South Korean cuisine is unique and has little similarity with other Asian styles of cooking. In the past, South Korea was a primarily an agricultural nation, and as a result rice has been their staple food through the years.
A typical South Korean meal consists of soup, rice, rice water and a number of side dishes or banchan that can number anything from 3 to 20. The banchan or side dishes are all served at the same time and these may be dishes of chicken, fish, pork, beef and dog meat as well as several varieties of vegetables and greens. Kimchi, which is a spicy pickled vegetable and Deonjang, or soy paste that has been fermented are also served along with South Korean meals and these items add flavour to the meal with their tangy and salty taste and high nutritional content.
South Korean food can be very spicy and most of the side dishes and soups are known to have red peppers in them. The banchan and the main meal are served together and the food is eaten with chopsticks, while soups can be eaten with a spoon. The table settings in a typical South Korean meal follow a fixed pattern depending on the kind of food that is served.
Some of the most popular dishes in South Korean cuisine include the Bibimbap, which is a kind of boiled rice that is mixed with various vegetables and peppers, Bulgogi, a marinated beef barbecue dish that is charcoal-broiled and served with onions and mushrooms and Grilled Gal bi, a speciality dish consisting of seasoned short ribs. Another dish that is very popular throughout South Korea is the Haemultang which is a kind of seafood stew. All these dishes are common throughout the region but there are some regional specialties like Dakgalbi, a spicy chicken dish that is part of Chuncheon city cuisine.
The most famous dish of all in South Korea is Kimchi (also sometimes spelt Kimchee). This side dish in effect is pickled cabbage and which also comes with spices, garlic and a few other ingredients. It can perhaps be compares to a roast dinner for British people, or to pasta for Italian. Mention the word Kimchi to just about any Korean person and see their face light up.
In general, Korea food is very often spicy and often involves a lot of garlic and rice. It can take a little while to get used to, but once you do, it can be very addictive and offers some great tastes.