A cuisine speaks volumes about the country from which it came from, while also encapsulating the essence of its culture and traditions. Korean food is scrumptious and distinct in its own ways.
One of the most interesting characteristics of Korean food is that of the preparation of certain foodstuffs which often requires fermentation.
Fermentation as a practice was spearheaded by enlightened spiritual practitioners of ancient Korea who sought to create food that would benefit all people.
In the olden days, fermented foods such as soy sauce were an important source of protein for the Koreans, and they remain popular even to this day.
The primary reason behind the practice and consumption of fermented foods in Korea is due to the geographical and climatic changes. The winters are known to be harsh and fermented foods are known to improve the metabolism and keep the body warm during colder months.
One of the key principles to understanding traditional Korean food is fermentation, a natural process that helps food to mature which enhances the taste and nutritional properties and allows it to be stored for a longer period.
The degree of fermentation is a key factor in the taste and flavour of the food, with the fermentation process taking anywhere from several months to years.
The Korean foodstuffs that best represent this tradition of fermentation include the pastes used in Korean cooking and the ubiquitous Kimchi which has become a ubiquitous part of all Korean meals.
Large earthenware pots or urns are used to store fermented ingredients with a variety of seasonings. Each style of urn has its own name, depending on its size, usage, and how it was made.
The largest of the earthenware pots are called dok and are used for fermenting soy sauce, hot pepper paste, and brown bean paste.
The kimchi dok is the largest of earthenware pottery urns and is used to prepare the whole range of fermented vegetables which are buried underground or partially underground for ageing and storage until spring.
We know that probiotics play an important role in our diet. Fermented foods go through a process called lacto fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. The natural fermentation of food is rich in nutrients which help break it down to a more digestible form. Here are the 5 health benefits of fermented foods.
1. The process of fermentation preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes like vitamin B, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various other probiotics.
2. The Probiotics present in the food are known to help improve bowel health, aid digestion and increase immunity.
3. A proper balance of gut bacteria with digestive enzymes helps to absorb nutrients in the food which in turn strengthens you with natural supplements and vitamins.
4. Fermented foods are known to fight obesity thereby helping you lose weight and improve overall health.
5. Lacto fermentation helps in storing these foods for a longer duration of time without losing the nutrients.
You don’t have to hunt high and low for fermented dishes in Korean cuisine. One of its most popular fermented dishes is also the most readily available, Kimchi. Read on about the health benefits of Kimchi.
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