Saturday 18 June 2011

Breakfast in Korea

The Korean family will start the day, as long as there is time before dashing off to work, with a good serving of rice and accompanying dishes, quite similar in character to those eaten during the evening, although the preparation and variety may not be so elaborate. These days many townspeople are too busy to prepare a huge breakfast of the kind needed by farmers working in the fields in past times, so they will eat just soup and rice, or a few side dishes, or rice and kimchi for breakfast.

If there is no time to prepare anything at home for breakfast, busy people still manage to eat before starting work by fitting in a quick visit to a cafe or street stall serving a traditional korean breakfast of rice, soup and meat or fish.

Some of the big cities have rows of "breakfast cafe", with their fronts open to the street, and a row of earthenware pots (tukbaege) on the stoves inside containing a simmering porridge-type mixture made of beans, rice or other grains, which are cooked with a lot of water until they are really soft. When you order your breakfast, a raw egg will be broken into the pot and you mix it in yourself when it arrives at the table.

Preservation of food - KIMCHI

Ask any Korean which dish he or she cannot live without, and they will answer "kimchi". This tasty preparation makes full use of cabbage and other seasonal vegetables, which are preserved by blending them with seasonings and sauces and storing them in large earthenware jars to keep cool and ferment over the long witer months.

Kimchi jars were generally stored outside in the courtyard, or buried in the ground: these days refrigerators are a better option, but you will still see rows of kimchi jars on top of the flat roofs of apartment buildings in the big cities.

Kimchi pots vary in size and shape, and contain anything from one to 40 gallons of this delicious preserve. An earthenware lid sits on top and the sealed pots preserve the strong flavours for months. When the jars are opened, the contents will have absorbed all the delicious fiery flavours - a perfect contrast to the chill of the wintry weather.

Koreans will literally eat Kimchi on every day of the year and traditionally prepare a large amount during kimjang season, which occurs around the time of the autumn harvest. This is an important social event, when kimchi ingredients are blended together in copious quantities. Help is often drafted above left and right: Traditional woven dishes and platters are a practical and attractive method for serving up dry and fried foods.

Korean Cuisine

Korean cuisine

The cuisine of Korea is truly the undiscovered gem of Asian cooking: a tresure trove of exotic scents and flavours. Despite the cross-cultural exchanges with China and Japan, and the significant influence they have both had on the evolution of korean cuisine, it remains quite distinct from either. The cuisines of all the countries share the balance of salty, bitter, hot, sweet and sour - the "five flavours" - but cooking techniques and ingredients create a marked culinary difference between the three.

The Specialities of korea

In korea, certain key flavours such as garlic, ginger and soy sauce lend themselves to common preparation techniques such as pickling or grilling (broiling). Then there are the signature dishes, such as Kimchi (pickled vegetables, often cabbage), Bulgogi (barbecued meat) and Namul (vegetable side dishes.)

One might expect the Koreans to stir-fry in a wok like the chinese, or eat ingredients raw like the japanese, as these characteristics would be consistent with their geographical proximity. However, the Koreans have developed their own methods of cooking, including preservation techniques that give their cuisine a unique arrayof flavours.

From mild rice dishes and delicate soups, through to pickled vegetables and fiery seafood stews, there is something wonderfully mysterious about the taste of Korean food. Whereas the flavours in Chinese and Thai dishes are easily identifiable, Korean cooking blends fresh and preserved ingredients to create complex tastes. In korea there is also a above: The method of making kimchi varies greatly from region to region, but it always contains fermented vegetables.