So, you are heading to Korea. Naturally, you’ll be eating Korean food. But, after a few weeks, when the thrill of Korean barbecue has worn off, you might not know what to order. Today’s article is here to help. I am going to detail my top five Korean foods. From the humble kimbap to amazing dak galbi, join me on a culinary adventure through the Hermit Kingdom.
1. Chimaek (치맥)
This isn’t really just a dish here. It has become a bonafide Korean institution. Consisting of beer and chicken, chimaek is literally a merging of the two words chicken and maekju (beer). Whilst neither one particularly shines by itself, together they create something magical. Korea makes chicken in absolutely amazing ways – ranging from fried to chicken marinated in amazing garlic and chilli sauces. You’ll see a huge variety of chimaek places but one of my personal favourites (and one just around the corner from my apartment) is Dasarang Chicken. This is something devoured by millions of Koreans every weekend.
2. Bibimbap (비빔밥)
One of the healthier options on this list, bibimbap is a simple but delicious dish. It is made up of rice, mixed vegetables, a little bit of beef or pork, sliced mushrooms and an egg. Once the food of royalty, this has now become an everyday eat in Korea. It is seasoned with sesame oil and the ubiquitous red pepper paste. A cheap, healthy and filling meal bibimbap is perfect if you are eating on a budget or just need a break from all the unhealthier fried options tempting you in.
3. Haemul Pajeon (해물파전)
Filling, and packed full of ingredients that provide a great crunch, Korean pancake always tastes amazing when seafood (shellfish, cuttlefish and more) is mixed in. Easy to find in busier areas, pajeon is normally served alongside Korean rice wine (called makgeolli). This is a favourite food of Korean university students.
4. Dak Galbi (닭갈비)
This is a hugely popular dish that is made by stir-frying chicken, marinated in a chilli pepper paste and often includes cabbage, sweet potato (or plain potato), onions and rice cakes. Appearing in the late 1960s as a cheap food, this is something that my girlfriend and I go for at least every month or so. We always make sure to add some ramen noodles and cheese rice cakes too.
5. Jjajangmyeon (짜장면)
Originally a Chinese dish, much like Chinese food back home it has been localised by the Koreans. They have taken thick noodles and an amazing sauce that is only vaguely like it’s Chinese ancestor. This is a very popular dish here, and many Koreans will eat it once a week. It is also famous for being the dish for Black Day. Black Day is a day where single people go out and eat jjajangmyeon to (hopefully) meet other eligible singles.