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Leon's Blogs
Korean Food
and moving to Korea

Translated by Leon of Leon's Planet 2000-present


I love Korean Food!!!!!


Foreword

To All Korean-Food Lovers:

After 10 years of living in Korea, I made this page to help people communicate effectively, especially when foreigners want to eat in Korea, or when Koreans want to add English to their menus.

When I first made the decision to hire moving services and move to Korea, this site was not envisioned to be as popular as it is.

Whether you are hiring moving companies and packing up and becoming a resident of Korea or just visiting your local Korean eatery there are so many places to find amazing Korean food today. Reading the menu however can be a difficult task the first few times. Hopefully this guide will help make your dining experience more enjoyable. Those first few times once the moving companies unpack your belongings and you are hungry and finally moved in, you will have a much easier time ordering food. Below is my guide on the cuisine of Korea.

 

Sincerely,

Leon
Webmaster & Korean Food Lover

My Other Korean Pages:

My Expat Blog
  (Re: My 10-yr Life in Korea)

Korean Language Lessons
  (basic Korean, free of charge, by me)

Korean Origins
  (Where did they come from?)

Konglish 1
  (Konglish Interlanguage)

Konglish 2
  (Konglish Lexis)

Konglish 3
  (Konglish Pronunciation)

Korean Dictionary Errors
  (quite the list)

*

Table of Contents:

I.  Korean Romanization / Pronunciation (Please just scroll down)

II.  Korea's most famous dish: gimchi (kimchi)

III.  Korean Dishes

IV.  Korean Fruits

V.  Korean Nuts

VI.  Korean Vegetables

VII.  Korean Herbs

VIII.  Miscellaneous Korean Comestibles

IX.  Korean Drinks

X.  Appendix

X. a.  Errors in the Korean-English bilingual lexicons

X. b.  Korean Food Culture

       
       
       
       

 

 

 

Pre-note:  If you REALLY want to learn Korean (at least the basics), then check out my  Korean Lessons Page

In case you are not familiar with the Romanization of Korean,
here are the Korean vowels:

Romanized
Korean
Sounds like... ...in the following
English word
IPA
(Int'l Phonetic Alphabet)
 
APA
(American Phonetic Alphabet)
a a father
ae a at short "a"
eo au/aw autumn BBC:  // N.Y.:  //
e e egg e short "e"
i i inn i short "i"
o o open o long "o"
u u flu u:
eu oo cook u

 

RE:  Korean consonants.

Consonants are pretty much the same (for all intents and purposes) as English, but the syllable containing double consonants is stressed.  Other than that, Korean is a non-tonal language.


Kinds of Gimchi / Kimchi

"Kimchi" is the old spelling, but it probably will remain forever, because it was added to the English language before the Korean government changed the Romanization of the Korean language around the year 2000.  The new spelling is "gimchi".  I shall use both spellings interchangeably here.

There are many kinds of kimchi.  The most popular, shown above, is cabbage kimchi, or baechu gimchi in Korean.  It is made with so-called "Chinese cabbage" which is different from any cabbage we have in the West.  It tastes better, too.  (Of course, that is just my opinion).

Chong-gak Kimchi is made from long, white radishes.  I'd estimate that they are about an inch in diameter and about 3 or 4 inches long.  The spices used and the process to make it is, I believe, the same as with cabbage kimchi.  The texture of the radishes is hard.  They have that stringent raddishy taste, much like the red raddishes we are used to in the West.

GGak-du-gi is made from huge white turnips.  The spices and process used to make it is the same as cabbage kimchi, I believe.  I personally like the texture (softer) and taste (less raddishy) better than the Chong-gak kimchi.  It would seem that many Koreans agree with me, because I don't see it much in restaurants these days.  {Another name for this kimchi could possibly be Mu Kimchi, because the turnip is called Mu in Korean.}

Baek (white) Kimchi is a cabbage kimchi, but without the red hot chili powder/sauce (whatever they use).  It is very similar to sour kraut.

There are other kinds as well:  pa (green onion) kimchi, hobak nip (pumpkin leaf) kimchi, sang-chu (lettuce) kimchi, gge nip (sesame leaf) kimchi, doraji (balloon flower root) kimchi, and others, for which the names I do not know.

