We got an introduction to Korean Cuisine as we enjoyed a guided sit-down dining experience introducing us to Korean food loved by Korean kids growing up, as hosted and experienced by founder Jusep.
From the learnings from Jusep plus what I gathered after, here are 9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Korean Food:
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1. Bap (밥): Rice
Rice is the main staple and is the biggest crop produced in South Korea. It is the foundation of Korean cuisine.
2. Banchan (반찬)
Literally means “Side Dishes” in Korean, Banchan are served in small portions and are meant to be finished at each meal. Since it’s in their culture to always have people leaving full, banchan are usually refillable, even in restaurants. The most popular Banchan that people know is cabbage kimchi (pickled cabbage).
3. Man-doo (만두): Korean style dumplings
Usually prepared as part of Korean Lunar New Year festivities, Mandoo are considered a symbol of good luck for the coming year. It’s a very regional dish, which means major cities have their owns style of making them. Though dumplings are thought to be of Asian roots, historians point out that wheat based dishes like dumplings actually originated from Mesopotamia.
4. Jap Chae (잡채): glass noodles
Japchae means “mix vegetables” in Korean. This cultural dish of Imperial descent started from the Joseon dynasty as a dish for the royal party, created by King Gwanghaegun’s liege Yi Chung. The dish was first introduced with only vegetables and mushrooms.
5. Cha-Jang Myun (자장면): black bean noodles
Cha-jang myun, or Jajangmyeon, takes root from China’s noodle dish “zha jiang mien” which means “fried sauce noodles” in Chinese. The Korean version uses black bean paste instead of the Chinese yellow soybean sauce.
6. Tang Su Yuk (탕수육): deep fried sweet & sour pork
Another dish influenced from China, Tang Su Yuk has been adapted for Korean taste with its crispy batter and sweet jelly sauce coating. It is one of the most common dishes for Korean kids growing up.
7. Bulgogi (불고기): thinly sliced marinated beef
Bulgogi literally means “fire meat” in Korean. Bul means “fire” and gogi means “meat”. It is one of Korea’s National Dishes.
8. Donkatsu (돈까스): Korean version of pork schnitzel
Donkatsu is adapted from Japan’s tonkatsu, but ultimately roots back to Germany’s schnitzel which is where Japan adapted for its tonkatsu.
9. Tdeukguk (떡국): rice cake soup
Tdeukguk, or Tteokguk, literally translates to rice cake soup: “Tteok” means rice cake, and “guk” means soup. It’s traditionally eaten during Korean New Year celebrations as a symbol of good luck for the year, and it’s customary to eat this to get older.
There are so many interesting things to learn about food and how it relates to ones culture, and Jusep tells stories as it relates to his experiences travelling to more than 50+ countries, a fellow Travelling Foodie.
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DISCLAIMER: Though the food tour was complimentary, all opinions are my own.