As I am half Korean on my mom’s side and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite dishes that I grew up with.
Bingsu: Bingsu is a popular shaved ice dessert that may include toppings such as sweet red bean paste, fruits, condensed milk, and fruit syrup. Sometimes, it’s topped off with ice cream. Bingsu is overall sweet with the thick red bean paste along with the milk mixture used to make the shaved ice that quickly melts in your mouth. It is essentially edible artwork!
Bibimbap: Bibimbap is another aesthetically pleasing dish that consists of rice, vegetables, gochujang (red chili paste), beef, and a sunny-side egg on top. This dish has a satisfying combination of textures from the different vegetables and the gochujang is spicy, sweet and savory. Pickled vegetables are also used to give the dish some tanginess.
Kimchi: Known as the national dish of South Korea, kimchi is a beloved spicy side dish you would see in many Korean restaurants. It is made by salting and preserving fermented cabbage with a mixture of pepper, garlic, ginger, and scallion. Kimchi has a distinctive sour and pungent taste and is used in dumplings, fried ice, and stews. I especially enjoy kimchi stew because I can eat it the next day.
Samgyeopsal: Samgyeopsal is grilled pork belly served with lettuce, perilla leaves, sliced onions, garlic. Condiments include doenjang (soybean paste), gochujang, and salt and pepper in sesame oil. The tender and juicy pork belly and the crunchiness of the vegetables always make me have seconds.
Jjajangmyeon: Jjajangmyeon is a noodle topped with a thick sauce made of chujang, diced pork and vegetables. It originated from the Shandong Province of China and was first introduced in Korea at a small restaurant in Incheon Chinatown to feed the factory workers. The overall taste of this popular dish is deep, salty, and slightly sweet.
Jeon: Jeon is translated as “pancake”, but it is not a sweet breakfast food. It is a fritter made by coating meat, vegetables, and seafood in flour and eggs, then frying them in oil. It is overall savory with different flavors and textures from the various ingredients and you can add whatever ingredients you want when making jeon.
Hotteok: One of the most known Korean street foods, hotteok is a fried pancake with different fillings. The typical filling is a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nuts. The savory version includes vegetables and noodles or even cheese. Although I only tried the sweet variant of hotteok since it’s always available in Korean street vendors and stores, the savory version sounds just as tasty.
Injeolmi: Injeolmi is a common variant of a Korean rice cake made by steaming and pounding glutinous rice flour, shaping it into small pieces, and covering it with roasted, fine soybean powder. This rice cake is soft, chewy, nutty, mildly sweet, digestible and nutritious, making it perfect for a light snack at any time of the day. It is also enjoyed with bingsu, which adds to the reason Injeolmi is my favorite rice cake.