Korean Beer

Beer and the Best Korean BBQ Sydney

Despite the long history of alcohol in Korea there was no beer until the 20th century. Rice wine and Soju have been staples of the Korean alcohol industry for centuries, but beer was a very late addition, being introduced in about 1908.

Yet for the last generation beer has steadily gained a following. This is partly caused, or at least reflected, by the appearance of South Korean beer in television and popular culture. This popularity is even more surprising because until recently there have only been two major beer manufacturers. Government restrictions made microbreweries and other companies difficult to start.

The two major beer producers, OB and Hite-Jinro retain the largest market share, producing several beers that are mostly made from rice. The two rival products are considered so similar that many restaurants other stock one or the other. Until recentl the only other option was imported beer, which was quite expensive.

The situation changed after 2012 when a British magazine (The Economist) claimed that Beer was the one area when the North Koreans were ahead of the South. The South Korean government changed their regulations in light of this in an attempt to improve the situation. Microbreweries appeared in 2014 and the Lotte distiller (already famous for Soju) started to produce a beer to rival the main two brands.

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As Korean beer is made from rice it is quite different to western beers. It goes well with Korean fried chicken and most late night meals.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a staple food in Korea. It is literally eaten on a daily basis be virtually everybody in the country, and expatriates go to great lengths to obtain it in overseas locations. Korean have been known to strike when there was no Kimchi available.

Kimchi is made by fermentation of vegetables, usually cabbage and radish. Modern kimchi also contains spicy peppers as well as other ingredients such as garlic and onions. Health wise Kimchi provides the same function as yogurt of sauerkraut, providing the body with healthy bacteria that aids digestions.

Kimchi is also a decent source of vitamin b12, which is hard to obtain on a vegetarian diet. Historically kimchi was one of the few ways to keep edible vegetables during some seasons of the year. The production B12 was a welcome advantage to this storage/ fermentation process.

Kimchi is frequently eaten as a side dish to a meal. But it may also be used as an ingredient in other main dishes.

Kimchi fried rice

This is simply rice with kimchi and some diced meat and vegetables. It is a simple meal popular with students. If often just uses leftover food with fresh rice and kimchi.

Kimchi Hamburger

Kimchi is often added to hamburgers in Korea as sauce is added to burgers in the west.

Kimchi Pancake

This is more like an omelette than a pancake, though it has so many toppings that some people compare it to a pizza. A popular side dish or small meal.

Soups and Stews

Many stews and soups incorporate some kimchi.

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Many westerners are attracted to the Korean barbequed meats. But there’s no need to stop there. Enjoy the other aspects of Korean food and alcohol.

 

Popular Korean Dishes

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There are several Korean dishes that are popular with westerners.

Bubgogi

This is thinly sliced meat, either beef or pork, marinated to give a sweet, spicy flavour. The cooking adds the smoky flavour.

Bukgogi is the type of dish found at any Korean charcoal BBQ Sydney wide.

Haejangguk

This s a thick stew of beef and vegetables. Some variations include ox bone or squid. This is thought to be a good handover cure.

Samgyeopsal

This is also known as three-layer-meat, or pork belly. Unlike most Korean meats is it not traditionally marinated. It is thought to be best enjoyed as three layers of flesh, fat and meat. Some modern cooks bend the rules and do marinate the pork.

Hotteok

This is a type of pancake. But with a sweet filling it is perhaps more like a donut, even including cinnamon. Savoury meat varieties are also popular.

This is often sold as street food. 

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Many foreign dishes give a foreign twist to familiar meats. Try beef, pork and chicken, barbequed at your table and marinated in an unexpected way.

Popular Beef

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Koreans are fond of beef and Barbeque. This is at least partly due to the past scarcity of beef and meat in Korea. During most of the 20th century Koreans ate what was available at the time, which tended to be fish, rice, soy, grains and vegetables, often after some fermentation. Meat was the occasional treat, and they prepared it accordingly.

Today beef consumption in Korea is steadily increasing. The locals are as fond of the meat as ever, but now they are enjoying it almost every day.

There are so many way to prepare beef with marinades. But this is one occasion where you do not need to be too stuck for choice. Korean BBQ does not consist of many small helpings of meat, each prepared in a different way. You can cook several varieties of marinated meat, and order more of the style that you like the most.

All the best Korean BBQ Sydney side or elsewhere is served with side dishes (Banchan), so there is a healthy balance of vegetables.

