Korean cuisine is made up of unique aromas and flavors. In addition to being highly nutritious, it is also low in calories. Seasonings include garlic, Korean hot red pepper paste, spring onions, soy sauce, fermented bean paste, ginger, and sesame oil.

Visitors can’t really say they’ve been to Korea if they haven’t tried kimchi. This side dish is present in almost every meal and there are more than 200 varieties of kimchi, depending on the region and the ingredients used.

The dishes most familiar to Western palates are galbi (marinated short ribs) and bulgogi (marinated beef or pork in sweet soy sauce). These two meat dishes are almost always served at Korean dinners. They are cooked at the same table over a charcoal fire and neither is particularly spicy. Other popular Korean dishes include bibimbap (a mixture of rice, vegetables, egg, and Korean red hot pepper paste), doenjang jiigae (soybean paste stew), naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in cold broth), and samgyetang ( chicken and ginseng soup).

Table setting and manners

A typical Korean table setting consists of rice, soup, and a few side dishes, including the essential side dish, kimchi. The rice, the soup, the spoon and the chopsticks are placed from left to right, in that order, for each person. Stews and side dishes are placed in the center to be shared by all.

Koreans use the spoon to eat rice, soup, and stews, and chopsticks are preferred for dry side dishes, but the spoon and chopsticks are not used simultaneously. Koreans also do not hold their bowls or plates while eating. When the food is finished, the spoon and chopsticks are placed back on the table.

Koreans generally believe that sharing food from a bowl builds a closer relationship, but if you feel uncomfortable sharing dishes with everyone, it’s okay to order an individual bowl or plate. Today, many Korean restaurants naturally provide individual bowls and plates. In the past, talking at the table was not allowed, but this eating etiquette has become more liberal and talking or socializing is acceptable.