Category Archives: Korean Foods

Kimchi 김치


Kimchi representsKorea’s best known food. Koreans serve kimchi at almost every meal, and few Koreans can last more than a few days before cravings get the better of them. During the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, thousands of foreigners were introduced to it for the first time. Despite a reputation for being spicy, most people usually develop a taste for it, and many foreigners also find themselves missing it after returning to their home country.

Many Koreans at the time of Si-Kyong lived in the Manchurian region, and it is believed that they made kimchi to preserve the vitamins and minerals in vegetables for the long, cold winters in Manchuria.

김치 Kimchi

Three Kingdoms Period: Spreading of pickled food
The first record found regarding kimchi is during the Three kingdom period (57 B.C. – 668 A.D.). The record is written as follows: “The Kogureou People are good at making brewing dreg, malt, bran, and pickling.” This implies that fermented food was widely used in every day lives. However, no writings of this period mention seasonings or ingredients.

Koryo Dynasty: The appearance of kimchi seasoned with ingredients
Kimchi existed by the latter part of the Koryo period (918 – 1392). Various regions developed their own recipes using different spices according to local tastes. Salt, garlic, and fermented fish paste made up the most common spices and garnishes.

Chosun Dynasty: The introduction of red chili peppers

Red peppers

Red peppers

The 1700s saw the introduction of red chili peppers to Korea. Red peppers and ground pepper powder quickly became popular ingredients. People began to experiment with new spices and vegetables from other countries. In the cold northern area, saltless kimchi contained a little bit of powdered red pepper and salted fish. In the warmer southern area, people used more powdered red pepper and salt.

Current Times

Kimchi continues to be an important part of Korean meals, especially in these days of healthier eating habits. The nutritional value of kimchi has been studied and found to be bursting in vitamins and minerals. As more people around the world turn to healthier eating habits, kimchi finds it way onto more and more tables internationally.

Kimchi is healthy food

Koreans eat so much of this super-spicy condiment (40 pounds of it per person each year) that natives say “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when getting their pictures taken. The reddish fermented cabbage (and sometimes radish) dish—made with a mix of garlic, salt, vinegar, chile peppers, and other spices—is served at every meal, either alone or mixed with rice or noodles. And it’s part of a high-fiber, low-fat diet that has kept obesity at bay in Korea. Kimchi also is used in everything from soups to pancakes, and as a topping on pizza and burgers.

Why you should try it?  Kimchi (or kimchee) is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C, but its biggest benefit may be in its “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli, found in fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt. This good bacteria helps with digestion, plus it seems to help stop and even prevent yeast infections, according to a recent study. And more good news: Some studies show fermented cabbage has compounds that may prevent the growth of cancer.

What to do with it: There’s no need to make your own; just pick it up in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or an Asian market for around $4 per 32-ounce jar (Sunja’s is one popular brand). You can wake up your morning by scrambling eggs with kimchi, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms. Use it as a wrap filling or to top a baked potato. Or try Spicy Beef and Kimchi Stew, which won our test kitchen’s top rating.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Kimchi 김치, Korean Foods


Bibimbab (steamed rice with assorted beef and vegetables)

꽃비빔밥 Flower bibimbap

Seasoned beef and various seasoned vegetables such as bean sprouts, spinach, crown daisy, bracken, roots of Chinese bellflower, watercress and shiitake mushroom are nicely arranged on the steamed rice. Then, all are mixed with hot pepper soybean paste. The recipe of Bibimbab is a little bit different according to regions. It surely is an excellent dish a la carte in taste and nutrition.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in 비빔밥 bibmbab, Korean Foods


Bulgogi (marinated barbecue beef or pork)

Widely kwon as Korean barbecue, bulgogi is definitely the favorite dish for visitors. Thin strips beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, onion and chili are grilled over charcoal, or grilled on a special dripping pan. It is usually eaten in bundles with rice or vegetables, wrapped in lettuce or other leaves.

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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in 불고기 bulgogi, Korean Foods


7 Korean soups for the soul

The word “soup” can have different shades of meaning in Korean. Jigae is more like a stew, and while tang and guk are similar, a guk can be put together in a day, but a tang requires more time. Whatever the case may be, a good soup requires a good base, whether it is made from a radish and dashi broth, or simmering ox bones for hours on end.

Arm yourself with one of these hale and hearty soups and you’ll be ready to brave the winter once again.

Tteokguk (떡국), Rice cake soup

Ricecake Soup

Nothing says “Happy New Year” like a bowl of tteokguk.

Koreans ring in the Lunar New Year with this meaty broth filled with rice cakes and garnished with seaweed flakes and thinly sliced egg, but you can have this filling bowl of soup any time of the year.

Unlike the soft, gooey rice cakes, which get their consistency from sweet rice flour, the rice cakes in this soup are made from garaetteok (가래떡), a long, white tubular rice cake made from non-glutinous rice flour. In the soup, the thin coins of rice cake maintain their shape for a pleasantly chewy experience.

