Korean food and cuisine (Soup, soups and rice dishes)

Korea has a very rich cuisine and food tradition. The staple food for Koreans is rice, a particular type of Korean short grain rice, called sticky rice, because its grains stick together rather than falling apart. Rice is present in every meal together with kimchi, a typically Korean food that Koreans eat all the time with rice, on its own or in soups. Kimchi is made of cabbage (sometimes other types of vegetables are used, such as cucumber, Korean soupradish or bean sprouts, but cabbage is the most common) fermented with chilly, garlic and other spices. Kimchi is supposed to be very good for health because it is rich in vitamins and in Lactobacilli (with a higher content than in yoghurt).

A common Korean meal is made up by a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup, several side dishes (called banchan) and a main dish. The banchan and the main dish can often be shared by the people eating together, while the bowl of soup and the bowl of rice are individual. (Food fanatic? You might also be interested in Chinese food and cuisine also in Asia).

Korean cuisine involves the use a lot of garlic (a lot more than in Thai food, Italian, Spanish or Greek cuisine), a lot of red chillies, spices such as ginger, doenjang (fermented soy paste), soy sauce and gochujang (red chilli paste). The cooking oil normally used by Koreans is sesame oil. Korean cuisine includes recipes with meat, fish, vegetables, noodles and tofu. Altogether Korean cuisine is very healthy.

Korean soups

Sundubu jjigae – a spicy soup made with soft tofu (sundubu), vegetables and sometimes shellfish. The diner traditionally cracks a raw egg in this soup while it is still hot, so that the egg cooks in the soup.

  • Doenjang jjigae – a Korean soup made of soybean paste, tofu, shellfish and spices
  • Budae jjigae – this soup was invented after the Korean war, when food was scarce and the Americans brought spam and hot dogs. The soup is made using spam, hot dog sausages, beans, vegetables, ramen noodles and spices.
  • Kimchi jjigae – a Korean soup made of kimchi, tofu and pork.
  • Samgyetang – this is one of the few Korean dishes without red chillies, so you can try it if you do not like hot tastes. It is a small chicken in a soup, filled with rice, chestnuts, jujubes, garlic and ginseng.

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