I think it is impossible to introduce Korea to others without talking about our dishes. Saying that, today I will talk about different foods of Korea and briefly on how it’s made.
Korean foods can be largely categorized into groups of main ‘staple foods’, ‘side dishes’, and ‘dessert’. Certain regions are especially associated with some dishes, such as the city of Jeonju with bibimbap either as a place of origin or for a famous regional variety. (Know more about the city of Jeonju-https://koreanculturalhub.wordpress.com/2016/10/29/jeonju-the-city-of-unforgettable/)
Unlike other cultures, in Korea, soup is served as part of the main course rather than at the beginning or the end of the meal, as an accompaniment to rice along with other banchan (side dish).
- An example of a guk is miyeok guk, which is a very common soup served with rice at home or in restaurants. It is most commonly made from a mussel based broth, but beef, clam or oyster can also be used to make the broth. Korean soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and sometimes onions, scallions, salt, roasted sesame seeds, and dried shrimp are flavorings that can be used in miyeok guk.
Miyeok guk is consumed by Korean women after giving birth. In Korean culture, miyeok(seaweed) is widely believed to contain a high content of calcium and iodine, nutrients that are important for nursing mothers. Koreans eat miyeok guk on their birthdays in order to remember their mothers and appreciate how their mothers ate miyeok guk to recover and provide nutrients to their babies.
Soups can be made into more formal soups known as tang, often served as the main dish of the meal. They are thicker, heavier seasoned soups or stews.
- An example of a tang is dakdoritang, a traditional braised chicken dish that is full of spices and flavors which is known to be quite spicy in taste. Succulent chicken pieces such as thighs, breasts or drumsticks are simmered in a base soup. It is flavored with hot pepper and soy sauce, containing assortments of vegetables such as green & red chili peppers, potatoes, onions and carrots.
Side dishes (banchan)
Many Korean banchan (side dishes) rely on fermentation for flavor and preservation, resulting in a tangy, salty, and spicy taste.
- Kimchi is the most famous side dish of Korea, which is 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 (such as baek kimchi or mul kimchi).
- Spring onion/seafood/kimchi pancake is another common side dish you will see at Korean restaurant. At their simplest they’re food coated in flour and egg and then pan fried with a bit of oil. Some put vegetables, meat, and fish into a batter which is pan fried with a bit of oil.
Korean traditional nonalcoholic beverages are referred to as eumcheong or eumcheongnyu which means “clear beverages”. Among 193 different eumcheongs, tea, hwachae (fruit punch), sikhye (sweet rice drink), and sujeonggwa (perssimon punch) are widely favored and consumed.
Within over 100 alcoholic beverages, soju, yakju and takju is the best known traditional liquor.
- Soju is a clear spirit which was originally made from grain, especially rice, and is now also made from sweet potatoes or barley. Recently, fruit flavored soju was introduced, targeting women. There are blueberry, pomegranate, grapefruit, peach and apple flavor on market, and new flavors are still being introduced.
- Yakju is pure liquor fermented from rice, with the best known being cheongju. Takju is a thick unrefined liquor made from grains, with the best known being makgeolli, a white, milky rice wine traditionally drunk by farmers.
Hyang Eum Ju Rye is the drinking etiquette established in Choseon Dynasty which mentions that it is impolite for a king and his vassal, a father and his son, or a teacher and his student to drink face to face. Also, a guest should not refuse the first drink offered by host and to cover his/her mouth when drinking alcohol.