5 Introductory Recipes to Korean Food! Many of you have expressed interest in Korean food cooking and some of you have never had Korean food before. Some have asked what to order if dining at, or ordering from, a Korean restaurant. This post is for you!
Visiting a Korean Restaurant
If there’s a good Korean BBQ restaurant in your area, that’s where you need to go. If you live in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, there are plenty to choose from. At any Korean restaurant, before your main dish comes out, they will bring out several tiny side dishes, called banchan.
Banchan is kind of like getting chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant, or bread and olive oil at an Italian restaurant… but way better. It’s the food that comes with your meal (for no additional charge) but it makes the entire meal extra special. I would always say that you can tell how good a Korean restaurant is by their banchan. Is it tasty? Is it inventive and creative?
5 Introductory Recipes to Korean Food
This list is what I think the five introductory recipes are. If you’ve had all of these dishes, I would move on to try more Korean soups and stews, and there’s always seafood and beef and chicken dishes as well.
- Kimchi: Korean fermented cabbage. Kimchi, a staple food in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, such as napa cabbage and Korean radish, made with a widely varying selection of seasonings: including gochugaru, green onions, garlic, ginger and more. There are many different types of kimchi and people prefer kimchi in different ways: fresh, more fermented or really really funky. It’s spicy, savory and oh so delicious. This is my aunt’s recipe. It’s soooo good. Now, truth be told: it’s not easy to make kimchi at home. It’s not a hard process but it requires certain containers or equipment and time. So, because of that I completely support buying your kimchi from your local Asian market or Korean grocery store.
- Bibimbap: Bibimbap just means mixed rice. It is served in a bowl with rice, with bulgogi (or, in most cases, other protein options), sautéed and seasoned Korean vegetables, and a gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) mixture and topped with a fried egg. You simply combine everything together in your bowl just before eating. You can have this hot, served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, or plain.
3. Bulgogi (or galbi referenced above): Korean-style marinated beef barbecue, bulgogi, can be grilled, baked, or cooked in a pan. It’s tender and a little sweet and savory. My favorite way to eat bulgogi is with a bowl of white rice and some kimchi. I also love making Bulgogi Sliders.
4. Kimchi Jjigae: a spicy, savory classic Korean soup made with tender pork shoulder (or other protein options) and old, fermented kimchi. This is the best when it’s cold outside and when it’s served with a big bowl of rice. Kimchi can typically stay in your fridge for up to 6 months; some will say longer. When your kimchi becomes really old and sour, that’s when it’s perfect for Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchi Fried Rice. I think Kimchi Jjigae is like chicken soup for Koreans.
5. Kimbap, or gimbap: Korean rice rolls made from cooked rice and ingredients such as vegetables, fish and meats that are rolled in gim—dried sheets of seaweed. I grew up eating mostly veggie and kimbap with bulgogi. As a kid, I loved watching my mom make this. I would be the first to grab the end pieces when she would slice the rolls. I have fond memories of learning how to make kimbap and now have taught Phoebe and Madeline how to make this. These are great on-the-go foods because you just pick them up and eat them with your hands and, in Korea, I believe kimbap is often packed in lunches.
6. Bonus recipe! Jajangmyeon! This is really a Korean/ Chinese dish. I would always have jajangmyeon at a Chinese restaurant in Dallas that was owned and operated by Korean people. This is noodles in a black bean sauce. Savory and oh so delicious, you can make Jajangmyeon with pork, beef or go meatless!
Let me know your Korean food favorites and let’s continue exploring Korean food together!