With plenty of Korean grocery shops popping up around the world, it is becoming easier and easier to buy ingredients and whip up your own Korean recipes at home.
Korean cuisine is easily accepted in Asia since it is largely based on rice, vegetable and meats… unless you can’t stand spicy food. Speaking of which, there are plenty of non-spicy but still delicious Korean food for you to try.
The basic ingredients are usually kimchi, gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes), gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste), sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste) and soy sauce.
For beginners out there, here are 10 easy Korean dinner recipes you can try at home:
1.Sundubu jjigae (Soft tofu stew)
The main ingredient for this Korean dinner recipe is freshly curdled soft tofu which has not been strained and pressed.
Other ingredients are mushroom, onion, vegetables such as spring onion with common seasoning like gochujang and gochugaru. You can turn this stew into a vegetarian dish or put in some seafood or meat.
Traditionally, soft tofu stew is cooked and served directly in a robust porcelain vessel. But if you don’t have that, you can always cook it in a pot.
Add in some kimchi and replace the soft tofu with cube tofu and you can turn it into a spicy kimchi stew.
2.Kimchi Bokumbap (Kimchi Fried Rice)
Fried rice is a favourite dish here in Asia especially in Southeast Asia. Plus, it is so easy to make since you can use leftover rice along with other ingredients.
As for this dish, add ingredients such as kimchi, egg, spam, radish, carrot and onions.
It is a perfect inexpensive dinner that can be whipped out in a short period of time.
The key to making bibimbap for your Korean dinner at home is preparation. You mostly need to prepare different kinds of namul (sauteed and seasoned vegetables).
Among the basic vegetables served in a bibimbap are kimchi seasoned spinach, seasoned bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, green onions, radish and cucumber.
As for your protein source, a bibimbap is usually served with fried egg and slice beef.
Once you have all of these ingredients, it is time to serve them on top of a bowl of warm rice along with some gochujang.
If you are not a big fan of processed meat, this is not for you. The main ingredients for this Korean stew are kimchi, Spam (or luncheon meat), bacon and hot dogs; basically all processed meat.
Why these ingredients? The story goes back to the Korean War in the 50s. When it ended, food was scarce in South Korea. Those who lived around US army bases started to make dishes of surplus foods from these army bases, whose rations typically comprised of processed meat.
Even with food aplenty today, this army stew continues to be popular among South Koreans.
One of the reasons is perhaps because they are easy to make. Basically just boil the broth and throw all the ingredients into it.
To season the broth, add in gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce and garlic. While the broth is boiling, put all of your processed meat together with some vegetables such as spring onion and cabbage.
5.Spicy Korean stir-fried pork
What makes this Korean dinner recipe easy to make is that you can prepare it ahead before cooking it.
You can marinate your pork the night before or early in the morning before you leave for work then stir-fry it once you reach home.
Or you can marinate your pork only for 30 minutes.
To make your marinade, throw in the basic ingredients such as gochujang, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, gochugaru, apple, onion and black pepper into the food processor.
6.Doenjang jjigae (Soybean paste soup)
So you can’t stand anything spicy? Here is a Korean dinner recipe which uses doenjang or soybean paste, instead of gochujang.
Boil it with available ingredients in your kitchen such as carrot, mushroom, radish, scallions and tofu.
But if you still need that hint of heat, add in a little bit of gochujang (red chilli paste).
Originally, this dish is grilled on top of a griddle or a barbecue. However, you can always stir-fry it in a pan.
You can prepare the ingredients ahead of time by marinating thin slices of sirloin with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and black pepper.
When you pan fry it, add in other ingredients such as scallions, ginger, onions and mushroom.
8.Dakgangjeong (Sweet crispy chicken)
Do you love fried chicken? Take your favourite dish up a notch with dakgangjeong.
Basically you need to season your chicken and cover it in starch before you deep fry it. After that, coat your deep fried chicken with seasoning sauce.
The seasoning sauce is mainly made from gochujang, garlic, ginger soy sauce, honey or corn syrup to give it the sweet taste.
Your fingers might be messy and sticky when eating this dish but if the seasoning sauce is made right, your dakgangjeong will definitely be finger-licking good.
9.Tangsuyuk (Sweet and sour pork)
There are two parts to making tangsuyuk for your Korean dinner at home; at first you need to deep-fry your pork and then you need to fry the meat again with your sauce.
To make your pork batter, you need to soak a mixture of potato and corn starch in water for several hours before draining the excess water. This traditional method of making the batter is to ensure the crispiness of your fried pork.
Meanwhile for the sweet and sour sauce, boil soy sauce, sugar, water with other vegetables and fruit like carrot, cucumber, onion, apple, pineapple and wood ear mushroom. To thicken the sauce, pour a little bit of starch slurry.
10.Mauentang (Spicy fish stew)
If you are looking for a new way to cook your fish, making a maeuntang or spicy fish stew is a good start.
Again, it is seasoned mainly with chilli powder, gochujang, garlic and soy sauce with fish as its main ingredient.
You can also add in some vegetables such as radish and watercress into your spicy fish stew.