November 09, 2012

Venture into Korean Cuisine!

I'm currently on my way to Seoul, South Korea, for a conference (yes, I'm lucky to be going, but it will be 7 days straight of working twelve hour days without a free day, so it likely won't be one of my favourite trips!), and before I left I decided to try my hand at a few Korean dishes in preparation!

I'm a big fan of trying different cuisines and love making Thai and Indian dishes (among others) at home, but I've never been interested in trying Korean food because I've always assumed I don't like it.  To be fair though, I'd never really given it much of a chance, so I bought a few Korean ingredients (like kimchi and gochujang, a red pepper paste) and chose a few recipes to test out!

(Sorry in advance for the instagram pics, that's all I had for these dishes!)

kimchi and gochujang

The idea of fermented cabbage didn't appeal to me that much, but I forced myself to try a piece of kimchi on its own and actually kinda liked it!  So I decided to start simple with kimchi fried rice:

kimchi fried rice

I used a recipe from the Kitchn, which I liked because it added some extra greens to the dish.  The only changes I made were to add some salt and pepper for seasoning and cook a fried egg instead of scrambled.  It was super easy to make and I thought it was a great introduction to Korean flavours.  I'm not crazy about fried rice in general, and I can't say I was CRAZY about this meal, but I still happily ate it all.

Next up, I tried kongnamul bap (beansprout rice bowl), which is kind of like a fancier version of kimchi fried rice, with the addition of bean sprouts, mushrooms, and a soy sauce dressing.

beansprout rice bowl

I used mushrooms instead of beef and topped my bowl with a fried egg, as Kevin from Closet Cooking recommends.  I liked the extra textures and flavours that the vegetables added, but did find the soy sauce very overpowering, and I'm not a huge fan of soy sauce.  I'm not sure I'd make this again any time soon, but I think that's just because of my personal preferences.

I had higher hopes for my third attempt, jap chae (or Korean glass noodles), as it's supposed to be a very popular dish, and I generally prefer noodle dishes to rice dishes.

jap chae

I had a really hard time finding the sweet potato noodles needed for this dish, but after reading the label of every single kind of noodle in the Asian market, I finally found them in a box against the wall on my way out!  They were kind of strange and chewy, but I liked them!  And the overall dish was definitely my favourite of the three; the flavours were pretty basic, but I liked that it was a bit healthier, and as I said earlier, I love noodles so much more than rice!

In the end, I don't think I can say I'm now converted to a lover of Korean food, but there are still a LOT of dishes I haven't tried yet, and I've learned that while I might not love it as much as other cuisines, I at least don't have to be afraid of it!  I'm not sure how much authentic Korean food I'll get to try in Seoul as I have a feeling that by the end of our exhausting days I'll just want to grab something from the food court and go fall asleep in my room, but I'll be sure to update you all on my eats when I get back!  (And if you have any recommendations for something I should try to get while I'm there, let me know!)

Now would also be a good time to note that I'll have limited time for blog activities while I'm away, so I won't be able to post anything next week and might be slow in responding to emails and comments, but I can't wait to get back and start working on holiday recipes! 


  1. I love how adventurous you were in trying your hand at Korean dishes before even going there ! I wonder how the authentic food in Seoul will compare - maybe it will inspire you to keep trying your own versions of more Korean dishes when you get back! I think I would like the noodles best too - your presentation of them looks really good!

  2. SUCH a great idea to try out some korean dishes before your trip!! I LOVE kimchi and am actually trying to find some for a recipe I want to make this weekend. Forcing myself to go to chinatown is probably my best bet. I feel so inspired to make more korean food after seeing these! Have a great trip love!

  3. The jap chae is gorgeous! I really haven't tried much Korean food either--it seems like most of it isn't vegetarian. I hope you have a great time at your conference! I've heard Korea is an amazing place to visit, so hopefully you'll be able to eke out at least a little time to explore. :)

  4. I've never tried Korean cooking but think I may have to give it a shot. You've inspired me :) The fried rice looks really yummy.

    Hope you are having a great time in Korea! :) Cannot wait to see some pics.

  5.  Thanks!  Look forward to seeing what you make with it!


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