One of the best things about living in Korea is the food. Like many Asian cultures, food is traditionally shared in Korea. Often the main will be cooked in the center of the table There are many side dishes (Banchan, 반찬) with most Korean meals. Kimchi 김치 is ubiquitous, often with many other types of fermented vegetable too.
sidedishes from a Korean restaurant.
Here are a few of the foods that I like:
One of the distinctive things about Korean food compared to western is that in some restaurants your meat is brought to your table raw and you barbecue it yourself. You can get many different cuts of meat, from belly pork at the cheaper end to Wagyu steaks at the more expensive. The cooked meat is normally eaten by wrapping in a salad leaf with some other vegetables and sauce .
three different cuts of bbq meat (left), and Wagyu steaks (right).
Literally means potato soup, although there is often potato in it, is not the main component. Gamjatang is pork backbone stew. It is very similar to rib meat, but it’s from the spine. Like many Korean dishes its supposed to be shared so there’s often served as a stew in the center of the table.
Literally means ‘chicken rib’ it’s actually chicken breast meat cooked in a spicy sauce, which often has noodles, rice cakes (ddeok, 떡), mushrooms and vegetables added. It is from a place a called Chooncheon the northern part of south Korea. After you finish, normally the remaining sauce is cleared up with a portion of rice which is stir-fried into the remaining sauce. It’s delicious and filling. If there is one meal I think would do very well in the west, it would be dakgalbi. I doubt, though, you would be allowed to serve uncooked chicken in the UK. In Korea, it’s a popular meal and there some western fusion varieties where there it served with cheese fondue or cheese-filled rice cakes.
Traditional dakgalbi (left) and cheese ring version (right).