The typical Korean daily meal, "Hansik" is composed of steamed rice with side dishes of seasoned vegetables, soup, stew and meat and/or fish. This was historically called "bansang" in Korean, meaning the main meal table.

  • Steamed rice (left) and kimchi

In Korean cuisine, garnishes and condiments are crucial in making the dish. Seasoning is very important, for even a pinch of salt makes a big difference in the taste, and is considered a basic flavor in all cooking. After taste come shape and color, as well as the vessels that carry the food.

Unlike neighboring countries, Koreans mostly use spoons and chopsticks made of metal to eat. Spoons are not only used for eating soup, but also rice. It should also be noted, however that while metal chopsticks are predominant in Korean society, one may also find chopsticks made of wood, plastic or ivory in the marketplace or restaurants serving dishes from overseas. There are additional wooden chopsticks for family use, too.


1. Ingredients for kimchi

2. Slice and wash Chinese cabbages and soak in salt water

3. Clean the bottoms of the cabbages

4. Mix seasonings with salted and fermented fish

5. Spread seasonings evenly between leaves

6. Wrap the whole cabbage and store in a cool place

"Kimchi," a pungent, fermented dish, is a mixture of various pickled vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, radish, green onion and cucumber. It is the most popular side dish in Korea and comes in all manner of kinds and shapes. Some are made spicy with the addition of red chili pepper powder while others come in clear, tasty liquid. The most common kinds of kimchi are those made from cabbage and radish.

The vegetables are pickled in salt water and rinsed. After draining, the cabbage and radish are seasoned. Garlic is always used in kimchi to add flavor. Kimchi is especially noted for being rich in protein, calcium and iron derived mainly from the seafood, such as oysters, squid, shrimp and anchovies that are used for additional flavoring. Also, it is a good source of fiber, low in calories and cholesterol and higher in vitamin contents than apples. No doubt it would be true for Koreans to say "some kimchi a day keeps the doctor away." Other basic side dishes of assorted vegetables are balloonflower, fernbrake and spinach.

Other popular home-made stews include "kimchi jjigae" or kimchi stew, "dongtae jjigae" a spicy stew made with pollak, "dubu jjigae" or tofu stew, "sundubu jjigae" or silken tofu stew, "cheonggukjang jjigae" or fermented doenjang stew and more.