Fish and seafood
See also: List of Korean dishes § Fish-based dishes, and Jeotgal
A bowl of gejang, marinated crabs in soy sauce and plates of various banchan (small side dishes)
Fish and shellfish have been a major part of Korean cuisine because of the oceans bordering the peninsula. Evidence from the 12th century illustrates commoners consumed a diet mostly of fish and shellfish, such as shrimp, clams, oysters, abalone, and loach, while sheep and hogs were reserved for the upper class.
Both fresh and saltwater fish are popular, and are served raw, grilled, broiled, dried or served in soups and stews. Common grilled fish include mackerel, hairtail, croaker and Pacific herring. Smaller fish, shrimp, squid, mollusks and countless other seafood can be salted and fermented as jeotgal. Fish can also be grilled either whole or in fillets as banchan. Fish is often dried naturally to prolong storing periods and enable shipping over long distances. Fish commonly dried include yellow corvina, anchovies (myeolchi) and croaker. Dried anchovies, along with kelp, form the basis of common soup stocks.
Shellfish is widely eaten in all different types of preparation. They can be used to prepare broth, eaten raw with chogochujang, which is a mixture of gochujang and vinegar, or used as a popular ingredient in countless dishes. Raw oysters and other seafood can be used in making kimchi to improve and vary the flavor. Salted baby shrimp are used as a seasoning agent, known as saeujeot, for the preparation of some types of kimchi. Large shrimp are often grilled as daeha gui (대하구이) or dried, mixed with vegetables and served with rice. Mollusks eaten in Korean cuisine include octopus, cuttlefish, and squid.
Miyeok guk, a soup made from the sea seaweed, miyeok
See also: List of Korean dishes § Vegetable-based dishes
Korean cuisine uses a wide variety of vegetables, which are often served uncooked, either in salads or pickles, as well as cooked in various stews, stir-fried dishes, and other hot dishes. Commonly used vegetables include Korean radish, napa cabbage, cucumber, potato, sweet potato, spinach, bean sprouts, scallions, garlic, chili peppers, seaweed, zucchini, mushrooms and lotus root. Several types of wild greens, known collectively as chwinamul (such as Aster scaber), are a popular dish, and other wild vegetables such as bracken fern shoots (gosari) or Korean bellflower root (doraji) are also harvested and eaten in season. Medicinal herbs, such as ginseng, reishi, wolfberry, Codonopsis pilosula, and Angelica sinensis, are often used as ingredients in cooking, as in samgyetang.
Medicinal food (boyangshik) is a wide variety of specialty foods prepared and eaten for medicinal purposes, especially during the hottest 30-day period in the lunar calendar, called sambok. Hot foods consumed are believed to restore ki, as well as sexual and physical stamina lost in the summer heat. Commonly eaten boyangshik include ginseng, chicken, black goat, abalone, eel, carp, beef bone soups, pig kidneys.