A Typical Korean Meal

Instead of a recipe or cookbook, I decided that today I would blog about typical Korean meals. What types of dishes are included? How are they served?

While in America we have foods that are typically served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Korean cuisine is more universal. Most meals consist of rice, soup/stew, and various banchan. Korean cooks try to use five colors–red, green, yellow, white, and black–in every meal.

Banchan (반찬) is the word for the numerous side dishes that are served as part of a Korean meal. At least one, but usually more, of these dishes is a type of kimchi. At our favorite restaurant, about five banchan will be served for lunch and more like seven or eight with dinner. But I’ve read that in Korean homes, somewhere between three to five banchan are served. The traditional Napa kimchi is always included, but usually there is also radish kimchi and often cucumber kimchi too. Banchan are to be shared by everyone at the table, which is why it’s rude to pick through the food. That would seem as if you’re trying to find the best pieces for yourself.

Every diner will have his own rice bowl (the contents of which is eaten with the spoon, remember?). The rice bowl is generally placed on the diner’s left. The type of rice that’s served is short grain, which makes it sticky when cooked. Yum!

Korean meals are not served in courses. All of the food is placed on the table at the same time. Soup also plays a big part in Korean cuisine and is often the main dish. Even if soup isn’t a main dish, a type of soup is usually served and is placed on the diner’s right. And dessert isn’t a big part of Korean cuisine; instead fresh fruit is usually served.

If you’d like to read more, I’ll provide you with a couple of sites that will provide you more information. This site provides a lot of information about Korean meals: www.enotes.com/food-encyclopedia/korea. One blog that tells more about food is www.outsideinkorea.com/featured/a-short-korean-food-primer. You can also preview the cookbook Flavours of Korea by Marc and Kim Millon. Marc learned Korean cooking from his mother and grandmother, according to the write-up I read, and includes more than just recipes in the book. You’ll find the preview here: www.quaypress.com/korea/koreaintro.html.


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