As an Asian cuisine, Korean food uses the staples of rice, fish, and spicy chili peppers. Koreans also eat spicy pickled cabbage called kimchi at every meal. It is made from Chinese cabbage, or, bok choi, treated with garlic, ginger, and spicy chili paste and fermented all winter before being enjoyed in the spring. Kimchi making is an annual tradition that is seen as an important part of Korean family life.
Korean recipes are very similar to their Japanese counterparts, though they are often distinguished by extra flavor and kick. Korean foods can be some of the spiciest in the world.
The national food of Korea is Bibbimbap, or, rice mixed with vegetables. This food comes from the ancient city, Jeonju, in North Jeolla province. The best Bibbimbap is still said to come from this region. It is rice covered with assorted vegetables, chili paste, and occasionally diced beef. Korean mixed rice can also be served in a searing stone bowl lined with sesame oil. The rice gets crispy, and a whole raw egg can be cracked over the rice. The heat from the stone bowl will cook the egg when it is mixed. A steaming pot full of color and savory scents is delivered to the table, and diners must mix all the ingredients together.
A favorite Korean recipe is Kimchi Fried Rice. White rice is mixed with sliced kimchi and served with a fried egg on top. Authentic Korean dishes include corn, ham, and occasionally bean sprouts.
Koreans typically eat miyokguk, or, seaweed soup, on their birthday. This soup is believed to bring good luck. The salty mixture of seaweed, soybean paste, and tofu is believed to be a natural medicine for women who have recently given birth. As a tradition, everyone drinks this soup on their birthday.
Samgyetang is a popular soup in the winter months. It consists of a whole small chicken stewed in broth. The chicken is stuffed with rice, ginseng, and Korean dates. This satisfying meal signifies the bounty of the harvest and always leaves diners happy. In Korean culture, guests are encouraged to lift the large soup bowl with both hands to drink the delicious broth to the last drop.
No discussion of Koran recipes would be complete without mentioning Korean barbecue. Bite sized slices of bacon or short ribs are served piping hot, dipped in vinegar or soy bean paste, and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Barbecue can also be enjoyed with a side of white rice. Pork and bacon are the most popular meats to barbecue, but occasionally marinated beef, chicken, and seafood are added to the mix. Koreans always drink their national beverage, soju, a strong rice spirit, while eating barbecue.
Koreans eat panchan or, side dishes with every meal. A Korean table is covered with an assortment of sides, including kimchi, sautéed tofu, scallions, picked Chinese rashes, fried egg slices, and sometimes meats and fish. Typically, everyone at the table shares all their dishes. Korean culture is very communal, and sharing is a sign of goodwill and togetherness.