Bibimbap (Rice, Namul and Gochujang)

If you have contemplated moving to Korea I’m sure the first dish you heard of was bibimbap. Bibimbap is served in a bowl with cooked white rice, egg and namul. You gochujang is either already in the dish or given to you in a bottle to add liberally or conservatively. Namul is the name for any vegetable cocktail, but particularly with bibimbap the namul is usually bean sprouts, spinach, daikon, seaweed, and bracken fern. Other vegetables might be added to the namul depending on the restaurant.  Dolsot bibimbap has all the same ingredients, but is served in a stone pot that is extremely hot in temperature. A raw egg is thrown and cooks itself in the pot. 

Bulgogi (Beef strips)

Bulgogi is marinated beef strips from sirloin that are cooked over an open flame. The beef strips are generally marinated with sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and garlic and is either given to the customer to grill right at their table or prepared by the restaurant cook. Bulgogi restaurants will give you lettuce wraps for when the meat is ready to be eaten. If you don’t like beef you can order the dak bulgogi (chicken) or the dwaeji bulgogi (pork). 

Galbi (Ribs)

Galbi is marinated beef ribs that are also grilled over an open flame. The ribs are marinated in a special fermented soy sauce known as ganjang. Galbi restaurants have grill tables for customers to be able to cook their own meat. Much like bulgogi customers are given lettuce wraps for the meat. Again if you don’t like beef, you can order dak galbi (chicken) or dwaeji galbi (pork ribs).

Gimbap (Korean Sushi)

Gimbap is Korea’s version of sushi and there can be many combinations of it. Much like sushi, rice is spread over a flat rectangular piece of seaweed and rolled into a circular tube. Regular gimbap is generally just filled with layers of vegetable strips, although some restaurants offer meat, seafood or egg fillings.

Mandu (Dumplings)

Mandu is a dish served with filled dumplings and can be fried, steamed, or served in Korean dumpling stews. The dumpling itself can be filled with kimchi, vegetables, pork, beef, or chicken.

Pajeon (Fried Pancake)

Pajeon only resembles a pancake, but certainly doesn’t taste like one. It is made from a batter of eggs, flour, and green onions. Seafood is commonly added to Pajeon, but there are also beef, chicken, and kimchi versions. It is served with a salty soy sauce for dipping. It is said that Koreans like to eat pajeon on rainy days.

Naengmyeon (Cold Noodles)

Naengmyeon is a dish of noodles served cold and is very popular in summertime. These long thin noodles are made from the flour and starch of potatoes and buckwheat.  The broth is made from chicken, beef or dongchimi. For you vegetarians out there, if you wish to eat naengmyeon, ask if the broth is made from dongchimi. Dongchimi is a vegetarian fermented broth made from assorted vegetables.

Remember to Share!

When going out to eat with a Korean it is best for you to know that Korean food is commonly shared with a group at the restaurant. Offer up your plate to your friends and enjoy!