Comfort Food Around The World

Everyone loves a good comforting meal, especially at this time of year when every day it’s getting colder and darker outside; what better thing is there to do than settle down in a cosy room with some delicious comfort food. In Korea, my favourite comfort food is my beloved Dolsot Bibimbap, a steaming-hot bowl of veggies, rice, egg and spicy pepper paste, perfect for warming you up on a cold autumn night. So imagine my pride when I found Bibimbap here on a list of ‘The World’s Best Hearty Food’, proof that people outside of Korea are beginning to realise how amazing it is! 946025_10201378028685616_9070226_n

Reading the article made me think about comfort food around the world; people in different countries envisage different things when they think of comfort, from gooey pizza to succulent steak to dumpling soup. Here is my selection of the best hearty comfort food from around the globe:

Britain

Javier Leiva via Wikimedia Commons
Javier Leiva via Wikimedia Commons
avlxyz via Wikimedia Commons
avlxyz via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

There are a lot of comforting meals which I could rave about from back home, but I’ll note just a few favourites instead:

Full English Breakfast complete with sausage, bacon, beans, eggs, toast, tomatoes, hash browns… Sausage, mashed potato and gravy… Roast Dinner…Fish and Chips… Pies… Just delicious food.

America

Rick Audet via Wikimedia Commons
Rick Audet via Wikimedia Commons

Mac and Cheese looks like the most appetising food ever, and must be heaven for cheese lovers.

And of course there’s American pancakes, biscuits and gravy, southern-fried chicken… The list could go on.

 

 

Canada

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Chips, gravy and cheese? This is the best combination of foods I can imagine. I need to go to Canada now…

 

 

 

Spain

flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/
flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/

A delicious dish of rice mixed with seafood or chicken and vegetables which is seasoned, steaming and sizzling to perfection. No wonder it’s the most popular Spanish dish!

 

 

 

France

Flickr_-_cyclonebill_-_Bøf_med_pommes_frites_(1)
cyclonebill via Wikimedia Commons

Where better to go for the best steak and frites than France. And how about a side of French onion soup to go with your steak… that’s one comforting meal…

 

 

 

Greece

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

The Greeks have done well with this meal: layers of aubergine, meat, potatoes, and topped with a rich bechamel sauce. It’s kind of like a lasagne, although, dare I say it, even better.

 

 

Italy

Various via Wikimedia Commons

Is there a place in the world with better comfort food than Italy? Pizza, pasta, rich, tomatoey sauces (and let’s not forget amazing gelato for dessert). Basically anything full of carbs in Italy can probably constitute comfort food…

 

 

Germany

de.wikipedia
de.wikipedia

Tender meat coated with breadcrumbs and eggs and then fried, Schnitzel (or Schnitzel equivalents) is popular all over the world, but especially in Germany. Have this alongside some chips and you’ll have one seriously satisfying meal.

 

 

China

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Chinese Wanton (dumpling) soup is as good as soup gets. Amazingly delicious dumplings in a tasty broth, with some noodles added in for that extra yumminess… What could be better to warm you up during the cold months?

 

 

Japan

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Instant ramen? Not that great. Proper Japanese ramen? Amazing. Tender noodles in soup along with meat, veggies, or whatever else you fancy, a good bowl of ramen is  comfort in a bowl.

 

 

Phillipines

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Adobo is one of the best meat dishes I’ve tried in a long time: rich, filling and so yummy. Meat marinated in soy sauce and garlic and then served, coated in the thick, almost gravy-like sauce. Flavourful, filling, and just perfect.

 

 

Thailand

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

For many people, there is nothing more comforting than a curry, and this popular Thai curry will certainly heat you up on a chilly evening. Creamy, rich, spicy, it’s no wonder that Thailand is famous for this delightful meal.

 

 

India

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Talking of curries, we can’t forget Indian curries. Nothing beats a good curry, with some naan bread, bhajis, samosas and poppadoms. You’ll probably end up eating too much, but it’s so amazing, who cares?

