Basic History Of Korean Cuisine

The cuisine of any culture is affected by its location, climate, and neighboring influences. Most of Korea (both North and South) have hot summers with high humidity and frigid winters. Weather affects the types of spices and vegetables they have used over the centuries.

Korea is close to Japan and China, and has adopted some of their cooking techniques. Since Japan occupied Korea for 35 years early in the 20th century, you will find a strong Japanese influence on their food. Traders from Europe introduced the Korean people to chili peppers in the 17th century. By the early part of the next century, spicy chilis became a staple of Korean cuisine.

Banchan: Korean Side Dishes

Korean meals are a veritable banquet of delicious side dishes. If you are invited to a Korean family dinner, you can expect anywhere from two to a dozen of interesting sides. There are no steadfast rules to how many to make. Even if you prepare two or three, you will give your family and guests the general idea.

Unlike Western-style cuisines, Korean hosts serve their dishes all at the same time. There are no separate courses. Each side dish is served in dainty bowls, which can be filled with different styles of meat, vegetables, or seafood. While most Korean soups are served piping hot, most of their side dishes are chilled or served at room temperature.

Want to try some easy Korean banchan? Make a traditional seafood appetizer like cucumber boats with crab salad It combines the sweet, spicy, and crunchy elements that many people love. Vegetarians may enjoy Korean Tofu Salad with Honey Soy Chili Vinaigrette. Peruse some other Korean recipes to find other scrumptious side dishes.

The Basics Of Korean Cooking

As with a majority of Asian cuisines, rice plays a starring role in just about every Korean meal. Sometimes, a host may serve noodles; however, most choose to make bowls of steaming rice. In addition to the rice bowl, family and guests usually have a bowl of soup, such as Korean Bulgogi Soup or Korean Style Seaweed Soup

All the side dishes are served in small, separate bowls on a decorative platter. Everything is served in the middle of the table family-style. As a main dish, you may choose tofu, meat, or fresh seafood.

Sometimes, Korean hosts will serve more than one main dish. One favorite entrée is Dakjjim (Korean Chicken Stew) . If you prefer, you may serve soup for the main dish, like a bowl of hearty beef short ribs soup. Like everything else, it will be in the middle of the table to serve everyone.

Traditional Korean Ingredients

Another hallmark of Korean cooking is their use of pickled or preserved food. Over many years, they perfected the skills of food preservation, which got them through the bitter winters. Most of their side dishes are preserved in salt, vinegar, or other fragrant spices.

The reason that Korean cuisine has intense flavor is that of the spices they use, such as dried chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Korean cooks use pastes made from chili pepper or soy sauce for savory sauces. Each flavor nuance is expertly balanced in each dish.

If you have ever been a guest in a Korean home or dined in a Korean restaurant, you are probably familiar with kimchi. This spicy cabbage is the perennial side dish of the country. There are innumerable varieties of kimchi that include various vegetables and spices. Some recipes are milder versions of the hot kimchi.

People who like sauerkraut will probably enjoy kimchi. Try a Basic Napa Cabbage Kimchi, or tender Kimchi Dumplings. Plenty of modern Korean entrees contain beef, pork, chicken, and other meats. Korean Style Seaweed Soup Bulgogi (Korean Barbecued Beef) is a fabulous meat dish.

However, this peninsula country has an abundance of fresh seafood available. That is why most traditional entrees use fish and shellfish, like Korean Fish Cake. You will also find many recipes that are vegetarian and use tofu. Korean Braised Tofu is a prime example. For a sweet ending to your meal, consider making Fresh Strawberry Patbingsu, a shaved-ice specialty. Beer and wines are popular dinner drinks, as well as banana milk or tea.

Korean Table Setting

During meal time, Korean families traditionally sit on the floor around a low table. Instead of forks, spoons, and knives, Korean meals are served with stainless steel chopsticks. No knives are necessary because the meats are usually cut into bite-sized pieces. Korean braised meats and whole grilled fish are so tender, they can easily be pulled apart with chopsticks. Soup is served with a long stainless-steel spoon. If you and your family are interested in trying exotic menus, Korean food is a great place to start. It offers exquisite tastes of the Orient that can be savored by everyone. You can find Korean foods and ingredients in international grocery stores or online.

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