Has your late-night K-drama binge got you craving for ramen? You’re definitely not alone!
Korean ramen is one of those guilty pleasures that many Koreans and fans of Korean culture just love. With its piping hot soup, perfect level of spiciness, and springy noodles, it’s unassuming, satisfying, and just so comforting.
But of course, Korean ramen is not the only thing that Korean food has to offer. There’s plenty of other comfort foods in Korea that will warm up your belly – and your heart. For a taste of Korea’s favourite soul foods, here’s a list to get you started!
1. Budae jigae (Korean army stew)
If Korean ramen is your go-to midnight indulgence, you’ll love it’s glammed up cousin – Korean army stew! Called budae jigae in Korean, it is said that this dish came about during the Korean war. When food was scarce, some Koreans with access to food rations from the US army bases threw together this dish with a spicy, kimchi and gochujang-based broth.
That would explain the mishmash of ingredients, like sausage, luncheon meat (Spam), ham, baked beans, and more. Nowadays, the dish also frequently comes with ingredients like tteokbokki, ramen, and cheese! Many restaurants serve this as a sharing pot as well, so you can have a hotpot experience for that extra sense of community.
2. Samgyeopsal (pork belly)
Barbeque as comfort food? Well, hear me out! While barbeques in the Western culture are more reminiscent of special occasions and family weekends, you absolutely don’t need a special reason to have barbeque in Korea!
Samgyeopsal (literally, ‘three-layered meat’) is a quintessential K-BBQ staple, and is best eaten hot off the grill, topped off with some kimchi, and perhaps with a veggie to wrap it all in. The comfort factor isn’t just due to the sheer savoury-ness of the dish, but also the whole experience of grilling the meat yourself, sharing a hotplate with your family or friends, and not to forget, the soju at the side!
3. Mandu (Korean dumplings)
To some, these dumplings might sound more like a snack than a meal, but it’s on the list for a reason. Some Koreans may be familiar with making their own mandus by hand, so this humble little dish reminds them of family, even when they are far away from home.
These days, mandus are readily available at street side stalls, and even as frozen ones. Some are filled with glass noodles, meat, or vegetables, and some even with a kick of kimchi! They are wonderful as a quick meal or snack – just pop them to steam or pan-fry, and you’ll have some delicious dumplings to sink your teeth into!
4. Kalguksu (handmade noodles)
Kalguksu is a type of knife-cut noodles that’s served in hot soup, frequently with vegetables, and meat like beef or chicken, or sometimes with seafood. A close relative of it is sujebi, which is hand-pulled dough flakes rather than noodles.
So, if you’re craving some hot, soupy goodness, kalguksu is the dish to go for! When cooked perfectly al dente, the texture is delightfully chewy. Throw in some kimchi for good measure, and this will definitely hit you right in the spot!
Don’t these foods just sound mouthwateringly delicious? While you can head on to your nearest Korean restaurant to get your Korean food fix, we can also hope for the day we can try out these foods right where they come from as well!
In the meantime, learning more about the Korean culture is probably the closest you can get to going to Korea. Once you’ve mastered the names of your favourite Korean dishes, it’s time to get serious with a Korean language course at Sejong Korean Language School!