 

 

Anywhere with Skiing

ja.wikipedia.org
ja.wikipedia.org

How better to warm up on a snowy mountain than by treating yourself to a fondue. Warm, melted cheese and fresh bread…A match made in heaven.

 

 

You can go around the world and find so many different hearty comfort foods. And whether it’s Korean Bibimbap, American Mac and Cheese or Indian Curry, they all have one thing in common: they make you happy. And that’s true with comfort foods the world over…

 

 

 

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Spending and Saving in South Korea

One of the (many) reasons I love living in Korea is the lower cost of many things which are ridiculously overpriced in the UK. The best example is probably eating meals out; when I’m in England, going out for a meal is a treat and an expensive one at that. Meals themselves are so much more expensive, plus the drinks (water not included in England, and even worse, no free coffee at the end), and 12.5% service charge on top of that… it adds up to a costly evening out, rather than a convenient meal as it has become in Korea. 

And meals are just one thing which is cheaper in Korea. Here are some of the best deals, which we’ve taken full advantage of whilst living here…

Eating Out 

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As mentioned, eating is so much cheaper. A cheap meal in England would be, at the least around £10 (18,000 won) and that’s without side dishes, starter or dessert, or service charge. If you were also paying for drinks and a starter/ dessert, you’d end up easily spending £20 (36,000 won)… and that’s at a cheap restaurant.

Comparing that to Korea: my favourite luxury buffet costs £19 (33,000 won), for all-you-can-eat sushi and seafood. £19 in a sushi restaurant in England wouldn’t get you very far at all… In other ‘expensive’ restaurants, meals can cost around £9 (16,000 won), and we feel like we’re splashing out. We’re in for a shock when we get home; I’m going to miss being able to eat out regularly without going bankrupt.

Public Transport

£11 (20,000 won) for a 3 hour journey in a luxury coach? Yes please. Getting a 1 and 1/2 hour train journey into the capital city for about £5 (8,000 won)? Amazing. That would cost you about 5 times as much if you were travelling to London, and that’s if you paid in advance and at off-peak times. Otherwise the prices are even more extortionate.

Taxis

The ease and comfort of travelling around in taxis is something that will be sorely missed. It’s actually as cheap (if not cheaper if there are a couple of you) than taking the bus. A 20-minute taxi ride in Seoul only costs about £10 (18,000 won). I dread to think how much that would cost in London.

Hairdressers

One of my favourite cheap things! I avoid having my hair cut in England because I don’t want to spend £25 (over 40,000 won) on a 10-minute trim. Then I found out that in Korea, you only have to pay £7 (12,000 won) for this treatment. They even style it for free for you. It’s no wonder why I’ve kept up-to-date with hair appointments since I’ve been here…

Bills

Extremely cheap council tax, and monthly bills which are about a tenth of the price back in England. Our electricity bill is about £10 (18,000 won) a month… the first time I saw it, I genuinely thought they’d made a mistake. It’s great not wanting to cry when you receive a bill.

Cinema

I love going to the cinema, and was so excited to see that it’s about half the price in Korea. Even at peak times, it’s only £6 (10,000 won), and that’s without the half-price vouchers you get given pretty much every time you go to the cinema. Needless to say we’ve seen about 10 times the amount of films that we normally would go to watch at the cinema.

Sushi

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I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so good it deserves to be mentioned again. Being able to buy rolls of Gimbap (the equivalent of Futomaki) for less than £1 (2,000 won) is just the best thing ever. Plus, the pick-and-mix nigri which is less than 50p (600 won) a piece is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen.

Good Cosmetics

 I was a little wary of buying make-up in Korea, simply because it was so cheap I thought it must be pretty rubbish. Then I bought an eyeliner for about £4 (7,000 won) and I was an instant convert, realising that the makeup is actually pretty amazing; the eyeliner was definitely better than the £20 I used to buy in England. I’m going to have to get stuff imported when I leave…

 It’s fair to say that there is also a fair amount of expensive things in Korea, such as imported foods (cereals, sweets, certain fruits, teas), underwear (clothes are relatively cheap, but underwear is strangely pricey here), deodorants (seriously expensive), and pretty much most things Western. If you eat at a lot of Western restaurants and shop at places like H&M or Forever 21, you’ll find yourself spending a lot more money.  

