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Banchan often translated as "side dishes" are an essential part of any Korean meal. They are not just decoration or appetizers: they are the meal, along with soup and rice.
Korean soup, or guk is an essential element of Korean food culture. Many Koreans feel that along with rice, kimchi, and banchan, no meal is complete without it.
A thick stew, or jjigae, served communally, piping hot, and in an earthenware bowl, is for many the epitome of comfort food.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made of seasoned vegetables and salt. Koreans eat it at nearly every meal. It can be fresh, like a salad, or it can be fermented. While the most popular variety is spicy kimchi made of cabbage, there are hundreds of different types of kimchi made of different vegetables, and not all of them spicy. Kimchi is also a main ingredient in many other Korean dishes.
Rice is at the center of every Korean meal, with very few exceptions. These recipes express the variety and beauty of the most important grain in Korean cuisine.
Korean mitbanchan are essential side dishes that are well-preserved and kept on hand in large batches. The most well-known example is kimchi. With a few of these on hand, you can quickly make a delicious, nutritious meal by serving a few portions on small dishes with fresh rice.
Korea has a long history of noodle making and eating. Korean noodles, called "guksu" or "myeon" are everyday food, but also frequently served on birthdays and weddings. Traditionally a long noodle symbolizes a long life, so serving it to someone on their birthday expresses your desire that they live long and happily.
The Korean word "jeon" is often translated as "pancake," but jeon are not just a breakfast food, they're eaten at all meals as side dishes, or as snacks. At their simplest they're food coated in flour and egg and then pan-fried with a bit of oil. Some incorporate vegetables, meat, and fish into a batter which is pan-fried with a bit of oil. Hoddeok is not jeon, but it's closer to the western idea of a pancake.
Korean porridge or juk, is made by slow-boiling rice or some other grain, in water, often with other ingredients as well. Porridge has long been an essential part of the Korean diet, and because it's so easy on the system, it's great for people recovering from illness or surgery.
The Korean method of grilling beef, pork, chicken, or other types of meat, usually usually involves having a grill right on (or sometimes in) the table, where people can talk, cook, and eat at the same time. Usually the meat is in small pieces, and are wrapped into bite-sized lettuce leaf packages (ssam) with garlic, vegetables, seasoning sauce, salt, and/or sesame oil.
Rice cake, called tteok in Korean, is a much-loved traditional dish with many many variations. No festival day, anniversary, or celebrations is complete without them. They are very chewy, and may be an acquired taste, but once you get hooked you'll crave them all the time.
If you're new to Korean cooking, these simple, delicious Korean recipes are the easiest ones I know.
These dishes are delicious, nutritious, and fit into a single bowl for convenient eating and easy cleanup!
Dosirak (also spelled "doshirak") are Korean packed lunchboxes, usually made at home, but sometimes store-bought. They are similar to Japanese bento or Indian tiffin, and are usually made with a few different vegetable and meat side dishes, some kimchi, and a serving of rice.
Need something delicious to keep you going in between meals? These can be prepared and eaten in a hurry, on the street, in a pub, or on the go.
Koreans have long made punches, teas, and alcoholic beverages at home, using the fruits, grains, and herbs at hand to give them flavor and variety.
Traditionally, Korean meals don't usually have desserts served at the end. The sweet things in this category are meant to be served on special occasions, by themselves as refreshments, or with tea.
A Korean meal doesn't usually have an appetizer as Western meals do. Side dishes may come out first, but are considered part of the main meal, not as a prelude. These dishes, however, could be used as appetizers in a Western meal.
Traditionally the main dish of any Korean meal is rice, which is supported by soup and banchan. However, in Korean restaurants these dishes are often presented to customers as main dishes.
Korean cuisine has a long, rich history of fermentation going back thousands of years, and it's part of what makes Korean food distinctly Korean and incredibly delicious. These recipes range from the light and tangy to the deep and complex.
Korean cuisine consists of many vegetarian or vegetable-centric recipes that use seasonal, locally sourced vegetables, often foraged.
Korean pickles - called jangajji (장아찌) - are usually brined quickly in soy sauce and make a perfect side dish with rice. The keep for a long time and their character changes as they age.
There are many icy, cold, or just chilled dishes in Korean cuisine. They are perfect on a sumer day, or to offset a hot or spicy sidedish.
Chili peppers were first introduced to Korea in the 16th century, and from there there was no looking back: Koreans love a good spicy dish and use chili peppers in a number of dishes, most famously in many kinds of kimchi.
Not all Korean dishes are crazy-hot spicy! Korean cuisine uses a wide range of condiments and seasonings, among them soy sauce, doenjang, sugar, black peppers, vinegar, garlic, and a panapoly of mountain herbs too.
Beef has traditionally been expensive in Korea, so beef dishes almost always use the ingredient in moderation, often mixed with (or wrapped in) vegetables.
Korean fried chicken (a. k. a. "KFC") is a popular modern Korean dish with many variations, but traditionally Koreans prepared chicken in porridges, soups, and stews.
For a long time, eating pork was discouraged in Korea, so most uses of the ingredient are relatively recent. Koreans made up for lost time, however, with some truly delicious and iconic pork dishes.
Most of Korea is a small peninsula, so Korean cuisine has a wealth of seafood dishes, prepared in many different ways: boiled, braised, roasted, grilled, dried, fermented, and raw.
Some ingredients used in other recipes are traditionally made at home instead of store bought. The quality of homemade is almost always better.
These delicious recipes are not natively or traditionally Korean. They're ethic recipes taught to Maangchi by some of her readers, or Korean fusion experiments.
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