Delicious Korean Food You Won’t Want to Miss

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One of the best things about becoming familiar with a new culture is trying new, exotic foods. On your journey to learn to speak Korean, I’m sure you’ll begin picking up on names of dishes that you’ve never heard of, and that list of names will continue to grow the longer you study the language. Whether you’re in a Korean BBQ restaurant in your current city or you’ve made the trip and are exploring the authentic cuisine of Seoul, we’ve compiled a list of some delicious Korean foods you should be on the lookout for! Don’t be alarmed if some of these dishes are like nothing you’ve ever seen before – Korean cuisine is known for incorporating exotic complementary flavors and often incorporates bright colors and funky textures. Each of the dishes on our list have something unique that sets it apart from the rest, so try as many as you can to get an accurate taste of Korea!

One of the best things about becoming familiar with a new culture is trying new, exotic foods. On your journey to learn to speak Korean, I’m sure you’ll begin picking up on names of dishes that you’ve never heard of, and that list of names will continue to grow the longer you study the language. Whether you’re in a Korean BBQ restaurant in your current city or you’ve made the trip and are exploring the authentic cuisine of Seoul, we’ve compiled a list of some delicious Korean foods you should be on the lookout for! Don’t be alarmed if some of these dishes are like nothing you’ve ever seen before – Korean cuisine is known for incorporating exotic complementary flavors and often incorporates bright colors and funky textures. Each of the dishes on our list have something unique that sets it apart from the rest, so try as many as you can to get an accurate taste of Korea!

1. Kimchi

Korean Kimchi

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Kimchi is a tried and true staple that has been around for over two thousand years in Korean dishes. It’s made through salting and fermenting to create a distinctive spicy taste, and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to cabbage.

Kimchi is also pretty versatile – while classic, cabbage-based kimchi is a classic and available pretty much everywhere, different types of vegetable can be salted and fermented to create different tastes (with some being more spicy than others!). If you’re looking for a way to spice up an otherwise bland dish, incorporate one of the many types of kimchi! You won’t be disappointed.

2. Instant noodles (라면)

Korean Instant Noodles

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Instant noodles are a dish that have unarguably transcended cultural barriers – while popularized in Korea, they’ve become a kitchen must-have all over the world. Short on time? No worries! These noodles only require a couple of steps and are ready as quickly as water boils – just follow the directions on the back of the packet. Short on money? No problem. Instant noodles are notorious for their less-than-intimidating price tag.

While basic instant noodles are a relatively uncomplicated dish, there’s plenty you can do in the kitchen to spice up your noodle dish. Try adding eggs, tuna, or tofu – these Korean favorites can help a boring dish transcend to something sublime!

3. Soy sauce crab (간장게장)

Korean Soy Crab Sauce

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As far as seafood dishes go, ganjang gejang (crab prepared by soaking in soy sauce) is a Korean favorite that’s not for the faint of heart. Ganjang gejang is a powerful dish served cold, and it’s notorious for its bitter aftertaste. Though this dish is on the intense end of the spectrum, it’s also insanely popular – the dish’s nickname is “rice thief,” because the sauce is so delicious that it’s hard to resist piling extra rice onto your plate to soak it all up! The next time you’re out and see ganjang gejang on the menu, consider ordering it so you can taste what all the fuss is about.

4. Yukhoe (육회)

Korean Yukhoe

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Raw slices of beef may sound intimidating at first – fear not, foodies. This dish is perfectly safe, and is known as steak tartare in other countries. This dish can either be served as a standalone meal or as a topping on another dish. Be warned, however – while tasty and tender, the price for the dish can be a bit higher than average, as chefs choose the best selections of beef to star in the dish. If you love meat and don’t mind paying a little bit extra to get a meal you know you’ll love, yukhoe may be the delicacy for you!

5. Bibimbap (비빔밥)

Korean Bibimbap

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If you’re on your lunch break and are on a time crunch, bibimbap may be the perfect dish to leave you satisfied and get you back to the office on time. A Korean favorite, this dish takes multiple food groups and combines them in one lunch bowl to make sure you’re getting a balanced lunch in a simplified form. The dish combines rice, vegetables, meat, and egg for a balanced flavor. Sesame oil and chili paste are added to the dish for a little extra flavor to really bring the dish together. While bibimbap used to be a dish meant for Korean royalty, it’s now accessible and a crowd pleaser. Give it a try on your next lunch break!

6. Doenjang (된장)

Korean Doenjang

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I’m sure that you’re familiar with soy sauce – soy sauce is a staple in many Asian cuisines, and it complements pretty much anything. However, did you know that soy sauce is a byproduct of doenjang? Doenjang is a paste comprised of fermented soybeans – it boasts a strong taste and a not-so-appealing color. However, doenjang is a beloved Korean food that can spice up simple dishes in a way that other spices can’t. Give it a try in bibimbap – the taste may be something you’ve never experienced and set a new spice standard for your meals!

7. Haemul Pajeon (해물파전)

Korean Haemul Pajeon

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How do you like your pancakes? Warm, with maple syrup? How about full of seafood? This Korean food is a dish that turns the basic pancake concept on its head. These crunchy pancakes are stuffed to the brim with different types of seafood, resulting in a satisfying, savory meal. These pancakes are said to go well with rice wine – pour yourself a glass and enjoy this intricate Korean dish.

