Top 10 foods to try in South Korea
Discover a taste of South Korea with these must-try dishes, chosen by an expert. Treat your tastebuds to a hearty bibimbap or a traditional bulgogi barbecue.
Whether you're visiting the country or just a Korean restaurant, there are at least ten national dishes that you absolutely must try. Article author Linda Lee is the restaurateur behind fine-dining Korean barbecue restaurant Koba and street-food spot On The Bab.
Discover even more fabulous foodie travel experiences and our top eats across the globe in our travel hub.
If you want to transport yourself to Korea from the comfort of your kitchen, try more of our Korean recipes.
Don't leave Korea without trying...
Probably the best-known Korean dish, bibimbap originated on the eve of Lunar New Year when it was traditional to use up all the vegetables and side-dishes in the house. A hot stone bowl is filled with cooked rice and topped with vegetables, pickled Chinese radish, carrot and mushrooms. Great care is taken to make the dish look attractive. Egg yolk and raw beef are also popular additions – when stirred through, they cook against the hot stone.
Try our cheat's bibimbap for a speedy twist on the classic.
Kimchi is lacto-fermented Chinese leaf (baechu kimchi) seasoned with chilli. It's an accompaniment to almost every meal in Korea, usually as a side-dish.
Make our quick kimchi for a spicy, tangy side.
Another great way to enjoy kimchi is in a spicy kimchi pancake. Try kimchi jeon for a vegan recipe that's gut-friendly and packed full of flavour.
3. Kimchi fried rice
Fry diced pork in oil then add chopped kimchi and cooked rice, mixing together as you cook. Toss in some sesame oil and spring onion, and serve with a fried egg on top for a simple but hearty meal.
Try our version of kimchi fried rice. It's healthy, free from gluten, and vegetarian (it counts as three of your 5-a-day).
4. Sundubu Jjigae
Jjigae is a type of rich, spicy stew. This seafood and silken tofu version is called sundubu and is served like bibimbap in a hot stone bowl.
Bulgogi is a traditional style of Korean barbecue. Beef, pork belly or chicken is marinated in soy sauce, sugar and pear juice, then cooked on a hot-plate on the table.
Try it for yourself with our make-at-home bulgogi recipe.
This popular, filling dish of dduk (rice cake), fishcake and quails' eggs is cooked in a gochujang-based sauce (a spicy, fermented red chilli paste). Typically bought from snack bars and street-food stalls, tteokbokki is a savoury, soupy and very satisfying snack.
Try our delicious tteokbokki recipe as a starter or side.
A glass noodle with a chewy texture (it's made from sweet potato), often stir-fried with crunchy vegetables, sesame oil, pepper and sugar and added to jorim (a broth-based sauce).
Try our japchae recipe.
8. Kan poong gi
Fried chicken is big in Korea, and this spicy, garlicky way of preparing it is very popular. Pieces of chicken are marinated, double deep-fried and covered in a kan poong chilli oil-based sauce.
9. Yook hwei
A Korean version of steak tartare seasoned with sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, spring onion and Korean pear. Topped with an egg yolk, this is a subtle and sophisticated dish. It is often topped with pine nuts.
Korean dumplings that can be steamed (jjin-mandu), fried (kun-mandu) or boiled (mul-mandu) and filled with chicken, veg or meat.
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Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the country they are travelling to.