Basic information on Korean cuisine


Korea is all about food! Here are some basic facts and trivia about Korean food.

■Kimchi wasn't spicy in the past!?


When you think of Korean food, you think of kimchi! But did you know that it wasn't originally "spicy"? Chili peppers themselves were brought to the Korean peninsula in the 18th century, so their historical roots are surprisingly recent. Kimchi, which uses chili peppers, was originally cut into thread-like pieces and apparently wasn't as spicy as it is today.
The most important thing about the definition of kimchi is that it is fermented, rather than being spicy. In Japan, there is non-fermented kimchi that uses kimchi seasonings, but in Korea, where it originated, there seems to be a tendency to say that it cannot be called kimchi unless it is fermented.
Each region in Korea has its own unique kimchi. For example, in Busan it uses perilla seeds and dried radish, in Gangwon Province it uses seafood such as cod and squid, and in Jeolla Province it uses mustard greens.
At the store, you can ask questions such as which region this kimchi is from and have a conversation with the staff, which can be a fun part of your trip.

■Can you pronounce bibimbap?

mixed rice


Bibimbap is one of the most difficult dishes for Japanese people to pronounce.
It is written as 비빔밥 in Hangul, so in English it would be [pibimp ʼap̚], which is closer to bibimbap than bibimbap. The pronunciation of the "ha" row is very different between Korean and Japanese pronunciation.
Just as it is difficult to distinguish between L and R in the Japanese speaking world, the differences between F , B , and P are different in Korea than they are in Japan. For example, coffee is pronounced like "kopi."
Korean restaurants are aware that tourists from Japan have trouble pronouncing bibimbap, so it's not impossible to communicate when ordering, but why not try listening to the pronunciation in person and learning from it?



■Is the origin of kimbap (seaweed rolls) taboo?


Unlike Japanese norimaki, it is made with rice sprinkled with sesame oil, not vinegared rice. One thing you should be careful of while traveling is the topic of "Did kimbap come from Japan? Is it unique to Korea?" Wikipedia also has explanations of the katakana kimbap (kimbap) and the hangul 김밥 with their own claims.
Kimbap often uses mayonnaise, but unlike Japanese mayonnaise, it has a mild sour taste and a light flavor. This is because Korean mayonnaise is used. Korean mayonnaise is not often seen in Korean food stores in Japan, so if you think the mayonnaise used in kimbap is delicious, it might be a good idea to buy some to take home as a souvenir.


Samgyeopsal is more popular than barbecued beef in Korea, and the only place you can get it is Korean brand pork.
Like Matsusaka beef in Japan, Korea also has branded meats, and there is an official certification system in Korea with about 14 types of pork brands. Kangwon Gipunsan Malgun Pork, Doduram Korean Pork, Baekdu Daegan Korean Pork, etc. These pork varieties are still rarely available in Japan, so we recommend trying them during your trip to Korea.
For those who want to fully enjoy the taste of pork fat, we recommend Ogyeopsal. Samgyeopsal does not have skin, but Ogyeopsal does have skin, which gives it a richer flavor.


■Did cheese tteokbokki originate in Shin-Okubo?

Cheese Dakgalbi

Chicken-based dak galbi is said to have originated in Gangwon-do, Korea, in the 1960s , but there is also a theory that cheese dak galbi, which adds cheese to chicken, originated in Shin-Okubo, Japan. In places like Myeong-dong, a type of dak galbi eaten like cheese fondue called cheese pon dak is popular. It might be interesting to try cheese dak galbi in Shin-Okubo before traveling to Korea and enjoy the differences with Korean food.


The tteokbokki (떡) in tteokbokki is pronounced "rice cake," but it is actually made from non-glutinous rice, just like regular rice, not glutinous rice. It was originally used in stews with beef, but in the 1970s gochujang tteokbokki became popular and has continued to be popular to this day. Nowadays, there are many variations, such as curry tteokbokki, carbonara tteokbokki, and rose tteokbokki.

■Did you know that samgyetang is a summer dish?


Samgyetang is boiling hot. Many people may think it would be delicious to eat in Korea, where winters are harsh, but samgyetang is actually a summer dish. Just as eel is eaten on the Day of the Ox in the Doyo period in summer in Japan, samgyetang is eaten on the day of the Doyo period in Korea.
There are three days of the year called the first, middle, and end of the year. This period is considered the hottest day of the year. Many Korean calendars have the three days written around July and August .
Just as the Saturday Night of the Ox festival, where eel, which is in season in winter, is eaten in summer, has only been a relatively recent trend since the 1800s, the culture of eating samgyetang is not that old either, in fact it only dates back to the 1960s .