Bibimbap is a Popular Korean Dish
Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish that contains many ingredients mixed in a bowl along with rice and hot pepper paste. It is also one of the most representative Korean dishes, along with bulgogi and kimchi.
There was a long standing tradition, among Korean ancestors, that any leftover food on New Year’s Eve was not to be kept into the New Year. For this reason, the practice of mixing various ingredients in a bowl with rice was started.
- Serve rice topped with beef, bracken, cucumber, soybean sprouts, red pepper paste, egg, and sesame oil together in a bowl. Mix in consideration of color balance.
- Add an appropriate amount of red pepper paste sauce to your taste. Too much sauce may spoil the flavor of the ingredients.
Gimbap (Korean rolls) is a Perfect Picnic Food
Gimbap is a popular Korean food made of steamed rice, seasoned with salt and sesame oil, and made with various ingredients (spinach, radish, carrot, egg, and ham), and rolled in slightly-roasted dried seaweed. It is served in bite-size slices.
- Gimbap comes in various shapes, such as Chungmu gimbap (Chungmu-style Korean Rolls) the small finger gimbap, and the inside-out “nude” gimbap.
- Convenient to eat without any side dishes
- Can be eaten as a lunch or a between-meal snack when traveling
- Gwangjang Market’s Mayak gimbap is a popular variety of gimbap, whose gimbap is said to be as addictive as drugs.
Dolsotbap is a Nutritious Hot pot dish
Dolsotbap is made of soaked sweet rice, rice, chestnut, julienned jujube, and ginseng. It is cooked in a stone pot and the seasoning is served on the side. According to a legend, this dish was developed during the Joseon Dynasty, when royal court families visited Beopjusa Temple for prayer service. The monks made dolsotbap with readily-available food ingredients so that they could quickly serve them.
- Nutritionally well-balanced food. After eating dolsotbap, pour hot water in the stone pot to enjoy the nutty-flavored crunchy rice crust on the bottom of the pot
- Several new variations of dolsotbap are being developed.
Samgyeopsal (Pork) is the All-Time Favorite Food of Koreans
Samgyeopsal was named as such because the pork belly cuts have three layers of meat and fat. Samgyeopsal is from the wide and flat area that is located next to the pork chops and extends to the belly area. As the meat and fat form multiple layers, this part of the pig is the most flavorful type of pork and is used in many dishes.
- If grilled too long, the meat becomes too tough due to the loss of too much fat. Therefore, don’t overcook it if you want to really enjoy its tender and rich flavor.
- If you want to limit your fat intake when eating samgyeopsal, then boiling it would be the preferred cooking method.
- If you eat samgyeopsal with red pepper paste or soybean paste, onion, garlic, mushroom, sesame leaf, salted shrimp and fermented kimchi, the protein and fat breakdown is enhanced and there is a sterilization and deodorization effect.
Bulgogi is Foreigners’ Most Favorite Korean Dish
Bulgogi is the most typical Korean beef dish and is one of the most favored Korean dishes amongst foreigners.During the Goryeo Dynasty, the dish developed into seolyameokjeok, which means a grilled dish people eat on a snowy night. During the Joseon Dynasty, it changed into neobiani, or Royal Court food.
- Bulgogi consists of grilled strips of beef that have been marinated in a sauce, which includes soy sauce, green onions, garlic, sesame oil, and pepper powder.
- Place the meat on a grill over a fire, pour meat broth in the groove of the grill, place a few slices of meat in a single layer, and cook each side before eating.
Jokbal (Steamed Pigs’ Feet ) and Bossam (Napa Wraps with Pork) are Koreans’ Favorite Mid-Night Dishes
Jokbal and bossam dishes use pork, and jokbal is Koreans’ favorite mid-night food.
- Jokbal is pigs’ feet cooked with soy sauce seasoning. Once the jokbal is fully cooked, the meat is cut into slices, and served with shrimp sauce and vegetables. Its abundant gelatin is known to be good for the skin and for preventing aging.
