There’s more to Korean food than BBQ, fried chicken and bibimbap. Honest…
So you’ve started exploring Korean food and you’re hooked. You love cooking your own food via BBQ techniques and have pledged your allegiance to Korea as the master of fried chicken. You, my friend, are ready for the next step. Prepare to be educated…
I’ve got you covered with these 5 Korean dishes that you may not have heard of. Trust us, you want them. If you’ve been to Korea or consider yourself a total expert, do you agree?
1. Yukgae Jang
Yukgae Jang is one of my all time favourite dishes and one I had never heard of before arriving in the country. In fact, I’ve rarely seen it since but it’s a constant craving I live with. The Koreans are keeping this one to themselves.
The star of this hearty soup is the broth that is as richly meaty as it is spicy as hell. Enoki mushrooms, crunchy bean sprouts and juicy beef brisket soak in the heat and a beautiful bowl of plain rice helps to soften the blow. This dish is perfect in winter.
2. Ori bulgogi
Once described as ‘quack quack’ to us by a drunken resident of Gyeongju, this is a feast to share. The duck, pink and fatty, comes piled high with vegetables and a deliciously rich sauce, which you pour straight onto your sizzling hot plate. Just like typical BBQ, it’s a simple case of cooking it to your liking and wrapping it in fresh leaves but this time there’s a twist!
Once the duck has been eaten the rice arrives, and cooks in the meat juices. Ori Bulgogi, quite frankly, is phenomenal, especially when you’re patient and leave the rice to get nice and crispy underneath. Different towns use different accompanying vegetables but the mushroom and Kimchi versions are especially good.
2. Hamuel pajeon
Often found amongst a good Ban Chan (side dish) spread, this dish is equally delicious as a casual snack. In the simplest terms, it is a Korean pancake. The batter used is very basic flour and water mix that makes it incredibly light and fluffy. Hamuel Pajeon is the most common variety and is full of fresh green spring onions and soft strips of squid. A whisked egg is drizzled on top at the last moment and it is then dipped in soy sauce and chillies for that extra zing.
This summer favourite is not to everyone’s taste but it is truly unique. A whole, young chicken is cooked in a clay pot with garlic, rice and delicate spices. The unique flavours of the Jujube fruit and Korean ginseng give a fragrant, slightly medicinal taste and Koreans wax lyrical about it’s health benefits.
This is a dish best enjoyed slowly, with friends and tea.
4. Sundubu Jiggae
Tofu isn’t a major Korean staple like it is in other East Asian cuisines but it is the star of this spicy soup. It will leave even the tofu scoffers among us wanting more. The tofu is intensely creamy and takes on a whole new persona in the fiery, smoky broth flavoured with the hottest of gojuchang chilli pastes. It is one of the best vegetarian dishes in Korea but a seafood version can also include delicate clams alongside the silky tofu.
Jal meokkesseumnida! Have a nice meal, foodies.
Jade is currently living in Hanoi, Vietnam enjoying a whole new culinary adventure but first caught the expat life bug in South Korea. She enjoys eating, hiking and beer drinking, not necessarily in that order. You can follow her journey at journey-count.com and devour foodporn on her Instagram @jade_house.