A Flavor to Spice Up Your Life"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well," Virginia Woolf said.
In Oriental medicine, food is generally believed to have a direct effect on one's energy level and appropriate foods vary with seasons. Fruits and raw food are appropriate in summer and hot and spicy foods are perfect in the fall.
It's not folk tales, but the result of medical science.
According to Dr. Shin Min-sik, an Oriental medical doctor, the pungent flavor of hot and spicy foods activates the central nerve, which controls secretion from glands that line the air passages.
Glands then release waves of fluids that make your eyes water and your nose run. Eating spicy food at least twice a week should be especially beneficial for bronchitis sufferers.
These days many people enjoy hot and spicy foods often for the unique and full-flavor, not just for medical reasons.
There are a lot of popular spicy foods around the world, such as Amber's Cilantro lime salsa, Chili sauce, Salsa a la Jeaux, curry, Buffalo wings.
In Korea, dakgalbi, originated in Choon Cheon City in Kangwon province, is becoming famous as one of Korea's traditional hot and spicy foods. Dakgalbi, a spicy chicken rib dish has as much kick as kimchi, the best known spicy food. Kimchi is a side dish and dakgalbi is a main dish.
The young generations and foreigners like it because of its availability, special flavor and inexpensive price.
"First, it is not expensive and delicious. Second, it's found almost everywhere, so it's the best food for students. I really like it," said Kim Lee-hyeon, a college student, adding that "It may be too hot for some foreigners who have never tried it before."
People usually order dakgalbi with rice, side dishes such as cold young radish kimchi, hot soup, and a soft drink, because the ribs are sometimes too spicy to eat alone.
"For those who don't like spicy foods, we try not to season the dish with too much red pepper. Instead, we try to use some salt for added flavor," said Lee Jeong-hee, the host of a Yong-san dakgalbi restaurant.
The recipe is very simple, so even foreigners can try it at home. First, you take some raw vegetables such as sliced cabbages, potatoes and sweet potatoes and mix them with rice cakes in a pan, topping them off with the ribs and a red pepper paste, bean sauce and sugar seasoning. Sesame leaves, Welsh onion or different kinds of noodles can be added as well, depending on personal preference.
However, don't eat too spicy food for the sake of burning calories and fats quickly. There has been no evidence to support claims that it can contribute to weight loss or reduced blood cholesterol levels.
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