Annyeonghaseyo! It means “Hello” in Korean. South Korea is a country which I would like to frequent because of the unique cuisine. Korean cuisine consists mainly of rice, meat, and vegetables. Kimchi, a traditional fermented side dish made of vegetables with various seasonings, will always be served at every meal. Kimchi is slightly spicy and sour, which makes a great appetizer.
I remembered my first meal in South Korea was BBQ meat. After being seated, I was served various dishes like onions, kimchi, garlic, salt, house sauce, and lettuce. These small dishes were to eat with the BBQ meat. The quality of meat served were fresh and the portions were generous. Koreans have a special way to eat their BBQ meat. Most of the time, they would use a big piece of lettuce to wrap a small piece of BBQ meat with a little dip of sauce on the meat, some pieces of kimchi, onions, and a pinch of salt. Then put the wrapped up lettuce into your mouth. No words could describe the awesome taste and flavors! The juices in the meat oozed out in my mouth and all I could taste was sweet meat. Wonderful meal!
Another superb Korean dish is the kimchi and beancurd soup. You could order the soup as a side dish or as a main dish, i.e. with a bowl of rice. Because kimchi is a spicy and sour dish, naturally the soup would be spicy and sour too. The kimchi and beancurd soup which I ordered had other ingredients like cabbage in the soup too. The soup was equally awesome, just like the BBQ meat.
Another notable dish which is called Korean’s own is bibimbap. Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice”. The dish consists of white rice at the bottom of the hot pot, followed by sautéed and seasoned vegetables, and soy sauce or fermented soybean paste. Sometimes a raw or fried egg, and slices of beef would be added in the hot pot too. Mix all the ingredients in the hot pot before enjoying the dish. Bibimbap may sound like a plain dish to you but in effect, it is full of flavors. The flavors come mainly from the seasoned vegetables, and when mix well, the plain dish is elevated to a different level. This simple dish is enjoyed by many Koreans.
Another special dish which I tried in South Korea is Naengmyeon, a cold noodles dish made of long and thin handmade noodles served in crushed ice, egg, and spicy sauce. Naengmyeon is winter dish and is hardly eaten during other seasons. This dish may reminds you of Japan’s cold soba but naengmyeon’s noodles’ texture is very different from the typical noodles. The texture is somewhat like jellyfish. It is slimy and soft, and I found it hard to chew and break into shorter lengths for swallowing. It is not advisable to take one big mouth of the noodles as you may choke. This dish also has to be mixed well before consuming. The spicy sauce goes well with the cold noodles and it was awesome!
Do you know that Koreans have their own sushi too? It is known as gimbap. Just like Japanese sushi, the ingredients are placed on steamed white rice then rolled up, and cut into inches wide pieces before serving. This dish is great for picnics or as side dish in lunch boxes.
Koreans have their own dumplings too. Just like Chinese dumplings, the meat is wrapped in dumpling skins and steamed. But the Korean dumplings are much bigger in size as compared to the Chinese dumplings. Taste wise, both Korean and Chinese dumplings are equally good!
One of the dishes that I could not miss eating when I was in South Korea was ginseng chicken soup. The soup is widely eaten by both the Koreans and tourists. There are many health benefits in eating ginseng. Ginseng helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, an energy booster, and reduces stress. The ginseng chicken soup is usually served in a hot pot with rice, a small whole chicken, and vegetables. Definitely an energy booster for me after a day of shopping and walking.
When it comes to South Korea street food, I would have to eat tteokbokki. It is made from fish cake, sweet red chili sauce, and soft rice cake, and it is commonly eaten as a snack. For those who could not handle spicy food, the sauce would be too spicy for you. This is a plain and simple dish but the trick of making a good tteobokki is the chili sauce. Some stalls have different sauce taste but generally, the standard was there.
I also tried other Korean dishes, which were somewhat like Chinese food but with a twist. Soup-based noodles, and stir-fry beef were great!
Patbingsu, the best dessert in South Korea! Bowl of flavored crushed ice served with a scoop of ice cream and toppings was great to wane off the heat. See my post under “Other Sweeties” for rave comments on this South Korean dessert.
These are some street snacks that I munched while strolling on the streets. A dung-shaped pancake with chocolate in it was cute and yummy. The drink which was made of barley and rice, was refreshing.
This sweet dessert called Dragon’s Beard Candy originates from China but has grown popularity in other countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and South Korea. This candy was a highly prized sweet within the Korean royal court. The dragon’s beard candy is made of 16,000 strands of honey candy. There are various stuffings in the candy which you could choose from. Ranging from walnut and chocolate to crushed peanuts, sesame, etc. The candy is soft and chewy. The stuffings inside created some texture to the candy and I could not stopped putting more candies into my mouth. This is a video on How to make Dragon’s Beard Candy in South Korea. Watch it to understand the wow behind making this seemingly simple yet delectable candy. When I was in South Korea, I watched how the experts did the candy, and many tourists cheered and clapped alongside. It was super amazing and definitely was not an easy task to make it.
To end off my trip, I bought macarons to celebrate the wonderful days I had spent in South Korea eating all the delicacies!