If not all, most Filipinos know or at least heard kimchi, Korean cuisine’s iconic red, spicy, garlic-laden fermented cabbage dish that more often than not accompanies the main courses in Korean restaurants meals.
Kimchi, in the past decade or so, has been gaining popularity worldwide, not only for its taste but also for its obvious health benefits like it lowers cholesterol levels, produces radiant skin and shiny hair, prevents stomach cancer, slows down the aging process, boosts immunity, among others.
There are over 100 different kimchi types that you should try at least once, twice, thrice, or more. There’s baechu (napa cabbage kimchi), bake (white kimchi), kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi), chonggak (ponytail radish kimchi), oi sobagi (cucumber kimchi), nabak (red water kimchi), bossam (wrapped kimchi), among other types of kimchis.
But you’ve already tasted too much kimchi. It’s now about time for you to taste a new Korean dish.
Here are 10 dishes that are essential to the Korean heart, soul, and digestive tract.
Samgyeopsal is a South Korean delicacy consisting only of pork belly, the most expensive pork cut in the country. It is so popular in South Korea that the residents eat it approximately once every four days. The name of the dish consists of three words: sam (three), gyeop (layered), and sal (meat), so it can be literally translated as three-layered meat, referring to the three visible layers of the meat.
The dish is most commonly accompanied by lettuce, raw garlic, green chili peppers, kimchi, and green onions. Two dipping sauces are traditionally served on the side: one is ssamjang, consisting of sesame oil, chili paste, and soybean paste, and the other is gireumjang, consisting of sesame oil, salt, and black pepper.
Chimaek is a pairing of fried chicken and beer, served as anju (food with alcohol) in the evening in many South Korean restaurants. It rose to foodie fame during the 2010 World Cup, and more recently got us salivating at our screens while watching Korean drama “Crash Landing on You.”
3. Budae Jjigae
One if not the most popular hot pot dishes in Korea, Budae Jjigae or Korean army stew is a Korean fusion stew that incorporates American-style processed food such as spam, sausages, canned baked beans, and sliced cheese.
Budae is a general term for a military base in Korea, and Jjigae is a term for soup or stew. Hence the word army stew or army base stew was born. It’s reasonably cheap to buy and, even better, it consists of easy to find ingredients if you’re making it yourself.
4. Ganjang Gejang
Ganjang Gejang is a traditional dish that’s made by marinating raw crabs in soy sauce. Historically, a very salty soy sauce brine was used to preserve the crabs for a long time.
Nowadays, ganjang gejang is enjoyed for its deliciously savory taste, so fresh crabs are marinated in a mild soy sauce-based brine and usually eaten within a few days.
Tteokbokki or stir-fried rice cakes is a popular Korean food made from small-sized garae-tteok (long, white, cylinder-shaped rice cakes) called tteokmyeon (rice cake noodles) or commonly tteokbokki-tteok (tteokbokki rice cakes).
Eomuk (fish cakes), boiled eggs, and scallions are some common ingredients paired with tteokbokki in dishes. It can be seasoned with either spicy gochujang (chili paste) or non-spicy ganjang (soy sauce).
Listed at number 40 on the 2011 World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll compiled by CNN Travel, Bibimbap, which literally means “mixed rice,” is a Korean rice dish. The term “bibim” means mixing various ingredients, while the “bap” refers to rice.
Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sauteed and seasoned vegetables) or kimchi and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating.
Gimbap is a Korean dish made from cooked rice and other ingredients that are rolled in gim-dried sheets of seaweed and served in bite-sized slices. The dish is often part of a packed meal, or dosirak, to be eaten at picnics and outdoor events, and can serve as a light lunch along with danmuji and kimchi.
Once a royal dish, Japchae is a savory and slightly sweet dish of stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables that is popular in Korean cuisine. Japchae is typically prepared with dangmyeon, a type of cellophane noodles made from sweet potato starch. The noodles are mixed with assorted vegetables, meat, mushrooms, and seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil.
Tteokguk or sliced rice cake soup is a traditional Korean dish eaten during the Korean New Year celebration. The dish consists of the broth or soup (guk) with thinly sliced rice cakes (tteok). It is tradition to eat tteokguk on New Year’s Day because it is believed to grant the people good luck for the year and gain a year of age. It is usually garnished with thin julienned cooked eggs, marinated meat, and gim.
Bulgogi, literally “fire meat,’ is a gui (Korean-style grilled or roasted dish) made of thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or on a stove-top griddle. It is also often stir-fried in a pan in home cooking. Sirloin, rib eye, or brisket are frequently used cuts of beef for the dish.