General information on Korean cuisine


Korean cuisine: An introduction

Korean cuisine refers to the food preparation techniques of Korea and the traditional Korean food. Korean cuisine stands out from other cuisine because of the numerous side dishes (banchan) that come with one meal ranging from 2 side dishes to 12. Traditional Korean food is called Hansik. A typical Korean meal comprises of rice (which is a staple, however it can sometime be substituted with noddle’s) served with meat, many side dishes and a bowl of soup. Even though this structure might sound basic, a wide variety of dishes are available for every palate and season. The main dish and side dishes are typically served at the same time and not in different courses like in western cuisine. Korean food is delicious and has many health benefits because it features numerous fermented foods and is mostly prepared through boiling or steaming in brine or water rather than fried in oil. Korean cuisine comprises of some exotic ingredients such as the leaves of flowers, wild greens, sea weed and jellyfish.

Commonly used ingredients in Korean cuisine

• Sesame oil.
• Soy sauce (Ganjang).
• Ginger
• Garlic
• Pepper flakes
• Gochujang (red chili paste)
• Doenjang (fermented soybean paste)

Popular Korean foods among international visitors

Bulgogi, bibimbap, and hanjeongsik (directly translated as Korean traditional table) are the most popular Korean foods among international visitors and anyone planning to cook Korean food or dine in a Korean restaurant should give them a try. Bulgogi is beef, pork or chicken in a sweet and savory marinade that is grilled or pan seared to perfection. Bibimbap is delicious and beautiful to look at. It is meat, vegetables, an egg and Gochujang (red chili paste) on a bed of steamed rice. Hanjeongsik on the other hand is a full course meal served on one table. The table consists of rice, a variety of meats, vegetables and soups giving one a good selection of Korean foods to indulge in.

Gujeolpan dates back to the 14th century and it was closely associated with royals in the Joseon dynasty but is nowadays eaten by everyone who wants to indulge. It consists of 9 different dishes that are colorful and plated to be very appealing to look at. The center of the platter has small pancakes that are stacked and the pancakes are surrounded by various vegetables, meats, mushrooms, and seafood items.

An interesting food that was eaten by Korean royals - Platter of 9 Delicacies (Gujeolpan)

Korean table setting

The table is set with everyone having their own bowl of rice and the meats and side dishes are placed at the center for everyone to share. Korean cutlery includes chopsticks (jeotgarak) and a long-handed shallow spoon (sutgarak). Traditionally Korean food was served on low tables whereby people sat (legs crossed in a modified lotus position) on cushions that are placed on the floor, however nowadays most Koreans seat on high tables on chairs. Drinks may or may not be served with meals. In restaurants, water or tea is served with meals. During Korean festive holidays, meals are often accompanied with drinks such as soojunggwa (cinnamon punch) or Sikhye (rice punch).


Source: Official Korea Tourism Site