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Culinary Experiences: Korean Food

December 18, 2013
The many foods of Korea

The many foods of Korea

Korean cuisine is largely based upon rice, vegetables, and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (banchan) that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Kimchi is served often, sometimes at every meal. Commonly used ingredients include sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and gochujang (fermented red chili paste). Grains, particularly rice, are prominent in Korean cuisine as well as legumes such as azuki, soy, and mung beans. Beef, chicken, pork as well as various seafood are also major parts of the cuisine of Korea.

Traditional Korean Bulgogi

Traditional Korean Bulgogi

One traditional dish is called Bulgogi which literally means ‘fire meat’. It refers to marinated meat, cooked using traditional grilling techniques such as gridirons or perforated dome griddles that sit on braziers, unlike deep frying or boiling in water. The term is also applied to variations such as dak bulgogi (made with chicken) or dwaeji bulgogi (made with pork), depending on what kind of meat and corresponding seasoning are used

Japchae, Korean noodle dish with marinated beef and vegetables.

Japchae, Korean noodle dish with marinated beef and vegetables.

Kimchi, fermented cabbage with hot chili peppers, is a traditional food. Kimchi refers to often fermented vegetable dishes usually made with napa cabbage, Korean radish, or sometimes cucumber, commonly fermented in a brine of ginger, garlic, scallions, and chili pepper. There are endless varieties with regional variations, and it is served as a side dish or cooked into soups and rice dishes. Koreans traditionally make enough kimchi to last for the entire winter season, as fermented foods can keep for several years. These were stored in traditional Korean mud pots known as Jangdokdae although with the advent of refrigerators, special Kimchi freezers and commercially produced kimchi, this practice has become less common.

Kimchi

Kimchi

Kimchi is packed with vitamin A, thiamine B1, riboflavin B2, calcium, and iron. Its main benefit though is found in the bacteria lactobacilli; this is found in yogurt and fermented foods. This bacteria helps with digestion. South Koreans eat an average of 40 pounds of Kimchi each year.There is also an abundance of vegetables both cooked and raw throughout the cuisine here.

Korean food is considered among the most high-end of all the foods of Asia due to the servings of plenty of meats which is still considered a luxury in the rest of Asia.

Korean's have a certain etiquette when it comes to eating.

Korean’s have a certain etiquette when it comes to eating.

There has always been etiquette that is expected when eating in Korea. Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

Dining etiquette in Korea can be traced back to the Confucian philosophies of the Joseon period. Guidebooks, such as Sasojeol, comment on the dining etiquette for the period. Suggestions include items such as “when you see a fat cow, goat, pig, or chicken, do not immediately speak of slaughtering, cooking or eating it”, “when you are having a meal with others, do not speak of smelly or dirty things, such as boils or diarrhea”, “when eating a meal, neither eat so slowly as to appear to be eating against your will nor so fast as if to be taking someone else’s food. Do not throw chopsticks on the table. Spoons should not touch plates, making a clashing sound”, among many other recommendations which emphasized proper table etiquette.

If you would like to read my other blog about Korea click the link below:

Regional Adventures: Jeju, South Korea (14 December, 2013)

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