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Spicy Taste of Korean Traditional Food

한국 전통음식에 사용된 매운 맛

  • Cho, Woo-Kyoun (Department of Food and Nutrition, Gachon University of Medicine and Science)
  • 조우균 (가천의과학대학교 식품영양학과)
  • Received : 2011.08.08
  • Accepted : 2011.08.19
  • Published : 2011.08.31

Abstract

The origin of Korean traditional food's spicy taste dates back to the first telling of the Dangun myth-a story of a tiger and bear who tried to reincarnate themselves in human form by eating garlic and wormwood. For a long time, Koreans have eaten spicy vegetables such as green onion, garlic, ginger, mustard, leeks, corni, cinnamon bark, and Chinese peppers (Zanthoxylum schinfolium) and Zanthoxylum bungeanum. In prehistoric times, spicy vegetables were probably used to eliminate the smell of meat. In the agricultural age, they were used to supplement meals with fresh taste. They were also used as a substitute for salt (salt was very precious and expensive) as well as side dishes for the poor. Spicy vegetables have also been used as a substitute for main dish like medicinal gruel and used to increase the spiciness of soup, and they are usually used as a side dish and with condiments in namul (cooked vegetable dishes), sangchae (salad), ssam (wrapped in greens and garnished with red-pepper paste or other condiments) and Kimchi. In addition, chili pepper was introduced to the Korean Peninsula in the middle of the Joseon Dynasty (mid-15th, 16th century). The soil and climate of the Korean Peninsula are suitable to growing chili pepper, and chili pepper has excellent adaptability and productivity. Accordingly, it is processed to red pepper powder and has become a major part of traditional Korean food along with Chinese pepper. Since the Joseon Dynasty, many kinds of Kimchi made with red pepper powder have been developed, and most Koreans enjoy them these days. The main characteristics of Korean food are spiciness and honest-to-goodness taste.

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