I could literally write an essay on the food in Korea – it’s AMAZING! It was really difficult to narrow it down to just five dishes, so I tried to think about what I would miss most when I finally go home (Here is why I chose to live in South Korea!). So here they are, in no particular order.
5 Korean foods I can’t live without
I have this almost every day, and when I don’t, it feels weird. Kimchi is made with seasoned vegetables that are then fermented. My favorite type is cabbage kimchi, and I especially like it fried or mixed with rice and cheese! It is so tasty and full of probiotics because of the fermentation process. It’s possible to make it at home, which I may to do when I go back to the UK!
Kimbap is a bit like a sushi roll, but instead of raw fish, it comes with a variety of fillings. It’s the best on-the-go food in Korea – it’s tasty, filling and super cheap! I like to have it as quick dinner, or take it for my lunch when I’m hiking. My favorite is tuna kimbap, but there’s lots of other fillings to choose from. They always have lots of vegetables and egg inside, so they are quite healthy and full of protein.
This is my favorite food for sharing with friends! Dak-galbi is a stir fry with chicken, rice cakes, sweet potato and lots of veg, marinated in a delicious spicy sauce. You can choose mild, medium or hot, so you can eat it even if you are a bit of a wimp when it comes to spice. And the best thing about it is that you can also have cheese melted on top! If you haven’t guessed by now, I adore cheese, and it’s totally true that it makes everything taste better! Also, if you save a little bit of the stir fry at the end of the meal, the restaurant will add some rice and seaweed to it and fry it again. It’s like having two meals in one!
Sometimes after work I get really hangry, and have to eat immediately or someone may suffer the consequences. Luckily, I work close by to a food market and they sell mandu, which are Korean dumplings. They are a total lifesaver and I have become a bit addicted to them! My favorite type is kimchi mandu, but they have a lot of sweet and savoury options. At only one dollar each, they are a total bargain!
This is a very traditional and wholesome Korean dish. The word bibimbap literally means “mixed rice”, and it comes with a variety of vegetables and a fried egg on top. For some extra flavour, you can mix in some gochujang, which is a spicy sauce – I always take a lot at the school canteen and the other teachers are very impressed! Most Koreans think that Westerners can’t eat spicy food, so they are always warning me when I am about to eat something they think I can’t handle! This is actually very easy to make at home and there are lots of recipes online.
Although it didn’t make my top five, Korean BBQ is another great choice when eating out with friends. I didn’t include it because there are BBQ restaurants popping up all over the UK (and probably the US too!), so it’s becoming a lot more accessible. I’m also trying to cut down on meat for both environmental and health reasons, so I only eat it very occasionally as a special treat.
I really hope that you get the opportunity to try some Korean food, there’s something for everyone and it’s not only delicious, but also super nutritious too! If you do have a trip to Seoul planned, make sure to go to Myeongdong shopping street – it’s where you can find all the best street food. Just remember, always add cheese if it’s an option!