Korean food is based on noodles, rices, meat, vegetables and tofu (known in Korea as “dubu”). Meals are usually served with many side dishes (“banchan”), as well as steamed rice, soup and kimchi (fermented vegetables, most often cabbage but sometimes cucumber or radish). Spices and seasonings are widely used, including doenjang (fermented soybean paste), garlic, ginger, gochujang (red chili paste), salt and soy sauce.
Some popular Korean dishes include:
– Gamjatang – A spicy soup made using pork spine, potatoes and other vegetables, and green onions, hot peppers and sesame seeds.
– Kimchi jjigae – A soup made using kimchi, pork and tofu.
– Kongnamul-guk – A soup made from soybean sprouts.
– Jeongol – A stew made using seafood and vegetables.
– Maeuntang – Hot and spicy fish soup.
– Bulgogi – Literally translated from Korean, Bulgogi means “fire meat”. The dish consists of beef, shredded or thinly sliced, then cooked on a grill. Other meats may be substitued to create variations: chicken (“dak bulgogi”), pork (“dweji bulgogi”), or squid (“ojingeo bulgogi”).
– Galbi (or Kalbi) – Beef or pork ribs cooked on charcoal.
– Dakgalbi – Similar to galbi, but using seasoned chicken.
– Jokbal – Pig’s trotters cooked in soy sauce and spices, deboned, and served with a shrimp sauce.
– Samgyeopsal – Pork belly (similar to bacon), flavored and seasoned with garlic, sesame oil and salt, cooked on a grill. Slices of meat are placed inside lettuce or another leafy vegetable, along with cooked rice and ssamjang (a spicy paste). Green chillies, slices of raw garlic dipped in ssamjang and spring onion salad, are common accompaniments.
– Makchang – Grilled pork intestines, somewhat similar to chitterlings.
– Hoe – Thinly sliced raw fish, similar to Japanese cuisine’s sashimi. The fish is usually dipped in a sauce, either chogochujang which is a sauce made from gochujang (red chili paste), or wasabi sauce, then wrapped in green leaves, and served on a bed of dangmyeon (cellophane noodles).
– Yukhoe – Raw beef, topped with a raw egg yolk, and seasoned with black pepper, garlic, gochujang (red chili paste), green onion, nashi pear, sesame seed and sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar.
– Sannakji – A small octopus, cut in pieces, lightly seasoned and served. The octopus pieces are usually still moving on the plate when the dish is served!
– Japchae – Boiled potato noodles with spinach, beef, onion and carrots.
– Kalguksu – Boiled flat noodles, usually in a broth containing anchovies and zucchini (courgettes).
– Kongnamul-bap – Soybean sprouts served over rice.
– Ramyeon – The Korean version of Japanese ramen noodles. Spicy and cooked with meat and vegetables.
– Gujeolpan – Literally translated from Korean, Guljoelpan means “dish of nine dishes”. This is a very elaborate meal, traditionally eaten by Korean nobility, which is served on a special plate divided into eight octagonal side sections, each containing meats and vegetables of a different type and color, and a ninth center section containing small pancakes.
– Tteok – A sweet dessert made from glutinous rice flour – there are hundreds of different variations.