Low-Down on Korean Food

No repast is complete without an adequate understanding of the characteristics and subtleties that the cuisine underscores. So here’s the low-down on Korean food.

The Art of Seasoning
What instills Korean cuisine with its distinctive spicy and sour taste? Stalwart seasonings include garlic, vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, green onion, sesame oil, red pepper powder and fermented soybean paste. The use of seasonings is considered an intricate art, and condiments and spices are dexterously combined to obtain a harmonious blend of flavours.

These seasonings and spices are also called “medicinal inspiration”, a term coined by staunch aficionados who believe that the use of seasonings renders Korean cuisine with therapeutic touches. This amalgamation of “pungent” flavourings has, nonetheless, scored in enhancing the taste of Korean cuisine, infusing it with a distinct taste that is almost similar yet different from its neighbor Japan.

In The Pink of Health
Ever wonder why South Koreans are in the pink of health? According to local survey, South Koreans eat more vegetables per capita annually as compared to any other people. This can be largely attributed to their love for komchi, the nation’s staple side dish of which the main variety is pickled Chinese cabbages.

In addition, vegetable salad, stuffed leaves and seasoned vegetables from seasonal produces form an integral part of the Korean dietary regime. With a diet primarily compared of vegetables, it is little wonder why Koreans are able to relish as much food as they desire without tipping the scales in the wrong direction!

Old-Time Favorites
Tickle your palate with these perennial Korean favorites.

* Bulgogi
One of the most popular dishes in Korea, Bulgogi literally means “fire beef,” but is generally translated as “Korean barbecue”. Thin, tender slices of beef are marinated in a sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, green onions and other seasonings, and then cooked over a hot charcoal grill at your table.

* Kalbi Gui
This dish of marinated beef or pork ribs, roasted over hot coals right at your table, would offers one of the world’s most sublime dining experiences. Foreign visitors much enamored to know that restaurants that specialize in Bulgogi also serve good Kalbi.

* Naengmyon
Literally translated as “cold noodles”, this refreshing summer speciality boasts very thin, chewy buckwheat noodles served with chopped scallions, shredded radish and sesame seeds – all bathed in cold beef broth. Hot mustard and vinegar are added to spice up the mild and sweet taste of the soup.

* Shinsollo
When you dine at a typical Korean restaurant, one of the main courses could be Shinsollo (Angel’s Brazier), which is a sumptuous mixture of meat, fish, vegetables, ginko nuts and bean curd. These ingredients are jumbled together and left to simmer in beef broth over a charcoal brazier at the table.

* Sollongtang
Sollongtang is rice beef noodle soup seasoned with sesame seeds, salt, pepper, scallion and sesame oil. It is generally served wit rice as the main meal, accompanied by various side dishes such as kimchi.

* Samgyetang

Samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) is a dish that goes down well with health-conscious Koreans, especially during the hot summer months. The chicken – stuffed with ginseng, jujubes, glutinous rice and garlic – is widely believed to restore one’s health and spirit.

Check Out They Popular Brews
Koreans are said to also consume more alcohol per capita than anywhere else in the world.

* Soju
Just as beer is de rigueur to Germans, so is Soju to Koreans. Being the national liquor guzzled by all, drinking Soju in the company of friends and business associates provides a way for them to socialize and get to know others better.

* Makkoli

This is an unrefined alcoholic drink made of sweet rice with a milky appearance. It is found in most convenience stores for a dollar.

* Dong dong ju
Another traditional alcoholic sweet rice drink with a milky appearance. The alcoholic beverage is generally consumed in a more traditional, rustic establishment and served out of a large bowl into a separate cup with a ladle.

* Maekju
Maekju is another perennial favorite throughout South Korea. It is available in two domestic brands – Crown and OB. It’s a heavenly accompaniment to many of the spicy Korean dishes.