Authored by Drew Goldberg
The food in Korea is often overlooked by other Asian cuisines such as Japanese, Indian or Thai. With that being said, I am here to tell you that Korean food is nothing short of amazing!
I’ve been living and teaching English in Korea since August 2013, and I eat Korean food everyday. There’s not doubt that it’s my favorite cuisine in the world!
Okay, so you might be wondering what exactly is Korea food? Here is a brief history and overview:
Korean food originated from ancient agricultural and nomadic traditions in Southern Manchuria (a region in North Eastern China) and the Korean Peninsula. Over the centuries, the food has evolved through cultural and climate change, but the basis has remained the same.
Most restaurants in Korea offer cook-it-yourself BBQ style- where you sizzle the meat on a grill in the middle of the table. Almost every meal is served with a plentiful amount of side dishes that are a perfect compliment to the main dish. If you like spicy foods, then you are in for a treat; Koreans use spicy red chili peppers in almost everything. Also, kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), is served with literally every single meal.
The following are the 5 best Korean foods that will send your taste buds to heaven:
Before talking about any of the main dishes, it’s important to learn about Kimchi first- because it’s eaten with every meal. Kimchi is a fermented side dish that is made from vegetables mixed with spicy seasoning.
There are hundreds of varieties that can be made, depending on the region that you are in. The main ingredients of kimchi are cabbage, radish, scallions and cucumbers. Traditional kimchi takes a few months to prepare as it ferments in underground jars. The taste definitely grows on you as you eat it more often.
This is probably the most classic Korean dish that you can get. The word literally translates to “mixed rice” and that’s exactly what it is.
Bibimbap is served as a warm bowl of white rice that is toped with sautéed vegetables, a raw or fried egg, and chili pepper paste (gochujang). Sometimes, meat (usually beef) is added inside the dish. Once the plate is served to you, you stir the dish together thoroughly before you attack it with your mouth. This dish is very cheap (about $3-5 USD) in most restaurants.
Known as “so-galbi” in Korean, this is the most common type of BBQ that exists in Korea. It is made up of slices of beef that is marinated in ganjang sauce or Korean soy sauce.
Beef galbi is the meal that is traditionally served with all the side dishes (called banchan in Korean). While the beef is being grilled, someone will come to your table with scissors and cut the meal. Yes, they use scissors instead of knifes in Korea. It makes life so much easier.
Not to be confused with sushi, gimbap is steamed rice and other ingredients rolled up in dried pieces of seaweed. It looks like sushi from the outside, but it tastes much different because there is no fresh fish. Instead, the ingredients consist of cucumbers, spinach, carrots, pickled radish, ham, etc.
There are many different variations of gimbap (just like sushi) but it generally always tastes the same. The best part about gimbap is how cheap it is! You can get an entire roll (shown in picture) for less than $2. It’s amazing.
This is a steamy stew that is made with kimchi and other ingredients such as tofu, seafood (or pork), and onions. It is one of the most common stews in Korea and it is served almost anywhere.
Kimchi Jiggae is always spicy (sometimes really really spicy) and always served with rice as a side dish. It’s perfect to eat on a cold wintery day!
Is your mouth watering yet?