Palace food of Joseon (previously spelled Chosun) dynasty
was designated as an important intangible cultural asset
No. 38 on December 30, 1970. In palace, foods were prepared
by court ladies in charge of kitchen who have outstanding
skills in cooking and a cook with the title of ‘Daeryeongsuksu’.
As the palace foods used the best quality materials from
respective villages, the palace foods are known to represent
the traditional foods of our country.
Palace foods are not entirely different from those of common
people, as marriages in the palace were not done among royal
family but had to be done with bride or bridegroom from
gentry families. Palace foods were bestowed to commoner’s
house and foods from gentry family were presented to the
palace as marriage customs and naturally there were exchanges
of foods between palace and gentry families. As such palace
foods in Joseon dynasty were not entirely different from
common foods but we can say that the palace foods can be
perceived as models of common foods but class foods. Especially
in Chosun dynasty, palace foods and food system had so real
variety that they represent the foods of our country.
Full course meals in palace are categorized into ordinary
meals, Banquet festive course (“Jinyeon sang”)
which was served at the time of auspicious occasions for
royal family, Reception festive course (“Youngjeob-jinyeon
sang”) which was served at the time of the reception
of foreign ambassador, wedding ceremony course (“Gyobae
sang”) which was served at the time of wedding ceremony
and sacrificial ritual course (“Jerye sang”)
which was served at the time of sacrificial ritual ceremony.
There were five ordinary meals a day, which were breakfast
and dinner called “Surasang”, meal for very
early in the morning called “Chojoban”, meal
for lunchtime called “Natgussang” and meal for
late night called “Yacham”.
The most important part in the palace foods is Surasang.
Surasang is served to the king and the queen respectively.
The King was supposed to sit in east side and the
queen in west side. The procedures for preparing foods
for Surasang was so complicated that only designated
people are allowed to make the foods. Surasangs in
ordinary time used a set of tableware with 12 dishes
and bowls. Two kinds of steamed rice and soups are
prepared respectively and basic side dishes plus 12
items of side dishes put in small plates were served.
White steamed rice and red bean steamed rice were
prepared together with seaweed soup and ox bone soup,
all of which are prepared based on the List of Side
Clear pot stew and bean paste pot stew are served
and boiled meats and raw vegetables are served. In
the case of casserole, casserole and charcoal burner
are prepared with materials of meat, vegetables and
spices and casserole is served with immediate cooking
on the spot. For kinds of kimchi, “Dongchimi”
kimchi was placed in right side of dining table, cabbage
kimchi in the center and cubed white-radish kimchi
in the left side while separately preparing soya sauce,
vinegar soya sauce, vinegar hot pepper paste, salted
shrimp, mustard juice and seasonings in tiny bowls
on the dining table.
12 items of side dishes consisted of (1) roasted
meat, (2) shish-kebab, (3) fried fish, (4) boiled
meat slices, (5) raw vegetables, (6) boiled vegetables,
(7) hard-boiled food, (8)preserved salted fish, (9)
Soy seasoned dried vegetables, (10) roasted salted
dry fish, (11) special side dish and (12) raw fish
or steamed sliced fish covered with starch. Scorched
rice tea is served next to soups.
Setting of dining table should be always 12 items
of side dishes and 3 kinds of dining tables are used,
which are large size round table, small size round
table and square study table.
Large round table is for the king, small round table
is for a court lady called ‘Gimi sanggung’
who takes foods before the king to test the existence
of poison in the foods) while cooking court lady called
‘Jeongol sanggung’ prepares casserole.
Dining table with setting of 12 items of side dishes
is strictly restricted only for the use of the king
and queen, and even royal family members cannot use
it. In the palace, even number of 12 tableware set
is used while gentry families and general level people
can use tableware in odd number like 9 tableware set
for gentry families and 7, 5 or 3 tableware set for
general level people.
The word for lunch in Chinese means ‘marking
a point in mind’ and therefore very light meal
with liquid diets such as thin gruel or porridge or
tea and cakes are served.
sang( Noodle course)
On the occasion of festive days and birthdays, noodle
course is served for guests, in which various flour
cakes, fruits, noodle and side dishes are served together.
For main dish, one out of hot noodle, cold noodle,
rice cake soup or dumpling soup is served and side
dishes such as steamed meat slices, raw fish, pan-fried
food and Korean casserole are served together.
This refers to a meal for very early in the morning,
which is relatively simple meal. Porridge, starch
porridge (“Eung-ee”) or thin gruel is
served as main dish and two to three side dishes out
of dried fish, dried meat, minced dry female croaker,
minced dry pollack or salted dry fish are served.
Salt, honey and soy sauce in a tiny bowl are served
White rice porridge, pine nut porridge, sesame porridge
and black sesame porridge are available for porridge,
adlay starch porridge, arrowroot starch porridge,
starch porridge are available for starch porridge,
and there are two kinds of thin gruel, one is glutinous
millet thin gruel which is made by deep boiling of
glutinous millet, ginseng, date and shelled chestnut
together and the other is 3 harmonized thin gruel
(“Samhap mieum”) which is made of glutinous
rice, dried sea cucumber, sea mussel and buttock meat.
in palace (“Jinyeon”) and small feast in
Table setting for banquet food in palace was different
depending on the purpose of event and the meaning
of the auspicious occasions.
Table settings for banquet food are categorized into
“Jinyeon”, “Jinchan”, “Jinjak”
and “Sujak”. “Jinyeon” is
a feast offered when there is a national level event
while “Jinchan” is feast in small scale
offered in the auspicious occasion in royal family.
If there is an auspicious occasion for royal family
in palace, “Jinyeon” ceremony is held.
The ceremony includes birthday and 60th birth for
the king, queen, queen mother and queen grandmother,
crown prince installation ceremony and the dedication
of eulogistic posthumous title of king. There are
also feast offered for the reception of foreign ambassadors
at the place called ‘Giroso’ (a kind of
reception house). The book which explained detailed
procedures for the ceremony related to “Jinyeon”
is called “Uigwe”, and the books such
as “Jinyeon Uigwe”, “Jinchan Uigwe”
and “Jinjak Uigwe” are still remaining.
In order to offer the feasts such as Jinchan, Jinyeon
or Jinjak, temporary government agency in charge of
the feast called “Jinchan dogam”, “Jinyeon
dogma” or “Jinjak dogma” was established
and managed the feast.