Kimbap, Tteokbokki, Japchae, And More Korean Recipes To Satisfy Your Korean Food Craving
K-pop and K-drama aren't the only parts of Korean culture we love!
As hallyu or the Korean wave took the world by storm, a lot of us became fans not only of K-pop idols and K-dramas, but also of Korean food. But beyond the viral Korean food recipes, Korean cuisine is imbued with rich traditions, such as the Korean traditional meal table, which is called "bapsang". Bap means "cooked rice or meal", and sang means "table". It is usually comprised of the quintessential kimchi, at least two banchan (side dishes), namul (seasoned vegetable), bap (cooked rice), kuk (soup), and jang (paste or sauce).
Kimchi, which is made with fermented vegetables that are seasoned primarily with gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) and salt, is a Korean bapsang staple. The most common kimchi is made with Chinese cabbage (also known as napa cabbage), but it can also be made with scallions, radishes, cucumbers, and other vegetables. While kimchi might be the most famous banchan, it is by no means the only one! Even though banchan literally translates to "side dish", they are integral components of any Korean bapsang; they add contrast and balance to the whole Korean meal experience.
Ready to put together your own Korean meal table? Here are some Korean dishes you can try:
1 Bibimbap Recipes
Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish that comes from bibim, meaning "to mix" and bap, meaning "rice." It is usually topped with sauteed or seasoned vegetables, kimchi, raw or fried egg, and optionally, beef or other meats. To tie it all together, it is served with bibimbap sauce, which is mainly based on gochugang or red chili paste, and seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, and spices.
Scholars speculate that bibimbap was created as a convenient way to enjoy the Korean bapsang, which was usually several dishes laid out on a table. Since rice, banchan, and bibimbap sauce are mixed together, Koreans who don't have the time or space to prepare a Korean table could still enjoy a hearty and traditional meal.
A bibimbap recipe can vary depending on your preference or what's available in your pantry, but aside from the classic bibimbap, you can make it healthier with brown rice or even make a breakfast version!
2 Japchae Recipes
Japchae comes from jap, meaning "mixed", and chae, meaning "vegetables". Interestingly, it comes from the same Chinese characters that would later be known as chop suey in Chinese cuisine, but the two dishes couldn't be more different! Whereas chop suey is a stir-fried vegetable dish, japchae is a Korean glass noodle dish that is seasoned with a light sweet soy sauce with stir-fried vegetables.
Fun fact: did you know that japchae has royal roots? It was invented by Korea's Yi Chung, who was an official of King Gwanghaegun in the Chosun dynasty. At the time, the dish was only made with mushrooms and vegetables, but the king liked it so much that he not only refused to start meals without japchae; he also promoted Yi Chung to the highest position in his court! Today, japchae is usually associated with special occasions, but you can also make it if you want to make a healthy but flavorful Korean food recipe.
3 Bulgogi Recipes
Bulgogi is a grilled or roasted Korean meat dish, which can also be stir-fried at home. It comes from bul, meaning "fire", and gogi, meaning "meat". Traditionally, it is prepared with prime beef cuts like thinly-sliced sirloin, but it can also be made with pork and chicken. It's a quick Korean food recipe to make as you can prepare ahead of time by mixing your choice of meat with Korean bulgogi marinade, and then simply stir-frying the meat with garlic and other spices.
4 Tteokbokki Recipe
One of the most popular Korean food is tteokbokki (pronounced: tuk-boh-kee), which is made with tteok or rice cakes, that are simmered or stir-fried in a sauce. Bokki means "something fried", and depending on the sauce, you can change the flavor profile of these soft and chewy rice cakes drastically.
The most famous version these days is made with sweet and spicy gochujang sauce, with eomuk or fish cake slices, egg, scallions, and garlic added. However, it can be made with a variety of other sauces, or even mixed with ramyun or ramen!
5 Kimbap Recipes
Kimbap are Korean rice rolls that are usually eaten as a snack or a meal on-the-go. They are made by using kim or dried seaweed to wrap the bap or cooked rice and a variety of fillings. The fillings usually include danmuji or yellow pickled radish, egg strips, kimchi, seasoned or stir-fried vegetables, and meat such as ham, kani or imitation crab, or bulgogi. It is a versatile rice roll that is not only a highly customizable Korean recipe but it is also quite portable and easy to make.
It may look a lot like the Japanese sushi rolls, but kimbap cannot be more different. Whereas sushi rice is seasoned with vinegar, kimbap is prepared by mixing sesame oil with rice. It can also be served as is or with other Korean banchan like kimchi.
6 Samgyupsal Recipes
Samgyupsal, sometimes spelled sampgyeopsal and sometimes called samgyeopsal-gui, has become a big hit with Filipino Korean food lovers. Samgyupsal means "three-layered flesh", which refers to the layers you see when you cut into a pork belly. Gui means "to grill"; samgyupsal literally just refers to pork belly (the pork cut), while samgyupsal-gui is the full term when you want to refer to the grilled pork belly dish.
However you want to call it, this Korean pork barbeque dish is best known for the immersive experience one usually gets when it is ordered at a restaurant. Usually, customers grill their own meat as they eat. It is also served with a variety of kimchi and banchan, as well as sauces like sesame oil seasoned with black pepper and salt and ssamjang or Korean barbeque dipping sauce made with fermented soybeans, gochujang, soy sauce, and other spices.
7 Korean noodles (Ramyun, Jajangmyeon, Jambbong)
Korean noodle dishes are so diverse, but some of the most popular ones are ramyun, jajangmyeon, and jambbong or jjamppong.
Ramyun is most commonly known as a Korean instant noodle dish that is served with a signature red spicy broth. Unlike the Japanese ramen, which is usually prepared fresh, ramyun is a classic Korean comfort food made with instant noodles that can be topped with egg and elevated with meat or other vegetables.
Jajangmyeon is a Korean black bean noodle dish that is made with chunjang or black bean paste and meats like diced pork or seafood and vegetables. It is considered as a Chinese-style Korean dish, but since its introduction to Korean culture in the 19th century, it has cemented its place as one of the most beloved Korean noodle dishes. It is popular not only for its unique taste but also because jajjangmyeon ingredients are relatively cheap and easy to prepare.
Lastly, jambbong or jjamppong is a Korean seafood noodle soup that is known not just for its spiciness but also for the fresh seafood flavors of its broth. It is also considered to be a Chinese-Korean dish, and is usually topped with Korean zucchini, squid, mussels, and pork, with a seafood or pork-based broth that is colored red and made spicy with the addition of gochugaru.
Crazy for more Korean recipes? Try these:
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
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