Category Archives: Blog

Korea’s Different Food Types

Did you know that Korea’s cuisine are divided into several types, each with their own influences?

Buddhist Cuisine

Since Buddhism was introduced into Korea, Buddhist traditions have strongly influenced Korean cuisine. Korean temple cuisine originated in Buddhist temples of Korea. What types of food originate at the temples? A bowl of cooked glutinous rice (called chalbap), fried dessert (called yakgwa), and fried and puffed rice snack (called yumilgwa ) were served at the Buddhist altars during the Silla period (57 BC – 935 AD). During the Goryeo Dynasty, wraps made with lettuce together with yaksik, and yakgwa spread to China and other countries. Since the Joseon Dynasty, Buddhist cuisine has been established in Korea according to regions and temples.

Royal Court Cuisine

The cuisine of the monarchy is closely related to Korean temple cuisine. Then, when the royal court maids who were assigned to the royal kitchen became old, they had to leave the royal palace. Many entered Buddhist temples to become nuns. Hence, culinary techniques and recipes of the royal courts were integrated into Buddhist cuisine.

Vegetarian Cuisine

Even vegetarian cuisines are linked to Buddhist traditions from the Goryeo dynasty onwards. There are now many vegetarian restaurants in Korea which were historically local restaurants that are unknown to tourists. Most have buffets, with cold food, and vegetarian kimchi and tofu being the main features. Bibimbap is a common vegan dish. Menus change with seasons. The Korean tea ceremony, suitable for all vegetarians and vegans, began with Buddhist influences.

Ceremonial Food

Food is included in Korean family ceremonies, mainly based on the Confucian culture. The four family ceremonies – coming-of-age ceremony, wedding, funeral, and ancestral rite – are considered especially important and elaborately developed, influencing Korean life today. Ceremonial food has developed with variation across different regions. Ritual foods, for example, arranged by rows on the dinner table include rice, liquor, soup, vinegar and soy sauce (1st row); noodles, skewered meat, vegetable and fish dishes, and rice cake (2nd row); three types of hot soup, meat and vegetable dishes (3rd row); dried snacks, kimchi, and sweet rice drink (4th row); and variety of fruit (5th row).

Street Food

In South Korea, food may be purchased from street carts during the day, customers eating standing or have their food wrapped to take home. At night, streets are filled with small tents that sell inexpensive foods, drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Seasonal foods include hotteok, and bungeoppang, which are enjoyed in autumn and winter. Gimbap and tteokbokki are also very popular street food.

Merging Modern and Tradition in UW

Look out for us in the University district when you crave Korean food. Our selections have stood the test of time and come to you still with its traditions and historical significance.

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.