How To Make Steak Ramdon From The Movie Parasite
This signature instant noodle dish is the height of comfort food, and Chef Edward Bugia recreates it just for you. Watch the video
Warning: Parasite (2019) spoilers ahead
Do you remember that scene when the Park family camping trip is cancelled because of the storm, so the Kim family panics to get out of the house just as the Parks arrive? As each of the Kims scramble to get out undetected, Chung-sook, the mother-slash-housekeeper cooks the Steak Ram-Don, a dish requested by Mrs. Park for her son, Da-song.
That scene was the turning point of the whole movie, when the light, humorous tones of its first half finally takes a darker, suspense-filled turn. Many of the elements used by Director Bong Joon-ho in this sequence masterfully show the parallels between the wealthy life of the Parks and the miserable status of the Kims.
Parasite has already won numerous awards from the biggest award-giving bodies in the world. It’s the first Korean film to win the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and it’s the first non-English film to ever win Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards — cementing its place in film history. Parasite is one of the greatest South Korean films ever made; the whole movie is a masterpiece of clever storytelling, subconscious metaphors, engaging plot twists and character performances.
But what is the relevance of Mrs. Kim’s iconic ram-don dish to Parasite’s status as an excellent film? The thing with Parasite is that every single element that director Bong Joon-ho used has significance in the overall message and goal of the film. The ram-don scene was a genius way to further emphasize the class difference between the two families in the film.
If ram-don sounds like a made-up dish, that’s because it is. The word “ram-don” was actually invented for the film by Darcy Paquet, an American residing in Korea, who translated the film’s subtitles into English. Non-Korean speakers don’t realize that Mrs. Park actually asked for “jjapaguri,” a popular dish that’s considered comfort food in South Korea. It’s made with two kinds of noodles.
Jjapaguri (also spelled chapaguri) in its most basic form is a combination of two Korean instant noodles by Nongshim: Jjapagetti (or chapagetti) and Neoguri. Ergo, “Jjapa” plus “Guri,” results in “Jjapaguri.” If you’re not familiar with these Korean noodles, Jjapagetti is Chinese-inspired jajang ramen noodles, while Neoguri is a Japanese-style udon in spicy Korean seafood broth.
Neoguri is particularly interesting because it’s a “loophole” for Koreans who want to enjoy Japanese-style udon without actually purchasing a Japanese brand instant noodle. Their hesitance is due to tensions between Korea and Japan that still linger from the time of Japan’s colonial rule over Korea in the early 20th century.
To make jjapaguri more understandable to non-Koreans speakers as a dish that essentially combines two types of instant noodles, Darcy came up with the term “ram-don,” since Jjapagetti was essentially a ramen, and Neoguri was technically an udon.
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But what is the significance of the ram-don in the film? Jjapaguri is a normal dish in Korea that can be enjoyed by anyone because it’s basically just that—two instant noodles combined. It’s very close to how we would enjoy chilimansi pancit canton with fried egg on days when we crave comfort food. The big difference in Parasite is that Mrs. Park requested for “hanu” to be added to the ram-don. And while the English translation for hanu is merely sirloin steak, that is actually an understatement. Hanu (or hanwoo) is Korea’s version of Wagyu, and is so expensive that it’s double the usual cost of imported Australian beef.
This is where Parasite’s steak ram-don becomes a qualifier in the story. The mere fact that the Park family can afford to incorporate such expensive meat into an ordinary dish like ram-don drives home the huge discrepancy between the lifestyles of the Parks and the Kims.
Can you make an authentic ram-don in the Philippines? Thanks to our obsession with all things Korean, Nongshim products are already available in many stores around the metro. Both the Neoguri and the Jjapagetti noodles (you’ll find it labelled Chapagetti here) are available at Korean marts, leading supermarkets like Waltermart, and on Lazada through Nongshim’s official Lazada store.
You can buy Chapagetti here.
You can buy Neoguri here.
We take inspiration from Chef Edward Bugia's video on how to make Steak Ram-Don. Boil the noodles of the Chapagetti and the Neoguri together (without the sauce flavorings, of course). While boiling, prepare the sirloin steak by seasoning it with salt and pepper, then searing it on all sides at around 3 minutes per side, for medium doneness. In a separate bowl, combine all the sauces of the Chapagetti and Neoguri. Add the cooked noodles and about a quarter cup of the liquid it boiled in to give it that saucy consistency. Top with the steak and add kimchi if desired.
Watch Chef Edward Bugia recreate Parasite’s Steak Ram-Don:
Lead photo: @chefedward