One of the main reasons Korean food never fails to excite all our taste buds is because of its universal ability to suit everyone's preferences. The variety of side dishes and meals Korea surprises us with can be mixed and matched to get a customized cuisine like no other!
Let us look at some mouth-watering Korean delicacies that will have you grabbing your wallet!
Banchan are Korean side dishes that are usually eaten with various Korean meals.
- Kimchi (김치)
Starting off with the staple Korean banchan, kimchi. Kimchi is the soul of Korean food. Made by fermenting vegetables of different kinds, like napa cabbage and Korean radish, kimchi comes in various types.
It is not only eaten with different rice and noodle meals but can be used as the main ingredient to make some delicious dishes like kimchi stews, pancakes and others!
- Gyeran-Mari (계란말이) – Korean Egg Rolls
Layers and layers of egg batter all warmed up to cute little bite-sized pieces gives you this Korean delicacy. Egg rolls are one of the many important dishes that are put in lunch boxes to complete every meal.
These soft clouds of eggs are filled with different kinds of vegetables, like carrots and onions, which add a rich flavor to the egg roll!
- Mandu (만두) – Korean Dumplings
Asian countries are known for their unique dumpling recipes, including Korea. If you have grown up in Korea, chances are this dish was one of your favorites. Eaten both as a banchan to different kinds of noodle delicacies, this dish is similar to the Japanese gyoza.
This side dish is stuffed with mouth-watering fillings of pork, minced meat, kimchi, green onions and lots of nostalgia.
- Japchae (잡채) – Korean Glass Noodles
Taking noodle dishes to a whole new level, japchae is stir-fried glass noodles that can be savored as an appetizer. The word ‘japchae’ traditionally is referred to stir-fried vegetables and mushrooms and was originally a royal dish served to kings who enjoyed it with every meal. Today, it is served with different kinds of stir-fried meat, vegetables, and various toppings.
Grab yourself a glass of any drink of your choice and enjoy your meal!
- Kamja-Jorim (감자조림) – Braised Potatoes
Those of you who struggle with cooking, we got you. This dish is as easy to cook as it is to eat. Braised potatoes are simply a sweet and savory dish made with potatoes and soy sauce.
Soak potatoes in some water and boil them with rice or corn syrup, soy sauce, along with dried kelp and get yourself this easy-to-make side dish!
- Gimbap (김밥)
Gimbap is undoubtedly one of the most popular Korean dishes. Gimbap is made with rice and seaweed along with a variety of vegetables, egg, and any meat of your choice. Gimbap is perfect for outdoor picnics. Korea also has several small take-out shops that give you a packed gimbap for you to enjoy this meal on the go!
Get your picnic bag ready and pack yourself a dosirak (lunch box) filled with gimbap to enjoy a light, yet filling, lunch!
- Bibimbap (비빔밥)
Imagine all the side dishes that you can possibly have in one meal, and you get this little masterpiece in a bowl. Bibimbap is essentially a bowl full of rice, vegetables, and meat added with fermented soybean paste. ‘Bibim’ refers to different ingredients, and ‘bap’ means rice.
This is a simple meal that can be cooked up even in the comforts of your kitchen. If you are looking to finish off some leftovers, making some bibimbap is one of the best ways to empty your fridge!
- Seolleongtang (설렁탕)
Literally translated into “bone soup,” seolleongtang is made from ox soup, brisket, and other delicious things. This is a local food that can be tweaked to match your tastes! Add salt, pepper, spring onions, and minced garlic to spice things up.
This stew also comes with an interesting history. King Seongjong of the Joseon Dynasty is said to have fed several hundred people this stew after ancestral worship. The nature of this stew is such that it is bound to last for a couple of days. Freeze this it, and be certain to enjoy it for busy days!
Dak Gomtang (닭곰탕) – Korean Chicken Soup
Perfect for your summer blues, Korean chicken soup will give you that energy boost that will get you through a hot summer day. This milky stew is not only flavourful but is light enough to fill you up without making you feel uncomfortable.
Grab this comfort food and beat the summer heat!
- Hotteok (호떡)
If you are walking through the streets of Korea, you are bound to see stalls filled with this round-shaped goodness. Hotteok is essentially a pancake filled with sugary treats like honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, and chopped peanuts. Make sure to blow your hotteok cool before diving in because they are served fresh and hot!
Those of you who are homebodies that want to enjoy this as a late night snack in the comforts of your home space, fret not because you can get ready-to-make packets of this magical dessert!
- Songpyeon (송편) – Rice Cakes
These colorful chewy sweets are the signature Korean dessert. Rice cake is dough filled with various ingredients like sesame seeds, honey, sweet red bean paste or even chestnut paste. This dessert is eaten during festivals like Chuseok, which is the autumn harvest festival.
You’ll be sure to find packets full of delicious looking tteok ready to go. Grab one (or many) and enjoy!
Food plays a very important role in representing a culture. Korean food speaks volumes of not only Korean history but their lifestyle choices and values. Eating these meals will not only give your soul some life but introduce you to a whole new world!
What is your favorite Korean meal? Tell us everything down in the comments section!
Written by Sayantani Banerjee