Diversify your meals with a quick taste bud trip to Korea! What makes Korean food stand out amongst all others is the emphasis on vegetables, their salty, sweet, spicy staples and kimchi!
Some of the most popular Korean dishes include bulgogi, japchae, kimchi, bibimbap, soondae and then some. Not only is Korean food quick and easy to make (for the most part) but it also has many flavors to choose from. With just a quick trip to your local Asian grocery market, you’ll have all the ingredients required to make any one of the Korean-Inspired dishes we have here on ZK.
Food is more than where you make it. It’s about the respect and understanding you have for its origin and traditions. So while making these recipes be sure to keep this in mind, blare some BTS (Bangtan Boys), and check out some Korean creators who share information and recipes for traditional Korean cuisine—we love Sue from My Korean Kitchen!
ABOUT THESE KOREAN-INSPIRED RECIPES
Many of these recipes are our take on Korean-based meals so they do differ in certain ways from what could be traditionally expected. Any changes are based on personal interpretation, healthier substitutes and diverse dietary needs including but not limited to gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. There is everything from gochujang chicken, bulgogi, gochujang noodles and even nachos for you to choose from.
Our homemade sauce is made with gochujang which is about as classically Korean as it comes. This recipe beats out the box stores selection hands down and is best served over chicken, pork, meatballs, as a dipping sauce, or on bibimbap. It’s a quick fix and requires only a handful of ingredients.
A delicious weeknight dalliance can be made in just under an hour and serves some serious spicy and simultaneously sweet seasoning. Cut down on time by cooking the rice for the crispy rice cakes in advance or opt to use up whatever cooked grain you’ve got lying around from earlier in the week. This Gochujang Chicken recipe gives any straightforward chicken and veggie sheet pan dinner a much-needed upgrade.
This recipe is a fan-favorite time and time again. And it’s no wonder why! This rice noodle and zoodle dish packs a punch but blends in perfectly with all the sweet, spicy and savory qualities of gochujang sauce. They are extraordinarily easy to make and only increase in flavor as they store so the leftovers are to die for. Plus, the texture alone is just mwah!
One five star reviewer said this, "I love this recipe so much. I've made it weekly since I discovered it. I usually put black beans in for added protein." Others have added our Asian Turkey Meatballs or sautéed shrimp.
Quinoa provides twice as much protein as traditional rice so it’s no surprise that it makes for an easy substitute in bulgogi bowls. It also doesn’t have any particularly overpowering taste so it takes on the taste of the rest of this dish nicely.
Use either chicken or beef, whichever you prefer just be sure to drizzle with a helping of honey for sweet success. Don’t just trust my word for it, give this dish a try and see for yourself!
Bulgogi is a Korean bbq dish made of thinly sliced meat which is then marinated in a sweet and savory homemade sauce before getting grilled or seared until charred and caramelized. It’s incredibly flavorful thanks to the combination of sweet and salty ingredients.
This recipe is made with beef just as the traditional dish. You’ll want to make your very own marinade consisting of black pepper, garlic, onion, ginger, sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, gochujang, honey, and mirin as it’s what’s responsible for making this dish taste so divine.
Chicken bulgogi is like beef bulgogi in many ways, but what sets this dish apart is it’s lighter and therefore healthier but no less filling. The meat does require a marinade so make sure to get started on this recipe well in advance.
Simply serve with a lettuce cup and rice or grab some vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts, broccoli, or whatever you’d like and enjoy!
I like to call this dish the Midwesterners getaway—it’s pretty fitting too since we take Korean bulgogi and pile on a serving of ground beef in place of the traditional sliced beef that recipes call for. Doing so cuts down on the time (AKA no marinating time), without sacrificing any of its savory, spicy or sweet flavors. Plus the entire dish is cooked in just one pan making clean up a breeze.
This recipe is the best thing to happen to get-togethers since charcuterie boards. Nachos are especially killer for game-days but these Korean-inspired Shredded Chicken Nachos? Well, they take the cake. Made from a fusion of Mexican and Korean flavors these nachos are just too good to pass by. Enjoy as an app or serve for dinner—both are acceptable in our book.
If you’re interested in learning how to make a Korean street food specialty, then this recipe, from Sue Pressey of My Korean Kitchen, is for you! Hotteok or Korean Sweet Pancakes feature a sweet filling and are just the dessert to indulge in. Hotteok is one of, if not the, most popular Korean street snack. You can’t get much closer to authentic than this recipe!
If you’ve ever wondered how to make kimchi, wonder no longer with this recipe for how to make your very own kimchi at home. Developed by Emily Bruno at Farmette Kitchen she’ll teach you how to get started and how to store for up to four weeks!
We keep coming back to this recipe by Bon Appétit since it makes for a great anytime comfort food. The sauce is definitely the star of the dish and the rest is rather customizable. It calls for raw yolks but the trick is to drop it right onto the hot noodles and stir it in for the most delectable, saucy outcome.
The classic Bibimbap takes on a healthy twist in this recipe by Bon Appeteach. Calling for cauliflower rice leaves room for extra flavors to be absorbed without overpowering the priority of Bibimbap which is the combination of vegetables, fermented sauces and meat.
A sweet, spicy and tangy cold noodle salad from Sue Pressey of My Korean Kitchen. Packed with crunchy vegetables and ready in just 15 minutes, this recipe is great for meal prep and quick weekday lunches.
Sue Pressey of My Korean Kitchen shares this recipe for crispy tofu bites coated in a sweet, spicy and tangy sauce. Serve the bites over rice with scallions and sesame seeds for a quick 20-minute dinner.
Addictive udon noodles stir-fried with smoky bacon, kimchi and a spicy Korean sauce. In just 15 minutes you'll have a delightful noodle salad on the table. Top with a few fried eggs for the ultimate all-in-one meal.
Sue Pressey from My Korean Kitchen notes, klimchi is often paired with pork in Korean cuisine, but can be substituted with tofu, tempeh, beef, etc.
This article was originally published on June 3rd, 2021. It was most recently updated on January 25th, 2022.
Loretta McGraw is a senior in journalism and mass communication at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Iowa State University. She is currently working as a Digital Food Publishing Intern here at Zestful Kitchen while attending classes and engaging in extracurricular media organizations on campus. After graduating she hopes to continue mastering her writing skills in the magazine industry.