the food tasted good. Then, the clerk, too, had it and expressed his admiration. He called all the soldiers, who ate up the food in a blink.
Since then, whenever the Japanese pirates intruded the area, the locals would make rice mixed with spices, vegetables and meat, etc. and carry it to the battlefield.
This is the history of the famous Haeju Kyoban, a specialty of South Hwanghae Province.
It is prepared by covering hardboiled rice with meat, various edible greens, thinly-cut fried egg, roasted laver, etc., and pouring soup before eating. Later, this food was widely spread to many other areas.
It is said that the bracken growing in Mt Suyang must be included in the food to preserve its peculiar taste.
The rice hash, inscribed as a local intangible cultural heritage, is widely used in the dietary life of the Korean people.
There is Okgye Restaurant in the Munsu area of Pyongyang, which specializes in Haeju Kyoban.
Categories: Culinary Culture of Korea