Try it plain with just the rice cakes, or add some dumplings, or mandu (만두) if you want a little more variety in your bowl.

춘보식당 571-30 Gongneung 1-dong, Nowon-gu (노원구 공릉1동 571-30)             +82 02 975 2407      ; open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m.; ₩7,000

Dongtae jjigae (동태찌개), Pollock stew


Another great hangover cure.

Pollock is a variety of white fish similar to cod, and it appears in Korean soup either frozen (dongtae) or — if you can get it — fresh (saengtae).

Jjigaes can embrace a hodgepodge of ingredients, in this case, pollock, dashi, white radishes, green onions, tofu, bean sprouts, and anchovies. Brought to the boil, they create an intoxicating stew. The broth is complex and spicy, with a refreshing herbaceous flavor from the addition of the leafy chrysanthemum herb known as crown daisy (쑥갓).

Depending on the restaurant, the soup might also include pollock roe along with the meat of the fish.

연지 얼큰동태국 (Yeonji Ulkeundongtaeguk) 120-7 Jongro-5, Jongro-gu (종로구 종로5가 120-7);             +82 2 763 9397      ; open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; ₩20,000

Samgyetang (삼계탕), Chicken soup

Chicken Soup

Don’t forget to split open the chicken for the gelatinous goodies inside.

The Korean spin on chicken soup consists of an entire young chicken, stuffed with jujubes, garlic, sticky rice, and most importantly, ginseng, and brought to a roiling boil.

While this soup is a traditional, Korean tonic, enjoyed on the three hottest days (the dog days) of summer, subscribing to the idea of “yi yeol chi yeol” (이열치열), which means to fight heat with heat.

There isn’t any reason though, not to take advantage of its restorative properties and soothing broth when you’re sick and craving your mother’s chicken soup or when it’s cold. This might actually one-up it.

Hosu Samgytang (호수 삼계탕) 342-325 Shingil-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu (영등포구 신길동 342-325)            +82 02 848 2440      ; open daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.;  ₩12,000

Uhmook tang (어묵탕), Fish cake soup

Fishcake Soup

At pojangmachas (street vendors) everywhere.

Uhmook (어묵) also known as odeng (오뎅) are fish cakes that come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from little seafood balls to tire-like shapes to the thin sheets that look like a sine wave on a bamboo skewer.

Uhmook tang is a classic “anju,” that is, drinking food, and you can have it hot pot style with a jumble of different shaped and sized fish cake skewered in a bubbling broth. You can also enjoy a cheap, low-commitment version on the street where you’ll find the long skewers of fish cakes cooking next to the ddeokbokki (떡볶이) slathered in a fiery, red sauce.

Gomtang (곰탕), Oxtail soup

oxtail soup

Patience is the key ingredient when cooking oxtail soup.

Gomtang is a bare bones kind of soup; it consists of three ingredients: oxtail, salt, and green onions for garnish (water, too, if you want to consider that an ingredient). The simplicity though makes the craft clear –- when it’s bad, it’s watery and insipid, when it’s good, it’s divine.

The broth is a milky white, and the flavor is deep and soothing. It is the kind of soup that winds its way through your body and eases your aches and sniffles. Attaining that level of broth though is a trial in patience, expertise, and usually a heavily guarded (family) secret.

Hadongkwan (하동관), Jung-gu Myeong-dong 1-ga 10-4 (중구 명동1가 10-4);             +82 2 776 5656      ; 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; closed first and third Sunday of every month;

Seolleongtang (설렁탕), Brisket soup

Brisket Soup

Seolleongtang dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty.

Seolleongtang is a close cousin of gomtang: the broth has a similar opaque white color and nourishing broth. The broth comes from slow-cooking beef bones and brisket for hours, even days on end.

The soup, which originated in the Silla Dynasty, was the direct result of a decree from the king, who ordered the creation of a dish that would make the most out of limited resources.

Seolleongtang is usually served with some noodles, thinly sliced brisket, and some green onions and salt to taste.

모래내설농탕 415-6 Hongeun-dong, Seodaemun-gu (서대문구 홍은동 415-6)             +82 02 304 0311      ; open 24 hours; ₩8,000

Galbitang (갈비탕), Beef ribs soup


Customers line up every morning for Budnamjip’s galbitang.

Galbitang is another hearty, beef soup featuring shortribs that have been simmered until the meat is so tender it falls off the bone. Unlike the other beef soups though, galbitang can be enjoyed spicy with some hot peppers or in its classic form.

Don’t be afraid to get interactive with the ribs. The best way to get those bits of meat and tendon stuck to the bone is to use your hands and teeth.

버드나무집 (Budnamu Jip), 1340-5 Seocho 2-dong, Seocho-gu (서초구 서초2동 1340-5)            +82 2 3473 4167      ;  ₩16,500

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