Culinary trends from the far east seem to come in waves. Every year brings a new must-try street food or a new trendy cuisine that you need to check. Chinese and Japanese food have quickly conquered the world with their bowls of steaming deliciousness. Finding ramen, sushi or chow mein is not a problem in any major city in the world. But what if you want to explore some more exotic, traditional types of food? In our opinion, Korean food needs a mention.
Korea is definitely more famous for its tech industries than for its culinary traditions, but there is a lot more than kimchi that’s worth a try.
It’s true. Kimchi is a fundamental part of Korean food. With rice, it is one of the basic ingredients of the vast majority of Korean dishes.
It would be a mistake to stop there, though.
Korean cuisine is famous for the incredible amount of side dishes that accompany every meal and this variety alone makes it a foodie paradise, let alone the explosion of tasty ingredients.
Every Korean meal gives you the occasion to try loads of heartwarming Korean classics and make you fall in love with this amazing country.
Here are some must-try dishes for a truly unforgettable Korean experience:
This is one of the most famous and loved Korean dishes. Nothing screams comfort food more than a warm bowl of bibimbap.
The name is quite self-explanatory. In Korean bibimbap literally means “mixed rice”.
There are endless variants of this dish. Served as a bowl of warm rice topped with sauteed vegetables, hot sauce and soy sauce, additional toppings can include beef, egg and fermented soybean paste (that tastes better than it sounds!) stirred together just before eating. So good!
Bulgogi is Korean Beef BBQ. This is by far one of the most popular dishes in Korea and around the world. Its simplicity, incredible taste and versatility make this dish well loved by all.
The preparation of this dish is pretty simple. Thin slices of beef sirloin are marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, pear juice, garlic, sugar and many other ingredients and then grilled with onion, garlic or peppers.
Bulgogi is consumed in a lot of different ways, straight from the grill, used in stews, mixed with noodles or used as a filling for a tasty sandwich, just to name a few.
When we think about Asian food we often think about bowls full of tasty stir fried noodles. Japchae is the Korean take on this. Sweet potato noodles, lightly cooked vegetables, beef and soy sauce.
Another typical dish, this is a true classic of the Korean cuisine you really can’t miss.
Don’t make the mistake of considering Japchae just another noodle dish. It is far from that.
The sweet potato noodles have a completely different texture from the noodles we are used to in the Chinese and Thai kitchens. The vegetables are lightly cooked, so they retain all their flavour and texture. The beef is often marinated in tasty herbs and sauces.
Having a steaming bowl of Japchae will be a vastly different experience than the standard Chinese noodle bar dish.
A journey through the most delicious Korean dishes wouldn’t be complete without something sweet. Hotteok is an easy choice.
Filled with a mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar, peanuts and honey, these small pancakes are the Korean version of Western pancakes, but sweeter.
The experience of having them straight from the griddle is unmissable. A crunchy exterior holds a feast of flavour and sweetness in the softer inside. A true winter classic in Korea.
If you are a sriracha enthusiast, you can’t miss this Korean hot sauce (and you should read our blog: Move over Sriracha!). A staple of Korean cuisine and a potential future trend in the hot sauces world.
This hot and tasty sauce made from red chili, glutinous rice and fermented soybeans, and is used as a condiment in a lot of Korean dishes.
If you are a hot sauce lover, the savoury and sharp taste of gochujang has to be on your list of things to try!