South Korean food has evolved through centuries from ancient agricultural practices in southern Manchuria and the Korean peninsula. Although Korean food is quite distinctive, it does have some features common with other Asian cuisines.
South Korea’s cuisine is healthy, varied and spicy. It is based primarily on soups, stews and Korean-style BBQ. is largely based upon rice, vegetables, and meat. Rice still remains the staple of most dishes, though noodles are also an important ingredient and come in a variety of flavors. Garlic is an integral component in the Korean diet and can be found in many dishes. Korean cuisine ranges from the very spicy to the salty to the almost bland.
Traditionally, Korean tables are set so that all dishes are served at the same time. The main dish is usually placed in the centre of the table with the many side dishes placed around it. The Korean meal is almost always accompanied by a big bowl of hot soup or stew, sticky rice and a variety (minimum 3) side dishes. Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes. Kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage) is served often, sometimes at every meal. Commonly used ingredients include sesame oil, fermented bean paste, soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and fermented red chili paste.
A tray of tea and cookies is normally presented at the end of a meal. The teas and cookies vary by season. In autumn, winter, and spring, hot tea is served with various cookies or biscuits made from seasonal fruits. In summer, the cookies and biscuits are accompanied by chilled fruit juices and fresh fruits.
Korean traditional liquor is made by fermenting various grains. Traditional liquors vary greatly. Fruits and herbs can also be added in order to enhance taste.