What You Need to Know about Korean Cuisine
Korean food has become a must-try cuisine for foodies and is well-known for its health benefits. Have some fun getting to know the wide range of choices and styles.
Side dish: Banchan
Being served a spread of small tasty side dishes is a classic delight of Korean eating etiquette. Not just for the range of flavors, but also for digestion. Expect several choices of meats, soup, rice, salad and loads of pickled vegetables, like the ever-popular Kimchi, also sautéed or steamed vegetables. In a group, Banchan is especially fun, set in the middle of the table to be shared. Selections can vary by restaurant, a nice surprise for guests.
Kimchi is the most popular Korean dish, enjoyed as a side dish but also cooked a la Kimchi soup, Kimchi fried rice, and Kimchi Joen. Kimchi is known as a super food, cabbage fermented with sea salt, chili powder (gochugaru), garlic, and ginger. It’s probiotic, so good for your gut, and boosts your immune system, plus, it’s absolutely delicious. You may get addicted after a few visits!
Koreans love to serve food in a boiling Hot pot, dishes such as soup Jige), Bibimbab, and Bude Jige. Hot pot is made with clay and it keeps the heat throughout your dining time. Soup and rice served on Hot pot brings out more aroma and taste. Don’t be surprised when you get a soup on your table that’s still boiling. In Korea, if soup doesn’t come out boiling, customers send it back!
Koreans eat rice with any main meal. Even noodles like Jabche are eaten with a bowl of rice. Having rice is essential Korean food culture. Koreans even ask “How are you?” as, “Did you eat rice today?” Back during the Korean War, people were so poor, eating rice was precious, so people would always check each other if they have eaten well. Korean rice is bigger than Southeast Asian rice with heavier moisture. A small bowl of Korean rice would be enough to fill you up, and it is very nutritious.
Basic Korean ingredients include Gochujang (savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment made from Gochutgaru chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soy sauce sesame oil, barley malt powder, and salt), Miso paste (seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes rice, barley, or other ingredients) and, of course, the iconic Kimchi. Generally Korean food has more ingredients and spices than Japanese food. Koreans use more garlic and ginger or sometime chili powder/sauces with Japanese food simpler with plainer taste.
How does Korean food differ from other Asian cuisine?
Koreans use more ginger, while Southeast Asian food leans towards other herbs (coriander, lemongrass, lime leaves, cilantro, basil, galangal) and tropical fruits. Southeast Asians tend to use rice noodles, while Koreans prefer sweet potato glass noodles. Most Thai dishes tend to use palm or vegetable oil, while Koreans prefer sesame oil.
Korean BBQ is the most well-known Korean cuisine in the world. Korean BBQ is cooked on your dining table top. There is a special BBQ system on the table with a charcoal or gas system. Sharing BBQ and the Korean drink Soju with friends is a popular Korean night-out thing. Normally Koreans cook their BBQ by themselves. Outside of Korea, Korean restaurants often serve BBQ for customers. Korean BBQ is also famous for serving lots of side dishes and salad together with meats. You can expect at least 5 to 10 different sides. A typical way of enjoying Korean BBQ is wrapping meats and side dishes on salad leaves. Koreans call it “Ssam,” which can simply translate to wraps.
Korean food manners
People can be overwhelmed with all the choices when Korean food is served at your table. They don’t know how to start. Are the side dishes appetizers or should we eat them with main meals? The simple answer is… eat any way you like! Koreans don’t mind mixing rice with side dishes, that’s how the famous dish Bibimbab is made. You don’t need to worry about using your hands, even while eating BBQ. Koreans love free-style eating. Ask a Korean if you want to know their unique manner, defined over the ages, they’d love to tell you!
Visit Seoul vibe Korean restaurant in Koh Phangan, Thailand for real Korean dining experience!
Healthy Kimchi recipe - Easy home cook recipe
If you are at all familiar with Korean cuisine, then you’ve definitely heard of Kimchi. Today we will share a little information about what exactly Kimchi is and how to easily make this tasty dish at home.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi - fermented cabbage pickled in spices - is the national food of Korea. You may have also heard of Kimchi as being a popular superfood filled with probiotic properties and lots of vitamins to boost your immune system. Not only is Kimchi very healthy, it’s incredibly tasty with a spicy and zesty flavor that pairs great with Korean BBQ. But Kimchi is basically enjoyed by Koreans at every meal - breakfast, lunch and dinner - and it will probably come as no surprise that Koreans will include Kimchi with any meal involving noodles or rice. This delicious and versatile food can be enjoyed as a side dish, as a soup, as Kimchi Fried Rice, in an egg pancake known as Kimchi Joen or in any number of other ways.
