Korean food is delectable, hearty, and distinct. One of the most interesting characteristics about Korean food is that the preparation of it often involves the process of fermentation. Fermentation was frequently utilized by enlightened spiritual practitioners of ancient Korea to create food that would benefit all people. In the old days, fermented foods such as soy sauce were important source of protein for Koreans, and they remain popular even to this day.
Koreans in keeping with their rich culture and tradition believe in serving exotic food delicately flavored with numerous spices. Korean cuisine is largely based upon rice, vegetables, and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (banchan) that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Kimchi is served often, sometimes at every meal. Commonly used ingredients include sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and gochujang (fermented red chili paste). Korean cuisine is rich in vitamins, and spices such as onions, garlic, red chilies, ginger, mustard, vinegar and soy sauce are used liberally. Koreans cook their food in sesame oil, which is not only healthy for the human body but also gives a distinct flavor to the dishes.
Ingredients and dishes vary by province. Many regional dishes have become national, and dishes that were once regional have proliferated in different variations across the country. The Korean royal court cuisine once brought all of the unique regional specialties together for the royal family.
Common food choices associated within cultural group.
Grain group: Barley, buckwheat, millet, rice and wheat products.
Vegetable group: Bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, beets, cabbage, chives, chrysanthemum leaves, cucumber, eggplant, fern, green onion, green pepper, leeks, lotus root, mushrooms, onion, perilla, seaweed, spinach, sweet potato, turnips, water chesnuts, watercress, white radish.
Fruit group: apples, Asian pears, cherries, dates, grapes, melons, oranges, pears, persimmons, plums, tangerines.
Milk, yogurt and cheese group: very little, if any, consumption.
Meat, fish, eggs and nuts group: beef, oxtail, pork, chicken, pheasant, a variety of fish, shellfish, legumes, and nuts.
Fats and sweets group: sesame oil and vegetable oil. Honey and sugar.