My friend SG asked me for recommendations of good Korean dishes. I started to write her back but soon found my response was turning into a blog post. So, SG, here you go! Enjoy.
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I’m not Korean but I’ve had a lot of exposure to Korean food over the years. The first time was in college, the standard bibimbop. I moved onto tukbokki, which was so spicy, I had to ingest an entire pitcher of water in order to get any of the rice cakes down.
By now I’ve honed my menu down to a handful of favorites:
chajangmyun, noodles with black bean sauce
I blog about this dish a lot. I really like it though it’s quite salty and does a number on my digestive system. (TMI, I know.)
bulgogi, barbecue beef & galbi, barbecue short ribs
Both are delish but you have to cook them yourself in the restaurant, which I guess can be fun, or it can be a pain in the ass if you’re lazy like me.
soondooboochigae, spicy tofu/seafood soup
This is the best over white rice. In fact, it’s my favorite Korean dish, neck and neck with chajangmyun.
pajeon, pancake with or without seafood
Reminiscent of Chinese scallion pancakes, except flatter and not as dense. Good in combination with spicy soondooboochigae (say that three times fast).
Another thing I like about Korean food is that you never know what little side dishes you’re going to get. Kimchi is the norm, but I like kak-tu-ki, or what I call “radish kimchi,” even more.
There are several other dishes I like occasionally – any kind of tang, or soup (the same word in Mandarin, incidentally), or chigae, or stew, though not stew like Irish lamb stew (which, by the way, YUM) but more like a hearty soup – but the ones above are definitely my faves.
The only thing I don’t really like are mandu, or dumplings, maybe because I always compare them to their heartier Chinese cousins.
Now that I’ve totally put myself in the mood for soondooboochigae and pajeon, looks like another trip to Little Seoul is imminent.