SEOUL, Korea, Oct 18 (Korea Bizwire) – These days, more and more Koreans eat salad as a meal, reflecting the vogue of healthful eating. According to June data on seasoning sales by Lotte Mart, one of Korea’s largest retail outlets, the sales of vinegar were 30.5 percent higher than those for salt, clearly showing the consumer trend toward making salad dressing at home instead of buying bottles of ready-made dressing.
In addition, the sales of cooking wine for the four-month period between January and April have increased 40 percent from the same period last year. Cooking wine, the mixture of lemon, onion, dried kelp, and vinegar fermented in alcohol, is a favorite ingredient for homemakers as it enhances the taste of salad.
As more people opt to eat salad as a meal at least once a day, the sales of prepared salad bags and salad dressings are rising quickly. In response, food companies and restaurants are busy coming up with offerings catering to the rising demand.
For example, Cafe Mama’s, a restaurant chain with nine locations in Seoul, is gaining popularity among young clients for its ricotta cheese salad. According to Gourmet 494, the high-end food court in the Galleria Department Store Apgujung-dong, the No. 1 menu sold for the past one year among all items was the ricotta cheese salad sold by Cafe Mama’s at 109,690 dishes.
Headquartered in Seosomun in Seoul’s downtown, all Cafe Mama’s nine locations are housed in small spaces. But they serve excellent salad sprinkled with ricotta cheese, as well as green grape juice, pumpkin salad, and scrumptious mozzarella & tomato Panini sandwiches.
In addition to salad special brands like Cafe Mama’s, other mainstream restaurants like Black Smith and Seven Springs are also competing to attract customers by newly opening or sprucing up existing salad bars.
For instance, the Cheongdam location of Black Smith saw its lunch meal sales rise 100 percent after offering the salad bar menu. Salad and grill restaurant Seven Springs, owned and operated by Samyang Group, allows its clients to sample 70 different seasonal vegetables in its salad bar.
Other restaurants such as Elysee, the cafe at the Renaissance Seoul, as well as Butcher’s Cut, Blooming Garden, and Bongo, the three restaurant chains run by Samwon Garden Restaurants, all have come up with new salad menus as well as salad bars featuring scores of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Food companies are also launching new product lines to capitalize on the eat-healthy trend. Pulmuone has recently introduced five salad products featuring potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, corn, and tuna in addition to green salad. The company said the salad lines are free from artificial ingredients like monosodium glutamate, preservatives, color additives, and antioxidants like EDTA. Convenience store chain Mini Stop has introduced a new salad line as well as spaghetti Bolognese targeting women customers in their 20s.
As more people join the healthy-eating fad, websites providing food information also proliferate. Although most people believe raw, and preferably organic, vegetables are always more wholesome, there are some vegetables that taste better and more nutritious. The best example in this regard is garlic whose nutrition is retained if roasted in high temperature with olive oil or without. Tomatoes also taste better and contain more lycopene when cooked in oil. Lycopene is a bright red carotene that is known to prevent cancer.
Eggplants are also better when cooked for a long time, as long as 20 minutes at higher than 100 degrees Celsius, as 82 percent of the anti-cancer ingredient remains after cooking. Finally, the absorption rate of carrot’s nutrition to human body is only 10 percent when eaten raw. But it goes up to 20-30 percent when boiled in water and as high as to 60 percent when roasted in oil.