 


 

Dishes

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
al tang fish egg tonic/soup
bap steamed/cooked rice
     (see appendix below for some linguistic-cultural tidbits about this entry:  click here
baek ban ["baek" is a Sino-Korean morpheme meaning 'white' and "ban" means 'cooked rice']  Hence, it is a bowl of steamed rice served with miscellaneous side dishes.  (This meal is a staple in Korea).
ban chan side dish(es)
bbang From FRENCH:  "pain", which means "bread" or more accurately: "baked leavened wares" (and you will notice that most, if not all, bakeries in Korea bake their wares in the French style, and even use French nomenclature for the various kinds of wares).
beon-de-gi silk worm pupa (steamed and eaten as is)
bi-bim bap vegetables mixed with steamed rice (usually contains minute amounts of ground pork, but can be ordered without; AND, oft times contains half-cooked egg, but you can order it without the egg if you are a vegan)
boggeum bap fried rice

     gimchi boggeum bap = kimchi fried rice
     se-u boggeum bap = shrimp fried rice
     ja jang boggeum bap = fried rice w/ sweet soy sauce
     hae-mul boggeum bap = sea-food fried rice

bo-shin-tang [literally] "protect-body tonic/soup"; dog-meat stew

(made of dog meat) {traditionally eaten in June to beat the heat}

bu-chim gae same as jeon (see jeon below)

[Bu-chim gae is the original Korean term.  Jeon is a Sino-Korean word.]

[Buchida (v.) means "stick" or "glue" together, so buchim (n.) is a bunch of vegetables (and sometimes meat) stuck together in a pancake-like batter]

bul-gogi [literally] "fire meat" {barbequed marinated meat; usually beef, unless specified otherwise; non-beef examples include: toggi bulgogi (rabbit fire-meat), or gae bulgogi (dog fire-meat}.
bun shik [bun is a Sino-Korean morpheme meaning 'flour' and shik means 'food']  "flour food", including ddeok, ddeok boggi, ddeok guk, ra-myeon, guk-su, etc.
bung-eo carp (not eaten, but see bung eo bbang below) 
bung-eo bbang [literally] "carp bread", a leavened bread baked and filled with red beans, and in the shape of a carp
cham-chi tuna
je yuk deop bap pork over rice (very spicy)
cheo bap sushi [Jananese-English word] (raw fish over rice)
cheol-pan [literally] "Iron Plate"; Stir-fry
dalk galbi chicken ribs (de-boned and cooked as spicy stir-fry)
ddeok rice cake(s)  [That is how the bilingual lexicons in Korean translate it.  I am NOT fond of that translation, because in America, "rice cakes" are dried-puffed rice made into the shape of a cake.  Ddeok is nothing like that.  I prefer to think of ddeok as unleavened rice dough.  I have seen how it is made at a ddeok factory on the Isle of Gang Hwa.  Raw rice is poured into a machine.  The machine grinds it into a powder.  Hot water is added, and it is mixed into a very glutinous dough.  Then, the dough is pressed into "cakes".]  
ddeok boggi [literally] "fried unleavened-rice-dough cakes" (rice-dough cakes fried in sweet & spicy sauce)
ddeok guk unleavened-rice-dough cake soup (not spicy)
ddon-ggasseu [Koreanized-Japanese Word] breaded pork cutlet
doeji galbi
/dweji galbi/
pork ribs (marinated, de-boned, and barbecued in front of you)
dol sot bi-bim bap [dol means "stone"; sot means "cauldron"]  vegetables mixed with steamed rice served in a HOT stone bowl (or cauldron)
doen jang
/dwen jang/
soy bean paste (fermented and dehydrated, then rehydrated for eating)

     doen jang guk = soy bean paste soup
     doen jang jji-gae = soy bean paste stew

eo-muk fish bar [Leon's word];
    
[SEE ALSO:  o-deng {Japanese-Korean Word} ]
I believe that it is made the same way a frankfurter (wiener) is made, but the ingredients are all parts of fish.
galbi ribs
gamja tang potato stew (contains:  potatoes, pork spine, and chili powder)
ge crab

     ggot ge = common variety rock crab

ggueong pheasant
gim laver (pressed seaweed)
gim bap rice-laver roll (steamed rice, ham, & vegetables rolled in laver)
gimchi fermented vegetables (usually cabbage & usually spicy)
goang-eo
/gwang-eo/
flatfish (all kinds, including halibut) (eaten raw)
guk-su [literally] "soup water";  broth
gul oyster(s)
gye ran chicken egg(s)
hae-jang guk Hang-over soup
    
