History of Korean Cuisine
Korean food is inspired by the seasonal ingredients of the land and the abundant ingredients of the sea. It’s influenced by ancient belief that food is the best medicine, as such, Korean foods were served in traditional ceremonies and in Buddhist temples. Essential ingredients in Korean food are garlic, red pepper paste and powder, bean paste, soy sauce, onions, ginger, sesame and perilla oil. When a main dish is presented, side dishes including at least one type of fermented kimchi and rice are served.
Tasty fermented kimchi, bibimbup and Korean BBQ are healthy and deliciously popular but here are what the locals are also eating. The next time you’re traveling to Korea, try these main dishes that are not commonly found at your local Korean restaurant.
Mouthwatering Gejang 게창
Gejang is fresh raw blue crab that is marinated in mild soy sauce with garlic, ginger, onions and chili peppers. There is a spicy version but it’s not for the faint-hearted. Since gejang is flavorful, it’s served with a simple bowl of rice to mix with the crab roe and tomalley and a bit of the marinated sauce. This dish is also known as the “rice robber” among the locals, and you’ll know why when you’re ordering your third bowl of rice. Gejang is a mouthwatering popular main dish in Korea worth trying at least once.
Where to Eat Gejang?
Since food safety is important when eating raw food, we recommend you start by eating at Pro Ganjang Gejang, at the Sinsa main branch in Seoul.
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Soondae (순대) for the Adventurous Foodie
Soondae is Korean’s interpretation of a blood sausage. It’s definitely a unique Korean dish made of pig or cow’s intestines stuffed like a sausage with different types of ingredients such as seafood, noodles, pork blood, and/or barley. Each province or city in South Korea will have their own interpretation of soondae. The texture is chewy on the outside while soft and flavorful in the inside. Soondae is a popular street food found throughout the city of Seoul.
Contemporary Korean Cuisine
Try innovative Korean dishes inspired by traditional and authentic ingredients at Michelin-starred, Jungsik. Chef Yim Jung-sik’s creative interpretations of Korean food is a tasty culinary experience. Jungsik will not disappoint wine lovers either as they provide a good selection of wine to complement each dish.
Address: 11 Seollungro 158-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
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While you’re exploring and eating like a local in Seoul, here are some Korean slangs you will hear and/or can use with friends:
John Mat 존 맛 (swear slang)
F_ _king delicious! You can say that to your travel companion after trying Gejang 게창.
Chi Maek 치맥
Maekju means beer in Korean Hangul. Chi Maek is short for chicken and beer. You may tell your Korean friends that you want some finger-licking “Chi Maek” after your culinary adventure for something simple.
Ggul jaem 굴 잼
This means very fun or it was extremely good. Ggul means honey and Jaem is short for Jaemso, which means fun. You can say it after a fun foodie experience or day exploring the city.
What is your favorite Korean dish?