Korean food culture: deeper look
Bulgogi (buul-GOH-ghee); from Korea literally known as “fire meat”. What is bulgogi exactly? Bulgogi is one of their most popular type of dish in Korea, its thin sliced beef that is fermented. Korea is known for many things such as being the plastic surgery capital of the world, but also famous for their weird eccentric food. From street vendors selling infinite number of snacks to more luxurious plates such as Korean barbeque. Korea has different foods that are not only savory but good for the body, its a food culture people should indulge in its fun and an experience.
Koreas food ranges from hangover stew to spicy fried octopus. Hangover stew which is broth where its rich and spicy, flavored with tender chunks or fatty pork and Korean chili paste. Known to cure hangovers many Koreans after a night out eat this to make one feel better. Koreans have a love affair with octopus, spicy fried octopus is basically what you read it contains chopped octopus stir fried with a few assorted vegetables in red chili paste. People are afraid to try different foods, in general people fear the new/ unknown. People need to start broadening their horizons. Experimentation had its risks and dangers of course- the dangers of ordering a dish too spicy or that was too full of weird foods-but that risk was a part of the adventure. (Heldke). This quote explains we cant be afraid of new food its all an adventure and with adventure comes risk. Korean food might seem a little weird or look gross to an outsider but is not that different to what you might eat on the regular. Think of the hangover stew as chicken soup for when youre sick.
Seoul, Korea is a foodie kingdom. While theres intriguing and tempting restaurant everywhere, street carts and tents fill up the streets. Walking through these streets is like walking down an aisle filled with your favorite foods. Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes) is very popular in South Korea. These are cylinder-shaped rice cakes cooked in gochujang a sweet, spicy red pepper sauce. Can be served in a bowl with ingredients such as egg, noodles or cheese, or in a stick. You almost find Tteokbokki everywhere. This can be taken on the go you can eat it as a snack or make it into a whole meal. Another food that is sought after is French fry covered hotdog, it is a hot dog that is covered in batter then covered again with small French fry bits and fried. It can be eaten with the same condiments as a regular hotdog, but another way is eating it with melting cheese. From what Ive seen this type of hotdog is sold only in south Korea. These snacks are only a very small portion of what the streets in South Korea sell. Youll find many crazy foods with names you wouldnt even begin to know how to pronounce. Street vendors do not only sell savory but sweet too. Strawberry red bean mochi, a soft and luxurious dessert is one of the many desserts that you must try. Strawberries are fresh and slightly sweet red bean mochi wrapped in a soft thin layer. The sweet taste of red beans is not too loud, so the blend is fitted with the flavor that the strawberry gives.
Korean food is like any other food culture it has your healthy and unhealthy dishes. Typical Korean dishes are comprised of a proteinseafood, beef, chicken or soythat has been marinated and grilled, barbecued, or stir-fried lightly with sesame oil. It is accompanied by vegetables such as kimchi. Kimchi, a staple in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly Napa cabbage and Korean radishes, with a variety of seasoning. You can find it in many Korean food stores or restaurants. While Koreans include many vegetables with their dishes, they can be unhealthy too. Since they use a lot of soy sauce which contains sodium. For example, earlier I talked about bulgogi which is pretty well-liked, the dish or the food itself contains a lot sodium, its marinated in soy sauce. Dishes like the ones stated earlier are good occasionally but in the long run they can lead to heart problems and high cholesterol. Street food could be looked at as junk food the amount of sodium and sugar the food contains is high. An example of this would be the French fry hot dog, it has 1,100 calories per serving! While something like that would rarely be a main dish, bibimbap would. Bibimbap is to Korean cuisine what apple pie is to American cuisine. Bibimbap is consisted of vegetables of your choice and an egg with white rice. It has 527 calories per serving with 13g of protein, I would say its healthy. The most common ingredients used in Korean cuisine are vegetables, which we all know to be full of the macronutrients and micronutrients essential in the maintenance of good health. From the side dish to the main dish and from fresh to fermented, vegetables like cabbages and bean sprouts are generously used. Add in the generous uses of garlic, ginger and other beneficial spices and Korean cuisine is very healthy.
Korean food culture is an interesting thing, it has a story behind each dish and meaning. Street food is a lifestyle its on the go, it can be the life of the party, or your savior at 3 in the morning while youre drunk. Its relatively healthy also, so not only is it tasteful but nutritious. Korean food should be at least tried once its different from what one would eat every day. Its a culture that should be shared and known about. In a way this broaden my perspective and made me look at food in a different way, I like to see it as a universal language.