This is the first in a new series of posts entitled “The best of Korea” which I plan on posting weekly. Thanks to the great response to my post “The Food, The Bad and The Ugly“, which was about the “not-so-good” dishes they serve up in this fine nation. This first post will be all about what I LOVE about Korean food, “The bul, the tak and the galbi!”
No 5 – Samgyeopsal
Samgyeopsal is a traditional Korean dish mainly consisting of very fatty cuts of pork, which diners cook themselves on a grill in the centre of the table. It is accompanied by Kimchi, yellow radish, garlic, lettuce leaves, peppers, spicy soup ,salt n pepper sauce and rice too if you request it. This stuff is seriously tasty, but try find a place that does the least fatty cuts as sometimes it can be a bit much.
No 4 – Ddukbokki
When I first arrived in Korea I detested these squishy, stodgy rice cakes, believing them to be the spawn of satan. (Mainly due to the fact the ones I had were drowning in spicy pepper paste!) However as time goes on I am loving these little rice cakes more and more. If you are lucky, and they are cooked with some Tak Galbi for just the right amount of time, they are melt in your mouth sensational!
No 3 – Shabu Shabu
A boiling broth of vegetables brewing at the centre of the table, the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold winter night. Add a plate of delicious, thinly sliced beef to the hot-pot along with chinese cabbage, mushrooms and onions and you have yourself a feast. But WAIT..there’s more…along comes the bowl of delicious noodles which are added to the mix and it is topped off, last but not least, with some hot and steaming rice. When all is said and done you can drain the remaining soup from your bowl and be happy at having just consumed a 3 course meal, all in one. Mmmm shabu shabu.
No 2 – Dak Galbi (Chicken)
I had this for my birthday dinner and simply cannot get enough of the stuff. Dak Galbi is a mixture of chunky, marinated chicken pieces, chinese cabbage, rice cakes and hot pepper sauce, as always, cooked on a big hot plate in the centre of the table. Looking at all the delicious ingredients slowly cook is maddening as you just want to dive in and gobble it all up. A great dish for sharing with big groups and can be topped off with fried rice mixed into the leftovers and rolled up in snack size rice rolls. Deliciousssss.
No 1 – Galbi
Undoubtedly THE most popular dish in Korea. Galbi (Korean for ribs) can be either beef or pork and is cooked on a charcoal grate in the centre of the table. Getting to cut up big slabs of prime cut, raw meat with a scissors is a cultural experience in itself! Add to that up to 20 tiny side dishes( which will always appear, whether you ordered them or not) in which you can spend and age trying to figure out whats what! From tofu to radish, up to 5 different types of Gimchi, different sauces, a variety of vegetables, lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, sizzling soups, garlic, jalapeno peppers…you name it, they have it! The best type of galbi restaurant is one where you pay a set amount (10,000 won which is only 6 euro!!) and it is all you can eat! I meat lovers dream!