(said to be excellent for relieving hang-overs; there are various recipes.  Some recipes contain heart of either pig or cow (probably pig))
hae-mul tang sea-food stew (spicy)
hoe  /hwe/ raw fish
hot dog /say:  haht dohg/ = frankfurter on a stick (usually covered in batter and deep fried; very greasy)
ja jang myeon soy sauce and noodles (for more info, see appendix)
jeon [literally] "grilled food" (Korean pancake, which contains chopped up vegetables) [Jeon is a Sino-Korean word].  It is usually served as a side dish. (see also: buchim gae)
jjam bbong [literal meaning: hodge podge] A Korean dish served only in Korean-Chinese restaurants, which contains sea-food in noodle soup (very spicy) {Notice: the word does NOT come from Chinese, and that is because it is NOT a traditional Chinese dish}.
jji-gae stew (there are various kinds of jji-gae, most common are kimchi jji-gae and dwen-jang jji-gae)
jjol myeon a VERY spicy egg noodle dish, served cold
jju-ggu-mi ??? (a really small species of the octopus family) [Served as a spicy stir-fry]
kong namul bean sprout
kong namul guk bean sprout broth
kong namul guk bap broth of bean sprouts and steamed rice,
served boiling hot in a stone bowl with a raw egg placed on top and rice on the side.  One is supposed to put the rice in the broth and mix.  The egg quickly becomes cooked because the broth is so hot.  [Culture:  Koreans love their food, soups and drinks hot... really HOT!]
L.A. galbi beef ribs (marinated, de-boned, and barbecued in front of you)
man-du dumpling(s) [only no fruit inside]; usually vegetables and/or meat are inside a pasta-noodle-wrap-like thing
I would call them:  wonton(s) [
Cantonese-American word];
[Note: in Han-Chinese, the word is:  jiao3 zi.]
mae-chu-ra-gi al quail eggs [served hard boiled as a side dish]
mo-mil buckwheat noodles (served in Japanese-style restaurants and eaten dipped in a kind of soy sauce)
muk "jello" (an edible gelatinous substance);

[NOTE:  there are various kinds of muk:

     dotori muk = acorn jello (brownish in color)
     maemil muk = buckwheat jello (greyish color)
     nokdu muk = green bean jello (greenish color)
     ?  muk = jellyfish jello (whitish in color)

myeol-chi anchovies (eaten dried, or rehydrated as a side dish)
myeon noodle
nakji ??? (small species of the octopus family which is unknown to me, and Yahoo bilingual dictionary)
neng myeong cold noodles (noodles served over ice or in ice-cold water)
nu-rung-ji rice crust (from the rice pot) served in boiling water.  (Koreans don't waste anything.  The pot containing the remaining rice crust is filled with water and boiled.  Then, it is served as a dessert.  Koreans love it.  I don't particularly like it, but I don't hate it either.)
o-deng [Koreanized Japanese word] "fish bar" [See also: eo-muk]
o-jing-eo cuttlefish or calamari (sometimes called squid, but this is incorrect, because squid is much bigger)
o-jing-eo deop bap cuttlefish or calamari legs over rice (quite spicy)
omu-rice omelet over rice
ra-myeon noodle soup;  [ALSO, in America, 'Ramen', which is a word borrowed from Japanese] (Korean variety is more spicy than the Japanese variety)
sa-cheol tang [literally] "four-season tonic/soup"; dog-meat stew

(made of dog meat, same as bo-shin tang) {NOTE:  probably the name was invented to increase sales in other seasons besides June}

sam-gye tang [literally] ginseng & chicken tonic/soup
{NOTE:  When you find your energy zapped due to the Korean heat, try some chicken 'tonic' soup.  I don't know if it really works to fight the heat, but it can give you energy, because it contains very healthy ingredients, such as ginseng, Chinese dates, chestnuts, all of which are considered to be very healthy in Korea.}
sam-gyeop sal [literally] 3-layer flesh
   (Korean BACON) served barbecued and eaten with vegetables and rice.
saeng-seon (fresh) fish (i.e., fish meat, not living fish)
saeng-seon ggasseu breaded fish cutlet
san chae [literally] "Mountain Vegetables" or "Wild Vegetables";
     Mountain-grown vegetables
san-chae bi-bim bap mountain-grown vegetables over rice

[NOTE: the idea is that the vegetables grown in the mountain are supposed to be more healthy, probably because they are organically grown.]

san-nakji raw (small) octopus [try it!  the legs are still moving and the suction cups sick to the inside of your mouth.  It's great!]
seol-leong tang ox-bone broth;  a tonic broth made from boiling chopped up cow bones (considered extremely healthy), usually contains noodles.
se-u shrimp

     wang se-u = prawns [literally:  king shrimp]

ssal raw rice
tang-su yuk sweet & sour pork
[in this case "tang" means: 'sugar' and/or 'sweet']  
tubu tofu [English word is borrowed from Japanese]; bean curd

     sun tubu = a soup made of soft tofu

twi-gim deep-fried food;
    
[AKA: tempura {Japanese-English Word} ]
u-dong
  /oo-dong/
Japanese style noodle soup
yeot pumpkin nougat (click here to learn about Korean culture related to this specific food item)
yuk-gae jang BEEF & noodle soup (very, very spicy!.  It is great in the winter, because the red-chili pepper powder increases circulation and makes you feel very warm.)

