Category Archives: Blog

Basics About Kimchi: A Practical Guide

Easy Facts Revealed About Kimchi

Kimchi is a huge part of Korean cuisine. In fact 64% of of South Koreans eat kimchi at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The dish doesn’t come in just several variations, actually, there are more than 100 recipes for kimchi across north and south Korea. Traditionally made in autumn by families, it’s a way of preserving cabbage for the winter months. In its early days, kimchi is fermented by sealing it in big jars and then burying them in the ground. Some families in Korea still do that today.

For a quick study, here are the basics of kimchi. First, what are its common ingredients? Kimchi is typically made from fresh cabbage that’s been chopped and submerged in a salty brine with flavourings such as onions, garlic, fish sauce and a Korean chili powder called Gochugaru. Where does it color come from? The Gochugaru gives kimchi its bright red color, but doesn’t add too much heat. It gives an earthy, sweet and peppery flavor.

Kimchi is fermented. After the flavorings are added, the mixture is sealed to allow bacteria to feed on the sugars; sometimes bacteria is added to the mixture using a prepared ‘starter’ culture. How long do you wait before you eat it? It’s ready to eat – after two to four days of fermenting, when the cabbage becomes softer and the kimchi acquires its distinctive sour-fizzy taste. Then you can store it in the fridge to be enjoyed for months.

Why are there so many variations of kimchi?

Because that depends on regional specialties. Some add raw oysters, boiled eggs and tiny fresh shrimp to the mixture, while others replace the cabbage with other leafy vegetables or cucumbers. When you tasted a family’s kimchi, you would know where in the country they were from. Where is kimchi popular? While the Korean peninsula is considered the home of kimchi, it’s also produced and enjoyed in Japan and China, and more recently around the world.

Kimchi today is readily more available commercially, in supermarkets and grocery stores. Even in Korea now, many people in the big cities, they buy their kimchi instead of making it. Manufactured kimchi has now become very good, and there’s not too much difference with the kimchi that is made at home. It is best though to buy kimchi that has been kept refrigerated, to ensure its living bacteria have not been sterilized. Bacteria is important for flavor and for its health benefits for the gut.

Kimchi at Korean Tofu House

If you’re around UW in Seattle, visit the Korean Tofu House. We’ve got your favorites on our menu – all the Korean classic dishes you love.

Korea’s Gochujang: The New Sriracha, Only Better

The Hot Facts About Gochujang

Gochujang is proving to be the hottest sauce in town. The Korean condiment is not new, but it’s all over America – in grocery stores and in recipes. Gochujang is a fermented hot pepper paste that will slightly remind you about ketchup, but it has a staying power and a somewhat powerful kick. It’s savory, spicy (but not as spicy as sriracha), sweet and tangy all at once.

The condiment has a history of about a thousand years, and now is a staple in many Korean households. It pairs perfectly with meats, veggies, scallion pancakes, soups and rice. If you like Korean food, you’ve probably had it while dining out without even knowing it. Here are some more facts about gochujang.

‘Gochu’ is Korean for pepper, which are used to make this paste sauce. Did you know that it takes a maximum of 3 years fermentation to achieve the taste and texture that make this sauce popular? Its main ingredients are red chili, soybeans, wheat and salt.

How is Gochujang made?

Firstly, dried, fermented soybeans are made into bricks called ‘meju’. The bricks are combined with red chilies, glutinous rice and salt. Then the mixture is placed in earthen jars s called ‘Jangdok’. and let to ripen under the sun for years.

Why are so many in love with this sauce? One, because it has a perfectly balanced taste – sweet, spicy and savory. The exotic flavor is preferred by a great majority of diners who like a little sweet heat without burning the taste buds. Then the condiment is also vegan – suitable for those with dietary restrictions.

Gochujang is a Korean staple, an essential ingredient in Korean cuisine. It is both a ready-to-cook sauce and a finishing touch to many recipes, including non-Korean items. You can dip it with vegetables, spread it on sliders, pour it over chicken wings. You can also cook with it.

So if you like sriracha, or all things spicy, give gochujang a try and you’ll never look for any other hot sauce beyond it.

Spicing Up Your Dinner in Seattle

We’re serving this wonderful sauce in some of our popular dishes such as our Topokki, spicy BBQ pork, Bibimbop sauce and more at Korean Tofu House.

Simple Table Manners When Dining

Observing Korean Etiquette at the Table

Etiquette at the dinner table is a timeless and traditional Korean way of dining. It helps to know that if you are an invited guests, a few rules concerning politeness can make the event pleasurable and memorable.

You have to wait for the oldest person(s) to sit down first before you take a seat at the table. Usually the oldest person is the honored guest who takes the seat of honor farthest from the door. Especially when you are at someone’s home, it’s polite to say that you are looking forward to the meal. In Korean, you say “Jal-mug-eh-seum-nee-da” meaning “I will eat well.”

At the beginning the meal, you wait for the oldest person(s) to lift their spoon or chopsticks first before you start eating.

During the meal, you try to eat at the same pace as everyone else, especially the elders. You don’t rush or linger. Do not hold the bowl of soup or rice; bowls are left on the table while eating. Now, since there are side dishes at the table that are communal, only take enough for yourself while ensuring there’s enough for others. Don’t take so much that you can’t finish, as that is considered wasteful. Try not to touch food if you don’t intend to eat it. Don’t stick your chopsticks into your bowl because that resembles a traditional Korean ancestor ceremony for the deceased. It’s disrespectful and a sign of bad luck. When you’re done, utensils go back to their placement on the table. In Korean culture, it is respectful to clean your plate.

As far as drinks are concerned, always pour drinks for others first, especially for those senior to you. If your neighbor’s glass is half empty that is when you would customarily refill it; your neighbor will likewise do the same for you. It’s not considered polite to refuse an alcoholic drink offered to you, especially from an elder. As in any social situation, you should be aware of how much alcohol you consume. When someone senior pours a drink for you, hold out your cup with both hands to accept (this also holds true for someone passing you a side dish or something else at the table). When you pour for someone senior to you, place your other hand lightly under your pouring hand or under your opposite elbow.

At the end of the meal, acknowledge your hosts. If someone has hosted you in their home or treated you to a meal out, it is customary to acknowledge your thanks after the meal. In Korean, you say “Jal-mug-uh-sseum-nee-da” meaning “I ate well.”

Being Our Guest at UW Korean Restaurant

Do you want to know more about Korean dining etiquette? Then be our happy guest when you come to Korean Tofu House, one of UW’s most popular Korean restaurants. See you soon!