Korean cuisine has evolved through centuries of social and political change. Originating from ancient agricultural and nomadic traditions in the Korean peninsula and southern Manchuria, Korean cuisine has evolved through a complex interaction of the natural environment and different cultural trends.
The seas surrounding the Korean peninsula—the Yellow and East China seas, and the Sea of Japan—provide not only many types of seafood, like tuna, king crab and squid, but moisture for the fertile soil needed to grow rice and grains.
Chinese and Japanese invasions during the fourteenth through twentieth centuries gave rise to a culinary influence on Korea that remains today. Like the Chinese and Japanese, Koreans eat rice with almost every meal and use chopsticks. Eating with chopsticks means the food is usually cut up into little pieces that are easy to pick up. Food cut this size cooks fast, which cuts down on the use of fuel.
Unlike China and Japan, however, Korea was never a tea-drinking nation. Historically, China and Japan had to boil their water for it to be fit to drink. Korea’s water was pure, which led them to discover other beverages, such as ginseng and ginger drinks (made from herbs of the same name), wines, and spirits. Soo Chunkwa (ginger drink) is often served on joyous occasions during the winter, and especially at New Year’s.
Below we have listed some dishes that are truly the most delicious; these are foods that every Westerner will love as much as Koreans.
Beef bulgogi (fire meat) is a dish of thinly sliced, prime cuts of meat marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, onions, ginger, sugar, and wine and then grilled. It is often eaten wrapped in lettuce or spinach leaves and accompanied by kimchi (fermented vegetable pickle). Many Korean restaurants have miniature barbecues embedded in tables where diners grill the meat themselves.
To say that all Korean’s LOVE Kimchi would be an understatement. Kimchi is more or less a ‘food group’ in Korea and all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be accompanied by some type of Kimchi side dish. Kimchi is generally made of fermented cabbage and seasoned with different ingredients. Many Korean’s have a second full size fridge that’s dedicated to storing various types of Kimchi.
Ddeokbokki is a pretty simple dish (thick rice sticks mixed with spicy sauce) but well-loved throughout the country. Ddeokbokki street vendors can be found everywhere, similar to hotdog stands in the west.
Bibimbap is a healthy, cheap and delicious meal that’s usually served hot with rice, fresh vegetables and a fried egg on top. Most restaurants will serve a small dish of kimchi, yellow radish and soup with the meal as well.