8. Ox Bone Soup (설렁탕)

Korean Ox Bone Soup

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Don’t let the name scare you! Ox bone soup is a delicious Korean favorite that proves that simple is occasionally better. Ox bone soup only has a few ingredients – meat, noodles, and a couple of sparse scallions float around in a milky-white colored broth. This is the perfect dish for a cold day, or if you’re feeling a little under the weather. Warm, satisfying, and simple, give this dish a try the next time you’re looking for a classic cold-weather meal!

9. Galbi (갈비)

Korean Galbi

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If you’ve been to a Korean restaurant recently, chances are that you or somebody at your table decided to go with galbi. Galbi technically means “rib,” and if not specified, the dish can be centered around one of a variety of meats (pork, chicken, or beef more often than not). Strips of meat are prepared with soy sauce, sugar, and garlic before being cooked over an open fire to ensure the outside is seared while the inside remains tender. This traditional dish is a crowd pleaser at Korean BBQ restaurants, and for good reason!

10. Jogaegui (조개구이)

Korean Jogaegui

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More often than not, the dishes at your favorite Korean BBQ spot will revolve around tender strips of different meats. Jogaegui is a fun way to mix it up! Shellfish is cooked over an open flame until it’s hot and ready for you to dig into – the shells crack open on their own, adding an extra flair to this Korean favorite. Jogaegui is especially good if you can get it fresh from the ocean. Give this dish a try to incorporate some saltwater fun into your meal!

11. Golbaengi Muchim (골뱅이무침)

Korean Golbaengi Muchim

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Don’t knock it before you try it! While “snail” isn’t a word that makes most people’s mouths water, sea snail salad is a traditional Korean dish that pairs perfectly with an alcoholic beverage. Had a long week at work? No problem! Relax with a beer (or two) and dive into some sea snail salad for a spicy treat.

12. Jjolmyeon (쫄면)

Korean Jjolmyeon

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This dish is a fresh approach to more traditional noodle dishes – rather than being served hot, these noodles are served cold, and are chewy as a result. Extra thick noodles are combined with spicy chili paste and a variety of fresh vegetables. Dig into a bowl of jjolmyeon for a refreshing (yet spicy!) snack on a hot day.

13. Bossam (보쌈)

Korean Bossam

Korean Bossam

While some of the dishes on this list are intricate and have a long list of ingredients, bossam is a dish that is evidence that simple can still be delicious. Bossam is steamed pork sliced into small, nearly bite-sized pieces that is then wrapped in lettuce and served with a dab of dipping sauce. The wrapping and dipping combines the different textures of the lettuce and pork that really take this dish to the next level. The next time you’re craving a meat-based dish, have some bossam and leave the table feeling satisfied.

14. Gyeranjjim (계란찜)

Korean Gyeranjjim

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This dish is often served with some of the spicier options on this list to bring the meal together – and give your mouth a break! An egg is beaten, steamed, and baked into a cake, resulting in a dish that is mild in flavor and soft to the touch. Served plain or with vegetables and sesame seeds on top to bring out the slightly salty flavor, give this dish a try the next time your eyes are watering from a spicy dish!

15. Bulgogi (불고기)

Korean Bulgogi

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Bulgogi is a delicious Korean food that is widely recognized as quintessential to the cuisine. The dish has long been a part of Korea’s culinary history – it has been enjoyed by millions for thousands of years! Bulgogi is a sweet meat that has recently been incorporated into a variety of modern dishes. Try a bulgogi burger for a modern twist on a classic favorite!

16. Nakji bokkeum (낙지볶음)

Korean Nakji bokkeum

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Do you like to take a walk on the culinary wild side when you’re dining out? If so, this may be the dish for you! Octopus is stir-fried with a medley of spicy ingredients (chili powder and two different types of hot peppers), resulting in a combination that will surely make your mouth water. The octopus is seared to the point where it’s tender on the inside and the sauce is thick and smoky, making the dish hard to stay away from. Pair it with gyeranjjim for a well-rounded meal that is packed with flavor!

17. Bingsu (빙수)

Korean Bingsu

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If you need something sweet to tie together a rich meal, give bingsu a try! Bingsu is a dish in which sweetened red beans and tteok (made of rice flour) are laid atop refreshing shaved ice. There are many different variations depending on your preferences – condensed milk, fruit, and corn flakes can be incorporated for different flavor combinations. Bingsu is everywhere – be sure to give it a try during the summer months for a sweet end to an otherwise delicious meal!

18. Sundae (순대)

Korean Sundae

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If you’re out and about and looking for a snack to tide you over until dinner time, give sundae a try. A favorite Korean street food, Sundae is a type of sausage that Korea picked up from Mongolian influences. Pig lungs and liver are often served on the side of this dish, which are salty in taste and are much more delicious than they sound. Korea is full of adventurous street dishes – get started on your street food journey with some steaming hot sundae!

Korean cuisine incorporates different flavors, textures, and combinations that many cuisines steer away from. As a result, many authentic Korean dishes are likely different from anything you’ve experienced for. Try some dishes from our list to give you a taste of some of the most popular flavors in Korea – and keep experimenting! We’ve barely scratched the surface of the variety of dishes that will be available to you throughout your journey to learn to speak Korean, so travel forward with an open mind and an empty stomach.

Have you tried any of the dishes on this list? If so, what’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!



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