Bokkeum: The Best Stir-Fry Around
As I leisurely shopped around the instant ramyeon aisle in the Korean market, I noticed a common word amongst many of the brand—“bokkeum” or “볶음.” Seeing this word so frequently, I wondered what it translated to. Bokkeum simply means that something is stir-fried. Some of Korea’s most popular dishes happen to fall under this stir-fried category, such as kimchi fried rice, tteokbokki, japchae, dakgalbi. Here are a few lesser known, but delicious, dishes that fall under the bokkeum category:
Although very delicious, bokkeum isn’t limited to only snacks and main courses. There are countless banchan that are also stir-fried. Ojingeochae bokkeum is one such side dish that serves as the perfect little snack. The shredded, dried squid provides a slight saltiness while the gochujang, honey, and sesame oil bring out showcase spice, sweetness, and nuttiness - it is, truly, a wholesome side dish.
Like ojingeochae bokkeum, nakji bokkeum is a dish where the flavors of the sea harmonize with the heat of Korean spices. If eating calamari tentacles creep you out, then nakji bokkeum might not be for you since it features cut up squid tentacles. Either way, this dish is worth a try as some believe that this dish is one of Korea’s spiciest dishes.
This spicy pork is so good, that it deserves not just one name but two: dwaejigogi bokkeum and jeyuk bokkeum. Whatever you decide to call it, you’ll get the same succulent, spicy pork. Wrap a couple of pieces of spicy pork in a perilla leaf or lettuce with chili pepper slices, raw garlic, and ssamjang and you’ll be the happiest person alive.
Dakttongjip is chicken gizzard typically stir-fried with gochujang, garlic cloves, onions, bell peppers, and Korean peppers. When looking for images of dakttongjip, you’ll often see the dish featuring beer or soju. This is because the popular chicken gizzard dish is considered anju, or a type of food to be eaten with alcohol. If you’re in Korea and want the full dakttongjip experience, Daegu’s Pyeonghwa Market is the place to go. The dakttongjip is so popular, they even named a whole alley after it!
From main courses to snacks to banchan, the list of bokkeum dishes seems to be never-ending. And who could ever be mad at a never-ending list of food? I know I can’t.
Written by Sarah Wong