Korea is a tiny country: North and South Korea combined is the same size as Minnesota. But South Korea alone has 50 million people and 1/5 of them are living in Seoul. While doing some research on more traditional Korean recipes, I thought it would be good to make a brief map of Korea and its regional produce and cuisines. Most people think Korean BBQ as the prominent food in Korea but vegetable and seafood have had more impact in Korean traditional food. Long time ago, before we started importing food from other countries in the modern era, the meat was very scarce because Korea is full of rough mountains which are not good for farming or ranching. But we are surrounded by three seas which produce different types of abundant fresh seafood that we ate raw, braised, grilled, pickled and made jerkies with. The rich, meat orientated dishes developed in Seoul and other big cities that used to be the capital at some point in Korean history. But rest of Korea were eating rustic meals made out of wild earthy plants and preserved veggies and seafood to last the harsh winters. Wasting food is like the biggest sin in Korea. When we butcher an animal, we use every part of it including their organs, bones, blood and odd parts like the heads, tails and the feet. Actually, the weirder the part is, the better it tastes! And it’s interesting to see that cold food developed way up in the north, which has brutal long winters. You would expect more hearty, thick, warm meals from there, but no, Koreans from the north rather enjoyed the effect to refreshing cold meals, which are served with a chunks of ice floating in the bowl to make it extra cold. These cold noodles and soups from northern regions are now popular everywhere in Korea. Some of these recipes goes back hundreds of years and I wish to learn them all some day.
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