But honestly, being in Korea has been pretty good for my bank account. The best part? If you do end up treating yourself and spending a lot of money on something, it’s likely to be something you enjoy, rather than on a bill/ an expensive train journey. And don’t even get me started on the fact that you don’t lose half your paycheck paying taxes, or I might cry thinking about the fact that at some point I’ll go home and have to start suffering that loss again…

Perfectly Warming Pumpkin-Corn Soup

McKay Savage Wikimedia Commons
McKay Savage Wikimedia Commons

In the past month, there’s been a distinct change in season; evenings are darker, the temperature has dropped by about 10 degrees, and I’ve gone from wearing sandals and skirts to covering up with a coat, gloves and scarf. I’m only one pair of wellies and a thermal vest away from my full-on winter gear.

Still, Autumn is a great time of year, when the temperatures aren’t arctic yet, and you can enjoy the beautiful colours of the trees before winter kills them off completely. And how can you make a chilly autumn evening even better? By making a nice bowl of hearty, warming pumpkin soup, that’s how!

This is one of my favourite recipes; it’s quick, easy, and extremely healthy- the perfect thing to warm you up on a cold evening. The pumpkin makes the soup velvety and thick, while the corn adds a bit of texture and gives it almost a creamy taste. Delicious. Even better, there is so much flavour from the vegetables that you don’t have to bother adding loads of herbs and spices, which makes the process ever simpler.

(Oh, and if you’re not a fan of pumpkin or find them hard to find, you can substitute them with butternut squash.)

Ingredients:

1 Pumpkin, around 1 kg

2 Large Onions

1 Tin of Sweetcorn (or fresh corn if you can get it)

2 Large Carrots

Chicken/ Beef Stock (around 800 ml depending on how thick you like your soup)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Cream (optional)

Directions:

1) Chop up the onions into small chunks and saute in the olive oil until they’re soft and tender.

2)Chop up the pumpkin and carrots into chunks and put in a large saucepan. Add the corn and then the onions.

3) Pour in your stock until it is just covering the vegetables. (You can add more or less water depending on how thick you like your soup. I prefer to add less at       the start, and thin later if needed.

4)Bring the water to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft (the pumpkin should be almost mushy).

5) Blend everything. When the soup is ready, add salt and pepper to taste. If you would like to add cream, add some now and then re-heat the soup.

6) Enjoy!

en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

And there you have it…a minimal effort recipe with maximum taste. Perfect.

Same Chains, Different Countries = Unexpected Menu

Siqbal,Wikimedia Commons
Siqbal,Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, even if you love Korean food, you just crave something from home- a burger and chips, a glazed doughnut, or a big cheesy pizza. Luckily, there is an ever-increasing number of Western chains across Korea, offering food for just these occasions. However, that’s not to say the menus are exactly the same.. sure, you can still find a plain cheese burger on the Macdonalds menu, or a margherita pizza (no sweetcorn, please), but there are always a few variations/ additions to the menu that have that distinctive Korean ‘twist’.

Let’s have a look at some of the more interesting Korean alternatives you can find on the menu in some popular Western chains:

MacDonalds

mcdonalds.co.kr
mcdonalds.co.kr

The Bulgogi Burger is an option available in most burger places across Korea, and is a nice addition to the Macdonalds menu; adding a delicious sauce to a plain burger is a win, in my opinion!

There is also the choice of a shrimp burger: lots of shrimps moulded into a burger patty. Or, the Shanghai Burger, a version of the Western standard chicken sandwiches, but with ‘spicy seasoning’… well, it is Korea!

To complete your Korean Macdonalds, order a green tea frappe or an affogato.

Baskin Robbins 

miasuraya.com
miasuraya.com

There is always some sort of cheesecake flavoured ice cream in Baskin Robbins, obviously a favourite in Korea.

And, of course, green tea ice cream, an odd but surprisingly good option.

