The five best Korean dishes to make at home

The five best Korean dishes to make at home

by Great British Chefs 29 July 2016

Korean food is one of the hottest cuisines around right now – we've collected the best recipes together so you can create a Korean feast in the kitchen.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese – it’s safe to say that we’ve been eagerly eating our way through the Asian continent for decades. Now Korean cuisine is capturing the hearts and minds of foodies all over the UK, with its perfect balance of flavours and fiery, earthy qualities.

Rather than having one dish per person, most Korean meals take up an entire table, with countless colourful side dishes, pickles, soups and noodles piled high. One thing’s for sure – there will be a plentiful supply of kimchi, a dollop or two of gochujang, plenty of crisp julienned vegetables and some thinly sliced beef. Take a look at our essential Korean store cupboard ingredients guide to make sure you’re fully stocked and cook your way through these incredible recipes that will show you what Korean cuisine is all about.

1. Kimchi

Simply put, you can’t serve a Korean meal without some kimchi on the side. This incredibly addictive fermented cabbage is the foundation of Korean cuisine and is served with literally every single meal in the country as a condiment on the side. It’s the perfect balance of spicy, sour, earthy, salty and sweet flavours, adding crunch and umami by the bucket load, and is also listed as one of the healthiest foods in the world thanks to its macrobiotic qualities.

The idea of fermenting cabbage at home might sound a bit scary, which is why so many of us choose to just pick up a jar of kimchi in the shops. But it’s actually an incredibly safe, simple process and definitely worth doing at least once – the difference in flavour between shop-bought and homemade is huge.

2. Japchae

While it doesn’t enjoy quite the same amount of time in the spotlight as the dishes above, japchae is a firm favourite in Korea – and it’s easy to see why. A combination of marinated beef and mixed mushrooms sit on top of a nest of dangmyeon; noodles made from sweet potato which have an incredibly chewy, silky texture. At first look this is a run-of-the-mill stir fry, but after the first mouthful it’s clear japchae is something very special.

3. Bibimbap

One of the most beautiful looking dishes in the Korean cuisine canon, bibimbap is a take on fried rice that’s heavy on the vegetables. The rice is fried without stirring so it develops a crunchy golden crust on the bottom, which is then topped with sliced or julienned vegetables dressed in soy sauce and mirin. The marinated beef and fried eggs add plenty of savoury flavour, and the ubiquitous addition of kimchi keeps everything incredibly Korean.

In Korea, bibimbap is traditionally served in very hot stone bowls, which continue to crisp up the rice as it’s eaten, but it’s also a great meal to serve in one big bowl and let everybody help themselves. Topping the rice with different coloured vegetables in their own sections is a must, and a spicy gochujang chilli sauce on the side adds yet another layer of flavour.

4. Jjamppong

We’re no strangers to noodle soups – pho, laksa and spicy broths are firm favourites, especially when we’re in the need of a little nourishment. The Korean variety ­­– jjamppongpacks a serious punch. The red soup base is flavoured with gochugaru chilli flakes, garlic and ginger, before being bulked out with vegetables, pork, clams and squid. There are plenty of variations on the dish – the name jjamppong itself means ‘mix’ – so as long as you’ve got a fiery broth and some noodles, feel free to throw in a few different ingredients.

5. Korean fried chicken

If you’re familiar with the street food scene then you know Korean fried chicken is a big deal. It’s the deafening crunch that comes with each bite that makes it so satisfying, which is thanks to an extra round in the fryer. The super-crisp batter obviously needs a sauce, which is almost always based on fiery gochujang paste and gochugaru chilli flakes. It knocks normal fried chicken out of the water, and is a guaranteed hit at any gathering or get-together.