There’s more to Korean cuisine than Korean BBQ.
Sure, Koreans do love their beef, with South Korea importing roughly $500 million of American-raised beef annually according to Houston Press. And, yes — BBQ aside — we’re all familiar with kimchi, fermented cabbage served at nearly every meal.
But what sets Korean food apart from the rest is its many side dishes (called “banchan”) served during meals. According to Spruce, the number of side dishes can range anywhere from two to 12.
Among these side dishes are condiments — and there are a lot of them. To give you a little background, Korean condiments are divided into two types: fermented and unfermented variants. Fermented condiments include vinegars, gochujang, ganjang and doenjang (don’t worry; we’ll go into more detail!). Unfermented condiments include red pepper, scallions, garlic, onions and more.
So, before you head to the nearest highest-rated Korean restaurant in your area — or try something new in the safety of your own kitchen — study up on these condiments first. Your taste buds will thank you later.