Just like Samgyetang, Bibimbap is one of the signature must-try dishes which is extremely popular for anyone venturing into Korean cuisine. While the former draws attention through the use of ginseng which is known for its medicinal properties as well as mythical qualities it is said to have, bibimbap attracts the crowd by its dramatic display of colours and appeal. With an assortment of stir fried and fresh vegetables being spread around a bowl of rice, the multitude of components in contrasting hues make it all the more appetising. When carefully chosen, bibimbap can be a really healthy and well-balanced one-bowl meal which is not only highly played on the visuals, but the nutritional values as well.
If every country has their own “national dish”, Kimchi must surely be Korea’s. This spicy pickled Napa cabbage is so immensely popular, it is almost synonymously linked to Korean food culture. Its versatility deems it not only good to be eaten on its own, but also cooked in a large variety of ways from soups like kimchi jijae or kimchiguk, to kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokkeumbap) as well as flavouring the base of hotpots like dubu kimchi jeongol. Its versatility also means that it is eaten is in practically every Korean meal, be it casual street food on the go where one would find kimchi pancakes (kimchijeon), to very formal royal meals like the Susarang. Even if it is not eaten on its own, the paste for making kimchi is used as a dipping sauce, from hotpots to live octopuses!
In Korea, kimchi comes in a large variety of forms. From the spicy version which evokes the liberal use of chilli pepper powder to the non-spicy and thus milder versions like the “water kimchi“. A large variety of ingredients are also used for pickling from white radish to cucumber but by far, the most popular and thus most common form of kimchi is made from Napa cabbage which the Koreans call baechu, giving rise 배추김치 Baechu-kimchi, that is Korean Cabbage Kimchi.