Other flavours include: melon, lemon, cotton candy, sherbet, and don’t forget that classic combination, apple-mint. Mmm.

Starbucks

istarbucks.co.kr
istarbucks.co.kr

As the picture confirms, red bean and green tea cream frappuchinos are only available in Korea. What am I going to do back in England?!

You also have the choice of foods such as egg and potato burrito, black olive sausage danish pastry, sweet potato cake or even a spinach lasagne- that definitely isn’t available in the UK!

 

Burger King

burgerking.co.kr
burgerking.co.kr

If you’re a garlic fan, you should head to a Korean Burger King, home of the Garlic Steak Burger: an ordinary burger, with a topping of crushed garlic.

And it goes without saying that there is also a range of bulgogi burgers on the menu.

 

Pizza Hut

koreataste.org
koreataste.org

Topping choices for pizzas include: garlic, cream cheese, sweet potato, normal potato or broccoli. There is also a huge choice of crusts: the ‘star edge’ crust’, filled with cranberry cream cheese, or apple-cinnamon cream cheese, or the ‘rich gold’ crust, made of sweet potato, mozzarella and cheddar. A three-layered crust certainly seems decadent for a pizza!

Dunkin Donuts

dunkindonuts.co.kr
dunkindonuts.co.kr

Koreans love rice so much, they even use it for doughnuts! This item on the Dunkin Donuts menu is made with sticky rice, instead of traditional doughnut ingredients. They come in different flavours including green tea and sweet potato, if you couldn’t have guessed!

There is also always a huge range of ridiculously cute doughnuts in heart-shapes, animal-shapes etc… Koreans know how to make eating fun!

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TGI Fridays

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tgif.co.kr
tgif.co.kr
tgif.co.kr

 

 

 

 

 

You can see the normal favourites on the TGI Fridays menu: steak, ribs, chips. But it has some extra meals which are distinctly Korean: a salad topped with fruit and mascarpone, pasta in a bread bowl, and most importantly, the choice of fried-rice as a side dish. Phew.

Dominoes

dominos.co.kr
dominos.co.kr

Similarly to Pizza Hut, Dominoes pushes the barrier with its new and exciting crusts and toppings. Cheese roll crusts, double-cheese crusts, cheesecake mousse (really), syrup, mango hot sauce and garlic flakes. Definitely more exciting than your plain-old pepperoni.

 

 

 

 
Outback Steakhouse

outback.co.kr
outback.co.kr

Similarly to how Koreans make pizzas a lot more elaborate, some of the dishes at Outback have far more ingredients than in other countries.

For example, their cheese lobster, which comes with a shrimp cake, jacket potato, vegetables and a pot of salad on the side.

They also offer a traditional Korean ‘dosirak’ or lunchbox, with a nice selection of food to takeaway,- a good option if you’re on the move!

Lastly, the unfortunately titled dessert: ‘Chocolate Thunder From Down Under’. It looks delicious, but maybe re-think the name? It doesn’t conjure up the best mental image in the world…

KFC

kfckorea.com
kfckorea.com

If you are a meat-lover, you’re going to love the new item on the Korean KFC menu: three types of meat in one ‘burger’. In fact, there’s no bread, as the burger is sandwiched between two fried-chicken fillets. With some bacon added in for fun, because we all know that two types of meat just isn’t enough.

On the side, choose from a range of side-salads: sweet corn, pumpkin, pickles, or if you want more meat, potato with bacon.

Papa John’s

pji.co.kr
pji.co.kr

The menu is similar to Pizza Hut and Dominoes with it’s creative range of toppings. But at Papa John’s, even the appearance of pizza is exciting: you can order them in a heart shape. Now there’s romance if I’ve ever seen it!

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We’ve also had some unexpected surprises when ordering food which aren’t from popular chains. The most frequent additions to western-sounding foods? Kimchi and Gochuchang (red pepper paste) which are frequently added. Probably the most memorable oddity though, was ordering a classic beef burger at an ‘American’ restaurant… only to find when it came that you got a banana with chocolate sauce on the side. Eating them separately-great! Eating them together- I’m not so sure… chocolate banana and burger is a bit more wacky than I like my fusion!