- Bossam is a type of Napa Wraps in Korean cuisine in which steamed head meat is wrapped in a leafy vegetable, such as kimchi, cabbage, or radish shreds, and is often accompanied by a condiment known as ssamjang (a thick and spicy sauce made of soybean paste, red pepper paste, sesame oil, onions, garlic, green onions and other ingredients). Bossam kimchi is famous for its extraordinarily excellent taste and high nutritional value.
Kimchi is Healthy Food, Reflecting the Wisdom of Koreans
Kimchi has become the icon of Korean cuisine, as well as Korean culture. It is made of salted cabbage or radish, which is seasoned with chili powder, green onion, and garlic and then fermented. Kimchi is known to have an anti-cancer effect.
- Kimchi is good for preventing cancer and the hardening of the arteries, as well as helping you to stay in good shape and have smooth skin.
- Much attention has been focused on kimchi in the past due to its beneficial and healthy effects, such as its nutritional balance; activation of the metabolism; and the prevention of obesity and various adult diseases, which include high blood pressure and diabetes; and new types of infectious diseases, which are caused by viruses.
- The main ingredients of kimchi are radish and napa cabbage. They are seasoned with garlic, green onions, ginger, red pepper powder, salt, and fermented fish sauce. To make tasty kimchi and ensure that it will be well preserved, it should be stored at constant temperature of around 5℃.
Cucumber Kimchi as a Light and Refreshing Side Dish
This special type of kimchi is usually made between the spring and summer. The crunchy texture of cucumber and refreshing kimchi juices enhance the flavor of this kimchi.
- Slice each seedless cucumber lengthwise, and stuff the cucumber with the seasoning.
- Compared to other varieties of kimchi, this kimchi gets sour fast and it cannot be used to make soup, so do not make too much at once.
- To get a refreshing flavor, do not to use fish sauce.
- Chives are usually used to make the filling, but chopped salted cucumber scraps are used as filling for court cucumber kimchi.
Very Delicious, Appetiting Ganjang Gejang (Soy Sauce Marinated Crab)
Ganjang gejang is a variety of Korea’s unique jeotgal (Salted Seafood). To make ganjang gejang, a boiled and chilled seasoned soy sauce is poured over thoroughly-cleaned crabs.
Crabs caught in March and April are best for making ganjang gejang , and female crabs, which has a round apron, are considered good.
- Female crabs have tender meat and do not have a strong fishy smell. They have a good flavor as they contain a lot of roe.
- To prepare ganjang gejang, clean the crabs using a brush under running water, remove the apron, open the top shell (carapace), and remove the gills to prevent food poisoning and a fishy smell. Cut off the end of the legs to allow the seasoning to soak into the crab.
- If the crabs are marinated in a boiled and chilled sauce repeatedly for a 3rd and 4th time, they can be preserved for a longer period of time.
Jeotgal (Salted Seafood) is a Representative Preserved Food of Korea
Korea is surrounded by the sea, so a wide variety of seafood is abundant. Koreans have been making jeotgal from early on.
Jeotgal can be eaten as a side dish, and there are numerous varieties of jeotgal.
- To make jeotgal, mix seasonal seafood with salt, put the mixture in an earthen jar, add more salt on top, and tightly seal so that it can ferment.
- Shrimp and anchovy jeotgal are usually used in the making of kimchi.
- Spicy oyster, small crabs, and squid jeotgal are popular side dishes.
Japchae (Stir-fried Glass Noodles) is Korea’s Popular Party Dish
Japchae is Korea’s popular party dish. It is made with various vegetables and meat, which are flavored with seasoning.
Vegetables, mushroom, meat, and spinach are seasoned with salt and stir-fried in a pan to make japchae. Cook some glass noodles and flavor it with soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil and stir-fry the noodles. Mix the vegetables and noodles together before serving.
- If the noodles are cooked in boiling water, they may soften and stick together as time goes by, so some people recommend that you soak the noodles in hot water and stir fry them instead.
- As each ingredient is stir-fried in oil, this dish ends up with using a lot of oil. As such, there is no need to add oil when stir-frying all of the ingredients.
