October 02, 2023 08:44
Figs are slowly establishing themselves as a sought-after fruit in Korea thanks to global fashions propagated on Instagram. The first fruit to be cultivated by humans and beloved by Cleopatra of Egypt, figs have been overshadowed by grapes, apples and pears in Korea, even though they are grown here.
Yeongam, South Jeolla Province is where more than 60 percent of the figs in Korea are grown, but their thin skins and rapid ripening used to make them less popular among consumers here.
But now it has become easier to find the photogenic fruit in the big cities. Farms have adopted a cold chain storage system, and Yeongam stepped up efforts recently to improve the varieties being grown there.
With more than 300,000 Instagram posts of the fruit in various desserts, they are now enjoying a renaissance, not least thanks to their healthful qualities.
Nuhaju, a dessert café in Seongbuk-dong in northeastern Seoul, began selling fig desserts and pastries last summer and saw sales increase more than 30 percent. Owner Choi Hyun-jung said, "Figs are now as popular as strawberries during winter in the bakery market."
"The bright pink floral-looking inner part of figs is visually appealing and they look great as desserts, while their soft texture and subtle flavor fit well with other ingredients."
One 39-year-old customer said, "Until now, I didn't know how to eat figs. But the subtle sweetness seems to go well with dairy products. I'm going to eat more figs at home from now on."
Nuhaju opens at noon, and the fig desserts are usually sold out by 3 p.m.
Bakery chain Paris Croissant introduced a fig dessert for the first time this year. Bubing, a café in central Seoul, sells popular bowls of figs and shaved ice for W15,000. Run by sisters Kim So-yeon and Ah-yeon, Bubing specializes in shaved ice with seasonal fruits, and figs reign in the fall.
One 34-year-old customer said, "I don't come here in the summer, but I always stop by in the fall to eat the figs. They grind up an entire fig, which adds to the texture and flavor."
Top hotels have also begun serving fig desserts. Joseon Hotel sells fig cakes, while Four Seasons sells figs with shaved ice.
JW Marriot began featuring figs in its an afternoon tea set this year. Yang Young-joo, a pastry chef at the hotel, said, "Fig Pavlova has a crunchy texture thanks to the sweet meringue and can be enjoyed only in the fall."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com