Korean food as a nationwide cuisine recognized today has evolved through centuries of social and political change. Its roots could be traced back to myths and legends of ancient times. Originating from ancient agricultural and nomadic traditions in southern Manchuria and northern Korean peninsula, Korean cooking has evolved through a complex interaction of the natural surroundings and different cultural trends.
Ingredients and dishes vary by region. There are many significant regional dishes that became both national and regional. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated in different variations across the country in the present day. The Korean royal court cuisine once brought all of the unique regional specialties together for the royal family. Meals consumed both by the royal family and ordinary Korean citizens have been regulated by a culture of etiquette that is exclusive to Korea.
Korean cookery is largely based on rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (banchan) that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Kimchi, a fermented, highly spiced vegetable dish is generally served at every meal. Korean cuisine usually involves rich seasoning with sesame oil, doenjang (fermented soybean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger and gochujang (red chilli paste).