10 Popular Korean Dishes
A Guide to South Korea's Most Iconic Foods
Korean cuisine is known for its bold flavors, vibrant colors, and diverse range of ingredients. With its unique combination of traditional and modern dishes, it has become a popular choice for food enthusiasts around the world.
In this article, we will take a closer look at ten of the most popular Korean dishes among international visitors. From the iconic Samgyeopsal to the savory Bulgogi, and from the spicy Tteokbokki to the satisfying Galbi, each dish has its own distinct flavor and history. Whether you’re a seasoned Korean food lover or a curious beginner, this guide will help you explore the delicious world of Korean cuisine.
Samgyeopsal is one of the most popular Korean dishes made of grilled pork belly that is usually served with lettuce, garlic, and various dipping sauces.
The name of the dish comes from the Korean words “sam” (which means three), “gyeop” (which means layers), and “sal” (which means meat). This refers to the three layers of pork belly that are visible when the meat is sliced. Samgyeopsal is typically cooked at the table, where diners can grill the meat to their liking and wrap it in lettuce leaves with garlic, ssamjang (a spicy dipping sauce), and other condiments. It is a beloved dish in Korea and a must-try for any meat lover.
Bulgogi is one of the more classic Korean dishes that consists of thin slices of marinated beef that are grilled or stir-fried. The marinade typically includes soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and other ingredients that give the meat its sweet, savory, and slightly smoky flavor.
Bulgogi can be served on its own as a main dish, or with rice, vegetables, and lettuce wraps for a more traditional presentation. It is a popular Korean barbecue option, often cooked tableside, where diners can enjoy the sizzling sounds and enticing aroma of the meat being cooked to perfection. Bulgogi is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its tender texture and delicious taste.
Bibimbap is a dish that is made of rice topped with a variety of seasoned vegetables, sliced meat, and a fried egg. The name “bibimbap” translates to “mixed rice,” as the dish is traditionally served in a bowl and mixed together before eating.
Bibimbap is typically accompanied by gochujang, a spicy chili paste that gives the dish a delicious kick. It can be customized to suit different tastes and preferences, with a range of meat and vegetable options available. Bibimbap is a beloved Korean comfort food and a must-try for anyone looking to explore the vibrant flavors of Korean cuisine.
Jjajangmyeon is a popular Korean-Chinese dish that consists of noodles topped with a thick black bean sauce and vegetables. The sauce is made from a combination of black bean paste, diced pork, onions, and other ingredients that give it its distinctive savory and slightly sweet taste.
This dish is typically served with pickled radish on the side, which helps to balance out the rich flavors of the sauce. It is a beloved comfort food in Korea and can be found in many Korean-Chinese restaurants throughout the country. Jjajangmyeon is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious world of Korean cuisine.
Japchae is a popular dish made from stir-fried glass noodles made from sweet potato starch, mixed with a variety of vegetables and sliced meat. The dish often includes shiitake mushrooms, carrots, spinach, and onions, among other vegetables.
The noodles are cooked until tender and then stir-fried with the vegetables and meat in a sweet and savory sauce made from soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and sugar. Japchae is often served as a side dish or as a main dish and is a popular option for Korean celebrations and special occasions. It is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious world of Korean cuisine.
Budae-jjigae, also known as “Army Stew”, is a popular dish that originated during the Korean War. It is made from a combination of ingredients, including sliced sausage, spam, instant noodles, tofu, and vegetables such as onions, scallions, and kimchi.
The stew is typically seasoned with gochujang (Korean chili paste) and gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) for a spicy kick. Budae-jjigae is often served in a communal pot and is meant to be shared among diners. It is a hearty and comforting dish that has become a staple of Korean cuisine and a must-try for anyone looking to explore its unique flavors.
Tteokbokki is a popular street food dish that consists of soft rice cakes made from rice flour and fish cakes, stir-fried with vegetables, and gochujang.
The dish is typically served in a spicy and slightly sweet sauce and can be topped with shredded cheese, boiled eggs, or green onions. Tteokbokki has a chewy texture and a spicy kick that makes it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious world of Korean street food.
Samgye-tang is a traditional Korean soup made from a whole young chicken stuffed with garlic, rice, and ginseng, and boiled in a broth with Korean dates and other medicinal herbs.
The dish is believed to be a nourishing and restorative meal, especially during the hot summer months. Samgye-tang is often served with a side of kimchi and a bowl of rice. The tender chicken meat and flavorful broth make it a comforting and healthy dish that is popular among locals and visitors alike. It is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the unique and nutritious flavors of Korean cuisine.
9. Haemul Pajeon
Haemul Pajeon is a savory Korean pancake made with a batter of flour, eggs, and green onions, mixed with a variety of seafood such as squid, shrimp, and oysters. The pancake is fried until crispy and golden brown and is typically served with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes.
Haemul Pajeon is a popular Korean comfort food and a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Its crispy texture and flavorful seafood filling make it a satisfying dish that is perfect for sharing with friends and family. It is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious world of Korean cuisine.
Galbi, also known as “Kalbi”, is a popular Korean dish made from marinated beef short ribs that are grilled or roasted. The ribs are typically marinated in a sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other ingredients that give the meat a sweet and savory flavor.
Galbi can be served on its own as a main dish, or with rice and other side dishes. The tender texture and rich flavor of the meat make it a beloved Korean barbecue option, often cooked tableside for a fun and interactive dining experience. Galbi is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious world of Korean cuisine.
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