Next time you go to a Western chain in Korea, will you go for a safe option, or will you be a bit more adventurous? Cheese pizza or cream cheese pizza? Oh, the choices…

 

The Best Night At The Beastro

IMG_7493

Delicious food, good service, weird cocktails and free wine? Yes please. Where do you go to get these things? The Beastro Restaurant in Seoul, my new favourite place.

I’ve already written about the fact that Hongdae is one of my favourite areas in Seoul, and so it’s not surprising that I was excited to spend this weekend there. After spending hours exploring interesting side-streets, discovering new shops and cafes, and eating some pretty delicious food, I was one happy girl. The highlight of the trip? Finding an amazing new restaurant, The Beastro. Seeing as it’s number one on Trip Advisor, I was expecting it to be good, but it exceeded my expectations. So good was it that I had eaten half my meal before I thought to take any photos of the food, oops… so I’ll have to show you photos from The Beastro’s Facebook Page to give you an idea of their food.

IMG_7491I was immediately impressed with the restaurant; there was a 45 minute wait as we hadn’t booked in advance, but unlike a lot of restaurants when you’re asked to wait at the bar and so persuaded to spend more money on drinks, we were told we’d receive a free glass of wine while we waited. Well, this was a good way to instantly win me over! I was waiting for some sort of catch, or an expensive service-charge, but it never came. Nope, just a nice glass of wine… which was actually really good, not some disgusting cheap stuff. It was definitely a good start.

We were pretty hungry by the time we sat down to eat and the food couldn’t come quickly enough. Luckily, it was amazing service and so we didn’t have to wait long. The menu is quite small and select: appetizers include Salmon Rillettes, Red Pepper Soup, Kale and Ricotta Salad, and Roasted Eggplant Caesar Salad, mains are Carrot Risotto, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Roast Chicken, Pork Cheeks, Southern Fried Chicken, Hanger Steak, and Pork Belly. There are also some side dishes such as Fried Bree Wheel, Buffalo Mac and Cheese, and Chimmichurri Fries. It’s a good selection, and by keeping the menu on the smaller side, the meals are fresher and the quality that much better.

www.facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul/photos_stream
facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul

We ordered the Salmon Rillete, Southern Fried Chicken and the Hanger Steak… and all three were amazing. My boyfriend and I shared the salmon rillette and it was perfect: light and refreshing with big chunks of salmon in it. I absolutely love salmon so I was always going to like it, but it was some of the best salmon I’ve eaten in Korea.

https://www.facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul/photos_stream
facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul

Then, on to the mains… Now I’m not even a big steak fan, but wanted to try something different, and this meal converted me; the meat was almost buttery, it was so tasty and accompanied by an amazing gravy. I didn’t expect it to be so good, especially because it was reasonably priced at 19,000 won. My boyfriend devoured his chicken, which was incredibly juicy and tasty. The chicken came with some mashed potato and a ‘biscuit’ which I can only describe as a scone-like buttery treat.

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facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul

Both meals tasted amazing, and were satisfying but not too heavy and filling (not that I would have complained if someone had given me some more, of course!). I imagine if you ordered a side of fries or mac and cheese, you’d end up very full though, as we saw both dishes being served and they looked rich and large (but delicious too).

The drinks were also winners: the cocktails have rather odd names, ‘Piss and Vinegar’ probably being the weirdest. We chose ‘Good Thymes’ which was a refreshing mix of wine, honey, lemon and thyme. It didn’t even taste alcoholic it was so sweet and light, which could have been pretty dangerous had we ordered more…

facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul
facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul

What I loved about the restaurant (apart from the food) was the service; the waitresses, barmen and chefs alike were so friendly, helpful and welcoming and the atmosphere was great. One of the chefs actually came over to advise us on our order and allow us to try the salmon rillette before we decided whether to order another appetiser which we really appreciated; there’s not many places where you’d receive such good service. It made the night even better and ensured that we’d happily go back.

