Koreans are famously proud of their food, and rice is a staple in the diet—Fried, steamed, savory, or sweet, the ways to enjoy this versatile grain are plenty.
Korean cuisine is primarily based on rice, vegetables, and meats. Traditional Korean meals are named for the number of side dishes, and a single dish may have several variants depending on the province.
Numerous dishes are made from rice. It can be ground into flour to make rice cakes called tteok in over two hundred varieties. It is also cooked down into a congee (juk) or gruel (mieum) and mixed with other grains, meat, or seafood. The popular grain is even used to make rice wines. Here are some popular South Korean rice dishes to take you on a taste adventure.
A Korean rice bowl including julienned veggies and topped with raw fish, most commonly salmon, tuna, or sea bass. Sweet and spicy sauce usually combining gochujang (chili paste), vinegar, garlic, and sugar finishes off the dish.
A crispy and nutty layer of golden-brown rice that forms at the bottom of the pan. Preparation is simple with pre-cooked rice, or it can be a by-product of cooking rice. Nurungji is often sprinkled with sugar and served as a dessert.
A flavorful combination of fried rice and kimchi, with additional ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and soy sauce, sometimes the dish is topped with a fried egg before serving.
The traditional steamed cakes are prepared by steaming and pounding rice into a dough, rolled and dusted with roasted soybean powder.
Samgak is a triangle-shaped rice roll. Traditionally filled with kimchi, tuna, bulgogi, or gochujang paste, the pouches are then wrapped in seaweed (gim). This gimbap was inspired by the Japanese onigiri, a similar triangle-shaped sushi variety.
Traditionally this dish is steamed rice and barley served with doenjang stew (fermented soybean) and various side dishes (banchan). The dishes served with boribap are typically vegetarian and may include multiple greens and vegetables (namul), and topped with gochujang chili paste or doenjang.
Jumeokbap is a kind of dish that consists of hand-shaped rice balls. What you want to add to it is open to what you like. If you love Kimchi or even bacon, you can chop it up and add it to your rice for kimchi or bacon jumeokbap.
Tteokbokkiis a spicy stir-fried dish that typically consists of cylinder-shaped rice cakes, sweet red chili sauce, and fish cakes. It’s a popular street food choice for many.
Tteok are traditional Korean rice cakes. The cakes are versatile and can be enjoyed sweet in dessert or plain or incorporated into savory dishes.
Bibim means mixed, so bibimbap is simply mixed rice. The rice is combined with a variety of ingredients such as sliced beef, sliced vegetables, soy sauce, gochujang (thick, deep red chili pepper paste), and a raw egg on top, cooking through the steaming rice.