> Korean Traditional Food > Traditional Meal Table
A formalized meal table consisting of rice and side dishes
is served in diverse combination. The main meal was
called by different names according to status of person sitting
at table, i.e. the term Surasang was used for king, Jinjisang
for adults and elders, while Bapsang was used for juniors
or subordinates. A table prepared for one person is
called Doksang or single table while that for two persons
is named Gyeomsang. Single tables were divided into
3-dish, 5-dish, 9-dish and 12-dish tables, depending on the
number of side dishes served. Here, the side dishes
were dishes excluding rice, soup, kimchi, stew and sauce (e.g.
soybean sauce, hot pepper paste or vinegared hot pepper paste).
Of these, 3-dish table was for the masses who had limited
availability of food materials, while 5-dish was enjoyed by
those who had better provisions. 7-dish table was for
bride and groom in a middleclass family and 9-dish table was
the best meal affordable in an upper class family. 12-dish
table was arranged in royal court but 12 dishes was, in fact,
a minimum and more dishes could be served.
Food items composing each type of meal are as shown on the
attached table. In determining side dishes, our ancestors
made efforts not to duplicate ingredients, and also considered
the color and nutrition of food. Today it may not be
necessary to stick to the old principle, however, at least
it is worth reflecting the disposition of food on table.