Korean food is synonymous with being healthy and delicious. It has evolved over the years with various influences from culture, the country’s geography, and the agricultural and nomadic traditions of the people of the Korean peninsula.
Korea is a land covered by mountains and plateau, it has a relatively cold climate and the food culture is based largely on the climate around the year. To keep the body warm and healthy, Koreans consume fermented food which also improves metabolism.
Yet another factor that influences the Korean cuisine is the geographical borders it shares with China and is surrounded by the sea on the eastern side. It is believed that the Koreans have a longer lifespan just like the Japanese, due to the food they consume that is rich in nutrients and the seafood that keeps the heart healthy. Also, a large variety of food in North Korea is influenced by Chinese cuisine and hence the use of rice and noodles as a staple is quite evident in their cuisine.
Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, vegetables, and meat with all essential healthy Korean ingredients required to nurture the body, which makes it unique and outstanding. Korean food also uses the principle of Yin and Yang to create a perfect balance.
1. Food is the best medicine. Koreans believe that good health and ailments arise from the quality of food consumed and the way it is eaten. This idea played a crucial role in the development of traditional Korean medicine which believes that an ailment should be treated with medicine only after the food has failed.
2. Most of Korean food is influenced by the Royal cuisine and the complex customs of the ancient court. The food is prepared with great consideration given to temperature, spiciness, colour, and texture. Other cuisine types include Buddhist cuisine, vegetarian cuisine, ceremonial food, and street food.
3. The Koreans have perfected the art of preserving food. They have so many side dishes that are fermented or salted with a host of condiments and spices. In fact, Korea is renowned for its fermented food – its sour tangy crunch is a great digestive aid.
4. Korean Buddhist temples have maintained their own culinary traditions, creating a wonderful range of vegetable dishes and ingredients, developing recipes to provide the proteins and other substances required for the monks and nuns to remain healthy.
5. The exotic ingredients used by Koreans play an important role in enhancing health and have medicinal values. Ingredients like dried persimmon, red dates (jujube), pine seeds, chestnut, gingko, tangerine, and ginseng are used in their cooking and also in specially brewed teas.
6. Although Korea has a lot of meaty dishes to offer, the practice of vegetarianism is also followed religiously. In fact, After the death of a parent, Koreans don’t eat meat for a period of time.
7. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (banchan) that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Kimchi is almost always served at every meal.
8. Commonly used ingredients include sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and gochujang (fermented red chilli paste).
9. There are close to 300 traditional beverages that are made in Korea! The most famous alcoholic beverage is makgeolli (rice wine). A wide variety of alcoholic beverages have been developed across different parts of Korea to meet the needs of local communities and others.
10. In Korea, like in neighbouring China and Japan, people eat with chopsticks. However, a spoon is used more often in Korea, especially when soups are served.
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