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facebook.com/TheBeastroSeoul

So for any foodies, if you’re looking for a new place to eat, go to The Beastro! To get there, head to Hongik University Station, go out Exit 9, head to the playground, and The Beastro is on the second floor above MAC make-up shop. You can book in advance, but if you fancy a free glass of wine then maybe you won’t mind showing up and having to wait a little bit… now there’s an incentive if you still need one!

 

20 Scrumptious and (sometimes) Strange Korean Meals

Ok, so I’ve spoken before about my ‘Top 20 Weird and Wonderful Korean Snacks’ which I’ve had the joy of trying while living in Korea. Now I think it’s the time to look at Korean meals, which I’m pleased to say have been on the whole, a positive experience. That is, after we learnt the names of some Korean foods. Let’s just say that our first meal here was a bit of a disaster- not knowing what anything was, we picked a random item off the menu, and ended up with a ‘jjigae’ (stew) that was so spicy we were sweating by the end (despite it being about 5 degrees in the restaurant). We went home with runny noses and burning mouths to down about a litre of milk each. Good times.

So my top tip for eating out in Korea? Learn the names of meals. After all, you don’t want to end up with chicken feet or intestines by accident, do you? Once you know what’s what, you can relax and enjoy the food in all its glory.

Of course, much like the snacks, there I some main meals I’d approach with caution and some I’d avoid altogether. Because no matter how delicious someone thinks it is, there is just no way I’m eating raw octopus. Luckily there are plenty of other options on the menu; here’s my list of 20 scrumptious, but sometimes weird, Korean meals.

1) Bibimbap- The Best

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I’m sorry, I know I’ve mentioned it (gushed about it) before, but it truly is the best, so I think it deserves the extra mention.

Veggies, meat, egg, rice, red-pepper paste (gochuchang) in a glorious mix. I could eat this every day, for every meal (and I’d be a happy girl).

In my opinion, the best option is Dolsot (hot stone) Bibimbap- the rice and veggies go a little crispy from the heat, making them that much more delicious. The only downside is that it’s too difficult to wait and let the piping hot meal cool down. My impatience= a burnt mouth every time. Worth it though!

2) Boribap- The Bibimbap Alternative

Boribap en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia
Boribap en.wikipedia2
en.wikipedia

Similar in many ways to Bibimbap, only not quite as good.

You get a bowl of rice with barley, and then a selection of veggies, soups, meats, tofu (it will vary depending on where you are), and a few sauces.

Simply pick what you want, add it to your bowl of rice, and mix it all together. And there you have it- your own custom-made meal.

3) Hangover Soup/ Haejang Guk- The Weird One

Picture: en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

When you’re feeling hungover, do you ever think to yourself, ‘I really fancy some congealed blood’? Nope? Well, you’re obviously not Korean then.

This spicy soup filled with different vegetables and, oh, congealed ox blood, is the famous Korean hangover cure. It’s not as unpleasant as it sounds, I have to admit. But, if I was feeling worse for wear, I’d still prefer a McDonald’s, thanks.

4) Dakgalbi- Comforting Chicken Heaven

Dakgalbi commons.wikimedia
Nagyman commons.wikimedia

One of my all-time favourites.

Chicken pieces, sweet potato, cabbage and tteokbokki pieces (Korean rice cakes resembling gnocchi), in a warm sauce. Served on a hot plate so that it cooks in front of you. It’s slightly spicy and so tasty, it’s the ultimate comfort meal.

If you’ve still got room after the chicken, you can get some bokkeumbap- rice with a raw egg- to cook on the hot plate until it’s all crispy. Mmmm.

The only negative is that the chicken tends to have a lot of skin on, and there are sometimes bones. Without this, the meal would be a definite 10/10. Oh, and you have to share it- get ready to fight for the hidden pieces of tteokbokki!

5) Barbecue- The Korean Staple

BBQ commons.wikimedia
suksim commons.wikimedia

You can’t walk down a street without seeing at least one Barbecue restaurant- they are  so popular. In fact, one has just opened under our apartment, which isn’t the best thing- BBQ fumes are too tempting to have around permanently.

