Cuisine Intensive: Korean: Starting Out
For 200 years, until the turn of the 20th century, Korea was known as the “hermit kingdom” — a peninsular nation with borders closed to foreigners. With water on three sides and rugged mountains claiming 70 percent of the land, isolation naturally influenced the cuisine. While recognizably Asian, a Korean meal offers flavors, textures and experiences you won’t find elsewhere, from the fiery, pungent kimchi to the way a meal is served.
Sit down at a Korean table and you’ll soon be surrounded by banchan, a dazzling array of small dishes filled with cooked or pickled vegetables and seafood, meant to be eaten with the main dish. There are no courses — food is served all at once, and you eat whatever you wish. Each meal is constructed with balance, featuring yin and yang, hot and cold, salty, sour, sweet, spicy, and bitter foods. Cooks build an authentic repast around the ancient principle of the five elements, incorporating garnishes colored red, green, yellow, white and black — each one imbued with significance.
It may sound complicated, but many Korean recipes and techniques are actually quite simple, and easily prepared at home. Join us as we explore some of the key ingredients, cooking methods, recipes and cookbooks of this bold, ancient cuisine. A wealth of delicious — and surprisingly healthy — new experiences await on the pages that follow.