Friday, July 19, 2024

Korean BBQ and Beyond: Exploring the Flavors of Korea

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Korean cuisine has a revealing history, one that taps into the country’s ancient roots, as well as its modern take on flavors. From Bibimbap to Bulgogi, Korean food is flavorful and nuanced and has something to offer to everyone. Of course, when discussing the country’s many dishes, there’s one that often looms large: Korean barbeque (or BBQ). 

But the flavors of Korea don’t start and end with barbeque. In this article, we’ll explore the spectrum of flavors that Korea has to offer, from the iconic dishes to some lesser-known eats.

What is Korean BBQ?  

Korean BBQ is a social experience, often served at a sagyeopsal 돼지국밥 (pig-meat-soup-rice) restaurant with other guests sitting around a table. The same grill is often used for everything from pork belly and Korean beef (소고기 sogogi) to vegetables and seafood, while sides of pickled vegetables, sauces, kimchi, and more are shared amongst guests.

A Few of the Most Popular Korean Dishes  

Surely, there are dozens of iconic dishes that represent Korea, but here’s a brief rundown of several of the most popular.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish, typically served with a blend of cooked vegetables, a dollop of gochujang 고추장 (red pepper paste), sesame oil, and a fried egg atop a bed of steaming white rice.

Bulgogi

Bulgogi (불고기) is a traditional Korean BBQ dish made from thinly sliced beef in a fermented soy sauce marinade. It’s often served in lettuce wraps or atop steamed rice.

Japchae

Japchae (잡채) is a stir-fried noodle dish made from sweet potato noodles, sautéed vegetables, and various kinds of meat.

Samgyeopsal

Samgyeopsal (삼겹살) is one of the most popular types of Korean BBQ, featuring slices of fatty pork that are cooked on a tabletop grill.

Gimbap

Gimbap (김밥) is a seaweed rice roll, stuffed with a number of ingredients including carrots, spinach, eggs, ham, and pickled radish.

Other Korean Dishes Worth Trying  

There are so many delicious dishes from Korea that don’t get the same attention as the iconic ones, but still deserve to be mentioned for their unique flavors.

Jokbal

Jokbal (족발) is a popular dish made with a savory pork leg, boiled and simmered in a generous amount of soy sauce.

Ganjang-gejang

Ganjang-gejang (간장게장) is a raw crab dish that’s both boiled and marinated in soy sauce.

Haemul-pajeon

Haemul-pajeon (해물파전) is a savory seafood-filled pancake featuring shrimp, squid, and various kinds of shellfish.

Soondubu-jjigae

Soondubu-jjigae (순두부찌개) is a Korean spicy soft tofu stew with an egg added before being served.

Jjimdak

Jjimdak (찜닭) is a stew consisting of chicken braised in a thick and sweet sauce over glass noodles and vegetables.

Seolnongtang

Seolnongtang (설농탕) is a meat broth made with beef and fresh grains, simmered overnight and topped with fresh salt and pepper.

Where to Get Korean Food in the US  

One of the great things about the US is that you can find some great Korean food in many regions of the country. Here’s a look at some of the cities and regions that are known for their Korean food.

New York City

There are plenty of good Korean restaurants in NYC like Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, and Hanjan.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to dozens of delicious Korean restaurants all around the city, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants.

San Francisco

The Bay Area is home to a wide variety of Korean restaurants, from Moim to KoJaKan and San Tung.

Washington DC

Washington DC has some great Korean eateries including Jang Won, Cactus Bar, and Clisby’s.

Chicago

Chicago has many great Korean restaurants, like Danji, Seoul Taco, and Hanbun.

Boston

Boston is a great city to find Korean food. Try Juku, Coreanos, and Cafe Ūmi.

Enjoying Korean Food From Home  

If you want to enjoy the flavors of Korea, but don’t have the ability to dine out, there are a few simple things you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Take-Out

Many restaurants, not just Korean ones, offer take-out services. So if you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to leave your house, you can easily get a delicious Korean meal delivered to you.

Cooking

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at making some Korean dishes at home? There are plenty of recipes available online and in cookbooks, so you’ll have no shortage of meal ideas.

Instant Meals

If you’re looking for a more convenient way to enjoy Korean food, there are a growing number of instant meal kits available on the market that offer fast and easy prep time and tasty authentic flavors.

Staying Connected

If you want to stay in the know on all the latest eats, follow some of your favorite Korean restaurants and chefs on your favorite social media platforms. That way, you’ll be connected as they share photos of their delicious dishes and offer updates on menus.

Korean food has certainly come a long way in the US over the last few years, evolving from a handful of traditional BBQ dishes to a range of flavors you can find in cities all over the country. There’s something new to discover in this cuisine, and there are plenty of ways you can explore the flavors of Korea without ever having to leave your home. So, don’t be afraid to dive into the endless variety of Korean flavors and dishes and explore beyond the beloved Korean BBQ.

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