Korea 101: Cuisine

One of the most fun things to discover about a culture is their cooking. Korea is no exception.

Team Canada presents a mouthwatering look at Korean cuisine.

Banchan – Side Dishes


Korean food stands out for the many side dishes that are served with meals. The number of side dishes can range anywhere from 2 to 12, but everyday meals feature at least a few. When you eat at a Korean restaurant, your various side dishes will be brought to your table before your meal in small bowls, and can be anything from vegetables to meat to seafood prepared in a variety of ways. Korean dishes are all served at the same time, so there are no separate courses like in Western cuisines.

Bulgogi – Marinated BBQ Beef

Team Canada - Bulgogi

Photo: Buzzfeed

A juicy, savory dish of grilled marinated beef, bulgogi is one of the most popular Korean meat dishes in the world. In a 2011 CNN Travel’s reader’s poll, it was ranked as the 23rd most delicious food in the world. It is often grilled with garlic and sliced onions to add flavor to the meat. The meat is usually wrapped in lettuce and it is also traditionally eaten with ssamjang, a thick spicy red paste.

Samgyupsal – Pork Strips

One of the most popular dishes in South Korea, samgyeopsal consists of grilled slices of pork belly meat that are not marinated or seasoned. They are typically dipped in a seasoning made of salt and pepper mixed with sesame seed oil, then wrapped in lettuce along with grilled slices of garlic, grilled slices of onion, shredded green onions, and kimchi.

Bibimbap – Mixed Rice

Team Canada - Bibimbap

Photo: Buzzfeed

Bibimbap is essentially a bowl of mixed ingredients including, but not limited to, rice, namul (seasoned and sautéed vegetables), mushrooms, beef, soy sauce, gochujang (chili pepper paste), and fried egg.

Samgyetang – Chicken Soup with Ginseng

A popular dish especially during the summer, samgyetang is a traditional soup made of chicken, garlic, rice, scallion, Korean jujube, Korean ginseng, and spices. The dish is known for its high nutritional value, and is very popular for its healthy contents but it also simply for its creamy and meaty flavor.

Haemul Pajeon – Seafood Vegetable Pancake

A version of pajeon, a pancake-like Korean dish made with green onions, egg batter, wheat flour, and rice flour, haemul pajeon brings seafood to the common pancake. Common seafood ingredients include, oysters, shrimp, squid, and clams. Haemul pajeon is usually eaten as a main course and is known for its soft and chewy texture and mixture of seafood flavors.

Jajangmyeon – Korean Noodles

Team Canada - Korea 101 Food Jajangmyeon

Jajangmyeon is a Korean-Chinese noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang, diced pork and vegetables. Sometimes it is served with seafood.

Soju – Korean Alcohol

Team Canada - Soju

Photo: Tasting Table

Soju is a clear, colorless distilled beverage of Korean origin. Its alcohol content varies from 16.8% to 53%, typically in the range of 18-21%. Traditionally made from rice, wheat, or barley, modern producers often replace rice with other starches such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, or tapioca.