Korean Food Guide
New to Korean food? Learn all about what goes into our delicious and authentic Korean cooking here!
Something we haven't covered? Chat to us and let us know what you'd like to know more about!
So you've just discovered Korean food - how exciting! So many new dishes to try and flavours to experience! But as with anything new, it can get a little confusing at the beginning. Not to worry - we're here to help you find all the best bits Korean cuisine has to offer and bring a taste of Korea to you without even leaving the house!
For a thorough introduction to some unique Korean dishes, we recommend our Jaru Meal Kits. They have everything you need to serve up a classic Korean feast from Korean Fried Chicken to Naengmyeon to Tteokbokki!
Below you can learn a bit more about Korean dishes and ingredients and general terms that you might come across on our site.
Anju refers to food eaten with alcohol (or as the Irish might say soakage). There are countless types of anju but some common ones include dried fish snacks, seasoned nuts, fried chicken (especially with beer!), Korean pancake or "jeon", twigim (fried foods), jokbal (pig trotters) and "dakbal" (spicy chicken feet).
"Bap" is one of the most important components in any Korean meal as it means rice! This word is so important that it can also be used to refer to food in general when used conversation. You'll also see "bap" in the names of many dishes such as "bibimbap" (mixed rice), "bokkeumbap" (fried rice) and "gimbap" (a rice and seaweed roll filled with meats, fish and veggies).
Doenjang is paste made from fermented soybeans and brine. That might sound a bit scary, but doenjang is a key ingredient for giving Korean cooking its rich, earthy flavour. Savoury and salty, it packs a punch and is the key to making favourites like doenjang jiggae and ssamjang.
A perfect blend of sweet, savoury an spicy, gochujang is a red chili paste that's often used in Korean cooking. You'll find this in bibimbap, tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and lots of soups. Move aside sriracha, gochujang has arrived.
Japchae is a popular dish in Korean restaurants and at home. The dish is made of glass noodles along with vegetables and often with beef or pork stir-fried in sesame oil and soy sauce. This simple dish can be served hot or cold and is commonly served at banquets or large gatherings due to its versatility.
No, this isn't your mate's dad or the neighbour down the road. Jjim is a dish made up of boiled or steamed meat, fish or vegetables in a sauce or soup. Often pressure cookers are used to make jjim dishes. Common dishes using this process are Andong Jjimdak, galbi jjim and ggyeran jjim (steamed eggs).
Korean Fried Chicken 치킨
If you've heard of Korean cuisine, chances are you've heard of Korean Fried Chicken or KFC. Initially when you hear "fried chicken" a lot of people might think of American style Southern Fried chicken. It certainly has its place, however we like to think that Korea has perfected fried chicken - thin, crispy batter with a crunch ASMR enthusiasts would kill for. Plus, it's less greasy and oily so you can trick yourself into thinking its healthy...
Naengmyeon translates to "cold noodles". Sounds simple, though it is anything but. Originating in North Korea, there are many varieties including mul-naengmyeon and bibim-naengmyeon.
Mul-naengmyeon or Pyeongyang Naengmyeon consists of a pure beef broth slow-simmered for hours, then chilled and served with buckwheat noodles. Bibim-naengmyeon is served with a spicy gochujang dressing and mixed before eating, often with a bowl of cold broth served on the side.
Both are usually served with thin slices of tender beef, a boiled egg, radish and cucumber as well as spicy dadaegi sauce and mustard.
Another one of the many words which all often get translated to "stew" or "soup". Guk and Tang are often grouped together - with Guk generally being lighter and Tang tending to be thicker with larger solid ingredients.
No Korean meal is complete without banchan! Banchan are little side dishes served along with rice that can be topped up as needed. But don't underestimate these little guys - they're packed full of flavour and might even steal the show!
Colourful, healthy and super delicious, bibimbap is one of the most versatile dishes you can get your hands on. A bowl of rice topped with various veggies and meats, you can customise to your heart's content. "Bap" means "rice" and "bibim" is "to mix" so make sure you give this a good stir and get all those lovely flavours mixed together before you tuck in!
The word bulgogi literally translates to "fire meat". (Amazing, we know.) Thin slices of beef or pork marinated and grilled to perfection. Perfect with rice and a bit of kimchi, or even grab some lettuce and make yourself a ssam for a little bite of heaven. *chef's kiss*
Galbi means "ribs", so whenever you see a dish with this word you can expect nice big chunks of tender meat. It's worth noting though that this doesn't always have to mean ribs as it's also used to refer to dishes with large pieces of chicken too!
To those new to Korean food, it can get a bit confusing how many different words there are for soup or stew-like dishes. In English there is really only soup which is often smooth and stew which usually has large chunks of meat and vegetables. In Korean, however, there are many words which all often get translated to "stew" or "soup". Guk and Tang are often grouped together - with Guk generally being lighter and Tang tending to be thicker with larger solid ingredients.
Jjigae is a staple for every Korean meal. It's often translated to "stew" but this doesn't always do it justice. Expect a rich thick broth with lots of vegetables, meats, fish or tofu. A big pot of jjigae is often served at the table and shared (especially with Korean bbq) but you can also get smaller individual bowls too.
Kimchi is possibly the most common side dish in Korean cuisine and is eaten with almost every meal. Kimchi consists of salted and fermented vegetables seasoned with Korean chilli powder (gochugaru), spring onions, garlic and ginger. Fish sauce is also common in many kimchi recipes.
The most common variety, baechu kimchi, is made with napa cabbage. Other varieties include radish kimchi (kkakdugi), white kimchi (baek kimchi) which omits gochugaru making it a good option for those with a lower tolerance for spicy foods!
It is also commonly used as an ingredient for many other dishes such as kimchi jjigae, kimchi jeon, and kimchi bokkeumbap (fried rice).
Kimchi is famed for its health benefits. As a natural probiotic, it is known for aiding digestion and is said to reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It is estimated that the average Korean will consume 18-70kg of kimchi every year!
Purple Rice 흑미밥
Ever wonder what gives our rice that lovely purple colour? Well, this is actually a blend of black wild rice, white short-grain rice, yellow millet and brown wild rice. The black rice essentially dyes the water and turns the rest of the rice purple! Simple, tasty and nutritious, this works particularly well with any meat or stew dishes.
Tteok/Rice Cakes 떡
Tteok are Korean rice cakes - soft, chewy bites that are so, so versatile. You can find these in desserts as well as savoury dishes. It's tradition to share tteok during many holidays in Korea. For example, songpyeon are eaten at Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and tteokguk is eaten during Seollal (Korean New Year).