Kimchi is a traditional fermented side dish made from vegetables and a variety of seasoning. The most commonly known kimchi is made from nappa cabbages and stuffed with radish, scallions and seasoned with lots of red pepper powder that is mixed into a sauce made from fruits and a broth. Kimchi is a daily necessity that is eaten with every meal of the day. Its popularity is so huge that a Korean family usually makes hundreds of pounds a year. There are over a hundred varieties of kimchi’s ranging from cucumber to radish kimchi. There are even some kimchi’s specifically eaten during certain seasons. Kimchi is spicy and it is used a condiment to add flavor anything. Most of the time it is used in fried rice, ramen, stews and fried pancakes.
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean food made from soft rice cake, fish cake, and sweet red chili sauce called gochujang. It is commonly purchased from street vendors and is street cart food. It has a sweet and spicy tang to it. Teenager and adults love Tteokbokki as it is a popular snack eaten all day. In Korea, tteokbokki stalls are everywhere with lines filled with people waiting to eat this dish. It is a stir-fry dish that is topped with an egg and scallions. The most commonly known tteokbokki is spicy, but there are less spicy ones to accommodate everyone’s taste buds. Tteokbokki is soft and chewy. The rice cakes are made from rice flour and they have a bouncy texture. Tteokbokki is a must try food for people new to Korean food. Even though it is a simple dish, it is one filled with complexity.
Bibimbap is normally referred to as “mixed rice. It can be either served hot or cold. Hot versions of it are placed in hot clay pots where they are still sizzling as they come out of the kitchen. Bibimbap is rice served with a variety of vegetables and a choice of meat. The rice is placed on the bottom while the toppings are on top. Vegetables include carrots, spinach, zucchini, shitake mushrooms, beansprouts, roots etc. There is also an egg to top it all off. Bibimbap consists of a combination of flavors and colors. We are mixing together the diversity of the flavors all in one bowl. It is usually seasoned with sesame oil and gochujang (red pepper paste) on the side. Gochujang is an optional seasoning; it is mildly spicy so I would suggest not putting that in if you can’t take it.
Japchae is a Korean stir-fry noodle dish made from sweet potato noodles, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, eggs etc. It is a flavorful and nutritious dish that is sweet and savory at the same time. Each ingredient is stir-fried and then combined in one large bowl and mixed together with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and sugar creating a refreshing and light taste. Usually japchae is served during special occasions because of the tedious prep work, but now conveniently it can be served in multiple Korean restaurants in k-town. Japchae is usually served warm and tastes best after being prepared. This dish can be eaten as a main course or an appetizer.