In Korea, Kimchi recipes and flavors vary by region. There are many ways to prepare Kimchi like including ingredients such as fish sauce, raw shrimp sauce, and in some regions, oyster. Any of them are a great addition to Kimchi, as long as you follow the basic steps of making this traditional dish. Here is an easy recipe to make Kimchi at home from Seoul Vibe Korean Restaurant:
How to make Kimchi - Easy Kimchi recipe
1. Cut cabbage in half and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
2. Rub sea salt inside the cabbage by opening each of the leaves.
Be careful not to use too much salt at once and apply the salt only to the root of the cabbage and not the leaves themselves, as it can become too salty. Add a little bit at a time until the salt is used up.
3. Place the cabbage in a plastic bucket large enough to hold all of it and add water to the same level as the cabbage. Soak the cabbage for 4 hours, flipping and stirring the cabbage one time so the salt can spread out.
4. Prepare the sauce putting all the ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed.
5. After 4 hours, remove the cabbage from the bucket and rinse with clean water at least 3 times to remove the salt.
6. Drain the cabbage in a colander for 30 minutes.
7. Open each leaf of cabbage and add the sauce and roughly cut spring onions (3-4cm in length) to the cabbage leaves.
8. Layer the Kimchi in an airtight food container and seal it well.
9. Keep Kimchi in a shaded area for 1-2 days and then move to the refrigerator for storage
How to Eat Korean BBQ for Beginners - Eat like a pro!
If you are a foodie, you might have heard of Korean BBQ before. Uniquely different from other Asian food, Korean food has its own distinct culture and you can’t discuss Korean food without mentioning Korean BBQ of course. So before your first experience with this wonderful, special food, here are a few tips for beginners on how to best enjoy Korean BBQ - let’s get started!
Tip 1: Take a Shot
Soju is a very famous Korean alcohol made with rice. It is very similar to Japanese Sake, but with a stronger alcohol taste that sets it apart. Koreans often joke that Soju is cheaper than water and enjoying this beverage is typically always a part of enjoying a BBQ dinner. So before digging in to your Korean feast, grab your friend, pour each other shots, and toast - and you’ll start to feel like your on your way to becoming Korean.
Tip 2: Wrap Your Meat
Upon being seated at your table, the restaurant will normally serve you a hand towel or tissue to clean your hands so you don’t have to be shy about eating your BBQ in the usual fashion. Your meat will be accompanied by plain salad leaves and a variety of pickled sides. The salad leaves are for wrapping the meat and side dishes together like tacos. Having lots of pickled sides (known as banchan) is the traditional Korean way of eating food and always includes Kimchi - the most famous Korean dish - made of fermented, pickled cabbage. You will also be served a number of other pickled or sautéed vegetables so get creative - mix the pickles and veggies with your meat in a lettuce wrap and dip in to the sauce of your choice.
Tip 3: Soup It Up
Koreans enjoy soup with many of their meals. Jjige is a traditional soup served in a hot pot and - unlike most western cuisine - Koreans love to have soup on the side of most of their dishes and is definitely a must with BBQ. Along with your meats, pickles and veggies, you will probably be offered Kimchi Jjige (Kimchi soup), which is spicy or Doen Jing Jjige (Korean Miso soup) which is very mild. Enjoy the soup with your BBQ or mix it up with rice...but don’t miss out!
Tip 4: Relax, Love, Eat Korean BBQ, Repeat
Jeong is the Korean word for “warm hearts” and that is exactly how Koreans eat, enjoy and share their meals. Not only is Korean food about divine taste, it is all about sharing with the friends and family you love. So don’t be shy, share the sides with the same chopsticks, make each other a salad wrap, pour another shot of Soju and have fun!
Tip 5: Forget the Rules
If this all seems a bit complicated, then forget everything you just read and ENJOY! There is no “right” way to eat this delicious meal and after a few shots of Soju, you will probably be too tipsy to remember any of this any way! Just do what makes you happy, what warms your heart and fills up your belly. The only thing you need to remember is to enjoy your food, the people you are with and the unique experience that Korean BBQ is. See you around the hot pot!
Tips : Wear comfortable clothes. Clothes that stretch. Clothes that are forgiving so you can eat to your heart’s desire and not worry about that food belly showing too much! Also, don’t wear white. Korean BBQ is something to be played with which means you’re likely to get food stains. You have been warned.