South Korea has already been a global sensation for cosmetics and technology but Korean cuisine is also no less in constituting the national identity. In fact one of the best aspects of Korea is its food culture! South Korea has such a rich and unique taste when it comes to food that it never misses a chance to astound food connoisseurs. Since people of South Korea love to eat outside more than at home, you can find huge options be it street food or high end restaurant. Such is the manifoldness about food that if you visit Korea, you will have to plan a food tour in the city.
Few of the famous Korean dishes are-
- Kimchi- The fact that there are over 100 varieties of this oldest and most beloved dish in South Korean cuisine is itself remarkable of the pride that Koreans attach to their foods. Kimchi is extremely healthy and spicy sidekick that you will find on Korean tables and without which there meals are incomplete. Kimchi is prepared by fermented vegetables, especially cabbage. This super food is getting famous in other countries as well, due to its high fibre content and nutrition. Kimchi is a mark of the cultural value that Koreans associate with food.
- Bibimbap- Bibimbap is yet another delicious Korean dish that contains a bowl of mixed ingredients such as rice, namul (seasoned and sautéed vegetables), mushrooms, beef, fried egg and many more. The ingredients found in bibimbap (mixed rice) varies by region and the famous versions of this dish can be found in Jinju, Jeonju and Tongyeong.
- Doenjang jjigae – This is quite a famous food in Seoul and this stew is one of Korea’s most beloved foods. The ingredients in this delicious Korean food are simple and humble. Made up of doenjang, tofu, mushrooms, green peppers, scallions, and an anchovy or two for added flavour, this comes under Korea comfort food. You can simply add rice and kimchi on the side to have a complete meal. Some may not like its peculiar taste but this taste is what keeps this Korean food occupy a regular place on Korean food table.
- Samgyeopsal (pork strips)- One of the most popular Korean dishes in South Korea, samgyeopsal consists of grilled slices of pork belly meat that are not marinated or seasoned. They are commonly dipped in seasoning made of salt and pepper mixed in sesame seed oil, and then wrapped in lettuce along with grilled slices of garlic, grilled slices of onion, shredded green onions, and kimchi. It is one of the most common dishes found in any Korean restaurant throughout the world.
- Ganjang gejang (Soy sauce crab)- One of the quite famous foods in Seoul, this crab marinated in soy sauce is so tasteful that it is often called “rice thief,” as people keep on eating rice to have more gejang. With slightly tangy, bitter, pungent and cold taste this Korean dish is now occupying a centre place rather than being a sideshow.
- Ramyeon (ramen) – Korean ramen are instant Korean noodles and one of the most famous Korean comfort food. There are different varieties of ramen available in Korea such as kimchi-flavoured ramyeon. People of Korea usually put a lot of vegetables such as carrots and green onions, eggs and some high end restaurants serve different varieties of ramyeon containing dumplings, tteok, or cheese as topping.
- Tteokbokki- This delicious Korean food which is also known as iconic red-orange street food is a much loved item and there’s an entire part of Seoul that is dedicated to steamed and sliced rice cakes (tteok) and is cooked in combination with fish cakes, scallions and other ingredients in a sweet and spicy sauce made of chilli paste. This sauce contains all sorts of things such as black soybean paste and plain tomato ketchup. Koreans also believe the more pepper you put in sauce, the tastier the sauce will be.
There is a never ending list of the vast variety of food that Koreans indulge in. The fondness that Koreans have towards food marks a cultural significance and cannot be summed up in mere words.
There are specific food manners that Koreans follow to relish the dishes as well as to pay respect to it:
- Koreans use both spoons and chopsticks when eating their food.
- They eat rice and soup with a spoon, and eat side dishes with chopsticks.
- Koreans do not eat with both hands holding spoons and chopsticks, nor do they eat with one hand.
- While eating a meal, there is a custom of adult eating first, followed by younger ones.
- Young people should not get up before adult finishes eating.
So next time you visit Korea, remember to try these foods and try to follow their food manners in order to get the best hospitality.