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An Introduction to Korean Cuisine

With the popularity of Korean Wave, it is inevitable that Korean Cuisine will become a household favorite. The term “Mukbang” - which literally means “eating broadcast”, where vloggers record themselves chowing down giant plates of food, originated from Korea. This type of media also reflects the essence of Korean cuisine - colorful, vibrant, and mouth watering food that you simply can’t resist!

Tradition at its core

Suppose every Asian cuisine really has a colour. In that case, red is the unique colour of Korean food when most Korean dishes bring a little spiciness from the chilli - an indispensable spice in meals in the land of kimchi.

Korean food often uses many ingredients and spices in cooking. It focuses on an eye-catching presentation that makes you crave a plate of hot, steamy stew or golden, crispy fried chicken just by seeing it through a TV screen.

Korean culinary culture is a unique and delicate combination of a variety of foods imbued with traditional culture. Although influenced by Japanese and Chinese cuisine, most Korean dishes have their own characteristics. The most obvious thing is that most of them prioritize health. In Korean cuisine, vegetables are the main ingredients. The main cooking method is stir-frying and grilling, focusing on the natural freshness of the food.

Korean cuisine relies heavily on rice, vegetables and (at least in the South). Traditional Korean meals are named for the number of side dishes (반찬; 飯饌; banchan) that accompany by short-grain rice.

In the land of kimchi, daily meals are often split into main dishes, including rice and banchan dishes - side dishes that create diversity in flavour. In particular, the side dishes include soup, kimchi, dried fish, braised meat, stir-fried vegetables, etc.

The most common seasoning ingredients include toasted and untoasted sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, fermented bean paste (mostly doenjang made from soybeans), and gochujang—a fermented red chilli paste.

Vibrant in nature

As opposed to Japanese cuisine, Korean cuisine is very savory

, intensely flavored, and incredibly bold. The distinct taste can be found in classic Korean dishes like beef bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchi, and the recently popularized Korean fried chicken.

Spice is therapy for many Koreans, as strange as that may sound. Surprisingly, Feeling like your brain is on fire is very satisfying. For Koreans, "Let's eat something very hot," is a common answer to "I'm so stressed out" in a culture where extreme heat is as common as salt and pepper.

Along with a variety of traditional food, Koreans really know how to adapt and innovate cuisine, making their own signature trait. If you ever have a chance to try Korean Fried Chicken, you might never want to go back to your regular Colonel Sanders recipe! (If you want to see some authentic reaction, the Korean Englishmen YouTube channel has a whole playlist of people trying Korean fried chicken, from regular Joe, movie stars to soccer players). When combined with beer, it is called Chimaek, short for "chicken, maekju (beer)". This glorious pairing features two surprisingly mundane foods: fried chicken and beer, which is devoured by millions of Koreans every weekend.

Originating from Japan, instant noodles have also been taken on Korean skin, called Ramen. Savvy eaters must have heard of the infamous “Fiery noodle challenge”, where your spicy tolerance is put to the test by Korean spicy noodles. Ramen could also be considered as one of the pride of Korea, with products being exported worldwide.

Nowadays, diners coming to Korea are also captivated by the vibrant street food culture that is always crowded with people from all over the world. Imagine you are standing on a busy road, stopping at a street food stall, sipping some spicy rice cakes and "giant" hot fish cake skewers. This beautiful memory will make you never forget.

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