Jeyuk Bokkeum (Stir-fried Pork) is a spicy and appetizing dish
The word jeyuk means pork. To make jeyuk bokkeum, cut pork neck meat into bite sized pieces, marinate the meat in a red pepper paste seasoning with a lot of ginger juice, and stir-fry the marinated meat.
- The meat itself has a lot of fat, so use a little bit of sesame oil. Cook the meat over a medium heat to fully cook it without burning the seasoning.
- While stir-frying, do not cover the pan with a lid. Too much moisture may make the meat and vegetables soggy.
Topokki (Spicy Rice Cake ) is the Icon of Street Food
Topokki is the most popular street snack in Korea.Eating spicy topokki (cylinder-shaped rice cake combined with various vegetables and beef, seasoned with spicy sauce, and stir-fried) and gunmandu (fried dumpling) along with fish cake soup is very popular among Korean teenagers. Spicy topokki (rice cake called garaetteok broiled with various vegetables and a hot pepper paste called red pepper paste, and gunmandu (fried dumplings) along with a bowl of warm eomuk (fish cake) soup are the snack foods that are favored by school kids.
- Topokki is known to be Korea’s representative street food, but as Korean food is becoming globalized, topokki is being recognized as an excellent food in terms of taste and nutrition, and a wide variety of topokki is being developed.
Sundae is a Type of Korean Sausage
Sundae is one of Korea’s representative street foods, and it is compatible with topokki. It is made by steaming pig’s intestines that are stuffed with various ingredients such as glass noodles and pork blood to bring out the color and rich taste of this food.
- Sundae is sold along with pork liver or lungs
- Each variety of sundae is named differently depending on the ingredient used to wrap sundae filling (squid sundae or sweet rice sundae) or on the region in which a sundae variety originates (Byeongcheon sundae, which is local specialty of Chungcheong-do; Abai sundae, which is a local specialty of Hamgyeong-do).
Eomuk (Fish Cake) Makes a Perfect Warm Street Snack in the Winter
Eomuk is a processed seafood made of ground fish fillet and other ingredients such as salt, sugar, potato starch, and cooking wine, and it is made into various shapes.
To make an eomuk skewer, boil radish and dried anchovy in water to make the broth. Immerse the eomuk skewer in the broth, and bring to a boil. Eat the eomuk with soy sauce.
- Eomuk digests well and contains a lot of protein.
- Spoils easily, so keep it in the refrigerator.
Sentimental Snack, Nurungji (Scorched Rice)
Nurungji used to be the most common snack in olden times when a wide variety of snacks such as cookies or bread were not readily available. It is also called gamachi or nureunbap. When cooking rice with a traditional Korean pot, as rice absorbs water, little water is left, and nurungji forms at the bottom of the pot.
- People make nurungjibap by adding hot water to the nurungji. The liquid is called sungnyung.
- As nurungji is still popular, people buy it from street vendors or make it at home with a nurungji machine.
- A variety of cookies and candies with the flavor of nurungji are being developed as well.
Popular Snack Ppeongtwigi (Rice Puffs)
Ppeongtwigi is an umbrella term for any popped grain, similar to Western popcorn. It is popular especially among women as a low-calorie snack. The kinds of ppeongtwigi found on the street include popped rice, which is called tuibap; popped corn, which is called gangnaengi; and a popped rice cake that is called tteok ppeongtwigi.
- During the 1960s-70s, there used to be many vendors making ppeongtwigi with popping machines at markets.
- Ppeongtwigi is named as such because popping machines make ppeong sound when the lid of the machine is opened.
Kkultaraeyeot is a Stringy and Sweet Korean Snack
Kkultaraeyeot is a kind of sweet snack made by stretching malt out into super thin strands. As a major street snack in Insa-dong, kkultaraeyeot is mixed with almond, cocoa, peanuts, and walnuts.
- The thin strands are made by hand. They are made into more than 16,384 strands, which are as thin as threads of silk.
- Nuts are wrapped within these strands. Kkultaraeyeot is called Yongsuyeom, which means a dragon’s beard.
