Climbing the ladder! South Korean food, one of the most popular in the world, is gaining more prominence thanks to the films Parasite and Squid Game, popularising squid dishes, whether in batter, ink, rice, stew… as well as other foods such as the famous Dalgona sugar biscuit, sweet plum tea or ram-don, the ramen-like noodles with meat.
But beyond the big screen, Korean food and medicine have always gone hand in hand. Their basic principle is to use medicine as a last resort, only if food fails. Therefore, food plays a very crucial role in their culture. They often ferment many foods, which can take months or years, a process that is characteristic of their gastronomic tradition.
Here are the most typical dishes in South Korean cuisine:
Kimchi is one of the oldest and most essential dishes in South Korean cuisine. Indeed, dinner is considered incomplete without this dish on the table. The history and tradition that precedes it give it great cultural value. It is a food composed of fermented vegetables with a bitter and spicy touch in every bite. The main ingredient is cabbage, followed by other vegetables, red chilli flakes and sometimes accompanied by rice. The dish has great nutritional value and anti-cancer properties, and its popularity extends even to foreigners for its unique taste.
For pork lovers… This is the dish for you! Samgyeopsal is one of South Korea’s favourite foods. It consists of grilling slices of pork belly. The meat is bathed in salt and pepper, mixed with oil, sesame seeds and then wrapped in lettuce along with garlic slices, chilli paste, traditional and green onions and kimchi as a garnish. All in all, a recipe with a lot of flavour thanks to the accompanying ingredients.
The 23rd most delicious food in the world! According to a survey conducted by CNN Travel to its readers, during 2011 bulgogi was ranked as one of the most delicious Korean meat dishes. It consists of grilled marinated beef, although it can also be prepared with chicken by slicing it into thin strips. The beef is usually wrapped in lettuce and served with ssamjang, a thick red paste.
Spicy and delicious! Sundubu-jjigae is a typical Korean stew, presented in a stone bowl for better tasting. The dish is made with: tofu, vegetables, mushrooms, beef or pork, seafood and chilli paste. Depending on the area and the restaurant, some ingredients vary in their preparation, but despite these minor modifications, most dishes place a raw egg on top of the stew, which is mixed with the soup before consumption. It is a very tasty and hearty meal, ideal for Christmas meals at this time of year.
5- Hotpot Mixed Rice
Mixed rice salad? Bibimbap Dolsot is a tasty and hearty dish, typical of Korean cuisine, consisting of a rice base and different stir-fried ingredients: vegetables, egg, toasted seaweed flakes and decorative sesame seeds. More gochujang chilli paste is added to taste, depending on how salty the rice is desired. The salad is served in a hot pot, ideally mixing all the ingredients together on the spot and enjoying each bite with a crunchy texture.
Korean agriculture and cuisine have brought to the table one of the most delicious and lightest dishes to eat… we are talking about hobakjuk! A Korean porridge made of steamed pumpkin and glutinous rice, previously soaked in water. Don’t be fooled by its appearance, this is an ideal breakfast food, even for a lighter diet, its sweet and delicious taste melts in every bite. It can be served either hot or cold, depending on the season.
Have you ever seen translucent noodles? Japchae is a very popular dish from South Korea. It is cooked stir-fried with sweet potato, vegetables, beef, a touch of soy sauce, sugar, carrots, onions, mushrooms, beef and cucumbers. These ingredients vary according to the chef. The noodles are fried in sesame oil and toasted seeds on top, creating a sweet and savoury aroma, with a light and soft texture. Japchae is usually served as a side dish for lunch or dinner.
8- Kimchi stew
Tradition is served in a healthy way! Kimchi stew is undoubtedly one of the most traditional and essential dishes in Korean cuisine. Its spicy and sour taste leaves you craving for more. It is made with different types of Kimchi, fermented vegetables, but the most common is cabbage, also boiled with pieces of pork and other seasonings. It is a food with great nutritional value, high in fibre and low in calories. The stew has a mixture of intense and delicious flavours. For Koreans, it is a dish with great cultural value, so it can be found in any restaurant at a reasonable price.
9- Spicy stir-fried octopus
Octopus… It’s a great health benefit! For centuries, octopus has been one of the most popular dishes among Koreans. It is a low-calorie food and is believed to generate more energy and stamina to get through the day. Nakji Bokkeum, served spicy in dishes, is often accompanied by soups to soothe the taste. The octopus is minced with onions, cabbage and carrots, mixed with a marinade of red pepper paste, soy sauce, garlic, salt and sugar, and then stir-fried together.
Pancakes ready to go! Hoeddeok are typical South Korean street food pancakes. It is a very popular food, especially in the winter season. Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, this dessert is sweeter than the Western version, in the form of a circular dough filled with cinnamon, honey, brown sugar and small pieces of peanuts, cooked on a griddle.