All You Need to Know About Korean Food
Being a peninsula, Korea’s diet has always been seafood-rich. However, meats have been popular with Koreans in the last 50 years. The people have learned the art of preserving their foods in ingenious ways, either pickled, salted, fermented and, of course, spicy which characterize their many side dishes.
The side dishes, called ‘banchan’ distinguish Korean cuisine from others around the world. As many as 12 different banchan accompany the main meals. Served in small bowls, they can be anything from vegetables to meat to seafood.Unlike Western cuisine, the entire meal is served all together at the same time.
Rice is on every Korean meal, sometimes replaced by noodles, but mostly each person has a bowl of rice and also their own bowl of soup. The main and side dishes, or a large bowl of stew are served in the middle of the table and enjoyed family-style. Kimchi is a mainstay and has over a hundred varieties, most are spicy. Stews and soups are served very hot while side dishes are cold or at room temperature.
Most of Korean food is very highly flavored, savory and bold. The most common spices and sauces are: sesame oil, chili pepper paste, chili pepper flakes, soybean paste, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and scallions.
Stainless steel chopsticks are used by Koreans when dining, picking up prepared and served bite-sized pieces, not needing a knife. Even meat can be sliced by their chopsticks. Most Korean meats are marinated or braised for long periods so that they turn up tender.
What affected Korean cuisine and how did such fabulous dishes come to us? The country’s geography, being a peninsula, its very hot and humid summers and its very cold winters have impacted the cuisine. The influences of its close neighbors, China and Japan, have left their mark on the Korean diet, their cultures and way of life not very different from one another. Because of European traders, the Portuguese in particular, chili peppers were introduced to Korea in the 17th century and have since characterized their cuisine.
Enjoying Korean in Bellevue
With these little nuggets, consider yourself knowledgeable about the basics of Korean food. But enjoying truly authentic Korean delights is the proof you’re looking for. When in Bellevue, drop by Seoul Hot Pot and you’ll get the perfect picture.