Hotteok (Korean Pancake)is a Popular Street Snack in the Winter
Hotteok is a unique Korean snack that is made with a wheat dough filled with dark brown sugar, cinnamon, sesame, and chopped peanuts.
- The filled dough is griddled and flattened into a large circle.
- Press the dough with a Hotteok press just enough to get a nice golden crust, flip to the other side until the dough is cooked.
Nostalgic Sugar Candy Dalgona
Dalgona is one of the most popular street snacks. It was favored mostly by children in the 1970s and 1980s. Made with melted sugar and baking soda, dalgona is still found in Insa-dong or the Hyundai Department Store area in Sinchon.
- To make Dalgona, pour sugar into a ladle and caramelize the sugar over heat. Add a little baking soda so that it gets puffy.
- Pour it out on a metal sheet, and then press to flatten it.
- Press it into a shape with a frame before it gets hard.
Makgeolli (Rice Wine) is a Traditional Liquor
Makgeolli is listed as intangible cultural heritage and has been handed down from generation to generation. For many, the first traditional Korean liquor that comes to mind is Makgeolli.
- Makgeolli boasts the longest history of Korean liquors. It is not clear how it originated and contains about 6-7% alcohol.
- The brewing of Makgeolli begins with the heating of glutinous rice, non-glutinous rice, barley, and flour. After drying the mixture called jiaebap, nuruk (malt) and water are added and the resultant mixture is fermented at a constant temperature.
- Makgeolli has a blend of various tastes, such as sweet, sour, bitter, and astringent. It is also savory and zesty and is a beloved drink of farmers for quenching their thirst.
Sikhye (Sweet Rice Drink) is a traditional winter beverage and thirst quencher
Sikyhe is a traditional Korean beverage made with steamed sweet rice or rice and fermented in malt water.
- Sikhye contains substances that prevent food from decomposing in our bodies and anti-cancer substances, such as anti-oxidants, which add great medicinal value to Korean food. It also prevents the food you eat from fermenting or decomposing inside of your body.
- Sikhye also contains more dietary fiber than other popular fiber drinks that are currently on the market.
- In addition, sikhye helps balance the body’s constitution by acting as a warming agent if you are cold and as a cooling agent if you are hot.
Sujeonggwa is a traditional Korean Cinnamon Punch
Sujeonggwa is also called sujeongwa. It is a traditional Korean fruit punch with a unique scent created by the sweet flavor of persimmon and the spicy flavor of cinnamon and ginger. To make Sujeonggwa, boil ginger and add sugar. Cool off the ginger tea, and add persimmon and pine nuts to improve the flavor.
- Sujeonggwa means fruits immersed in water. It is usually made for New Year’s Day. It is served cold, like sikhye (Sweet Rice Drink).
- Sujeonggwa is very easy to make.
- Boiling ginger and cinnamon together may reduce their flavor, and may result in bland flavor, so boil them separately and combine them together later to produce a better flavor.
Four-season Noursing Seolleongtang (Ox Bone Soup)
Seolleongtang is Korea’s most popular soup favored by both young and old all year round. It is made by boiling down a cow’s bones, feet, head, internal organs, beef brisket, and beef shank. The word seolleongtang stems from Seonnongtang, which refers to the soup boiled at Seonnongdan. Later, the word seonnongtang changed to seolleongtang.
- Rice is often added directly to the soup before eating. At restaurants, upon a customer’s order, rice is placed in a bowl and the hot soup is poured over the rice to heat it up.
- You can add noodles and slices of boiled meat, and pour the soup over them. You need to add salt, pepper, or chopped green onions when eating. Seolleongtang tastes more delicious with ripe kkakdugi (radish kimchi).
Sundae Gukbap (Korean Blood Sausage Rice Soup) is a Popular Dish that is Cheap and Nutritious
Sundae gukbap is a kind of soup that was created to provide lacking nutrients in old times when meat was scarce.
- Sundae (Korean Blood Sausage) is a traditional Korean food that uses animal blood, so it is a good source of iron and is considered a wholesome, nutritious food.
- In general, sundae, pig’s head meat and intestines, and bone stock are put in a bowl and boiled. Condiments are served on the side.