You can pick your favourite meat, and then cut and cook it yourself. You also get a selection of side dishes. The best BBQ places, in my opinion, are those which also give you an egg mix, which you pour around the BBQ grill. The heat turns it into a delicious omelette to go with your meat. Yum yum.

6) Gamjatang- The Difficult-To-Eat Dish

Gamjatang commons.wikimedia
The Wong Family Pictures commons.wikimedia

My winter favourite. A delicious soup full of vegetables, tender pork and potatoes (probably the only time I’ve had potatoes in a meal).

The meat gives the soup flavour and vice versa, resulting in an incredibly tasty meal.

But there is one major downside- this is probably the messiest meal I’ve ever eaten, as the pork all comes on the bone. Think the messiness of ribs x 1000. The first time I ate this, I think I ended up with more food on my clothes than in my stomach.

7) Shabu Shabu= yummy yummy

Processed by: Helicon Filter;
de.wikipedia

A light soup which you add veggies, noodles and wafer-thin strips of beef into. You can also get rice at the end if you’re still hungry, much like with Dakgalbi.

The reason I love this meal? The rice paper wraps which you get- you have a selection of vegetables (and the cooked beef) to put inside, and a few dips including peanut, soy and sweet chilli. All the ingredients you need to make your own Vietnamese-style rice paper rolls.

Be careful not to fill them too full though, I’ve had a couple of exploding rolls and it’s not pretty.

8) Jjampong- Chinese in Korea

Jjampong commons.wikimedia
Alfpooh commons.wikimedia

Seafood and noodles in a spicy broth= warming goodness. Although spice-phobes beware: this meal can be incredibly spicy. We had a friend who took one mouthful, choked, and couldn’t talk again for a good 5 minutes. True story.

In some restaurants there is also a stir-fried version of jjampong which is just incredible. Definitely worth a try, and it comes minus the spice, so it’s a good alternative for those who don’t like hot food.

9) Jjajangmyeon- Chinese in Korea 2

jajjanmyeon en.wikipedia
en.wikipedia

Again, noodles, but this time in a thick, almost gravy-like sauce made from black soybean paste. Trust me, it tastes a lot better than it sounds, enjoyed by both Koreans and expats.

Another positive is that unlike Jjampong, this meal won’t blow your head off!

 

 

10) Bibimguksu/ Bibimnaengmyeon- The noodle version of Bibimbap (sort of)

Bibim_guksu commons.wikimedia
abex commons.wikimedia

I have to admit, I find this ‘bibim’ meal far inferior to my all time favourite, but it is nice and a good vegetarian option too.

Cold noodles in gochuchang (red-pepper paste) with a few chopped veggies on top. Many pictures of the meal show an egg too, but I’ve yet to have been given an egg with mine!

It’s nothing special but worth a try, and it’s a good option during the boiling hot summer months when you don’t want anything hot.

11) Pajeon- The Korean Pancake

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Jamie, commons.wikimedia

While this is miles away from a Western pancake (it’s served with soy sauce rather than syrup), it’s just as amazing.

A batter made from eggs, flour, a lot of onion and various other delicious fillings. The most common is the seafood pancake, complete with shrimp, clams, squid and more. It is fried to perfection, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, and it’s just amazing.

Forget American pancakes, Korean versions are definitely the winner for me!

12) Mulhoe- Overdose By Red-Pepper Paste

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Ok, so Mul= water and Hoe= raw fish. So when I ordered this meal I expected some sashimi-soup dish. What it turned out to be was a huge bowl of crushed ice and gochuchang (red pepper paste) soup, with a few pieces of sashimi floating in it. And honestly? The overpowering taste of gochuchang was so strong you couldn’t even taste the sashimi.

One of the weirdest things I’ve had in Korea. I like gochuchang sure, but this was overkill.

13) Bokkeumbap- Korean Fried Rice

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This has been hit and miss for me. When it’s good, it’s really good- a juicy fried egg on a pile of fried rice, along with various flavourings such as kimchi, meat or shrimp. But when it’s done badly, you end up with a pile of bland rice and a few tiny pieces of dry meat.

