“It’s Good for your Health”

8 12 2009

by Randy Pulayya

After a few months in Korea, it became apparent that people love to take care of themselves. It doesn’t matter where you live in the world it is always important to spend time taking care of yourself. Everything from what we eat and drink to products that we put into our body has a lasting effect and will catch up to you in the end. The next three posts will give you an idea of how Koreans are so health conscious.

Korean food is much healthier than American food. It has less fat and more vegetables. One of the first things that we recognized in Korea is that there are very few obese people. Koreans always say “it’s good for your health.” It’s true. All of their food, if cooked and prepared properly is good for you. Their diet consists of everything from beef, pork, chicken, fish, octopus, squid, tofu, kimchi, cabbage, radish, collard mustards, lettuce, onions, ginger, ginseng root, other types of herbal roots and of course rice and noodles.

A Korean meal consists of a main dish, banchan (side dishes) and soup. The main dish is typically a fish or meat item. Banchan, or side dishes, includes kimchi, pickled cucumbers, pickled radish, white radish, tofu, etc. (There are countless items that can be included in the category.) At the end of the meal, you have to ask for soup. The most common soup is called doenjang jjigae (된장찌개), which is made from soy bean paste. Doenjang is a traditional Korean food that is fermented from soy beans. It has been a fixture of the Korean diet since the beginning of time. Recently, it has received great attention from western medicine for its nutritional and medicinal value. Doenjang is effective in preventing cancer. Soybeans, the main ingredient of doenjang, contain high quality proteins in the form of amino acid, which aid in digestion.

After three months, I have lost more than 16 pounds! I came to Korea and wanted to lose between 5-10 pounds but without even trying, I lost even more. I accomplished this by just eating the food and walking 20 minutes to and from work everyday. This is proof that Korean food is so much healthier than American food.


Our First Meal in Our New Hometown

18 09 2009

As we explored our neighborhood in the new downtown area of Ulsan, we were overwhelmed with the number of family restaurants. The smell of kimchi filled the streets of Korea as we walked to find a place to eat.

We found a restaurant that seemed like a “mom and pop” restaurant because two older women were cooking and two younger women, in their mid 30s, were eating and watching their toddlers play in the restaurant. bbulgogi-mom-popLike most Korean restaurants, we were required to take off our shoes. The tables were low to the ground and had a built-in grill. This was definitely a bulgogi restaurant. Bulgogi is thinly sliced beef and is traditionally grilled. In bulgogi restaurants, the server takes your order and brings back a serving of meat that you are expected to cook. As newcomers, we didn’t realize that we needed to cook our food and didn’t even know how to order our food because everything was written in Hangul. One of the mothers approached us and helped us order our food. Even though we didn’t speak Korean, you could immediately see the genuine interest of these two ladies because they wanted to help us. The older women brought the raw meat and banchan to our table. Banchan is what the Koreans call the side dishes, which include kimchi, peppers, pickled radish, spinach, pickled cucumbers, pickled bean sprouts, etc. bbulgogiWe just sat there for a moment because we didn’t know that we had to cook our own food, so one of the younger women came to our table and helped us cook. I told her that she was like our omoney, which means mother in Korean. Next, she took my metal chopsticks and reached over for some tofu and fed it to both of us! We realize that we have a lot to learn and we are very excited about learning more about the Korean culture.