- Salted Shrimp or salt can be added to increase the flavor. Condiments and black pepper can be added according to personal taste. Korean chive kimchi goes well with this soup.
Gamjatang (Pork Bone Stew) is a Spicy Stew that is Eaten When It Is Cold Out
Gamjatang originated in Jeolla-do, which used to be famous for its pig farming during the Three Kingdoms Period when Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla were competing against each other to rule the Korean Peninsula, but it later was transmitted to other parts of the country.
- This soup is made with cheap pork backbone, potatoes, dried vegetables, perilla leaves, sesame leaves, green onion, and garlic to season. The nutty taste of potatoes, which absorb the flavors of the bone, are very good.
- Pork backbone contains a lot of protein, calcium, and vitamin B1, so it is good for the growth of children, and it is known to be a stamina food for men, a low-calorie dish for women, and an anti-aging, osteoporosis-preventing food for the elderly.
Nutritious Food Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup)
Yukgaejang has been a nourishing summer food since olden times.
- This soup can be eaten without any side dishes due to its rich, spicy flavor. It goes well with rice.
- Each region and each home has their own unique recipe and uses different ingredients. Seoul-style Yukgaejang uses only the strips of beef brisket and head meat, and green onions.
- Any seasonal vegetables can be used to make this spicy soup.
Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup), Fight Heat with Fire
As the weather gets hotter, people lose some of their energy. Thus, it becomes a priority to replenish it. Samgeytang is one of the most representative and healthy dishes in Korea
- This dish is a favorite Korean among foreigners who visit Korea.
- It consists of a well-boiled chicken stuffed with sweet rice, garlic, Korean ginseng, and jujubes.
- While eating samgyetang, people may look hot as they sweat a lot, but in fact, they may feel refreshing as tender meat and warm soup make the inner body feel refreshing.
Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)is an indispensible Korean dish
People came up with this dish after getting tired of eating raw kimchi or kimchi that was too ripe.
soybean paste (bean paste) or red pepper paste can be added to this dish to produce a rich flavor. Instead of dried anchovies, pork or ribs can be used to make the stew more nutritious, particularly in the winter time.
- This dish is often cooked in Korean homes because it is easy to make and easy to get the ingredients for it.
- Pork and tuna can be used in the making of this stew.
- Freshly-made kimchi does not produce a stronger flavor. As such, fermented, ripe kimchi is recommended.
Koreans’ popular soup , Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)
Doenjang jjigae is one of Koreans’ favorite soups.
Tofu, vegetables, seafood, and meat are used to make this stew, but seasonal ingredients are used for variation: green chilies in the summer, mushrooms in the fall, and fried vegetables in winter.
- An earthenware pot is recommended to keep this dish from getting burnt while it is being cooked and to help keep the food warm for long hours.
- Gang doenjang jjigae is a variation of doenjang jjigae, and has a stronger flavor than regular doenjang jjigae. To make gang doenjang jjigae, place doenjang jjigae in a small earthenware pot, put the pot in a rice pot, and boil over a weak heat for a short time before serving.
Koreans’ Favorite Comfort Meal Jjajangmyeon (Noodles with Black Soybean Sauce)
Jjajangmyeon is a noodle dish made with stir-fried noodles, vegetables, pork, and black bean paste sauce. In Korea, it is a very common delivery order.
- There are several varieties of Jjajangmyeon such as ganjjajang, samseon jjajang, sacheon jjajang, and jaengban jjajang.
- Pickled radish and onion are served on the side.
- Jjajangmyeon became popular in the 1960s, and it now has become a popular dish.
- China also has a dish similar to jjajangmyeon, but the Chinese version is quite different from the Korean one.
Jjamppong (Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup) is a Spicy and Tasty Noodle Soup
Along with jjajangmyeon (Noodles with Black Soybean Sauce), jjamppong is a popular dish amongst Korean people. It is a spicy noodle dish made with stir-fried seafood or meat, assorted vegetables, and meat broth.
- Jjamppong uses seasonal vegetables.
