Korean food must have piqued your interest if you are a fan of K-drama and K-pop. You might be wondering what your idol’s food tastes like. Likewise, watching Koreans eat on mukbang might leave you hungry for some kimchi and soju.
So if you are traveling to Korea, be sure to get a taste of these Korean foods before leaving.
Must-try Food #1: Rice-based Korean Cuisine
Since rice is a staple food of Koreans, most Korean foods have rice as the main ingredient.
Here are some favorite Korean rice dishes you should try:
1. Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)
Kimchi bokkeumbap became a popular Korean food in the 1990s. More people are familiar with this food today because of the K-pop and K-drama phenomenon.
When you order it, you will have rice of golden color and taste like kimchi. There are also vegetables and soy sauce that add a new element to the dish’s flavor.
And no matter whether you choose pork or beef, you will get the same mouth-watering taste.
You can enjoy this South Korean spicy food every day of the week, whatever your mood is.
2. Rice Cake Soup (Tteokguk)
Tteokguk is boiled beef soup with sliced rice cakes. It is particularly popular for Lunar New Year, one of Korea’s most important festivals.
Must-try Food #2: Korean Soup
In Korean food, the soup comes second to rice.
Here are some famous soups that you should not miss when you go to Korea:
1. Soft Tofu Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
You cannot go wrong with spicy clams and soft tofu. This dish is an excellent example of how unexpected combinations may result in a delicious dish.
Korean restaurants serve kimchi stew in an earthenware pot to warm the food. Upon serving, the stew has a raw egg on top, which is then poached into the dish.
The soft tofu breaks down into fluffy bits in the stew. It also retains the clam taste that provides cooling from the dish’s spiciness.
2. Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang)
Koreans enjoy eating hot dishes on summer days to “fight heat with heat.” One of the iconic spicy Korean dishes they love is the samgyetang.
This Korean ginseng soup has a thick glutinous texture with an entire stuffed chicken floating in its boiling depths. This cooking procedure reduces the ginseng’s bitterness and softens the chicken.
3. Hangover Stew (Haejangguk)
The hangover-curing culture of South Korea is a culinary wonder by itself. From pre- to post-drink cocktails to various hot and steaming stews and soups, you’ll be sure to banish that grating hangover after a night of fun.
So if you visit Korea and get drunk, get yourself a hangover stew. This stew has a savoring flavor of beef broth, cabbage, bean sprouts, and radish. It also has bits of congealed cow blood that awaken a sluggish mind in the morning.
4. Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)
Food shortages followed the Korean War. With new items like canned ham and sausage, Koreans made dishes to suit their tastes.
Budae jjigae was born when they combined ham, sausage, kimchi, and red pepper paste.
5. Ox Bone Soup (Seolleongtang)
The highlight of Korean seolleongtang is slow-cooked ox bones with thin noodles.
When you order it, you will receive it unsalted and unseasoned. So you may season it with salt, chili peppers, green onions, and chili paste based on your liking.
Must-try Food #3: Korean Noodle Dishes
Noodles are a staple of Korean food. And many noodle-based dishes have evolved through time.
Here are some notable Korean noodle meals:
Japchae means “noodles mixed vegetables” in Korean. It has sweet potato starch noodles and fried vegetables like sliced onions. Also, the added soy sauce enriches the taste of this noodle dish.
You must often see someone eating ramyun in Korean dramas and movies.
Ramyun is Korean instant noodles. It is a popular snack among Koreans due to its low price and easy preparation.
In fact, Koreans eat the most ramen in the world. They are also becoming a worldwide snack option.
3. Cold Buckwheat Noodles (Naengmyeon)
Naengmyeon is a popular meal in Korea to cool down on hot summer days. You will like the chewy buckwheat noodle and the crunch of the potato chunks.
This tasty cuisine is also known as Mul naengmyeon or Bilim naengmyeon.
Must-try Food #4: Korean Meat Dishes
What’s Korean cuisine without meat?
Make sure to enjoy these Korean meat-based dishes during your stay in Korea:
1. Korean Barbeque Beef (Bulgogi)
Bulgogi is a traditional Korean barbecue composed of grilled beef with dipping sauce and uses sirloin.
2. Grilled Pork Belly (Samgyeopsal)
For foreign tourists, samgyeopsal ranks top as the Korean meal they want to eat again.
Samgyeop means “three layers,” indicating the layers of fat on pork belly meat. Also, this Korean dish is best eaten with other side dishes like kimchi and soju.
3. Korean Fried Chicken
Korean fried chicken is more tender compared to others. It uses special flavors like sweet chili and soy sauce that makes it unique.
It is also best paired with beer.