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Everyday food

Usual Korean meals consist of rice and side dishes. Koreans have used various ingredients and developed different recipes. Therefore, there is a large variety of dishes and food from different regions and for different seasons. Kimchi and other fermented sauces are representatives of Korean  traditional food, and Koreans take much pride in them.

For Koreans, rice is a staple food. Their typical side dishes are soups (tang), pot-stews with various ingredients (jjigae and jeongol), cooked vegetables, salads, pickles, salted seafood, dried fishes, and steamed meat. Kimchi, paste or sauce, and salted seafood are always served.

The uniqueness of Korean food is in seasoning. For most of their food, Koreans use various kinds of seasoning made of soy sauce, scallions, garlic, sesame, sesame oil, and red hot pepper.

Kimchi

Kimchi is the most representative Korean fermented food, and one cannot imagine a Korean meal without it. The main ingredient is cabbage pickled in salt. Seasoning such as red pepper powder, garlic, ginger, scallions, radish, and others is added. After some salted seafood is added, it is kept at a low temperature for preservation and fermentation.

Fermentation at a proper temperature is very important to have good-quality and tasty kimchi. Koreans developed creative and wise ways of preserving kimchi in different regions and seasons.

Kimchi is healthy food in many aspects. It is anti-bacterial and its main ingredient. Vegetables are full of fiber which is good for digestion. It is also good for helping prevent obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

* Making Baechu Kimchi

Making Baechu KimchiMaking Baechu Kimchi
  • 1. Ingredients for kimchi
  • 2. Slice and wash Chinese cabbages (Baechu) and soak in salt water
  • 3. Clean the bottoms of the cabbages.
  • 4. Mix seasonings with salted and fermented fish.
  • 5. Spread seasonings evenly between leaves.
  • 6. Wrap the whole cabbage and store in a cool place.

Seasonal Food

Korea has various seasonal foods with each season's best and most delicious ingredients. We can take a glimpse of Korean wisdom in the culture of their seasonal food.

Samgetang is a chicken soup people usually enjoy in summer. They put sticky rice, ginseng, garlic, and dates inside a chicken first, submerge the chicken in water in a big pot, and then simmer it. Chicken and ginseng work well when they are put together and give a lot of energy especially in summer when people sweat a lot and get tired easily.

Bulgogi is made of lean meat. As it is delicious and not spicy at all, children also enjoy it a lot. Ingredients include soy sauce, chopped scallion, garlic, sesame, ginger juice, pepper, and sesame oil. The meat is submerge in this sauce, soften- ed by squeezing it lightly with fingers, and marinated for 30 minutes. The meat is then grilled on medium heat.

Naengmyeon has been a popular dish for Koreans since the Joseon dynasty. Sliced boiled meat, sliced cucumber, sliced pear, and boiled egg are put on noodles made of wheat flour. The cold soup made of beef, chicken, pheasant, or pickled radish is then poured and mustard and vinegar are added right before eating. This is typical Naengmyeon of Pyeongyang region. Naengmyeon is Hamgyeong-do area is made of potato starch, and they add raw fish slices and seasoned red pepper sauce to the noodles.

Tea

Koreans have enjoyed drinking tea for a long time and developed their own tea ceremony. Through the ceremony people meditate and nourish their virtuous spirit. According to the Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms, tea was first introduced into Korea during the reign of Queen Seon-deok in Shilla, and the culture of tea drinking was highly developed in Goryo. In Joseon, it was not as popular, but during the later years of Joseon, scholars and artists like Jeong Yak-yong, Kim Jeong-hee, and priest Choi enjoyed drinking tea and developed the culture.

Tea leaves are picked in early spring and preserved for later use. Koreans make tea by pouring water of 60~70°C on tea leaves or adding the powder in water. Usually they make tea three times out of the same leaves, saying the first one is for scent, the second for taste, and the last as medicine. Tea must have a mild taste and scent, and those who enjoy tea say that there are five pleasures in tea drinking: the sound of water boiling, the warmth of the tea cup, its color, its taste, and its scent. Tea is good for making your mind clear, improving memory, preventing cancer, purifying the body, and lowering cholesterol. There are a lot of tea clubs in Korea, which develop the tea culture in Korea.

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