Eating the Korean Way
When dining with Korean friends or a family, it is good manners to wait until the older people at the table have picked up their spoons or chopsticks before you begin eating. Most Koreans don't use knives or forks. Food is cut into bite-sized pieces before it is served. All the food is placed on the table at once and Koreans eat out of bowls, not plates.
Traditionally, the entire family ate breakfast together, the main meal of the day. Today, because of industrialization and an increasingly western lifestyle, dinner has become the largest meal of the day.
Korean meals include soup or kuk and rice or pap. These are served with highly seasoned side dishes such as banchan made of vegetables, beef, chicken, pork or fish. Thick stews made with meat, potatoes, onions, bean curd and zucchini, seasoned with sesame oil, garlic, pepper and bean or red pepper paste are called chigae.
A popular and common staple of every Korean meal is a fermented spicy pickle called kim chi. Kim chi is made with Chinese cabbage, paechoo, and radishes or cucumbers that are soaked in salt water. Later the vegetables are seasoned with garlic, onions, ginger, chilies and salted fish granules. In urban households, the vegetables are stored in vacuum jars and kept in the refrigerator or a cool dark place for at least one month. Cooks in the Korean countryside store kim chi in clay pots and bury them in the ground to ferment.
Teas made from ginseng, ginger and green tea are popular hot drinks. Favourite cold drinks are made with sweet persimmon or cinnamon and flavoured with honey. Traditional Korean foods usually eaten at holidays are sweet and sticky rice cakes that may be flavoured with red bean jelly, nuts or fruit. Cookies made from rice, beans and sesame seeds held together with molasses are also favourite treats.
Here is a recipe for you to try:
1 head of Chinese cabbage
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 green onions
2 tsp Korean red pepper powder
1 tsp grated ginger
salt or sawoojub - this is available at Korean grocery stores and means salty, little shrimp.
Chop the cabbage, onions and garlic, and mix with pepper powder, ginger and salt or sawoojub (salty fish). Put in a jar.