While the cuisine of South Korea is widely known for its unique ingredients, such as bulgogi and kimchi, carbohydrates are the main part of many Korean dishes. Serving as the main filler to parts of a dish, carbohydrates are integral to making sure the consumer leaves with a satisfied appetite. With that in mind, here’s a list of a few of Korea’s favorite carbohydrates and how they like to enjoy them!
The star of Korean dishes like bokkeumbap and gimbap, rice is arguably South Korea’s favorite filler. Enjoyed both by itself and mixed with other ingredients, Koreans have been shown to enjoy rice in all forms! A hot bowl of rice with bulgogi or side dishes like kimchi is just as desirable as the kimchi fried rice you could find in a dosirak. It’s also not uncommon to find people soaking up the leftover soup of ramen or soondubu jigae with rice as well! With so many forms, it’s not hard to see that rice is a central part of South Korea’s cuisine.
Whether they’re served hot, cold, with soup, or with a sauce, South Korea has expressed an immense love for noodles. Instant kimchi or cheese ramen is a common casual meal, of course, but other dishes like naengmyeon and jjamppong have established that Korea will take it’s noodles however they come. With a variety of broths and noodle types as well as various ways the noodles are served, Korea’s love for noodles is easy to see.
While Korea bears a variety of bakery goods, the most popular form of bread is street toast, or “gilgeori toast.” As the name implies, street toast can be bought from vendors on the street. Seen as an “on the go” breakfast, the sandwich consists of two buttery pieces of toast that surround a delicious combination of omelette and egg. There are other ways that Koreans enjoy bread, of course, but this grab-and-go meal is a national favorite.
Potatoes have established themselves as one of Korea’s favorite pieces of produce. Not only are they commonly found as a savory side dish, such as the red potatoes in gamja jorim, but roasted sweet potatoes are also used as a sweet snack. However, the sweetness of sweet potatoes can be heightened even more in a dish called goguma mattang, which involves candying fried chunks of sweet potato.
As one of the most popular street snacks in Korea, bungeoppang is largely recognized its fish-like shape. However, do not be fooled, as bungeoppang is actually made of a batter that’s been cooked in a fish-shaped mold. Inside of the bungeoppang, however, you can normally find this batter stuffed with sweet red bean paste. You can also find bungeoppang filled with choux cream or other fillings. While this pastry is shaped like a fish, this treat is deliciously sweet!
While carbohydrates may be seen as the “filler” of a meal, they’re important to making sure a meal is satisfying. Without these carbohydrates, many dishes, such as fried rice or jjajangmyeon, would be nothing more than stir-fried vegetables or lumps of sauce. Even dishes like ramen would be nothing but soup if it weren’t for the noodles present in the dish. These carbohydrates aid in enhancing the dining experience, and Korea’s choice of carbohydrates pairs extremely well with its dishes!
Written by Kyle Voong