The Global Table
O, The Oprah Magazine | From the August 2005 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
The national dish is kimchi—pickled vegetables. Each year in anticipation of winter, Koreans prepare this spicy-hot food in a ritual called kimjang.
House rule: Rice is a mainstay, typically eaten with a spoon, not chopsticks.
Will work for food: In traditional Korean barbecue, a charcoal brazier is brought to your table (if it's not already built in) for you to cook bulgogi (beef strips), bulgabi (short ribs), or dwaeji galbi (pork ribs), served with lettuce leaves. It's considered rude to make a burrito-size portion by rolling a pile of meat in a whole leaf. Instead, tear off a small piece for a bite-size sandwich. The taste will be a distinctive combination of sweet, sour, peppery, and smoky.
Big bowls: Spoon up a soup like kori kom tang, made with oxtails, or bibimbap, a mixture of rice, meat and vegetables topped with an egg.