kitchen of Korea

5 Korean Dishes You Need to Try

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Korean Food

Often overshadowed by neighboring China and Japan, Korean is one of Asia’s lesser known cuisines. Despite beginning to grow in popularity and more and more Korean restaurants popping up in cities around the world, its dishes remain some of Asia’s least recognized. But that’s not to say they aren’t worth knowing about. Korea has a lot to offer in terms of food, and once you try it, you’ll wish you had found it sooner. Below are some of the many great dishes Korea has to offer and that you cannot leave without trying. 

Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ

If you’re a sucker for a BBQ, look no further. There’s no need to wait for the summer months to enjoy some sizzling meat in Korea, where the streets are lined with restaurants offering an inhouse ‘do-it-yourself’ style BBQ. Undoubtedly one of the most popular ways to dine among the locals, a trip to Korea wouldn’t be complete without trying it.

BBQ restaurants are easily identified by the distinctive extractor fans that sit above tables with a mini barbeque grill fitted in the middle. Diners sit around these and cook their own meat which they choose from a wide menu selection. Typical Korean side dishes are served alongside this and are usually available for free re-fill, meaning you definitely won’t go hungry. Once cooked, it’s customary to stuff the meat into a lettuce leaf along with anything else you fancy and enjoy it along with a glass of soju – a popular Korean spirit.

 

Korean Chimaek

Chimaek, short for “chicken and maeju(beer)”, is not so much as dish as it is an institution. Think KFC, but instead of the Kentucky, replace it with Korean and add a whole load more flavor.

We know what you’re thinking; why go all the way to Korea for something you can get around the corner? But it’s not as simple as that. Korean fried chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and comes with all kinds of local style sauces that make it far more exciting than a fast-food chain. As another extremely popular dish among locals, you won’t need to look for to find Chinaek.

Budae jjigae

Without a basic understanding of the story behind this dish, budae jjigae may seem quite confusing. Upon first glance (and taste), this noodle soup appears similar to other Korean dishes; full of flavor and spice unique to Korean cuisine. But after a few mouthfuls you’ll find a mishmash of processed ingredients that would look more at home on an American breakfast table – huh?

In fact, meaning ‘army base stew’, this dish interestingly has its roots in the aftermath of the Korean war. At this time, millions of people were left desperate for food, shelter and water.  As America became one of the most reliable donators of food supplies, canned American foods became a necessary staple for many people to survive.

In an attempt to create familiar flavors using these supplies, people began combining them with Korean ingredients such as chili flakes and kimchi to create a dish they were more accustomed. From this, came budae jigae – the popular mouthwatering fusion of western ingredients and Korean cooking styles.

Served in a boiling pot, budae jigae is made with spam, sausage, American cheese, instant noodles, rice cakes, a mixture of vegetables and a spicy soup. The dish remains popular today and is well worth adding to your list – but be warned, it’s spicy!

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

The English translation of bibimbap is simply “mixed rice”… and it really is as simple as that. White rice is topped with seasoned vegetables and a fried egg and served with an optional red chili paste called gochujang (if you’re brave enough). It comes out sizzling in a piping hot clay bowl and should be mixed well before eating. This simple, healthy dish comes with a range of toppings, so there is something for everyone!

 

Kimchi

Growing in popularity in the west thanks to its extreme health benefits, you may have heard of this one before. As one of the country’s most traditional dishes, kimchi is a staple of the Korean diet.  A popular side dish to almost every meal, kimchi is served in everywhere, so you can’t leave without trying it… even if you wanted to!

Made from fermented cabbage, which is flavored with garlic, chili, pepper, salt, fish and many more ingredients kimchi is a simple yet delicious accompaniment to almost any meal.

*Fun fact; almost every Korean household has a kimchi refrigerator, that’s specially designed to store this unique dish.

These are just some of Korea’s many unique dishes. Whether you’re planning a trip, an internship or just curious to try some at home, you can’t miss them.

Interested in interning in Korea? Explore AIP’s range of internships in Seoul, Incheon and Busan or get in touch for more information.

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