Best South Korean Food: 15 Korean Dishes to Try at Home or Abroad

Best South Korean Food: 15 Korean Dishes to Try at Home or Abroad


South Korea is an amazing country. A cultural melting pot that is the result of various influences, from the colonial powers that once occupied it to its unique landscape and climate. It is the coming together of these factors that created the customs, attitudes and food culture that exist there today.

Korean food is based a lot on grains – especially rice. It is a kitchen that is not afraid of any seasoning and uses a lot fermented ingredients. Fish and seafood also play an important role in South Korean cuisine as the sea surrounds the Korean peninsula.

Traditional South Korean cuisine

Traditional Korean food

Many South Korean dishes have fascinating history or cultural significance. Many of the dishes here are taken from or adapted from other cultures. Not only will we show you some of the more traditional dishes, but we’ll also give you a glimpse into some of the modern day preparations that have become popular lately.

So come along on this culinary journey through South Korea. We can not Wait to show you some of our favorite dishes of all time.

1. Bibimbap

South Korean food Bibimbap

Bibimbap is one of the most famous Korean dishes. But have you really tried it unless you tried it in the country of origin? Bibimbap is a rice dish that can consist of vegetables, a fried egg, and any other protein you like.

You can get a seafood, beef, tofu version – there is something for everyone! Different regions of South Korea have their own interpretations of this traditional Korean dish. The exact origins of bibimbap are unknown, but it is believed that it was used in religious rites a long time ago.

2. Bulgogi (marinated beef grill)

South Korean food bulgogi

Bulgogi is a dish that is definitely not to be missed when visiting South Korea. Its name means “fire meat” and is derived from the way it is prepared. Bulgogi consists of thinly sliced ​​beef or pork slices that have been marinated and grilled on a grill.

This dish actually originated in North Korea, but it is also popular in South Korea today. Bulgogi dates back to the Goguryeo era when a kingdom of the same name ruled the Korean peninsula. This is a delicious and unpretentious dish that you can find in fast food and grill restaurants all over South Korea.

3. Korean barbecue (Gogigui)

Korean BBQ South Korean food

Speaking of BBQ, we couldn’t make a list of Korean foods without including one of our favorites: Korean BBQ! Also known as gogigui, this type of food is just as tasty as it is delicious.

Korean BBQ restaurants order your meat, get a variety of vegetables, and then head out into town to cook your own dinner. It’s a super fun way to spend an evening and a very sociable way to eat.

4. Gimbap: Korean seaweed rice rolls

Gimbap in South Korea

If you are a fan of sushi you have to try Gimbap. Gimbap is the Korean version of sushi and is most commonly enjoyed as street food – it’s super cheap, so great if you’re on a budget. It can contain all kinds of inventive ingredients including but not limited to beef, cheese, omelette, and pork chop.

Another spelling of this dish is “Kimbap”, where Kim stands for algae and Bap for rice. It was most likely first invented when Korea was under Japanese rule. Although some say it is an adaptation of the traditional dish Bokssam.

5. Kimchi

Korean food kimchi

Kimchi is another very popular food in South Korea. It’s a mix of seasoned and fermented vegetables that are often served as a side dish. It usually consists of cabbage, carrots, radish, and green onions.

We know it’s already there since ancient times, with written reports of it as early as the 1st century. Soaking and fermenting were popular methods of preserving food before the invention of modern appliances such as refrigerators. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t always spicy, the spiciness wasn’t added until after Portuguese traders introduced chilies to the region in the 15th century.

Make your own kimchi with it delicious recipe!

6. Saengseon Jjigae

Saengseon Jjigae Korean food

We mentioned above that seafood and fish are important staples in South Korean cuisine, as are soups and stews. This dish combines these two concepts and when you visit South Korea you will undoubtedly see it all over the menu.

Saengseon Jjigae is a fish stew that is usually made from white meat fish and often other shellfish prawns. If you are a fish lover, you must definitely try this dish!

7. Sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew)

If you want to try a Korean stew (or jjigae) but don’t eat meat or fish, you can always try Sundubu Jjigae, a variation on the traditional stew made with tofu. Fish, kimchi and beef can also be added to this dish as desired.

A Korean main meal is almost always served with some form of jjigae – that’s how much it is! So if your in a restaurant there is a good chance you will try it. This dish is believed to date back to ancient times, although more modern adaptations have also been invented lately.

8. Hotteok

Hotteok South Korean food

From very hearty to super sweet, Hotteok is a kind of pancake that is bursting with sweet syrup. This is one of the most popular street snacks in South Korea and it’s not hard to see why! It may contain additives like crushed peanuts or cinnamon and is usually eaten during the winter months to warm cold commuters on chilly mornings.

9. Gilgeori toast

If you’re looking for a delicious breakfast after shaking off your jet lag, we have the perfect dish for you. Gilgeori toast is what most young South Koreans eat for breakfast on their way to work. It’s hearty, sweet, filling, and tasty.

Its main ingredients are egg, cabbage and grated carrots. Ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar – yes sugar – are other common additives. This popular street food might sound crazy, but somehow it really works!

10. Tteokbokki

South Korean food Tteokbokki

Another popular street food, tteokbokki, is rice cakes – if not in the way you know them. Far from the crispy puffed rice slices that the term conjures up, these rice cakes are soft, cylindrical and deliciously chewy.

Tteokbokki comes in different flavors, from curry to cream sauce and everything in between. This sweet and tangy dish is probably unlike anything you’ve tried before, but it’s too good to pass up. This dish is especially popular on the streets of Seoul, so don’t forget to pay attention to it when you visit.

11. Soondae (blood sausage)

No, we’re not talking about ice cream and sauce here, so if you see this on a menu in Korea, don’t make this mistake! Sundae is indeed a blood sausage and is similar to the type you get in a full Irish breakfast when visiting the Emerald Island.

This dish is usually made by steaming beef or pork intestines and stuffing them with various ingredients. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you are an adventurous eater then you should definitely give it a try.

12. Japchae

South Korean Food Japchae

This is another dish that exemplifies South Korean fondness for combining sweet and savory. It’s made from glass noodles and often contains mushrooms, carrots, spinach, and other vegetables. It was once a dish reserved for kings, and it is now common to eat at celebrations such as weddings or birthdays.

Try to do it yourself at home with this recipe!

13. Gyeranppang

If you are a lover of all riches, Gyeranppang is the dish for you. The name of this street snack translates as “egg bread” and that’s exactly what it is.

A light, fluffy little bread with a sweet taste that contains a whole egg. Common toppings are ham, cheese or fresh herbs such as parsley.

14. Nakji Bokkeum

South Korean food Nakji Bokkeum

Nakji-bokkeum is another dish best left to adventurous eaters, and if you’re not a fish fanatic, you can probably miss it. Still, it’s an extremely popular dish in South Korea and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Nakji-bokkeum is a spicy dish made from fried squid. It is believed to be a relatively new addition to the South Korean diet, dating back to the mid-19th century.

15. Yaksik

Finally, we have a sweet dish that is popular across South Korea. Yaksik is made from steamed rice, honey, and dried fruits. It also often contains cinnamon and even soy sauce.

This dish dates from the 13th century. Today it is traditionally served on Jeongwol Daeboreum, a Korean holiday. It is also enjoyed at weddings.

Our favorite South Korean meal

South Korea is a fascinating and culturally rich country and the South Korean food is a great reflection of this. There are so many different dishes to try and the above are just a few of our favorites. If you’re looking for more travel tips, don’t forget to read the rest of our posts now!

Explore more of South Korea with these resources



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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