Essential Korean dishes
Korean cuisine is quickly gaining popularity, with the rise of K-pop and all things Korean. With its incredible variety and strong flavours, it has garnered accolades and big followings.
Food in Korea is based on rice, various meats and lots of vegetables. Each province has its own specialties, and there are many variations for every dish that are based on traditional recipes.
Here are some of the most popular Korean dishes to get you started in this wonderful, tasty journey.
Kimchi is seasoned, fermented vegetables, such as cabbage or Korean radish, and it’s served in every table in the country. It is usually served as a side dish. Seasonings include chili powder, spring onions, garlic and ginger.
Fermenting food is an ancestral way of keeping it for a long time. The fermentation process also gives food distinctive flavors and a unique savoriness that is addictive.
Bibimbap literally means mixed rice and is usually served as a rice bowl topped with sautéed vegetables, meat and a fried egg.
Whether chicken, tofu, seafood, or beef, the dish is very versatile and has many variations. Traditionally a humble dish, even royalty enjoyed a dish of it.
Remember to mix everything thoroughly before eating — it’s the Korean way.
Bulgogi is most commonly known as Korean BBQ. Thin strips of beef or pork meat, marinated with herbs and spices, are cooked over fire, often by the diners themselves.
Enjoying bulgogi is not just eating; it’s a national pastime and an excellent opportunity to spend some time with friends, co-workers, or family.
Plenty of side dishes and sauces accompany this dish.
Stir-fry preparations are common all-around Asia; Korea has its version too. Japchae is stir-fried noodles, with vegetables, meat, and many more delicious things.
The secret is in the transparent noodles, also called glass noodles, that are made with sweet potato starch. It’s typically seasoned with soy sauce and makes for a delicious meal.
Also known as Tteokbokki, these are stir-fried savory rice cakes that are often flavored with red chili paste and tossed with meat, vegetables and nuts. This is a popular appetizer in snack bars and street food stalls. The bite-sized cakes are flavorful and satisfying.
You can add all kinds of meat, from seafood to short ribs, to the dish to give it added complexity. If you don’t like spicy food, there’s a soy sauce-based variation that’s just as tasty, but without the heat.
Korean food has lots of sweet treats too. Songpyeon is sweet rice cakes made with rice flour and filled with honey, sweet beans or a delightful mixture of nuts. Koreans generally have this dish during fall and it is a big part of ceremonies and holidays.
The colorful desserts are as popular as ever and have a long tradition that goes back for centuries. Sugary enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without being cloying, these treats are both nostalgic and satisfying.