Korean Eating: Cheongsong’s Iron Fix
We were touring around Cheongsong, Korea with the Korea Tourism Organization to view the autumn foliage in Juwangsan National Park, pick apples at the Cheongsong Apple Festival and even paint our very own unique white Korean porcelain bowls and now we were off to eat and sustain ourselves with some healthy eats famous in the region.
Usually when one travels, whether or not the water is drinkable is a question that is high on the list of queries to be answered before departing. If the water is not, more money for buying bottled water and probably some medicine for the side effects of accidentally consuming some water should be packed. Heading down to Cheongsong, Korea, this was not a question that had topped the list, nor should it have but apparently the water is something to be talked about.
The water in Cheongsong does have a peculiarity unlike water in the rest of the country though in that it comes naturally carbonated and packed with iron.
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Though carbonated, it does not come out tasting like sprite or cider, it’s just bubbly water without the sugar or flavor added. It is said to be great for treating anemia, skin issues and digestive disorders. People from across the country flock to the area to enjoy the mineral spring spas and to eat a unique dish called dalgi baeksook, or a spring chicken boiled in the mineral water, to take advantage of the healthy benefits. Soaking in mineral springs sounded up my alley though we didn’t have time for it, so the next best thing was tasting this spring chicken that got to soak in it, I guess.
The special water is called dalgi yaksu and baeksook means boiled chicken. The water that is high in iron tenderizes the chicken and once the rice is added it turns a slight bluish hue and becomes a bit stickier than normal. Ginseng, turmeric, and other fresh herbs are added to create a delicious and fulfilling meal. Add to the table some fresh mountain vegetables, other produce from the surrounding county and it makes for an amazing meal that truly shows off why Cheongsong meets the requirements of a Slow City.
A ‘Slow City’ refers to an area where the natural environment and traditions are well preserved, and the residents pursue sustainable development in harmony with nature. Back in 2011, Cheongsong was given this well deserved designation from the Cittaslow International Organization. Everywhere you look the residents have maintained their traditions from preserving their white porcelain producing history and continuing to harvest delicious apples to eating and living a healthy and happy lifestyle.
This city is truly off the beaten path, but worth a healthy visit to experience Korea of yore.
Visitors to the area can also head up into Juwangsan National Park, the smallest national park in Korea, but still containing some beautiful rocky cliff views and autumn foliage as well as waterfalls. The Jusanji Lake is also a popular spot to take in some views and relish in the clean air and natural beauty of the pine trees that Cheongsong is named after.
For a unique stay in the area, check out Chungwondang Hanok Houses to really experience traditional comfort in this beautiful area and then head to the WellBeing House to eat up some healthy blue chicken!
Well Being House
356-31 Bugok-ri Cheongsong-eub Cheongsong-gun Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea
경상북도 청송군 청송읍 부곡리 356-31
Hours: Every day, 11:00am ~ 8:30pm