Koreans are known for their hospitality and the incredible feast of various food items that they make.
The Korean food dishes are versatile yet humbling and comforting with a fusion of original Korean cuisine, Japanese and Chinese.
Even though certain delicacies require acquired taste and may not taste great to you on the first try, the beauty of Korean food is that you will want more despite not liking the first bite and eventually come to love it.
Therefore, here we have listed below our top 5 picks for must-try Korean dishes. Let’s have a look and try getting to tasting them soon enough!
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Kimchi had to mark the number spot in this list because even though you may argue that Kimchi itself is not a dish, there aren’t any dishes in Korean food that are complete without Kimchi. Dating back 2000 years ago, the Shilla Dynasty is credited to have made this delicacy, and since then, it has become a staple in every Korean household.
Kimchi consists of multiple vegetables, but primarily cabbage is used. Along with cabbage, you can include radish, pumpkin, onion, ginger, and green onions. All of these vegetables are nicely chopped and pickled with chili, garlic, and highly salted seafood. All of these ingredients combined are then left to ferment.
You may feel that it is a pretty standard type of dish. However, over 200 variations of Kimchi are available in Seoul alone. So moreover you can find cultural variations of the same technique all over the world. People eat it with rice, add it to soups, noodles, sauces or have it as a side dish to the main course almost all of the time.
Like Kimchi, Gochujang is also not a dish on its own per se, but none of the Korean dishes are complete without it. It is a fermented chili paste made with extremely spicy and savory hot chili peppers. Koreans love their spice, and nothing seems to fulfill it but Gochujang.
The textured paste is a pantry stable and has found its popularity all over the world. Gochujang is a spicy flavoring favorite of people who like to take their spicy food levels up a notch from Japanese and Chinese to Thai and Vietnamese.
Several local Korean brands make Gochujang and supply it all over the world. However, Koreans are so particular about the umami flavor that comes with the spice that they swear by their homemade techniques and love to make their food spicy as per their liking.
Imagine thin slices of juicy, marinated beef sirloin, so succulent that the meat just melts in your mouth the moment you take a bite… That is exactly what Bulgogi is. It is cooked with sliced onions, garlic, and peppers on a charcoal burner for the acquired smoky flavor.
The meat is marinated with soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and onions for somewhere between 2 to 4 hours. As it is known, the meat tenderization process is regarded as the primary source of cooking the meat.
Hence, the charcoal-burner is just there to add a smoky flavor to it. Bulgogi can be eaten with almost anything and even on its own. Koreans prefer steamed rice or leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce to make a green wrap complete with chili paste and Kimchi.
A Korean and Chinese fusion dish, Jajangmyeon is a noodle dish quite popularized worldwide thanks to Korean ramen noodle brands. Hence, even if you cannot find the original dish or make one at home, you may find a wide variety of brands offering instant ramen Jajangmyeon for you to try.
It is a dish consisting of thick handmade wheat noodles made in a salty soybean paste giving them that distinct flavor and black color. Koreans add cucumbers, pork, and different vegetables to make the dish a complete meal.
Jajangmyeon is also locally popular as the Black Day dish, observed on April 14th every year in Korea. The significance of that day is for people who do not receive gifts on Valentine’s Day, so they gather to consumer black dishes like Jajangmyeon in black attires.
5. Korean Fried Chicken
Last but not least, we have the famous Korean Fried Chicken on our list. Let’s be frank, fried chicken in any shape, form, color, or originating from any place holds the same culinary glory. So what makes Korean fried chicken a must-try?
Well, like many things on this list, Korean’s make their fried chicken full of flavors. The wings are prepared as usual but they are marinated in Gochujang, fish sauce, and soy sauce, giving them that tangy savory Koreans taste.
After double frying the wings to maintain their crunch and tossing another layer of sauce, they are topped with sesame seeds and scallions for taste enhancements. Next thing you know, your mouth is on fire, yet you cannot put your hand down and stop eating.