As you have been spending more time at home the past two months, chances are, you have been catching up on some of the latest K-dramas. And what’s a K-drama without some amazing food scenes? You’re definitely not alone if you’ve started craving some authentic Korean fare when you see a character slurping up their instant ramen or gobbling on chewy deokbokki (떡볶이).
Thankfully, Singapore is home to quite many Korean food outlets, including fried chicken joints and authentic, homely restaurants. But if you prefer to do it yourself, you can also hit the kitchen and whip up some of these yummy bites at home! Here are some classic Korean dishes that are oh-so-delicious and relatively simple to make!
1. Bibimbab [비빔밥 (mixed rice bowl)]
Bibimbab is a one-bowl meal that consists of rice, accompanied by an ensemble of vegetables, your choice of meat (if any), and usually topped off with a sunny-side up. Its distinct flavour is imparted by the gochujang, a chilli pepper paste that is spicy with a hint of tanginess.
Making bibimbab is not too difficult. First, steam some rice or leave it to cook in a rice cooker. Then, prepare your vegetables, which may include zucchini, carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, or other veggies of your choice. Make sure to slice the larger vegetables, then stir-fry them until sufficiently soft. You may season them with salt to taste. Then, fry up a sunny-side-up according to how you like it.
Create your bibimbab sauce by adding soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar to gochujang. Finally, assemble your bibimbab with the rice at the bottom of the bowl, veggies over the rice, and finally the sunny-side-up on top. Drizzle your bibimbab sauce over, and then give everything a good mix before savouring your very own bibimbab! 잘 먹었습니다 (jal meokgesseumnida)!
2. Pajeon [파전 (Korean green onion pancake)]
Pajeon is a Korean savoury pancake with green onions (scallions) in crisp yet chewy batter. Common versions of pajeon are seafood [해물 파전 (haemul pajeon)] and kimchi [김치 파전 (kimchi pajeon)]. Often, pajeon is eaten with a soy sauce dip that is sweet and tangy. In principle, pajeon is easy to make – but the actual cooking may take a bit of perfecting to get the right thickness and crispness.
Begin by preparing your ingredients – cut scallions and kimchi (if any) into manageable lengths, and clean up the seafood (if doing haemul pajeon). If you like a bit of spice, you can cut some chilli as well. You can obtain Korean pancake mix easily at most supermarkets or Korean food marts in Singapore. All you need to do is mix in water, and you have the pancake batter ready!
In an oil-coated pan, start with cooking the veggies and seafood. Arrange them evenly before pouring the pancake mix evenly over the other ingredients. Once the pancake is more than half cooked, flip it over to cook the other side, and then you’re done! Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing soy sauce with vinegar and sugar, and there you have it! 맛있어요 (masisseyo)!
3. Kimchi jjigae [김치 찌개 (Kimchi stew)]
We can’t talk about Korean food without mentioning kimchi! So many varieties of these pickled vegetables exist, and they taste amazing in countless dishes as well. One hearty soul food in Korea is the kimchi stew – wonderfully sour, spicy, and always so appetising!
You can get ready-made kimchi from your local Korean mart, or make it yourself (but that’s a whole other recipe!). Cut up the kimchi into bite-sized pieces, and prepare your choice of meat in cubes (beef, pork, or chicken works). Cook kimchi and meat first in a pot or saucepan until the meat is half cooked. Then, add some gochujang, chilli flakes, and soy sauce. Optional ingredients you may want to add are sliced onions, minced garlic and tofu.
Then, add water according to how much ingredients have to make the stew. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. You may add glass noodles near the end, and finally, garnish with chopped spring onions. Kimchi is best served with steamed white rice, and eaten slowly as a comforting, homely meal. 잘 먹었습니다!
Which of these recipes will you be trying this week? Apart from enjoying all the hottest K-dramas of the moment, trying out some Korean cuisine is also a fantastic way to learn more about Korean culture and language.
If these mouth-watering recipes have had you craving for more things Korean, perhaps it’s time to dive deeper by taking up a Korean language course! Sejong Korean Language school welcomes you to join us in learning the language together – and who knows, our teachers may have some of their own Korean cooking tips to share!