Food & Drinks

10 Traditional Korean Specialities to Try

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10 Traditional Korean Specialities to Try

Korea has a unique food identity where tangy, spicy, salty, fermented and soothing dishes form the character of a nation obsessed with food.

We take a mouthwatering look at a few of the highlights of traditional Korean food, discovering some traditional dishes and the rejuvenated drink to wash it down with.

Plus, if you've never been to a Korean restaurant it's time to be initiated in what you could be tucking into, or just what you've been missing out on.

Where to eat in Seoul

Traditional Korean Food

1. Bibimpap - Rice mixed with fresh vegetables and chili pepper paste

Bibimbap is probably one of the most famous dishes in Korean cuisine. Rice, vegetables and meat, are all mixed together with chilli paste in a  comforting bowl. Chopsticks are used to mix all the ingredients, but the bibimbap is generally eaten with a spoon, so ensure you take generous mouthfuls allowing all the flavours to mix.

Learn how to make bibimbap here

2. Kimchi - Fermented cabbage with red pepper

Kimchi has become a shining light in Korea's food repertoire.  The typical dish has become hugely popular its fermented goodness. It's an acquired taste usually made of fermented cabbage with red peppers and served as an accompaniment and not as a main dish.

How to make Kimchi

3. Galbi - Grilled Beef Short Ribs

If there is a meat dish that you should know about Korean cuisine, it's Galbi. Prepared with meat cut into slices 7 cm long and 1 cm thick and marinated in a tasty sauce made of green onions, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, sea salt, sesame and black pepper, before being cooked on the BBQ.

4. Bulgogi - Thin sliced sirloin marinated in soy sauce

Bulgogi is prepared with beef or pork marinated in soy sauce, honey, green onions, garlic, sesame seed salt and black pepper. The meat is then grilled, and enjoyed on its own or with rice.

5. Samgyetang

Samgyetang is another very popular dish of Korean cuisine based on chicken filled with ginseng, ginko nuts, dried jujube and sticky rice inside a comforting soup.

6. Samgyeopsal - Pork Belly BBQ'd

"Samgyeopsal" is the name given to pork belly, where the flesh and fat are juxtaposed in three layers then grilled on the fire and then wrapped in a lettuce leaf and garnished with various accompaniments like garlic, green onions or kimchi.

7. Naengmyeon - Noodle Dish

Naengmyeon is made of buckwheat noodles served in beef broth, accompanied by thin slices of meat, cucumbers, pear, hard boiled eggs and various vegetables, making it a great lunchtime choice.

8. Yukgaejang - Spicy shredded beef stew with scallions, onions and Korean radish.

This hot and spicy is a quintessential Korean stew, simmered for hours until the beef falls apart and the vegetables soft.

9. Tteok - Rice Cake

by AndrewEick

Finally, the most popular sweet of Korean cuisine is none other than the Ttoek, a rice cake filled with seeds, pine nuts, chestnuts, jujubes and many other fruits.

10. Makeiolli - rice wine

Need a drink with that? Try the unfiltered fermented rice wine which is having a renaissance amongst youth culture in Korea. Have a go at making it yourself- here's how to make Makeiolli.

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