Because the way we see it is, they must be doing somethin’ right. They’ve been dubbed the nation whose residents will live the longest by 2030, and a lot of that is because of how they eat. Their aim is to be in ‘chi’ aka balance, and they follow a holistic, balanced approach—believing that food is thy medicine.
Most meals start with rice and soup, followed by a main selection which tends to be comprised of shared side dishes (‘banchan’) that include steamed, raw, fermented and pan-fried options. Okay, salivating already.
Here are 3 healthy Korean cooking traditions that we’d all do well to incorporate into our own K-itchen routines (see what I did there).
Gut health is an integral and inherent part of Korean cooking. Fermented foods like kimchi are a mainstay of the diet that is eaten at just about every meal; not a fad, meaning that probiotics are abundant in the majority of traditional Korean dishes.
A classic meal, bibimbap (How FUN is this word! Plogging’s got competition) typically includes lean protein, a tonne of cooked and fermented veggies and some warming rice cooked in a fragrant mix of spices and oils. Extra gut health points if you add a serve of kimchi on top.
Not only does the Korean diet naturally include a wealth of veggies, they’re usually drenched in additional benefits by way of spices and oils. Sesame oil features heavily in Korean cooking, which we ain’t mad about ‘cause not only is it damn delicious and adds a distinct nutty taste to any dish, it’s also and chock-full of healthy fats which are super anti-inflammatory and integral to a balanced diet.
They also don’t go easy on the spices, which we fully support. Dishes tend to be super-fragrant, spicy and fully flavoured. Ginger, garlic, hot chilli flakes and soy sauce are big-name players in Korean kitchens.
Herbs are big in Korean cooking, and for good reason. As mentioned before, as a culture, they try to treat problems, imbalances and illnesses with a holistic approach, and herbs are a big part of this.
Outside-the-box ingredients like dried persimmon, pine seeds, gingko, ginseng and red dates are often used in cooking, or dried and brewed into teas. With the onset of the Aussie winter, we’ll definitely be incorporating a few different brews into our routines, thanks very much.