PEOPLE nowadays go on many gastronomic explorations, and one of the more popular picks is Korean cuisine. This comes as no surprise as Korean restaurants have been popping everywhere in the city in the past few years—enough to serve and feed the curiosity of gastronomes. Never tried Korean food? Here are 10 must-try dishes to satisfy one’s “kravings.”
Kimchi is a traditional side dish considered a staple in Korean cuisine. Its flavors that combine both spicy and sour, with the crunch of fermented vegetables with every bite, makes it a popular dish which even non-Koreans love. Kimchi is made up of different ingredients and can be prepared in different variations. But basics include napa cabbage, radish, carrot, scallion, garlic, chili powder, fish sauce and salt. Kimchi has become the most essential side dish for Koreans; a meal won’t be complete or enjoyed without it.
Bibimbap is a well-known Korean dish and its name literally translates to “mixed rice.” It is prepared with warm rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, beef, fried egg and with chili pepper paste to taste. The ingredients are then mixed together before one takes in a mouthful. Bibimbap also comes in many variations depending on the region, but a classic bowl includes the basic ingredients aforementioned.
Bulgogi means “fire meat” in English. It is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef and are marinated in soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and ground black pepper before cooking, to bring out the flavors of each slice. Bulgogi can be grilled or stir-fried according to preference and is often served with a side of lettuce used to wrap the meat then dipped in ssamjang. Bulgogi can also be enjoyed with rice.
Japchae which translates to “mixed vegetables” is one of the more popular dishes served during meaningful celebrations and commonly served as a side dish. It is a type of noodles made from sweet potato, mixed with assorted vegetables, meat, mushroom and enhanced with soy sauce and sesame oil. This stir-fried glass noodle dish with vegetables is a standout in Korean cuisine for its sweet and savory flavors.
Hotteok is a kind of Korean pancake that is a popular street food in Korea eaten during the winter for its high sugar content. The dough is made from wheat flour, water, milk, sugar, and yeast. It is then filled with brown sugar, honey, peanuts, and cinnamon before the filled dough is cooked in a griddle and pressed flat.
Tteokbokki is made of cylinder-shaped rice cakes mixed with fish cakes, boiled eggs, scallions and seasoned with sweet chili red paste that make it a popular food in Korean cuisine. Tteokbokki also has different variations and is sold and eaten at snack bars and street stalls in South Korea.
Samgyeopsal is a Korean dish not only popular in its home country but around the world as well. The slices of pork belly are grilled together with garlic, onions, green chili peppers, and kimchi then wrapped in lettuce and dipped in ssamjang that is made of chili and soy bean paste. Everything is eaten in one mouthful to best enjoy the marriage of flavors of the ingredients.
Samgyetang is a ginseng chicken soup popularly eaten during summertime in Korea. It consists of a whole young chicken, ginseng, jujube and glutinous rice. Its tender meat and rich broth served hot makes for a nourishing and comfort soup on the hottest days of the year.
Another spicy stir-fried Korean dish that’s common is dakgalbi. Its ingredients include marinated diced chicken as main component, sweet potatoes, lettuce, perilla leaves, scallions and rice cakes with a red chili paste-based sauce. The dish is made by stir-frying all of the ingredients together except lettuce and perilla leaves then served warm.
Jjajangmyeon is a Korean-Chinese noodle dish that uses thick noodles with sweet bean sauce, diced pork, vegetables and seafood for some of the dish variations. It may be topped with boiled egg, julienned cucumber and toasted sesame seeds for added flavors.