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Beef and other barbeque meats are a great introduction to Korean cuisine. Westerners are already familiar with beef, chicken, pork and barbeque meats. Korean cuisine +means trying these familiar foods with a foreign twist.

Healthy Korean

Healthy and Best Korean BBQ Sydney

The people of South Korea tend to be quite health, with very low obesity rates. Part of the reason for this is the diet. The traditional food is mostly healthy and it tastes good, so people need not resort to cheap and nasty junk food. Even the Korean fast food, the street food, is quite healthy. 

Some health advantages of Korean cuisine are:

  • Less oil than most other Asian food and much less than fried foods.
  • Many small portions of different foods means getting a lot of good nutrition.
  • Food tends to be natural.
  • Fermented foods like Kimchi provide excellent gut bacteria.
  • Spicy food is healthy in moderation.
  • Family or social dining is better than eating alone- less chance to overindulge.

Some healthy food Korean options:

  • Barbequed beef
  • Beef stew
  • Kimchi
  • Banchan, all the little side dishes add up to a good serving of vitamins and nutrients.
  • Steamed Vegetable Spring rolls
  • Eggplant dishes.
  • Bibimbap – plenty of vegetables, beef and rice.

Soju

Alcohol at Korean BBQ Strathfield

Soju is a Korean alcoholic drink. It often tops yearly polls for the biggest selling alcoholic Beveridge each year. Westerners often haven’t heard of soju because it is mostly sold in Asia. This is a pity, because the westerners who do know of this drink tend to like it, finding that it fits in somewhere between moderate wine and strong spirits.

Soju is a clear distilled spirit, traditionally made from rice, but now often made other grains as well. It usually has an alcohol content of 20%, which is below the alcohol content of most western spirits (37%) but well about the alcohol content of wine (12%). A few brands of Soju have higher alcohol content.

Soju’s mid-level alcohol content gives it a legal loophole. Restaurants that are licenced to sell wine by not spirits are legally allowed to sell soju if the alcohol content is below 25%. This allows them to mix cocktails with soju, something not usually possible without a liquor licence.

In Korea the Soju is usually drunk neat. Unlike most spirits it is something to be consumed with a meal. There are special forms of etiquette for Soju, drinking, such as hold the glass in both hands while the eldest male diner pour the drink. At the same time a bottle of Soju is very cheap, and often consumed casually when away from the dinner table.

Soju is sometimes flavoured. This allows many variations as neat soju is quite neutral tasting. It makes a good base for many flavoured variations.

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Add to your experience of Korean BBQ with the same alcohol that the Korean diners enjoy. Soju is one option, but Korean beer and wine are also popular.

Korean Cuisine

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Every culture has their own culinary traditions. These make for a different dining experience to our own culture.

A few notable traditions with Korean food:

Banchan

Korean meals are served with many little side dishes. The more formal the event the more side dishes are expected. These include:

  • Pickled radish – yellow in colour form the chija.
  • Mung Bean Sprouts – marinated but crunchy
  • Anchovies – Often with some sweet honey to add to the saltiness.
  • Seaweed – popular in many Korean meals. Toasted is possibly the most popular type.
  • Pajeon- Pancake omelette. This is sometime a main meal as well as a side dish.
  • Kimchi – fermented vegetable.

Kimchi

This is Korea’s National dish. It is so popular, so ubiquitous, that some Koreans have refused to work when it is unavailable.

Kimchi is fermented vegetables, often cabbage, with some hot spice. It is a little like German sauerkraut, and healthy in the manner of fermented foods such a yogurt. It is thought to be beneficial for digestion and excellent for the immune system. Koreans claim it prevented the Bird flu epidemic in the past.

Barbeque

Some Korean meats are cooked at the table by the diners. Thin cuts of meat are grilled on a BBQ in the middle of the table, then eaten hot.

There are many different meats for Korean BBQ. Diners often like to try a little of each variety. Some meats are made unique by different marinates. Even seemingly ordinary beef can really be given something special by a chief secret recipe marinate. Other meats are unique because of the cut. Koreans love their cut of Pork Belly meat, with three layers of fat, meat and flesh.

Japanese style marbled beef is also popular. This is specially raised for its unique texture and taste.

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Korean menus may look half familiar with beef, chicken and pork. But Korean chefs do something quite different with these items.

Try some familiar, with a foreign twist.