Korean Food in America How Korean food came to America and Why it took so Long for People to Love it

By Anna Robarts

Breaking news, korean food has swept the city of new york, with restaurants on every corner, busy sidewalks filled with hungry people that want to eat at “miss KOREA BBQ”, “Gaonnuri”, and “Shilla Restaurant”. All of these restaurants started out as small Korean take out places, and have evolved into some of the best Korean restaurants in NYC. Not only can you find delicious Bulgogi, soups and other delicacies in restaurants, but now America has made room in there hearts for big grocery stores just for asian cuisine.

Korean Flag

Why it took so Long for Korean Food to Come to America

Korean food has mainly traveled here to America in the souls of Korean Immigrants. 83% of America's korean foods came from immigrants. 1970’s through the 1930’s was the highest amount of Korean immigration in over 5 years. During these times, many of the immigrants were unable to bring along the Korean tradition of making delicious korean home meals. They were stuck. How were they going to cook for their Korean family. This was when Koreans decided to start their own places for their home foods that they have left back in the country of Korea.

The rise of korean food in America is the latest in a string of East Asian influences on the American diet. Why did it take this long for Korean food to be one of the 20 most popular foods in America?

Mark Rodbard, a contributing editor of Food Republic, says

“Korean Restaurants, at first more of a clubby environment, for koreans, by koreans. There wasn't really much of an effort to draw in non-Korean guests.”

In the cookbook that Rodbard is creating, he ventures to explain the to be phenomenon, and along the way, collects Koreans best recipes. As the immigrants came to America, the citizens had no idea what awaited in their thirst for Korean cuisine.

The Korean Cuisines Rise to Popularity and How they Influence Cooking in America

Korean immigrants came to the U.S with nothing but the clothes on their back, clueless and afraid of what would happen to their loved culture of korean cooking. Some Koreans decided to make their own home cooking that later would turn into 5 star restaurants.

Some non-Koreans would also be inspired to Chris Cipollone, the chef of Piora which is a Western/Italian based menu, has been greatly influenced by the flavors and spices of korean foods. His most popular dish is a plate of bucatini cooked with funky preserved black garlic, Dungeness crab, maitake mushrooms, and chilies “Using some Korean ingredients has caused some intrigue for sure, but I think it stems from the way we use them. The usage of what's around you, knowing when to preserve or serve fresh. Both countries are very regional; every area has a thing they specialize in.”

Dungeness Crab

Not only is Korean food delicious, it is also super healthy. Almost all Korean food is gluten free and dairy free, which is why it is prefered than other styles of cooking. For the paleo types, its is a meat lovers dream, with dak galbi, makchang and ssam.

American venus have gradually eased themselves into Korean cuisine. For example, food trucks, large catering events, and Korean barbeque.

Korean foods and What to Eat

One of the more popular dishes that is taking over the U.S is kimchi. Kimchi is a large cabbage that is soaked in vinegar and then covered in chilli powder to give is some spice. It can later be dices stripped or even eaten like regular lettuce. Almost all Koreans love kimchi, it's almost apart of who they are, it is also the oldest tradition in korean cooking to have a jar of kimchi in their homes at all times. On holidays, America associate different foods with holidays for example, turkey as part of their thanksgiving ritual. Koreans would eat Duk kook, also known as a rice cake soup, during New Years for a good luck.

From top right to bottom left, Top two: kimchi, Bottom picture: Duk kook

In a Korean household, eating with chopsticks is as common as eating with a fork and knife at your own household. Koreans even use chopsticks to cook. Koreans also only serve food in bowls of china, glass, and even stone. The stone bowl can be heated during the meal, rice is poured into the bowl and then the inside of the bowl will cook the rice touching the bowl.

Korean styled restaurants serve meals on very low tables and cushions that you sit on instead of actual seats. This helps posture and brings us closer together, which is one reason why most koreans share all their food. In addition to serving bowls, low table styles, and chopsticks. Koreans also serve many meals with small little appetizers called panchan. Which is a variety of sauces, vegetables, and other condiments. The table members would pick at the panchan until the entree would be served. Everything is shared including the panchan, while Americans would usually serve themselves and wait to eat.

An example of a Korean seated restaurant in Seoul, Korea

Korea has gone through many difficulties and victories in the cooking community. Not only are they accepted, but now they are considered apart of this cooking society. They may be new to the American lifestyle of food, but that does not mean that they don't cook with passion and love. Now there are over 6,000 korean venus across New York only. That's a lot of korean food to go around, imagine how many restaurants there are in the country. That means more Korean food to go around.


Created with images by sharonang - "delicious korean food" • Free Grunge Textures - www.freestock.ca - "South Korea Grunge Flag" • KFoodaddict - "Wrapped Kimch [보쌈김치]" • manda_wong - "Kimchi"

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