10 Korean culinary curiosities you probably never heard of

Written by on March 21, 2014 in Lifestyle

There’s more to Korean cuisine than what you see in K-dramas or read in foreign newspapers. Besides popular dishes like bibimbap, kimchi and Korean barbeque you can find an amazing variety of food in Korea. Here are some of the culinary specialties you probably never heard of:

1. Pyeonyuk

This particular meat dish has an interesting way of making. Pork or beef is cooked in a broth every family has its own recipe for. It may contain ingredients like soju (an alcoholic drink), doenjang (fermented soy bean paste), rice wine or even ground coffee. Meat is cooked until very tender and then wrapped in a cloth and put under heavy weight. It’s sliced thin before serving.

The making of pyeonyuk. Photo from blog.joins.com

2. Baechuseon

Seon is a kind of vegetable dish with filling. Beachuseon is made of steamed nappa cabbage leaves with various fillings.


Photo: Richy! CC-BY-SA-2.0

3. Muk

Muk is a jelly-like food made of different kinds of strach (acorn, buckwheat, sesame) and then seasoned in various ways. Muk has its origins in times when nutritious food was scarce and people had to invent different ways of making food from whatever was available.

Dotorimuk, made from acorn starch. Photo as credited.

4. Yuchenamul

Koreans eat a wide variety of greens, among them species “we” in the West would never even consider edible. Yuchenamul is made of rapeseed sprouts.

Photo as credited.

5. Dureup bugak

Dureup bugak is made by coating young shoots of the Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata) in glutinous rice paste and then frying them in oil. It’s usually served with chal jeonbyeong, a kind of pancake.


Photo: Alan Chan, CC-BY-SA-2.0

6. Mandugwa

Probably everyone knows mandu, the little dumplings filled with meat or vegetables, served fried or boiled or even in a soup. There are sweet versions, too, called mandugwa, a type of hangwa, or traditional Korean pastry. Mandu is filled with sweet fillings and then coated in a sweet syrup.

Photo from han5200.co.kr

7. Changnanjeot

Jeot is an important part of Korean cooking, it designates all types of fermented and salted seafood. And they use all parts of sea beings! Changnanjeot for example is made of pollock intestines.

8. Ueongjorim

Jorim is a kind of slowly cooked dish prepared with hot chili paste or soy sauce. Jorim can be made from a lot of things, mackerels, tofu or radish, among others. Ueongjorim is made from the roots of greater burdock (Articum lappa).

Photo: sely.co.kr

9. Hwajeon

Jeon, or Korean pancakes probably ring a bell to fans of Korean culture. But did you know about these delicate and beautiful flower pancakes called hwajeon? They are made with edible flower petals of azalea or chrysanthemum.

Photo: Repo21@Segye

10. Daseulgiguk

Korean cuisine offers an incredible variety of soups. Naturally, you can find real culinary curiosities as well, like daseulgiguk, made of freshwater snails of the species Semisulcospira libertina.

Photo as credited

About the Author

Timea Baksa

I'm from Hungary. I got attracted to Korea through music and movies. I'm a blogger on Asian culture, an editorial writer at Hellokpop magazine and a contributor to Wikipedia. I love learning languages, currently trying to make my way through Korean.