Korean culture greatly revolves around the cuisine of the Peninsula – there is food for every special occasion, a story behind every meal and a specific location for most dishes. It goes from spicy to savoury to fresh, it goes from odd-looking to kind of normal, from hot to cold, from delicious to what-did-I-just-put-in-my-mouth?
The Korean Cuisine is filled with spectacular, mouth-watering dishes to please every single palate: Here is a list of my favourite 10!
#10 – Samgyetang
I remember in my earlier days in Korea when I still despised Korean food this was one of my favourite meals. Samgyetang is basically this: a WHOLE chicken, stuffed with rice, drifting in a thick glutinous soup along with pieces of ginseng – the perfect combination ensuring the aromatic flavour of this dish. Koreans believe you have to fight heat with heat and prefer to eat Samgyetang in summer – I’ll rather pass and wait for winter.
#9 – Kimchi Jiggae
I’m not a big fan of Kimchi, but Kimchi Jiggae is nothing like Kimchi! Besides the odd pieces of tofu drifting in the stew, it’s delicious and not too spicy; a side of rice is the perfect partner for this dish.
#8 – Ramen
Ramen is nothing new. It’s the easiest thing to make and is available in various sizes, spices and flavours. I don’t know what is so appealing about Ramen – is it the taste or is it the fact that you can have some spicy noodles in about 3 minutes? From cheese flavour, to kimchi to seafood. My favourite flavour for now is Jin Ramen.
#7 – Kalguksu
Kalguksu is more of a summer dish, but this soup can warm up your whole body during winter. This noodle dish (handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles) is served in a large bowl with broth, sprinkled with sesame seeds and sometimes seaweed.
#6 – Pajeon
Pajeon is better known as the Korean pancake, it’s one of those side dishes on the table that makes your chopsticks dance for joy. This dish, made from a batter of eggs and flour, is filled with green onions and sometimes seafood or beef.
#5 – Bibimpap
Bibimpap is synonymous with Korea. It’s extremely basic; one of those dishes you can make by yourself by just looking at a photo – rice, vegetables, an egg and some red chilli paste. Sometimes meat, sometimes tuna, sometimes whatever. I’ve had a lot of variations of Bibimpap – from good to bad – I prefer to choose my own vegetables, to add my own chilli paste and to be in control of the rice spoon to get the perfect tantalising balance.
#4 – Japchae
Even though Japchae is more of a side dish, it’s still one of my favourites. Japchae is kind of like a stir-fried noodle dish made from glass noodles, various julienned vegetables and sometimes meat. Japchae is definitely a toothsome meal; not just a side dish!
#3 – Samgyeopsal
Samgyeopsal – the Korean barbeque – is probably one of the most well-known dishes in Korea. What’s better than sitting at a table with a grill, putting the meat on yourself, grilling it with garlic and onion and wrapping it in lettuce? The combination is a sensational heaven!
#2 – Andong Jjimdak
Jjimdak might as well share the number one spot with Ori Bulgogi! Andong Jjimdak consists of braised chicken cooked in a sweet-savoury-little-bit-spicy sauce with vegetables and the glass noodles (made from sweet potato) is the perfect final touch to this dish. Exquisite, flavoursome and out of this world!
#1 – Ori Bulgogi
Korean duck, oh Korean duck – I have no words to describe the taste when the mix of sweet and spicy meets your palate. You get a big plate of duck and vegetables, cook it on the gas stove on the table in front of you, wrap the goodies in lettuce, soak a bit of rice in the spicy sweet sauce and just like that, you become a duck addict.