Fruit (all botanical fruits; the seed-bearing part of various plants)

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
bae pear, but shape and texture is different than a Western pear; in fact, I'd say it is more like a pear-apple.  We (our family) used to have a pear-apple tree in our yard, imported from Asia.  I swear that it is the same as the Korean pear.
ba-na-na banana
bok-sung-a peach
cham-oe chate melon (see pic)
dae-chu Jujube; Chinese date
ddal-gi strawberry
gaji [US] eggplant; [UK] aubergine
gam persimmon

     ggot gam = dried persimmon

go-chu chili pepper
gwa-il FRUIT, but does NOT include the non-sweet fruits, such as tomatoes, oriental green apricots (maeshil), ginkgo fruits, squash, peppers, eggplant, etc. {see also: "yeol-mae"}
gyul tangerine; mandarin orange
ho-bak edible gourd; squash

    nulgeun hobak = pumpkin
    ae hobak = zucchini [US];  courgette [UK]

jadu plum
mae-shil green apricot
melon cantaloupe
mo-gwa Oriental quince
o-raen-ji orange
podo grape
sa-gwa apple
sal-gu apricot
san-ddalgi raspberry
su-bak watermelon
yeol-mae all botanical fruits, including tomatoes, peppers, squashes, raspberries, green apricots, eggplant, etc.
yu-ja Oriental citron

Nuts

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
a-mon-deu almond
bam chestnut
cae-shu cashew
ddang kong peanut
Eun-haeng ginkgo
ho-du walnut
jat pinenut
pe-can pecan

Vegetables

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
bae-chu Oriental cabbage / Chinese cabbage
dan-mu [literally] sweet turnip:  BEET
dan-mu ji sweetened white turnip preserved in vinegar
doraji root of Balloon Flower Planet
go-gu-ma sweet potato
kong soy bean
ma-neul garlic
mu turnip
pa green onion; leeks
sang-chu lettuce
shi-geum-chi spinach
yang-bae-chu [literally] Western cabbage; AKA: white cabbage
yang-pa [literally] Western onion; AKA: yellow onion

Herbs

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
in-sam ginseng
ssuk Asian mugwort (more edible than Western varieties)
yul-mu adlay; adlai; tears of job

Miscellaneous Comestibles

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
doen jang soy bean paste
gan jang soy sauce
go-chu jang chili sauce
hu-chu black pepper
jang sauce; paste
sa-tang CANDY
["tang" is (in this case) a Sino-Korean morpheme meaning sugar;  Korean sa-tang does not include all sweets, e.g., chocolate is not 'sa-tang') {it is what we Americans would classify as "hard candy"}
sam jang a paste made of three other pastes
so-geum salt

Drinks (Key Words:  Korean soft drinks, Korean liquor, Korean alcohol)

Romanization English translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç  
An-dong so-ju [literally:  "burning liquor from Andong"]  rice brandy

unlike "regular" soju (see below), which is made from sweet potatoes, Andong soju is made from rice.  It is akin to Japanese sake. [Note:  sake is NOT a rice wine as it is commonly known.  It is a rice brandy.  To learn the difference between wine and brandy, see my liquor page].

baek-se-ju [literally:  100-year liquor]  a wine made of 10 herbs; mostly ginseng;  It's not called "100-year liquor" because it is aged 100 years, but rather because it is supposed that frequent drinkers thereof, shall live to be a 100 years old.  I asked a native Chinese about the meaning of the Chinese characters, and she said that the meaning was that the drinker would live to be a 100 years old.  So, I guess the Koreans got it right.
bok bun ja [a brand name, which literally means:  "pot-pisser", 'cause (so I'm told), the drink makes one piss a lot, but it never made me piss, so I think that whoever told me that doesn't know the real origin of the name of the drinkraspberry wine
cha tea

nok cha = green tea
hong cha = red tea (in English: black tea)

dong-dong-ju a kind of rice wine (not like Japanese sake, similar perhaps, but sake is 20% alcohol and dong-dong ju is probably around 10% alcohol).
long tea Long Island Ice Tea
mak-keol-li a kind of crude rice wine, like dong-dong ju, but dong-dong ju is sweeter and has a higher viscosity
maek-ju beer
Picari Sweat An ionized drink (not sure how it's made)
podo ju [literally] "Grape Liquor";  Grape Wine
pok tan ju [literally:  "bomb liquor"]  a mixture of one or more HARD liquors with BEER.
shik-hye rice water (made by boiling rice and dissolving malt into the mixture, and served cold)
so-ju [literally: "burning liquor"]  usually: sweet potato whisky
sam-da-su [literally] Three-abundances Water;  from the Isle of Three Abundances (AKA:  JejuDo), my favorite brand of bottled water (actually from JejuDo).
su-jeong-gwa persimmon tea;  soft drink made of persimmons, ginger, honey and cinnamon, served COLD!
yang-ju [literally] Western liquor; generally  Corn (Scotch) Whisky, but can also refer to grape wine and brandy.

