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To celebrate the launch of chef Jay Morjaria's new menu, he talks to us about the inspiration behind it – Korean anju.

Anju means drinking food in Korea – it refers to snacks that are paired with drinks throughout the night and hit all the tastebuds: sweet, salty and sour.”

These changing pickles from farms in Kent and Sussex currently feature cauliflower, mooli and cucumber, but might switch to onions and tomatoes as the seasons progress. Jay has used different brines to coax out different flavours: chilli spice for some, sweet and sour for others.

“We make our gim-bugak in house using gim, or nori, sheets coated in a seasoned rice flour batter - chapssal-pul - and fried until super crisp. The radish kimchi relish served alongside is both sweet and sour, my favourite combination of flavours”

“This is our version of a popular banchan in Korea: gaji bokkeum, or stir-fried aubergines. We dress ours in a coconut and lime ssamjang and top with a delicious panko, garlic and coriander crumb,” explains Jay. While not traditionally Korean, the flavour profiles of coconut and lime have become extremely popular in recent years with the younger generation.

Jay’s carefully assembled crudo changes depending on the catch of the day. His Tabasco ponzu dipping sauce is not strictly Korean, but he explains: “Vinegar and spice are key components of dipping sauces in Korea, where a heavy umami flavour profile is preferred - this is something similar.”

“The thing that excites me most about JAE is that we get to deep-dive into regional Korean food, highlight unknown dishes and bring back some lost recipes,”

Hunje-ori is a little-known smoked duck recipe from Ulsan, a city situated in the Yeongnam region, in the South East of South Korea," says Jay, "I've paired it with another rare dish called morkovcha, a carrot 'kimchi' of sorts. It was created by a diaspora called Koryo-saram, who were Koreans that relocated to Russia and post-Soviet countries. The sweetness and spiciness of the carrots pairs really well with the smokiness of the duck.”

“Bibimbap is a great dish - the name means ‘to mix rice’, and it’s fun to get stuck in and mix up the elements. I describe it as a flavour explosion as there are lots of different tastes, with a hit of spice from some and not from others. We had lots of fun curing the different elements, meaning that no two tastes and textures are the same,”

“I look at Korean food through the eyes of British-born Indian guy,” says Jay. “There are lots of big flavours involved, but I like the idea of these big flavours being refined and controlled.” In the spirit of traditional Korean desserts, which tend to include a touch of savouriness, Jay has created a miso-spiked caramel to accompany chocolate ganache and puffed rice. It’s a reinterpretation of gangjeong, a popular children’s sweet of deep fried rice coated with colourful spice powders. 

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