The best of South Korean cuisine

Korean cuisine is known among experts as one of the healthiest, tastiest and most varied cuisines in the world. If you have not met her yet, it's high time; Because your lifetime is limited and you should experience as much and try new as possible!

Angel Reyes
May 3, 2022
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Korean cuisine is known among experts as one of the healthiest, tastiest and most varied cuisines in the world. If you have not met her yet, it's high time; Because your lifetime is limited and you should experience as much and try new as possible!

What is so special about the Korean cuisine?

Unlike Western cuisine, where all food is placed on a plate, in South Korea all dishes are served separately so as not to alter the various flavors and peculiarities of each meal. A perfectly prepared Korean meal is characterized by all flavors, sweet, sour, bitter, spicy and salty and ideally has a variety of different and natural colors. A nicely arranged table you can recognize in this post picture.

Traditionally, the table is covered with a main course, a soup, a bowl of rice and several side dishes. Probably the most famous and at the same time healthiest side dish is " Kimchi ". Kimchi is pickled vegetables, which by fermentation receives a unique and unmistakable pungent taste. You can process virtually any vegetable to kimchi, the famous kimchi varieties are carbon kimchi , radish kimchi (also Kkakdugi ) and cucumber kimchi. Kimchi literally shows off vitamins, minerals and many other health-promoting nutritional values.

History of South Korean cuisine

Korean cuisine developed between the 7th and 13th centuries of our era, but the cuisine we know today was mainly created in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was strongly influenced by Chinese cuisine. This can be recognized by the typical components of the meals, namely rice, soup and side dishes as well as the use of chopsticks. China also took over the consideration of the five elements in Korean cuisine, which also correspond to five flavours (salty, sweet, sour, hot and bitter) and the classification of food into five qualities. However, the differences between the two cuisines are greater than the similarities, as they have developed completely independently of each other.

The Korean upper classes traditionally ate meat, both beef and pork as well as lamb and chicken and game. For the general population, however, meat was a festive dish until the 1970s.

At the end of the 16th century, chili was introduced to Korea as a spice, which today is regarded as typical of the cuisine that prefers hotness. It is used for the production of kimchi, but also for many dishes. Originally, however, the pungent flavour was only a hallmark of the regional cuisine of Gyeongsang-do province, while in the north and southwest of the country much less pungent spices were used. In the 20th century, the differences between the regional cuisines largely disappeared, also due to the influence of Japanese cuisine.

Have you already discovered Korean cuisine for yourself?

Korean food is characterized not only by rice but also by numerous variations of vegetables and soups. Wasabi and soy sauces provide the typical spiciness and unique methods of preparation, such as fermenting vegetables with lactic acid, make for the special charm of Korean cuisine. To help you understand Korean cooking, you'll find the following popular Korean recipes.

A typical Korean meal: bibimbap

The Korean dish Bibimbap means "mixed rice", whereby stirring dishes according to the table label is not usual in Korea. For this superfood you fry two courgettes and two carrots, one red and one yellow pepper each, a bunch of spring onions, 1/2 cucumber and 80 g shiitake mushrooms (each finely chopped) one after the other with garlic and sesame oil. Meanwhile, steam 200 g soybeans and marinate 200 g beef strips in honey, soy sauce and sesame oil. Then fry the meat hot, season with hot spice paste and arrange all the ingredients on the rice garnished with a fried egg.

A Korean national dish: Kimchi

In Asia, kimchi is a speciality from lactic acid fermentation, which is only available in Korea and should not be missing from any meal. First, cool 1 kg of finely chopped Chinese cabbage in salted water for 12 hours. Now mix the cabbage with a marinade of 2 tbsp grated ginger and chilli powder, 1 tsp sugar, 8 garlic cloves, 3 carrots and 1/2 bunch young onions (finely chopped). Now you fill the whole thing into closable glasses, which you pour up to 3 cm under the edge with the salt water and cool with the lid on until your fermented vegetables are ready after a week.

A Korean snack: Kimbap

The versatile Korean rice rolls Kimbap are a popular snack between meals, but are also popular for lunch. Prepare 8 fried nori leaves and 300 g cooked, sticky rice. Now fry 2 eggs like an omelette and cut them like 1 carrot, 1 radish and 1/2 cucumber (unpeeled) into small strips. After a short frying, the vegetables are marinated in vinegar and soy sauce and spread on the seaweed leaves after the rice. Roll them up with a mat and cut them open after serving.

A Korean glass noodle salad: Zabzä

For the glass noodle salad served cold, first cook 1/2 kg of glass noodles and fry 2 peppers and 2 carrots, 1/2 kg of mushrooms and 1/2 kg of spinach (all finely chopped) and 300 g of beef strips in sesame oil one after the other. First mix the vegetables with soy sauce and sesame seeds, then with the beef and noodles. Then sprinkle everything with white sesame and chill the salad.

Korean cuisine is appreciated by vegetarians and meat eaters alike for its versatility and culinary variety. Once you've been inspired by Korean recipes, try Korean cooking and prepare an Asian feast for friends and family. Enjoy your meal!

Angel Reyes

Angel Reyes is a photojournalist and columnist covering culture and travel trends for OMG BYE. He studied Film from Full Sail University. Angel also produces interactive projects and feature video.