 

 

 

Appendix:

 

Bilingual Dictionary Errors regarding Korean Food

 

BEWARE:

The Korean-English / English-Korean bilingual dictionaries are often wrong about the translations of some foods.  Here are a few of the corrections:

Korean word wrong translation correct translation
¢¢ç¢¢ç    
ba-ga-ji gourd (not wrong, actually) to be more specific... it would be a non-edible gourd (I just wanted to make that clear) {It is often used to make bowls or scoopers.}
cham-oe musk melon chate melon (see pic)
ho-bak

     ae-hobak
     neulgeun-hobak

pumpkin

     baby pumpkin
     old pumpkin

edible gourd; squash

[US] zucchini squash; [UK] courgette
[US] pumpkin squash; [UK] pumpkin

mae-shil plum; ume Japanese Apricot
(or Oriental Apricot)
I call it the "Green Apricot"
me-lon melon cantaloupe melon
mo-gwa quince Oriental quince
(as opposed to the Western quince;  the two are a bit different)
yu-ja citron Oriental citron
(as opposed to the Western citron; the two are quite different)

 

For more bilingual dictionary errors, click here 

Addendum to the table above:

Korean Name: Chamoe Korean Name:  Melon
Scientific Name: Cucumis melo var. makuwa Scientific Name:  Cucumis melo
English name:  none English name:  Cantaloupe
Kind:  Chate Melon Kind:  Musk Melon
Taste:  tastes like a cross between a honeydew melon and a cucumber Taste:  tastes like a cross between an American cantaloupe and a honeydew

 


Korean Food Culture

 

bap = steamed rice (but metonymously also means "meal").

     [CULTURE:  When a Korean asks (in his/her mother tongue), "Have you eaten steamed rice today?", it means: "Have you eaten a meal today?";  and it is more a formality than an actual question.  If you say, "No,"  The Koreans are often left wondering what to say, and usually end up saying, "Well, you'd better eat."  Some Koreans might feel obligated to feed you, if you say, "No."  So, if you don't want to put a Korean through the trouble of feeding you, it is best to say, "Yes."]

yeot = pumpkin nougat

     [CULTURE:  Superstition indicates that if eaten right before taking a test, the eater will score well on the test.  So, right around final exam time, one can see lots of yeot venders on the street.]

ja jang myeong = From the Chinese:  Ja Jiang Mian, which means:  "[?] - sauce [+] noodles"

After living in China for a year, it has come to my attention that EVERY restaurant in China serves Ja Jiang Mian.  AND, although I asked several Chinese people, nobody seemed to be able to tell me what Ja means.  One guy told me that it meant nothing, and I thought that he meant that it meant "nothing", but I now realize that what he meant to say was that he didn't know what it meant, but was too proud to admit it.  Every Chinese character has some meaning, even if that meaning changes by conjugating with another Chinese character.  Another person told me that Ja Jiang is just the name of a type of sauce (Jiang meaning sauce).  Mian means noodles.

The Korean version of Ja Jang Myeong is much sweeter than the Chinese version (which is quite bitter);  AND, therefore, the Korean version is much more suited to my tastes, although the Chinese version is not all that bad.

nok cha = [literally] green tea (made from the same leaves as black tea, but the leaves are dried immediately, retaining their green coloring)  [Koreans are very proud of this tea, which to my knowledge, is a Korean original & is very popular in Korea.  They are especially proud of it for its cancer-preventative qualities]

hong cha = [literally] red tea (in English => black tea) (the leaves are first fermented in water then dried, hence the red color)

 

 

Please visit my other Korean pages:

My Expat Blog
  (Re: My 10-yr Life in Korea)

Korean Language Lessons
  (basic, free of charge, by me)

Korean Origins
  (Where did they come from?)

Konglish 1
  (Konglish Interlanguage)

Konglish 2
  (Konglish Lexis)

Konglish 3
  (Konglish Pronunciation)

Korean Dictionary Errors
  (quite the list)

 


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