We know Korea as the Land of Kimchi. This spicy fermented vegetable dish is often eaten as a side dish in Korean cuisines and most Koreans can go only a few days before craving for Kimchi again. Travellers heading to Seoul this coming holiday, you’ll be in for a gastronomy treat! From Bibimbap to Juk, we bring you a list of quintessential must-eat food in the metropolitan capital city of Seoul!
Korea’s National Dish- Kimchi
Made by salting cabbage, and seasoned with a variety of spices as well as scallions and radishes, before being fermented, Kimchi is known to be one of the healthiest dishes in the world as it is made with ingredients rich in Calcium, Vitamin C and much other nutrition. However, Kimchi in Korea isn’t just Kimchi. There are up to 9 varieties of Kimchi and each region in Korea has its own version(s). Kimchi in Seoul includes Baek kimchi, Tong baechu kimchi, Nabak kimchi and Jang kimchi. The best thing about Kimchi is that you can keep them for months. For travellers going on long trips, fret not about the Kimchi going past its due date before you’re home.
Galbi (Seasoned ribs)
Galbi is essentially marinated meat grilled over a charcoal brazier, right at your table by the waitress. This grilled dish is typically made with beef ribs which are cut up into smaller easy-to-eat portions. You may have to get your fingers dirty as you wrap the freshly grilled meat into lettuce dumplings. Despite all that, Galbi makes for a great meal with friends and goes well with a dose of Shoju.
Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken soup)
Otherwise known as Ginseng Chicken soup to the rest of the world, Samgyetang is made of chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and ginseng, which is then simmered till the meat slips off the bone with ease; a sign that your bowl of Samyetang is simmered to perfection. Samgyetang is a wonderfully comforting dish to have especially during the cold weather. So take slow sips and enjoy the aroma of this warm ginseng chicken broth.
Japchae (Mixed vegetables)
This popular Korean dish is made with chewy, sweet potato noodles which are stir-fried in sesame oil. The vegetables such as thinly sliced carrots, spinach and mushrooms can also be found in Japchae and are lightly cooked to retain their flavour. Japchae is occasionally served with beef and garnished with sesame seeds and chilli. This versatile Korean dish can be served hot or cold and can be served as a side dish as well as a main dish.
Bulgogi (Beef in a Soy sauce Marinade)
Bulgogi is made with thinly sliced beef and marinated in sauce which is essentially made from pear juice, garlic, and soy sauce. What you’ll have in the end is a deliciously sweet and savoury meat dish. Most of us have Bulgogi on a Korean barbeque, which is a hotplate in the centre of the table. In Seoul (or other parts of Korea), you will discover that there are in fact many ways to have Bulgogi. This versatile dish can be served as a stew or as the basis for other dishes.
Seolleongtang (Ox Bone soup)
A highly popular soup dish, Seolleongtang- or ox bone soup- is one of the most time-consuming dishes to cook as you’ll have to boil the beef bones for hours at end to create the distinctive white look of Seolleongtang. The whiteness of the soup is thanks to the released calcium of the beef bones. In Korea, Seolleongtang is usually made in huge quantities over the weekend so that it can be consumed over the course of the week. If you’re a meat lover, Seolleongtang is the beefiest bowl of soup you can have. This delicious soup is not just eaten as dinner, but occasionally served as breakfast in Korea.