Sometimes I’ve had it when it’s even come without an egg on top- cue anger and disappointment at a meal which is then just essentially a mound of rice.

14) Bulgogi- The Best In Barbecue

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Thin strips of beef marinated in a soy-based sauce, served with chopped vegetables and barbecued. Sound good? That’s because it is. I’m not even a big fan of beef, but bulgogi has so much flavour that it’s definitely one of my favourites.

And the best thing ever is when you find a place which does ‘Bulgogi Bibimbap’. Two of the best foods served as one meal? Imagine my happiness.

15) Japchae- Nom Nom Noodles

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These sweet-potato noodles are stir-fried in sesame oil and served with chopped vegetables. It may not sound like much, but honestly this is the best stir-fry you’ll ever have (think chicken chow mein, only better).

In case you were wondering, this carb-centered meal sometimes comes with a side of rice, in case the noodles aren’t enough for you. Good to know.

16) Sundubu- A Tofu Treat

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So before I came to Korea I’d had tofu once and probably didn’t have the best opinion of it. Living here has changed my mind- it’s in so many meals and always tastes so good.

In this soup, a soft tofu is used, added to a spicy broth along with other ingredients, seafood and meat being two poplar options.

Oh and the little Korean twist to make it different? A raw egg is cracked into it at the last moment, so that it cooks in front of you in the boiling hot soup. Served with rice (surprise) and different side dishes, this is my favourite Korean soup.

17) Fried Chicken- KFC Eat Your Heart Out

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The Koreans adore fried-chicken. It’s slightly different from Western style because it’s fried twice which makes it less greasy and more crispy.

It’s the most common way in which chicken is eaten- so much so that unlike Westerners who speak of chicken as a healthy meal, Koreans call chicken ‘unhealthy’ and ‘junk food’.

Hmm.. not so sure it’s the meat which is unhealthy, more the fact it’s deep- fried twice over…

18) Donkas- Korean Schnitzel

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This deep-fried pork cutlet is similar to schnitzel and served with a thick sauce which is similar to gravy. It’s another popular dish among Koreans and is filling and satisfying.

If you’re a big-eater you will be pleased by the portion sizes which are generally huge- I swear I’ve had plenty of Donkas which are roughly the size of my head. I’m not complaining though.

19) Kalguksu- The Never Ending Meal

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This fresh noodle soup is delicious- you get a large bowl of broth (different flavours such as meat, seafood, mushroom etc.) filled with ‘knife-cut’ noodles. The noodles are, in my opinion, the tastiest you can get in Korea.

Word of warning- this meal is one of those where you feel as if you’ve eaten forever but just doesn’t go down! I usually end up in an uncomfortable food coma, too full from gallons of soup and heaps of noodles. But if you’re not too full by the end, you can once again order rice to cook in any leftover soup. We just love the carbs!

20) Jjigae- The Versatile Stew

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There are so many different types of jjigae- kimchi, meat, tuna, tofu, seafood, vegetables, the list goes on. And even in one bowl of jjigae there are so many different ingredients and it changes wherever you go.

The main thing is that jjigae is a staple meal, a warming, comforting stew. Much like Sundubu it’s served piping hot so always ends up burning your mouth (or is that just me in my impatience to eat?). But never mind, it’s good so we forgive it.

I never feel more Korean than when I order a bowl of Kimchi Jjigae and eat it alongside a hefty side dish of Kimchi. Forget my alien residency card, I think that makes me a fully-fledged Korean!

Ok, so I’m not going to lie and say that I never crave an English meal- there are times when all I want is a big fat roast. But, as proven by the list, there are plenty of scrumptious Korean foods to satisfy my taste-buds.

And lucky for me, this food is cheap and healthy (if we forget about the fried chicken). So all in all, it’s really no wonder that Korean food is becoming the new ‘trendy’ cuisine in other countries, with restaurants opening all over the place. And I, for one, am extremely happy about that.