As this time of season, Korean housewives get busy cleaning their homes to greet relatives and shop for ingredients to prepare traditional dishes. For seasoned veterans who have made many Chuseok meals, the focus is on how to prepare the most eye-catching and appealing dishes more efficiently.
Heavy rains this summer have caused prices of fruit and vegetables to skyrocket, so a good way to cut costs when shopping for food is to make a list and follow a set course.
And it is also important to get cooking the dishes right the first time so that you do not end up wasting ingredients. All it takes is some diligence and care for the whole family to enjoy a lavish Chuseok meal.
◆ The Table
A crucial part of Chuseok is the traditional food, but the traditional Korean folk games that have been passed down through the generations and hanbok or traditional Korean dress are also important.
A lot of attention is paid not only to the food given to relatives and guests, but also to the way they are presented on the table. Setting a table is like dressing a person, so the right plate or bowl must be chosen according to the shape, color and ingredients of a particular dish. Decorations using branches and flowers are attractive, because they can enliven the food.
Colorful flowers and plates stimulate the eye when only a few dishes or a single dish is served, while simple crockery is recommended when serving a wide range of different dishes. Care should be taken to place the food neatly on the plates.
◆ Healthy Food
One of the biggest concerns among Koreans after Chuseok is how to shed the pounds gained from all of the sumptuous meals consumed during the holiday season.
The sweet rice cakes, steamed beef, hearty broths and fried dishes are not only oily but richly seasoned, and people end up eating a lot. However, by exercising a bit of care, the culinary experience can be less stressful on the stomach.
Natural sweeteners such as honey and grain syrup are excellent substitutes for sugar. They not only make food sweeter but give it an aromatic taste. Another method is to grind pears or apples and add them as ingredients.