Korean recipes seem really really complicated, but the truth is once you have a few key ingredients in your pantry, they come together pretty easily and rely on a few core ingredients (lookin’ at you tofu, kimchi, and pork belly).
Learning to Cook Korean Food
My first foray into Korean food was largely because, like many people around the world I got completely and utterly sucked into the “hallyu wave” of KPop and Korean TV dramas.
In high school and into college, you can only watch so many dramas of Korean heroines comically sobbing over heaps of kimchi and rice or unbelievably pretty Korean boys stuffing their face with bulgogi and lettuce wraps until you start to think, HOW HARD COULD IT BE?
Things started simply enough, with a kimchi pancake here and there, and easy kimchi fried rice. Eventually I went a step further and started making my own kimchi stews or “jigae” which were always surprisingly easy.
Consider this Korean recipe roundup a starter pack for beginner cooks, covering all the basics you know and love from your go-to Korean restaurant, with a few fusion recipes thrown in for good measure.
For anyone interested in getting deeper into the world of Korean recipes, I would highly recommend Maangchi, a great Korean YouTuber that has wonderful recipes and delightful videos. A lot of these dishes were built from knowledge shared by her, but she has tons of other authentic, traditional, and lesser known recipes on her site.
15 Easy Korean Recipes
Probably one of the most recognizable and comforting Korean stews. Plenty of silken tofu, kimchi, pork, and topped off with a cracked egg. The trick to a truly authentic flavor is the right consistency of Korean chili flakes and getting the base stock right–a lot easier than you’d think!
This colorful noodle dish is perfect for the summertime. Make a huge batch and eat it cold or at room temperature for a healthy and refreshing meal. The Korean glass noodles are made from sweet potato starch, i.e., those magical two words: gluten free!
The secret of bibimbap is that it’s a very casual dish that just involves throwing a bunch of cold dishes (banchan) into rice with your protein of choice. Ground beef makes it easy, and we keep the veggie components simple with ingredients that, for the most part, you can find at your regular old grocery store.
This beloved black bean noodle dish is heaped with plenty of veggies and pork belly. Serve it with crunchy onion and cucumber, pickled radish, and an extra spoonful of black bean paste to taste!
Kimchi’s popularity can sometimes make it seem like it unnecessarily turns up in the oddest of places (there’s a joke on How I Met Your Mother about kimchi bacon cupcakes), but we’re pretty sure that homemade french fries + kimchi + bacon bits + cheese + a sprinkle of green onion is 100% necessary.
If you loveee the flavor of Korean instant ramen but aren’t too hot on all the salt and MSG, this quick and easy homemade kimchi ramen is perfect. The addition of mushrooms and plenty of kimchi make for a super satisfying meal. You could even throw in a handful of sliced chicken breast or pork.
A crispy kimchi pancake is what I would often eat for breakfast in my college days. It’s a little bit less fussy than making regular sweet breakfast pancakes, and it’s *great* with a fried or hardboiled egg. But of course, we definitely encourage making it as an appetizer alongside any of the other recipes here!
This recipe is similar to soondubu jigae, but uses regular tofu rather than silken tofu. Requisite kimchi and pork belly are out in force, natch.
Okay we *had* to try out the Korean-Mexican fusion hype for ourselves, and we have to say that the combination is pretty phenomenal. Crispy, crunch, salty, beefy, creamy all wrapped in a warm corn tortilla. Mmm.
While Koreans love their pork and beef, salmon makes an excellent substitute in your standard bibimbap. Plenty of fresh veggies, a fried egg, and a handful of flaked salmon? Yez, plz.
These Beef Bulgogi Bowls pack a punchhh. Grab a bowl of white rice and top it off with crisped up seared beef marinated with lots of soy and Asian pear, a big handful of fresh kimchi, slices of long hot green peppers and raw garlic, and a dollop of ssamjang. Garlicky kimchi breath, maybe, but it’s WORTH IT.
This recipe truly does take just 10 minutes. It’s essentially a pork belly and kimchi stir fry that you then heap over rice. A similar recipe from the vault of pre-good photography skills is my Fast Dubu Kimchi Recipe. If you wanted to dubu-kimchi-ify this recipe, you’d just toss in a handful of rice cakes, and serve it alongside a few blocks of regular/soft tofu.
This isn’t the traditionally saucy Korean fried chicken you might find, but these wonderfully crisp, double-dipped (and I mean double dipped in buttermilk and flour for MAX crunchies) are pretty great and served with a sticky sweet gochujang ketchup combo. Maybe it’s just my simple 11-year-old palette leading me to this point, but hey that inner 11-year old thinks these are pretty rad.
A classic that’s easy to make at home, and probably way better because you can easily up the amounts of kimchi and spice. Pro-tip: more kimchi juice = more flavor.
This is another recipe from the vault of pre-good-photography and my KPop crazed days. (In fact, you can thank my KPop obsession for many of these recipes.) Korean BBQ can be pricey, but it’s so easy to pull off at home. You can even do it on a stove top and then carry the hot pan to the dinner table. Grab some pork belly, slice it thinly, get it going on a pan with some thickly sliced onion and mushrooms. Prepare some red lettuce leaves for bundlin’, and serve with chopped long hot green peppers, raw garlic, scallion, and ssamjang to top it off.