10 Unusual Korean Foods You Should Try

by Linda McKenna // March 29 // 0 Comments

Which Korean foods do you want to eat when you visit Korea? Korean BBQ? Or Bibimbap? Although they are the most famous Korean foods, there are more unusual Korean foods, too. Let’s look at 10 unusual Korean foods you should try when you visit Korea!

삼계탕 [Sam-Gye-Tang]

Sam-Gye-Tang

삼계탕 is a Chicken Ginseng Soup. “삼 [sam]” means “ginseng,” “계 [gye]” means “chicken,” and “탕 [tang]” means “soup.” It is a hot soup that consists of ginseng, red dates, and young chicken (poussin) filled with garlic, rice, and other herbs.

As the Korean saying goes, "Fight fire with fire (이열치열 [i-yeol-chi-yeol]).” Korean people have hot soups on hot summer days. Especially during the three “복 [bok]” days, which are the hottest day in summer, 삼계탕 is the most popular food among Korean people.

콘치즈 [Kon-Chi-Jeu]

Kon-Chi-Jeu

콘치즈 is sweet corn with cheese and mayonnaise. Although it does not look genuinely Korean, it is still a unique “fusion” cuisine. It is usually served as a side dish at a pub or a sashimi restaurant.

If you google “Korean corn cheese,” you will find out more and more foreigners are trying 콘치즈. Since it is quite easy to make it, you can cook it yourself!

How to Make 콘치즈 (Korean Corn Cheese)

  1. Season the sweet corn with salt, sugar, and pepper.
  2. Put mayonnaise and mozzarella cheese on it.
  3. Cook it in an oven or a pan until the cheese melts.
  4. You can also add other ingredients such as carrots, paprika, or parmesan cheese.

불고기 [Bul-Go-Gi]

Bul-Go-Gi

불고기 is a traditional Korean dish made of sliced beef or pork, which is seasoned with soy or pepper sauce. As “불 [Bul]” means fire and “고기 [go-gi]” means “meat,” 불고기 initially indicated grilled beef or pork. Now, 불고기 specifically means seasoned sliced beef or pork.

불고기 originates from the food “맥적 [maek-jeok],” which the people of 고구려 [go-gu-ryeo] ate in the 7th Century. According to Korean history books, citizens of Seoul were enjoying seasoned 불고기 as far back as 1849.

Although 불고기 is a typical Korean traditional food and already popular among many foreigners, there are still different kinds of 불고기 that not many foreigners have tried. I recommend trying the pepper-seasoned 불고기 and duck meat 불고기 when you visit Korea next time!

한정식 [Han-Jeong-Sik]

Han-Jeong-Sik

한정식 is formal Korean cuisine. It is famous for a lot of side dishes. If you want to try many Korean foods at once, 한정식 will be the best choice.

The typical 한정식 includes appetizers, rice and soup with side dishes, and dessert. The appetizer is usually Korean pumpkin soup 호박죽 [ho-bak-juk] or Korean seafood Porridge 전복죽 [jeon-bok-juk]. And the dessert is generally sweet Schisandra tea 오미자차 [o-mi-ja-cha].

분식 [Bun-Sik]

Korean Bun-Sik

분식 indicates 6 typical Korean street foods: 떡볶이 [tteok-bo-kki], 튀김 [tui-gim], 김밥 [kim-bap], 순대 [sun-dae], 어묵 [eo-muk], 라면 [ra-myeon]. The unique Korean streets foods are 떡볶이 and 순대.

떡볶이 is a popular Korean street food made of rice cakes, boiled eggs, and scallions. Although it is spicy, it is one of the most popular Korean street foods among foreigners.

순대 is a Korean style sausage. The difference is that sausage is filled with seasoned noodles. It might look weird since it is served with boiled pig’s lung and liver as well. If you are looking for something unusual, however, 순대 will be the one. And many Koreans love it too!

파전 [Pa-Jeon]

What do you eat when it is rainy in your country? In Korea, we eat 파전. It is made from a batter of eggs, wheat flour, rice flour, and scallions. “파 [pa]” means “scallions” and “전 [Jeon]” is “pancake,” though 파전 is salty and crispy.

Plus, it contains no meat, and there are different kinds of 전 such as a kimchi one 김치전 [kim-chi-jeon] or a seafood one 해물 파전 [hae-mul-pa-jeon]. So if you are looking for something without pork or beef, I am sure you will love 파전!

치킨 [Chi-Kin]

Chi-Kin

While You might say “Fried chicken is not a Korean food!” and many Korean will agree with you, 치킨 is one of the most unusual and popular Korean foods. And many foreigners love it.

The uniqueness comes from the variety of 치킨. There is fried chicken with cheese, pepper sauce, soy sauce, onions, curry, honey, and even octopus. So if you are looking for something familiar but unique at the same time, Korean fried chicken will be an excellent choice!

족발 [Jok-Bal]

Jok-Bal

족발 is a Korean food made from pig’s feet. If you’ve tried German Schweinshaxe or Austrian Stelze, 족발 would look familiar as they use pig’s feet as well.

족발 is boiled with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and rice wine for hours, which makes it have a unique and deep taste. The taste of 족발 is as unique as its shape. There are also different kinds of 족발, such as the extremely spicy 불족발 [bul-jok-bal]. if you want to know what spicy is, try 불족발!

게장 [Ge-Jang]

Ge-Jang

If you are looking for something fresh, 게장 will be the right choice. There are two kinds of 게장, one is 간장 게장 [gan-jang ge-jang], and another is 양념 게장 [yang-nyeon-ge-jang].

간장 게장 is a soy sauced raw crab, and 양념 게장 is a pepper sauced raw carb. Both have unique tastes. If you prefer salty foods, you can try 간장 게장. And if you prefer spicy foods, you can try 양념 게장. 게장 is a unique Korean food, and not many foreigners have tried it. So, try it now!

육회 [Yuk-Hoi]

Yuk-Hoi

If you are a big fan of 초밥 [cho-bap] (sushi)] or 회 [hoi] (sashimi), you must try 육회. 육회 is beef sashimi typically served with vegetables, and raw eggs. I highly recommend trying 육회 as you will feel a unique taste of beef that you have never tasted before!

Conclusion

These are the unusual Korean foods you should try at least once. How many of them have you heard of or tried before? Trying these unique foods will make you understand Korean food culture better, and of course it is always exciting to try new foods. So do not forget to try these foods when you visit Korea next time!

Also, visit our Korean Words and Phrases For Food Issues.

About the Author Linda McKenna

Linda was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the U.S. as a teen. She previously taught at a Korean language school. She is a language enthusiast and loves learning about different languages and cultures