Korean culture has indeed invaded us by storm, thanks to their spellbinding pop music and compelling K-dramas. But what's a Korean experience without having a taste of their dishes?
We're pretty sure that many times you have craved for those tasty-looking cuisine your favorite K-drama stars eat in the show. So if you're planning to go all-out on your Korean food trip, we have prepared a list of the must-try dishes you shouldn't leave out on your list.
1. Kimchi (fermented vegetables)
A Korean meal would be lacking without this local staple dish. It is a sour and spicy fix of fermented vegetables, commonly cabbage and Korean radishes, added with different seasonings. Kimchi presents a unique flavor, beneficial nutrients, and a rich cultural value.
2. Samgyupsal (grilled pork belly)
Slabs of pork belly usually garnished with lettuce leaves, pa muchim (Korean scallion salad), kimchi, garlic, onions, and mushrooms are all grilled right in front of everyone seated around the table. You get a taste of these barbecued strips hot off the grilling pan.
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3. Bibimbap (mixed rice)
Bibim translates to the mixing of various ingredients while bap refers to rice. Bibimbap is a bowl of hot rice commonly topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste, and soy sauce or fermented soybean paste, with optional additions like a raw or fried egg and sliced meat. You get to mix this rice bowl medley before eating.
4. Bulgogi (marinated beef barbecue)
Bulgogi literally means "fire meat". In general terms, this dish is made with the tender parts of beef, but variations of pork and chicken are also available. Slices of top sirloin and beef tenderloin garnished with vegetables and seasonings are either grilled or pan-fried, both of which could still achieve the smoky and savory flavor the bulgogi has to offer.
5. Japchae (stir-fried noodles)
A classic dish on festive days, Japchae is comprised of stir-fried glass noodles that are made from sweet potatoes, mixed with vegetables and meat.
6. Hotteok (sweet filled pancakes)
This Korean street food is basically pancakes with brown sugar syrup filling. There's great harmony between its crisp cooked batter and its sweet gooey center made from dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and grounded nuts or seeds.
7. Mandoo (Korean dumplings)
Ground meat and vegetables are wrapped with a thin piece of dough and is either steamed, fried, or simmered in beef stock. What makes this dumpling more Korean is the mixing of shredded kimchi into its filling.
8. Tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes)
The chewy cylinder-shaped rice cakes are stir-fried and drenched into a spicy gochujang (chili paste) sauce which gives it an eye-catching bright reddish hue resembling the color of kimchi.
9. Haemul Pajeon (seafood scallion pancake)
An assortment of seafood are added into the pancake batter including cut-up shrimp, squid, scallions, mussel or clam meat, vegetables, chiles, shallot, and chives. The end result is the haemul pajeon, a pancake filled with umami flavors.
10. Sam Gae Tang (ginseng chicken soup)
This warm soup of boiled chicken with ginseng and rice stuffing is commonly eaten on the hottest days of Korea's summer season, as it is believed to promote good health.
11. Gimbap (seaweed rice rolls)
Just like sushi rolls, the gimbap is made from steamed rice rolled in dried seaweed. What makes it different from its Japanese counterpart is that the rice is sweeter and is seasoned with sesame oil, while its center is commonly filled with canned tuna, bulgogi, kimchi, and ham and cheese.
12. Sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew)
This spicy stew is made with freshly curdled soft tofu and a variety of ingredients common to Korean dishes like vegetables, seafood or meat, chili paste, and chili powder.
13. Seollangtang (ox bone soup)
A soup perfect for a chilly winter, seollangtang's ox bone is boiled down in a period of several hours to an entire day until its broth becomes milky in color and texture. Seasonings of your choice are then added after this hot soup is poured into your bowl.
14. Naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in ice soup)
This one's meant for the summer. Buckwheat and potato or sweet potato starch make up noodles with a chewy consistency which are then poured into a chilled beef or dongchimi (radish water kimchi) broth.
15. Bingsu (shaved ice dessert)
This popular Korean dessert is made up of shaved ice with a rich array of toppings that may include chopped fruits, fruit syrup, condensed milk, and red beans among others. Today, many places serve bingsu with a modern twist adding ice cream, whipped cream, and more on its toppings.
Which Korean eats are you most excited to try?