Korean food is one of the most well known and delicious Asian cuisines. Characterized by generous use of garlic and spicy chili, Korean food is full of flavor and really warms the soul. If you only know kimchi, then you are really missing out on an exceptional flavorful food. This article talks about some of the most characteristic Korean foods.
Korean barbecue is very popular in Korea and abroad. Traditionally, charcoal is used to grill meat. Nowadays, some restaurants still use charcoal but most switched over to gas. If you have a choice, charcoal barbecue is the way to go. Unlike American style barbecue where the pitmaster works on cooking the meat, Korean barbecue is all about cooking and eating the meat together with your friends and family. You are cooking the food by yourself at your table. This creates a really good ambiance and perfect for family gatherings.
Most restaurants offer both beef and pork to barbecue. For beef, short ribs (kalbi), brisket, ribeye, tongue and belly are all popular barbecue items that you will see on the menu. Pork belly and neck meats are popular with most guests at a Korean restaurant. Instead of going to unmarinated meats, you can always go with marinated meats for more flavor. Those Korean restaurants have their own marinate which is delicious but a little bit on the sweet side.
What if you don't eat beef or pork? Not to worry, Korean barbecue restaurants usually have chicken, seafood, mushroom and a variety of vegetables on the menu as well. Korean barbecue restaurant is a really good restaurant and can fit everyone's dietary needs.
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. Some of the most well known side dishes are spicy cucumber, 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. It's perfect pairing for Korean food. Another typical Banchan is the 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 you up and prepare you for more delicious Korean food. 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 Korean main dishes. 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. This spicy fermented vegetable is a stable in a Korean household. It is also known for many health benefits as well.
During the summer, Korean style cold noodles dish is 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. Try the Bim naengmyeon! It is 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 the soup to boost the flavor. Korean cold noodle dish is a real treat for the hot summer months.
Soondubu Jjigae is a Korean spicy stew with tofu. Some Korean restaurants serve 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. The best part about the Soondubu Jjigae is the freedom to pick your spice level. Like all Korean food, a variety of Banchan is served with the tofu stew.
Bibimbap is Korean mixed rice with lots of different vegetables, egg, rice and minced 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. Like Japanese sushi, this dish is served raw. It is one of the most expensive and luxurious dishes in Korea. It is known as one of the signature dishes from Korea. Some people say that it is one of the best tasting food ever. If you love crab, you should give this dish a try. When you go to an upscale restaurant that specializes in this dish in Korea, they will use female crabs with 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.