Hansik: The taste of Korea
Food is one of those meaningful elements capable to describe traditions, social change and relations inside a nation. Every country proudly boasts the inherent values of their own ingredients’ taste, flavor, aroma shape and consistency. The nourishment materials provide an identity not only physically but also mentally to the local people.
For Koreans, earth’s natural foods are the essence of their diet and culture. For centuries they have enjoyed harvesting and eating those components nurtured by the sun, the rain and the wind. Hansik, Korean Traditional Food, is known to start and finish on the ground: slow, humble and vivid. The practice of fermenting vegetables, peppers and beans inside jars reveals their need to keep the land close. It exposes the secret behind the characteristic deep and complex flavor of ingredients.
South Korean meals and side dishes
There is not a single table in Korea that won’t feature kimchi on one or two of its multiple varieties. The taste of kimchi will come from ripening after the ingredients: cabbage, white radish, red pepper, scallion and garlic slowly mature inside clay jars.
The health properties of Hansik, Korean Traditional Food are abundant from a number of lactic acid bacteria, vitamins and minerals that help fighting cancer, obesity, and thrust the body’s immune system.
Along with kimchi, jang is another key element to the Hansik, Korean Traditional Food. The jang can be solid or liquid; the former version is set as a soybean paste or combined with wheat flour, barley or sweet potato and pepper to have a red pepper paste (gochujang), while the latter is the well-known soy sauce. In any form, Koreans won’t skip it during meals.
Soups are also not optional for locals. Either a guk or a tang —thin and thick soups— should always be ready as an accompaniment to rice or as the main dish. Among the tang variety, the samgyetang or ginseng chicken soup is the one with the greatest reputation. Koreans say that anybody suffering from flue or toxic process should try this magic broth.
Then there is the bibimpab: A conceptual and colorful bowl of sautéed vegetables and beef decorating a bed of rice sprinkled with sesame oil. Inside the plate everything is on balance, from the colors to the flavors; the dish respects the obangsaek or Korean cuisine colors, leaving nothing to randomness.
Hansik, as the surrounding culture, is an unlimited experience for the senses worth to recommend and keep describing. Welcome to South Korea!