Korean Cuisine

Kimchi: a side dish made from cabbages, daikon, and a number of spices
Photo by: Angie Chang, Creative Commons

Korea is a country known for its rich cultural and historical heritage. Rarely does one hear of a country that has managed to preserve its root traditions and has successfully passed them down from generation to generation. Though beset with internal conflict, Korea has still managed to retain its long standing culinary traditions with few influences from other countries. In fact, Koreans can proudly say that their cuisine is distinctly their own and even include it as part of their national identity.

With very little outside influence, Korean cuisine has evolved from the dishes and techniques of the common populace as well as from that of the royal palace. This can be seen in the choice of ingredients, the method of preparation, and on how the dishes are served. Royal palace foods are known to be very elaborate and carefully prepared by women who are trained specifically for the task. There are different palace positions solely reserved for overseeing the different aspects of food procurement and preparation. The cuisines are varied and do not reflect seasonal changes, unlike those eaten by the peasants. Each of the cuisines of the eight provinces is represented in the meal, making for a huge feast. This grandiosity contrasts with the common man’s food, typically consisting of steamed rice, kimchi, and fish.

But whatever the differences are in royal and common food they share the basic characteristics of the abundant use of spices, the application of the process of fermentation, and the inclusion of a wide variety of side dishes. Spices are in the form of red peppers, garlic, onion, and a number of spice pastes that Koreans prepare themselves. Fermentation is a common process involved in food preparation especially in Korea’s popular side dish, kimchi, which is a common side dish made from cabbages, daikon, and a number of spices. The process of fermentation gives food a distinct taste and packs in nutrients that would otherwise be absent. This interplay of taste and nutrition can be best seen in the kimchi. Kimchi is a national dish and has also grown popular outside the country.

2 responses to “Korean Cuisine”

  1. pyj says:

    I want to introduce one of Korean popular and famous foods, tteok(rice-cake) to you. In short, tteok is made of mainly rice. Tteok is chewy and flavory. And there are various kinds of tteok such as Injeolmi, honey tteok, baekseolgi and so on. Let me tell you more about tteok.

    In Korea, tteok is an important food not only in the four ceremonial occasions of coming of age, wedding, funeral, and ancestral rites but in Lunar New Year’s Day, Dol (first birthday), birthday and any feast.

    It is asummed that the Korean people have eaten since the primitive agriculture age. In ruins of Nangnang, steamer was found. Also at that time, it is supposed to eat steamed tteok, using grains such as barnyard millet, millet, barley and wheat.

    Generally, Koreans grind grains into flour and then put the moist flour on a steamer and steam it. Also, they mix flour and water, knead it, make it and then steam, boil or panfry it. When making Injeolmi and a white tteok, they after steaming tteok, hit it with a tteok-mallet. Tteok is made of viscous things such as glutinous rice, wheat, barley and potato-starch. And depending on region and season, they add some distinctive nuts, dry fruits, herbs and petals.

  2. mmy from malaysia says:

    thanks for sharing pyj…I am from Malaysia and will be going to Korea for 6 days in March 2012. Will sure try kimchi and tteok.

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