Planning a trip to Korea? Here are some of the popular dishes found in most parts of the country
Food in Korea is more than just kimchi although it does play a great part whether as a dish by itself, or as a side. Most of the dishes in Korea are usually made using pork or beef stock, but if you’re abstaining from either one of them, you can also go for vegetarian varieties, or chicken-based instead.
If you like kimchi, kimchi stew should be right up your alley. Made with kimchi and ingredients such as pork, seafood, scallions, tofu and onions, this dish is common but prepared differently from place to place. Kimchi stew or jjigae, is one of the most commonly served stews in Korea.
Seolleongtang is a popular Korean soup made from ox bones, and other cuts of beef. Usually in white milky colour, this soup is prepared by boiling the bones for long periods over a small flame, thus extracting the flavour from the bones. Served with rice and banchan (side dishes), seolleongtang is usually topped with scallions and consists of meat slices to go with rice.
Gukbap basically means rice and soup. There are many varieties of gukbap, and the most popular being sogogi gukbap (beef soup with rice). The rice is served in a bowl with meat slices, and hot beef broth is poured over it, topped with crunchy bean sprouts and scallions.
Of all the Korean cuisine, the most popular in and out of Korea is its barbeque. This is basically the grilling of different types of meat. However, different restaurants offer different ways and styles of barbecuing, some just over a hot grill, while others offer unique gimmicks such as an egg reservoir around the pan to cook eggs. The two most popular cuts of meat ordered at the barbecue is samgyeopsal, which is fatty pork belly, and another is galbi, which is marinated beef short ribs. If you prefer something heartier, go for the bulgogi, which is thickly sliced beef tenderloin or sirloin. Korean barbecues are usually served with an array of banchan, as well as salad topped with gochujang (spicy fermented condiment).
Samgyetang is soup made from whole young chicken and Korean ginseng. The soup is prepared by stuffing the chicken with glutinous rice and ginseng, garlic, ginger and other wholesome herbs such as wolfberries.
A signature Korean dish, bibimbap is a type of mixed rice, where warm rice is topped with seasoned vegetables, gochujang, soy sauce and doenjang (salty soybean paste). Some places serve bibimbap with minced beef or sliced beef, and often, with a raw egg. You have to mix all these thoroughly before consuming.
If you’re adventurous, try the seonjiguk. It is coagulated ox-blood soup, served with rice and banchan. This soup is slightly spicy, and is made with seonji (coagulated ox blood), beef broth, cabbage, and scallions, topped with bean sprouts.
Tteokbokki and Odeng
If you fancy street food, these popular snacks are found almost everywhere – along the streets of Korea. tteokbokki rice cakes are cooked in sweet red chili sauce and fish cake, while odeng (also known as eomok) are skewered tofu skins and fish cakes cooked in peppery hot soup. Other fried skewered food such as prawns, seaweed, and sweet potato are also served at the stalls.