World Flavor Wednesday: Korean
For those of you with an adventurous spirit, experimenting with uncommon (and sometimes unidentifiable) ingredients is just part of the travel experience. Others may be desperately in search of the nearest McDonald’s or KFC as soon as you plant your feet in a foreign country. Familiarity is something we all crave, but the most seasoned travelers know that you haven’t really experienced another culture until you have walked where they walk, seen what they see, and eaten what they eat. This week, we encourage you to encounter and enjoy the bold, savory flavors of Korean food, chopsticks and all!
(Jeremy Woodhouse/Digital Vision/Getty Images)
The Korean peninsula often finds itself in the hot seat of political tension, but the conflicting forces of yin and yang have not hindered the cuisine from packing a powerful flavor punch. The southern portion, officially called the Republic of Korea, is a welcoming place for travelers and a prime destination for foodies. Its high-tech momentum is balanced alongside a traditional respect for Asian culture. The food, while not as well known as that of other Asian countries, is all the more delicious. Korean-inspired food is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, in everything from barbecue to tacos to burgers. This is partially due to the trendiness of a particular health food and Korean staple condiment, kimchi. Koreans have been preserving food for thousands of years, and somewhere along the way they unlocked the secret to making this addictive concoction of fermented vegetables and spices, which just so happens to be ridiculously good for you, too.
Other ingredients commonly found in Korean cooking include sesame oil, fermented soybean paste (doenjang), soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and fermented chili paste (gochujang). In the style of most Asian cuisine, no meal is complete without its accompanying bowl of steamed rice. What sets Korean food apart is the variety of side dishes (banchan) served with each meal, usually consisting of kimchi, steamed or stir-fried vegetables, rice or noodles, soups, salads and a miscellany of savory sauces and condiments.
Korean food is wholesome, satisfying and intensely flavorful. While it may seem like foreign territory, many Korean dishes are easy to make at home and great for feeding a crowd. Dive into the “Seoul-ful” cooking of Korea with this collection of recipes and watch as your senses sing.