Chinese and Thai foods are well-known favorites, but Korean cuisine may be the least familiar Asian food for many Americans. Korean food is unique in many ways, especially many of the spiciest Korean dishes. Not all Korean food is spicy-hot, but many of Korea’s most delicious dishes will definitely get your attention. Of course, you can make a milder version. Local Korean restaurants often tone down the heat just a little for non-Korean customers. If you’re worried about how spicy the dish may be, a drink of milk alleviates the burn.
The Korean custom is to precede a sit-down meal with an assortment of appetizers in small bowls, including the ever-present kimchi. It may be an acquired taste for many Americans, but give it a try. Kimchi is fermented napa cabbage with a fair amount of powdered red pepper, often including shredded daikon radish, carrot or another ingredient. In America, kimchi is usually the “fresh” version, less than a week old. In Korea, kimchi may be preserved for much longer and develop a stronger taste. Kimchi can be purchased in Asian groceries or is easy to make at home, a very healthy food with probiotic benefits.
2. Hot Pot
There are as many versions of hot pot as there are Korean cooks. Hot pot is a super spicy hot soup/stew with whatever meats, fish, and vegetables the cook wished to use. In Korea, many people will tell you that the best hot pots are found at street vendors or grandma’s kitchen. Two popular hot pots include:
- Budae Jjigae (Army Stew): In the 1950s after the Korean War ended, food was scarce. Army Stew made use of surplus American processed foods such as spam and hot dogs cooked with Korean staples such as rice cakes, ramen noodles, mushrooms, green onion and kimchi in a spicy broth.
- Haemul Jeongol (Spicy Seafood Hot Pot): This delicious seafood hot pot typically includes shellfish, shrimp, squid or octopus, fish, various vegetables, and tofu. At home, the hot pot will be cooked in a wide, shallow dish such as a wok and placed in the middle of the table for everyone to serve themselves.
3. Jokbal (Spicy Pork)
Super spicy tender pork (traditionally pork shanks or trotters) with scallions and sesame seeds combine for a mouth-watering dish and popular snack food. It goes perfectly with beer or sake, consumed as we’d eat buffalo wings.
4. Donkatsu (The Ultimate Spicy Pork)
If you’re brave enough, try one of the spiciest Korean dishes, pork cutlets covered in a deep blood-red chili sauce. One famous restaurant calls their version the “Donkatsu of Death.” At home, add hot sauce/hot pepper powder to the sauce as desired.
Get All Your Asian Groceries at Lotte Plaza Market
Lotte Plaza Market is your one-stop shop for all of your Korean and Asian grocery needs. With more than 10 locations in Maryland and Virginia, this growing market is always expanding and opening new markets to better serve our customers. Opened since 1976, our goal has always been to provide the best customer service and groceries to our customers. For answers to all of your questions, email us at LottePlaza.com.