- This dish usually uses thick flour noodles. For the broth, pork and seafood such as soaked sea cucumber, conch, squid, and shrimp, as well as onion, carrot, cabbage, and wood ear mushrooms are used.
- Today’s jjamppong is red and spicy, but before the 1970s, it used to have a clear broth and a bland taste.
Tangsuyuk is a Sweet and Sour Pork Dish
Tangsuyuk is a sweet and sour pork dish. To make Tangsuyuk, cut the pork into bite sized pieces and season them with black pepper and ginger. Then coat the meat with potato starch and egg whites, and fry the meat. Make a sauce with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, vegetables, and potato starch and add pineapple or bell pepper according to your personal taste. Add the fried pork to the sauce, and stir-fry.
- Tangsuyuk became popular in Korea when foreigners came to Korea after the Opium War. Koreans created this bite sized pork dish for foreigners who could not use chopsticks.
Kkanpunggi (Deep-fried Chicken in Hot Pepper Sauce) is Sweet and Spicy Chicken
Kkanpunggi is deep-fried chicken that is glazed in a sweet sauce made of red pepper flakes, sugar, and soy sauce. Along with Tangsuyuk (Sweet and Sour Pork), it is Koreans’ favorite Chinese dish.
- This is a Korean-Chinese fusion dish that is localized by using Korean ingredients.
- This dish does not use a lot of oil. It is quickly cooked over a high heat to minimize the loss of nutrients.
Gungjung Topokki (Royal Rice Cake) is a Royal Court Dish
Gungjung topokki was an important royal cuisine and was regarded as a representative example of haute cuisine. Gungjung topokki was a stir-fried dish consisting of garaetteok, which was combined with a variety of ingredients, such as fresh sprouts, dried vegetables, beef, shiitake mushrooms, and then seasoned with soy sauce instead of red pepper paste.
- The taste is similar to japchae (Stir-fried Glass Noodles). This dish uses rice cake instead of glass noodle, and it can be eaten as a meal. As it is not spicy, it can be a snack for children.
- As various vegetables can be used according to personal preference, and the recipe is very simple, anyone can easily make this dish at home.
Gujeolpan (Platter of Nine Delicacies) is Colorful and Elaborate Traditional Korean Food
Gujeolpan is an elaborate Korean dish consisting of nine different foods arranged on an octagonal shape plate that is divided into nine sections with small octagon-shaped center. It is considered one of the most beautiful Korean dish, which is served for a large dining table or a party table.
- Make the flour wraps round and thin.
- Place the thin grilled wraps (wheat crepe) , which are made out of flour in the middle of the gujeolpan. Arrange eight food ingredients around the center, facing each other.
- When serving gujeolpan, place an empty plate in front of each person.
- Choose food ingredients from the eight sections, put them on a sheet of wheat crepe, wrap the ingredients with the sheet and eat it whole.
Haemul Pajeon (Seafood and Green Onion Pancake) is a Treat in the Rainy Season
On the gray and damp summer days, haemul pajeon, with its buttery scent, is the must-eat delicacy in Korea. As pajeon is made with egg and flour, so it be considered a pancake, but it uses several other ingredients, it is called a Korean-style pizza.
- Chop clams, squid, and shrimp, and blanch them in water. Place them in a mixing bowl, add flour, and mix everything together so that there are no lumps.
- Pour the batter into a frying pan and put the green onions and seafood on top of the batter and cook thoroughly. Egg and green or red chili can be added according to preference.
Janchi guksu (Banquet Noodles) is Served Wishing for Longevity
The name janchi guksu is named as such, because this noodle dish used to be served during special occasions (janchi in Korean), such as wedding feasts, birthday parties, or hwangap (60th birthday celebration), as people wish for a long life like long noodle strands.
- Cook the noodles right before eating. Fully rinse them with cold water, and drain the water to keep the noodles from getting sticky and chewy.
- Cucumber or kimchi can be used instead of zucchini as a garnish. Place stir-fried marinated beef on top of the noodles.
- Place the noodles in a bowl, add anchovy broth and garnish noodles. Then add a seasoning made of soy sauce, garlic, green onion, red pepper flakes, and sesame oil for flavor.