‘Seoul’ food

Korean food, for the most part, is healthy, light and full of flavor.

A Korean barbecue. (photo credit: NOA AMOUYAL)
A Korean barbecue.
(photo credit: NOA AMOUYAL)
The first question I was asked when I returned from Seoul was simply: “How was the food?” Korean food, for the most part, is healthy, light and full of flavor.
Kimchi – the fermented root vegetable often marinated in spicy red pepper sauce – is probably the most popular food to non-Koreans. However, their cuisine extends far beyond that simple staple.
Bibimbap, for example, encapsulates everything that is refreshing and bountiful about Korean food. This mixed rice and sautéed vegetable dish is topped with thinly sliced meat and a fried egg.
For lovers of spicy food, dousing the dish with chili paste is encouraged.
Bulgogi is another popular variation of thinly sliced marinated beef over rice.
Mushrooms, soy sauce and garlic give it its savory and succulent flavor. This Korean culinary fixture can be found in most barbecue joints across the city.
Of course, all this hearty food must be washed down with something, and Koreans often opt for the wildly popular soju.
After seeing the little green bottle at virtually every haunt in the country, it’s easy to believe that Koreans consume roughly 3.4 billion bottles of soju a year.
The fermented distilled rice liquor dates back to the 14th century, when Mongol invaders introduced it to the region.
Interestingly, in yet another weird twist of fate where Israeli and Korean culture overlap, the Mongols brought soju from Arabia, where it was known as “Araki.”
Yup, it’s a form of arak. And like arak, soju flows through the veins of Korean daily life.
Korean poet Lee Chang-guy waxed philosophical in his ode to this quintessential Korean beverage: “Soju seeped into my soul with its sensual, spiritual, novel, fantastic, impractical, anti-social, and revolutionary face.”