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A Beginner’s Guide to Korean Cuisine

With the likes of Japan and China in close quarters, it’s easy to understand why Korean cuisine has the tendency to slip under the radar of most. And this is no reflection of how good it is, oh no, because Korean food is some of the most interesting and extraordinary on all the planet. Buckle up, take notes and bring an appetite – I’m going to take you on a journey of introductions and recommendations through the ever-growing in popularity world of Korean cuisine.

Kimchi

As Korea’s national dish, kimchi comes in many forms. From kimchi rice to kimchi pancakes, it is said that the average person consumes 18kg of the stuff each year. This is hardly surprising when you consider that it’s served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and alongside just about any variety of Korean or world cuisine you can lay your hands on. Made through the fermentation of cabbage and a variety of spices, its fiery red colour comes from Korean chillies and the pungent smell stems from the abundance of garlic. For newbies, it’s fair to say that kimchi is an acquired taste on the palate, but one you’ve got a taste for this Korean staple, you’ll be craving its supposed healing powers and fresh taste with every meal. Fusion food is big in Korea and the likes of kimchi ice cream, lasagne and burgers are all enjoyed across the peninsula as testament to the love of the red stuff shared by the Korean people.

Kimchi | Luxury Asia News | Luxury Travel Blog

Barbecue

There’s nothing like stepping off the streets of Seoul to escape the harsh Korean winters that bring snow and sub-zero temperatures, to venture inside and behold the glow of fire and the smell of summer in the form of Korean barbecue. Otherwise known as gogigui, Korean barbecue is a favourite amongst visitors due to its novelty factor. When it comes to Korean dining, sharing is caring. Grills fuelled by coal or gas are built into tables, allowing groups to gather round and grill their selection of meat by hand. The aromas are sensational and are only heightened by the enormous volume of side dished scattered around, ranging from soy spring onions to beansprouts, these intriguing additions often take up the entirety of the table. There’s a very particular way to assemble your meal, so enlist the help of your server for the full Korean dining experience. Enjoy with a glass of makgeolli.

Korean Barbecue | Luxury Asia News | Luxury Travel Blog

Image Source: Flickr

Patbingsu

Formed simply of shaved ice and red beans, patbingsu provides the ultimate respite from the Korean summer sunshine and those scorching temperatures. Popular amongst the masses, this sweet treat has evolved over the years and snowballed into the nation’s go-to dessert with a plethora of non-traditional variations now available. From chocolate brownies to condensed milk and green tea to yoghurt, when it comes to toppings, anything goes.

Patbingsu | Luxury Asia News | Luxury Travel Blog

Image Source: Flickr

Bibimbap

Bibimbap, meaning mixed rice, is the godfather of Korean cuisine. One of the country’s most recognisable dishes, bibimbap has taken the world by storm, popping up in street food restaurants the world over. Forgive bibimbap for its simplicity, but what it lacks in this department it more than makes up for in flavour. A hot bowl is packed with rice, vegetables, Korean chilli paste, a raw egg and usually meat, before being stirred together to create a taste explosion. This is fast food, done healthily.

Bibimbap | Luxury Asia News | Luxury Travel Blog

Image Source: Flickr

Hotteok

Step out onto the bustling streets of Myeong-dong in Seoul, or amble Sokcho’s peaceful seaside paths and you’ll be sure to stumble across the best street food Korea has to offer. For a country where it’s cheaper to dine at a restaurant than it is at home and eating out has become somewhat of a hobby to the nation, a surprisingly rich and vibrant street food culture remains. Usually eaten during the winter, hotteok is a favourite snack amongst school children and adults alike, with a sugary-sweet cinnamon flavour encased by soft dough. Best avoided for those counting calories.

Hotteok | Luxury Asia News | Luxury Travel Blog

Image Source: Backpacking with Bacon

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