When most people think of Korean food, they think of only Korean BBQ. In reality, Korean cuisine is so much more than that. There are tons of dishes with a variety of flavors and most are very friendly to a majority of nationalities. There are so many items to try but I’ve picked out my favorite 11 that will give you a great overview of what Korean food really has to offer! Without further ado, I give to you 11 Amazing Korean Foods You Must Try.
Cheese Tteokbokki (치즈떡볶이)
For those of you unfamiliar with Tteokbokki, it’s a type of Korean rice cake. I will admit that when I first saw it, my first thought was some sort of pasta. Tteokbokki is generally served in Korean chili sauce. My favorite is when there is a melted layer of cheese on top. This is a very difficult food to describe because I’ve never had anything quite like it but it’s magical. Often it will be served alongside fish cakes and instant ramen.
Naengmyeon is a cold noodle in ice broth. Often served with meat on the side along with a few condiments. These condiments are typically mustard and vinegar. Pierre loves his sour and salty foods so the more mustard, the better. This is the perfect dish for summertime when it’s hot outside.
If you haven’t heard, Kimchi s fermented cabbage and comes in different levels of intensity. I personally prefer the more pungent and spicy varieties. However, Kimchi can be very mild. What it basically comes down to is how long the cabbage is fermented and how much seasoning is used.
Kimchi Jjigae (김치 찌개)
Kimchi Jjigae is a Korean kimchi soup. This often comes out in a bowl that is boiling hot. The soup is comprised of kimchi, tofu and typically pork. I love spicy food so I love this!
Korean Chicken and Beer (치맥)
I’m sure you have all had fried chicken. However, even though Korean fried chicken will look like what you’ve had, it definitely doesn’t have the same taste. The Koreans have come up with amazing techniques for creating the most crispy and flavorful chicken I’ve ever had! The sauces and seasonings that they use are a delightful change from the typical Western-style fried chicken.
There are two types that I recommend. The first is the typical dry and crispy fried chicken. This will be served accompanied with pickled radish. The second, is sauce chicken. The sauce chicken is truly unique. It’s deep-fried chicken and it’s coated in an amazing spicy yet sweet sauce. Accompany either choice with a giant glass of beer or 10 and you’ve got yourself a perfect evening!
Korean BBQ Meats (고기구이)
There are so many types of Korean BBQ it’s hard to fathom! My favorites are Galbi (갈비), Bulgogi (불고기) and Chadol Bagi (차돌박이.) Galbi refers to marinated beef short ribs. Most people in the West have had Korean barbecue at some point in their lives. Galbi just melts in your mouth. You have to be careful because there are bones present but they really add extra flavor to the meat!
Bulgogi is similar to the ribs, however, it’s pieces of marienated beef without bones. It’s marinated with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and pepper. This is usually thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef. If you’re a lazy eater, this one might be a better choice because you don’t have to eat around the bones.
Chadol Bagi is beef brisket that is cut very thin and served rolled up. It cooks very quickly! It often looks like a larger quantity before it cooks down. What you’re left with are some very moist pieces of meat.
Korean Pancakes (전)
Korean pancakes come with many different ingredients. When Westerners think of pancakes, they’ll think of something sweet, but these are different. Typically, they’ll have either seafood, kimchi or vegetables. My favorite would have to be the kimchi pancake. I love kimchi, so adding it to a pancake makes perfect sense. This is a popular drinking food and I would highly recommend try it as soon as possible!
Makgeolli and I have some great memories. Makgeolli is unfiltered rice wine and Korea’s oldest drink. It’s a little sweet which makes it very tasty. It looks a bit milky and has a little carbonation from the fermentation process. Definitely one of my favorites!
This dessert is a little bit hard to explain. At first glance it appears to be a giant ice cream sundae, but in reality, it’s not! Actually, bingsoo is mostly made up of shaved milk ice stacked with heavenly toppings of your heart’s greatest desires. I’ve tried strawberry, mango, chocolate, blueberry, red beans and cheese! Sounds strange but seriously amazing!
When you first see kimbab as a foreigner, most would automatically assume that it’s sushi but you would be sadly mistaken! Kim means seaweed and bab means rice in Korean. Apparently, when made correctly, kimbab can be a flavor explosion! There are many different varieties but my favorite is usually filled with bulgogi.
The most infamous Korean alcohol is Soju. Soju is typically 20% alcohol but can be made super strong depending on the distillation process. It’s clear and traditionally made from rice. Nowadays, producers are using a variety of starches to create Korea’s infamous alcohol such as potatoes and corn. For those of you who think the taste is a bit tough to take, there are now several flavored varieties. These are very dangerous because they taste so good!
Hopefully, now you can see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Korean food is much more than just grilled meat! Get out there and try all these amazing foods now!