As a second-generation Korean American living in the deep South, staying true to my heritage has been, needless to say (as I jam out to Taylor Swift), difficult. I speak Korean with a Southern accent, I can barely recite one traditional Korean song, and my traditional Korean garb is now four sizes to small. And yet, I’ve still found a way to experience Korean culture from the comfort of my home (i.e. the kitchen) through cooking. Even as I struggle to pronounce the name of the eclectic foods that I helped cook with my family, I’ve still been able to share experience the smells and taste of Korea. For food, accompanied by eating and cooking, is one gratifying way to understand culture. Thus, I’ve complied a few recipes and tips that I feel will also help you experience the wonder of Korean cuisine from the comfort of your own kitchen (or even dorm)!
Note: As you look through the recipes, you’ll find that mine are often ambiguous when it comes to the amount of an ingredient you’ll need or even which ingredients you need; after cooking for a few years, I’ve come to understand that cooking isn’t about precise measurements, but rather mixing together ingredients to make something special. You might want to experiment a bit with how much of each ingredient you add. Don’t forget to add a tablespoon of love every dish that you make!
1. Shrimp Fried Rice
Note: You can substitute any meat for the shrimp, but it’s my personal favorite. It’s very easy to cook and the versatility of this dish (as in you can use any combination of ingredients possible) is the primary reason why I added it. Usually, small-sized shrimps are sautéed along with chopped onions and green peas in a mixture of steamed rice, mixed with scrambled eggs and chopped green onions.
Ingredients (1 Serving)
- 2 cups of cooked rice
- Two dozen shrimp (preferably peeled and de-veined, though de-veining them won’t kill you)
- Any assortment of vegetables – frozen vegetables are easy to use, such as onions, green peas, carrots, etc. Regardless, make sure that they’re chopped-up before you gently toss them into the frying pan
- 1-2 egg(s), scrambled
- Enough oil to fill the pan (any kind of oil)
- 3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1. Pour oil into a frying pan so that the whole bottom is covered in oil. First, make scrambled eggs. Place them aside.
2. Then, sauté whatever vegetables that you have. Remove them once cooked.
3. Sauté your shrimps in the same pan (add more oil if needed). Once they’re slightly done (but not fully cooked), add the vegetable mixture and cook until the shrimp is done.
4. Add your cooked rice into the pan. Afterwards, add soy sauce and any other seasonings if you want to spice up your meal (I like adding hot sauce to this dish).
5. Mix everything together and enjoy!
2. Korean-style Ramen
Note: Korean-style Ramen is essentially adding more ingredients to your packaged ramen noodles. I personally like adding a plethora of ingredients to add the mostly bland flavor of ramen.
Tips for Korean-style Ramen:
1. Add anything that you think will add to the flavor of the ramen and that you would eat together. You can chop up meat (hot-dogs, spam, pork) or vegetables (green onion, carrots, onions) and add them as you please.
2. Another favorite of mine is to add a raw egg just a few minutes before the ramen is actually cooked – it adds the consistency of the soup.
3. If you’re using a microwave to cook your ramen (first of all, I wouldn’t recommend this, as it seemingly takes away from the flavor, but that’s your choice), make sure to only add a few ingredients!
3. Korean Potato Stir-fry
Note: This is essentially Korean- style fries (except the potatoes aren’t deep fried). I would recommended adding ketchup (or whatever you add to your fries).
Ingredients (1 Serving)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (or whatever oil you happen to have)
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips (think fries)
- Any vegetables you happen to have (esp. green onions, onions, or peppers)
1. Place the chopped-up potatoes in water for 5 minutes, completely submersing them.
2. Pour the oil into a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add the potatoes. Then, add the sliced vegetables and stir for about until the potatoes are fully cooked.
3. Remove from the heat and serve!
Note: These are just a few of the hundreds, if not thousands of dishes that are all part of Korean cuisine. I hope you enjoyed them! I omitted kimchi, bulgogi (Korean beef), galbi (Korean BBQ), mandu (basically Korean dumplings), and kimbap (essentially Korean sushi), but they’re definitely worth checking out if you can find a decent-price restaurant! Enjoy!
Now you can go and explore the world of delicious Korean food!