Tteokbokki is a small dish that's made up of scallions, odeng, or fish cakes and tteok, or steamed rice cakes within a spicy and sweet sauce. There is a generous amount of chili paste here, and some variations have noodles or cheese in them. Tteokbokki is enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike and are usually found on food carts and small stalls.
When one thinks of traditional foods in Korea, the word kimchi automatically comes to mind. The dish has a long history dating back thousands of years and is usually made from fermented Korean cabbage, along with ginger, onions, radish, crushed garlic and chili powder.
Kimchi has over a hundred variations and can be added to soups, with rice or on its own. The versatile ingredient can even serve as a base for other Korean dishes.
Hearty noodles that remind you of home, Jajangmyeon is a dish that has black bean sauce and wheat noodles. Depending on where you buy it, you will usually get a smattering of vegetables and diced pork to go with it. Jajangmyeon is quite filling and it serves as an excellent meal when you are on a budget.
A traditional BBQ food that means “three layered pork”, samgyeopsal is quite common and can be found in just about every city in Korea. The meat is juicy and thick, and you get dozens of garnishes and sauces to go along with it.
The process of eating samgyeopsal is simple. Take a piece of meat, wrap it with lettuce and add garlic, kimchi or red onions. You can add chili to spice it up or ask for your preferred side dish. Then, pop the whole thing in your mouth and let the flavors explode.
Gimbap, or kimbap may appear to be a variation of the Japanese maki, but they're unique enough to warrant their own taste. You can buy them either in Korean restaurants or wrapped and refrigerated in convenience stores.
Seaweed wrapped rolls are simple, healthy and can be catered in a way that suits your preference. For example, you can add lobster fillings, bulgogi or even cream cheese. It's cheap and can be brought anywhere with you, even while on the go.
A colorful and eye-pleasing dish, the word “bibimbap” literally means mixed rice, which means you'll see toppings of every vegetable imaginable. And to top it off, you get a fried egg as well as a generous serving of chili paste.
The idea is to mash the rice, veggies, egg and spicy paste up, then eat with a spoon. You can eat the dish hot or cold in a stone bowl or metal bowl, respectively. The Korean national food is an absolute favorite and doesn't require too much effort to make.
Chicken ginseng soup is usually eaten during the summer months as a way to replenish energy. Samgyetang consists of chicken that's filled with garlic, ginseng, gingko nuts, glutinous rice, jujubes and chestnuts. As you may have guessed, the chicken is then slowly cooked until it's very tender, and the resulting broth becomes very thick, with a fragrant scent and a slightly bitter taste.
Samgyetang is a filling meal and pairs up nicely with several side dishes. The soup is also good eaten in the colder months.
Pajeon is a traditional Korean savory pancake dish that is extremely versatile. Depending on who cooks it, pajeon can be combined with shellfish, pork, beef, potato and kimchi. It's a standard fare for hikers in the region and restaurants located in trails. The meal often comes with spicy soy sauce that invigorates the senses.
Don't mistake Sundae for the nice, cold dessert. In Korea, it is actually blood sausage and is somewhat a mix of black pudding and haggis. A regular family staple in Kore, Sundae is typically made of cow or pig intestines with vegetables and rice. There's a soup version of it for those who want something hot to sip as they enjoy their meal. Sundae is dipped in salt or similar seasoning.