Korean food is very different from other Asian foods. Japanese cuisine is very well known and high class. Korean food is more "down to earth" with plenty of flavors and warms the soul. If you love spicy dishes, Korean food is right up your alley. Even when spicy food is not your love, there are still plenty of Korean dishes that will appeal to you. Read more to find out all the signature dishes of Korea.
Koreans consider barbecue one of their most loved foods. This type of barbecue includes a variety of different meats, seafood, and vegetables. The most common barbecue meat is called samgyeopsal gui, a marinated pork belly meat similar to bacon. This meat is also one of the most commonly eaten and least expensive in restaurants. If you love fatty pork barbecued to perfection and slightly charred, you will not be able to stop eating this delicious smoky meat. Dipped in the special sauce offered at the restaurant, you will be in heaven.
If you are a beef lover like myself, you will be in heaven as well. Korean barbecue offers a variety of different cuts of beef, either marinated or served as is. The galbi or beef short rib is one of the most classic barbecue beef served at a Korean restaurant. Be sure to purchase high quality galbi with fat evenly distributed. After the galbi is cooked to medium rare, this meat will melt in your mouth. Beef brisket is a slightly more economy cut. However, it's just as amazing. The thinly sliced brisket cooks very fast and melts in your mouth. Looking for marinated beef, bulgogi is soaked in a slightly sweet Korean marinate.
Not a meat lover? Don't worry, there are seafood options like shrimp or baby octopus available in a typical Korean barbecue restaurant. Vegetables are available to balance out the nutrition intake.
What's better than all the food cooking on the barbecue? You have an endless supply of side dishes available to eat them with!
Banchan - Korean Side Dishes
All Korean restaurants serve a variety of side dishes along with the main dish. These are collectively called Banchan. Upscale restaurants give you a lot of banchan along with the main dish. These are really good because you can sample a little bit of everything all in one meal. My favorite Banchan is the spicy cucumbers, spicy radish, sautéed fish cake, and marinated seaweed. Crisp cucumber pieces in thick slices are marinated in a spicy sauce; it is very refreshing and flavorful. Another favorite Banchan of mine is called the Gyeran Jjim, a Korean styled egg casserole that is served hot. It is made of beaten eggs, water, scallion, and other ingredients. This is especially suitable for a cold winter because it warms your stomach right up for more delicious foods. What's better than all of these side dishes? You don't have to pay. The restaurant provides unlimited side dishes with your order of main dishes.
One of the Banchan that is in every Korean meal is called the Kimchi. Many are familiar with this Banchan because it is so widespread. However, for those that haven't tried this before, it is spicy, garlicky, and crispy in texture. It can be eaten with a variety of different meals. For example, it can go with the meat in a barbecue or spice up a clear soup. Kimchi helps balance out heavy and fatty meats.
During the summer, Korean style cold noodles are a favorite item among Koreans. There are many different kinds of cold noodles that one can get in a restaurant. Those that prefer spicy foods are in for a special treat. Even for those that do not like spicy food, there are other kinds of cold noodles without any spicy paste. My personal favorite is called Bim naengmyeon, a thin buckwheat noodle with no broth and served with a spicy paste. This noodle is very flavorful, rich and spicy. The non-spicy version is equally good. The buckwheat noodle sits in a vinegary cold broth (with ice), garnished with sliced fresh cucumbers, pickled radish, and a slice of beef. To make the non-spicy cold noodles more flavor, hot mustard is added to it to boost the flavor. Korean cold noodles are a real treat for the hot summer months.
Korean tofu with either seafood or meats, served with rice. A very popular type of Korean restaurant serves only tofu stew with either seafood, meats or mushrooms. Along with the stew, they serve you a bowl of hot white rice. This type of food is especially suitable for the winter because it warms you right up. For those that love spicy food, this is a great dish to order because it certainly packs the heat. However, even for those that do not like any spicy foods, you can tune down the level of spicy or ask for a clear soup.
Korean mixed rice with lots of different vegetables, egg, rice, and beef. This dish is very healthy because there are a variety of fresh vegetables served. The colors are beautiful too. The Bibimbap is so appetizing by the looks and tastes amazing as well. For those that like their food spicy, you can add more of the spicy paste offered at the restaurant.
There are two versions of the bibimbap. One is prepared in a sizzling hot pot that makes the rice at the very bottom a little crispy. This one is very hot and perfect for winter. If you want to eat this dish in the summer time, the other version is simply mixing all the ingredients together in a regular stainless bowl. Either one is very good, it just depends on what you are in the mood for.
Are you feeling a little adventurous? The ganjang gejang is raw marinated crab. Yes, this dish is served raw. It is one of the most expensive and luxurious dishes in Korea. Some people say that it is one of the best tasting food ever. When you go to an upscale restaurant that specializes in this dish in Korea, the crab will have lots of eggs. Also, Koreans like to use rice and mix it with contents of the crab on the shell. Ganjang gejang is known as the rice thief in Korea.
jojokaya from USA on February 08, 2012:
I love Kimchi. Great and yummy hub. Voted up
dinkan53 from India on February 06, 2012:
Korean style barbecue is looking so good. I used to do barbecue in little bit square pieces (the size of a match box) and i think that will be little juicer. Rated up and interesting.