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[ASEAN-Korea summit] Amateur cooks compete at Korea Food Contest Final

Representatives from eight of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations faced off at the ASEAN-KOREA: Korea Food Contest Final, showing off dishes that reflect Korean culture and identity with a common ingredient: rice.

The final round of the multinational cooking contest was held Tuesday at the Korean Cuisine Cultural Center in Jung-gu, central Seoul. The contestants, all nonprofessional cooks, came from Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos and Thailand.

The eight contestants, who had passed regional contests held in the first half of the year, came to Korea for four days to participate in the final contest round where they were given an hour to prepare a dish with rice.

The grand prize went to Azliana Rashidah Binti from Malaysia, who cooked yeongyangbap (nutritious rice), grilled mackerel and soft tofu stew with seafood. 

Contestants present Korean dishes made with rice. (KFPI)
Contestants present Korean dishes made with rice. (KFPI)

Azliana, a manager at SME Bank in Malaysia, learned how to cook Korean food via Korean variety shows. She said she enjoys watching shows like “Soomi’s Side Dish” that demonstrate with guests how to cook side dishes in simple ways.

“I would cook for myself (after watching the shows) and share cooking skills with other friends,” she said. “I have YouTube channel only for travel tips to Korea, but I am thinking about opening another channel for hansik (Korean food).”

Arissara Lavelee from Thailand won an award for excellence for ssambap (wrapped rice), bulgogi and soybean paste stew. A participation award went to Ka Duyn from Vietnam for bibimbap.

Suharti Binte Hussain Abdullah Huin from Singapore made sweet pumpkin rice. She said cooking Korean food is a common thing among her friends.

“Korean food is really popular in Singapore, and I think it is because of K-pop,” she said. “I enjoy cooking Korean food at home and my family enjoys eating them.”

Nina Rizzi Kaye Timbol, a 19-year-old student from the Philippines, was the youngest among the contestants. She made gungjung tteokbokki (royal stir-fried rice cake) and injeolmi, or rice cake with bean powder. She attended an elementary school for international students in the Philippines, which exposed her to Korean culture.

“I made gungjung tteokbokki because that was my Korean friend’s favorite dish,” she said. “And it was a snack of the king before, so the food showcases the Korean flavors.”

Other dishes prepared by the contestants included maeeuntang (spicy fish stew), bean sprout gukbap (bean sprout soup with rice) and jeon (Korean savory pancakes).

“I am thankful to all participants from different countries for cooking these excellent Korean traditional dishes by deeply understanding Korean culture. As you know foods reflect the country’s history and tradition,” said Lee Jae-ouk, deputy minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The contest was hosted by the ministry and organized by the Korean Food Promotion Institute.

On the sidelines of the contest, typography exhibition “ASEAN-KOREA: 11 Different Languages of Rice” was held at the Korean Cuisine Cultural Center.

By Park Yuna (

This article was produced in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. - Ed.