Cooking School – Korean Cuisine

By / Food / September 29th, 2009 / 1

My first introduction to Korean cuisine was a lot like most people’s experiences. I came across Bul Gol Gi at a restaurant and ordered it not knowing what the dish was or even it’s cultural origins. It turns out that I was enjoying a Korean marinated and grilled beef dish typically served as a main course and accompanied by rice and vegetables.

Like so many cultures’ cuisines, Korean food has been reduced to a few typical recognizable dishes. But this landmass of over 222000 square kilometres is made up of two countries – North and South Korea — and many diverse cultural groups in between. Koreans of every stripe have evolved their own specialties based on local available produce. But with the proliferation of television and the Internet, once regional specialties have now become more widespread.

A large part of the Korean meal is made up of rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables and meats. It’s really not so different than most other cuisines. But what the Koreans do with those basic ingredients goes well beyond the ordinary. Flavourful, tangy, spicy and salty meals are punctuated by sweet desserts.

{loadposition contentad} Like every culture that lacked the modern marvel of refrigeration, the early Koreans had to develop methods of preserving their fresh produce. Much of the flavour of their traditional dishes comes from ingredients that have been pickled and fermented. Cucumbers, for instance, are preserved in a brine of some combination of ingredients, like ginger, garlic, onions and chili peppers. The brine can contain any combination of ingredients creating an endless variety of vegetable dishes.



The Koreans have a very strong and healthy alcoholic beverage industry. Producing everything from their signature soju to lagers, this is a culture that understands how a well-placed libation can enhance the food one is eating. Korean bars actually automatically provide appetizers with every drink order. Try sipping a shot of soju (a distilled alcohol usually made from rice, wheat or barley), rice wine, fruit wine or herbal wine alongside one of the recipes below.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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