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Terms Used in Korean Cooking and Culinary Arts

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Korean cuisine, known for its vibrant flavors and unique dishes, relies on an array of culinary terms that are essential for anyone looking to dive deep into the art of Korean cooking. Whether you’re a home cook, a language learner, or someone with an interest in Korean culinary arts, knowing these specific terms can enhance your understanding and appreciation of Korean food. Here’s a curated list of frequently used Korean cooking terms and their applications in the kitchen.

반찬 (Banchan)
These are small side dishes served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine. Banchan can range from kimchi and pickled vegetables to pancake and fish cakes, all meant to complement the main dishes.
우리는 식사할 때마다 여러 가지 반찬을 즐긴다. (We enjoy various banchan with our meals.)

불고기 (Bulgogi)
This term refers to a Korean dish that usually consists of grilled marinated beef. The marinade often contains soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and pepper to create a sweet and savory flavor.
오늘 저녁은 불고기를 먹을 거예요. (We are having bulgogi for dinner tonight.)

김치 (Kimchi)
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings, and it’s often considered as one of the staples in a Korean diet.
우리 집의 김치는 할머니가 직접 만드신 거예요. (The kimchi in our house is made by my grandmother.)

비빔밥 (Bibimbap)
This popular Korean dish translates to “mixed rice” and typically includes rice, mixed vegetables, meat, and a fried egg, all stirred together with spicy gochujang (chili paste) before eating.
비빔밥 위에 고추장을 넣고 맛있게 비벼 먹으면 돼요. (You just need to add gochujang on top of bibimbap and mix it well before eating.)

떡볶이 (Tteokbokki)
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean street food that consists of soft rice cakes, fish cakes, and sweet red chili sauce.
떡볶이는 매콤달콤해서 정말 중독성 있어요. (Tteokbokki is sweet and spicy which is really addictive.)

장 (Jang)
Jang refers to a category of fermented sauces that are fundamental in Korean cooking, including ganjang (soy sauce), doenjang (soybean paste), and gochujang (red chili paste).
한국 요리에는 다양한 장이 중요한 역할을 해요. (Different types of jang play an important role in Korean cuisine.)

한정식 (Hanjungsik)
Hanjungsik is a traditional Korean full-course meal that consists of various banchan, soup, steamed rice, and main dishes. It represents a balanced meal with harmonious flavors.
한정식은 특별한 날에 즐기기 좋은 풍성한 식사입니다. (Hanjungsik is a lavish meal that’s great to enjoy on special occasions.)

전 (Jeon)
Jeon is a category of Korean dishes similar to pancakes that are made with a mixture of ingredients, such as vegetables, meat, or seafood, coated in flour and egg wash, then pan-fried.
추석에는 다양한 전을 만들어 먹곤 해요. (We often make various types of jeon for Chuseok.)

찌개 (Jjigae)
Jjigae is a Korean stew that can be made with ingredients like meats, seafood, vegetables, tofu, and gochujang or doenjang. It is often served boiling hot in a shared dish.
오늘 저녁은 김치 찌개를 만들어볼까 해요. (I’m thinking of making kimchi jjigae for dinner tonight.)

갈비 (Galbi)
Galbi refers to grilled ribs in Korean cuisine and can be made with beef, pork, or chicken. It’s typically marinated in a sweet and savory sauce before grilling.
우리는 명절에 소갈비를 구워 먹는 전통이 있어요. (We have a tradition of grilling beef galbi on holidays.)

By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you will not only be able to navigate Korean recipes with ease but also deepen your appreciation for the richness and diversity of Korean culinary traditions. Whether you’re cooking at home, dining out, or exploring Korea’s vibrant food scene, these terms will help you fully savor and understand the essence of Korean cuisine.

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