[Updated 19 January 2021]
Through the uncertain times of COVID-19, the one thing we can be sure of is that food provides some level of comfort - at least for us it does 😁 With plenty of people staying home, be it for social distancing measures like the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia or just because you want to, cooking simple recipes is one of the many things you can do if you find yourself stuck indoors.
You may be tempted to constantly rely on delivery services and takeaway options, but where’s the fun in that? 😉 Cooking a meal from scratch gives you the freedom to add, tweak or change the flavours to your liking. If you’ve been craving for something other than local food or wanting to experiment in the kitchen with a different cuisine, then this list of easy Korean recipes is what you’re looking for!
Some of the recipes below call for similar ingredients like gochujang (Korean chili paste), sesame oil, sesame seed and soy sauce. These are key pantry essentials in Korean cuisine, so you might want to consider getting them in order to achieve the classic taste of Korean food.
There’s no better way to start your culinary journey of Korean food than with an amazing appetizer that is pajeon. Literally translating to ‘green onion pancakes’, this savoury snack is the perfect go-to recipe for whenever you need a quick bite and don’t want to spend too much time whipping up a meal.
All you’ll be needing are some leftover vegetables and a simple batter of flour, cornstarch, water, sugar and salt. Mix the ingedients together, cook them in a pan with some oil and voilà! You’ve got yourself a crispy, fluffy pancake that’s packed with flavour and punch. Enjoy it further by making a dipping sauce with a combination of soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.
When it comes to Korean recipes, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t include one for bulgogi. As one of the classic dishes in Korea, you may think that preparing this recipe will take a lot of skill and effort. Well, we’re here to tell you that you can easily make this by yourself with just a simple list of ingredients (half of which you may already have in your kitchen)!
While most bulgogi recipes call for crushed pears to tenderize the meat, Coca Cola can also be used for the same purpose. With that being said, if you’re using extremely thin-sliced meat, then just go ahead and skip the tenderization step altogether. Using this simplified recipe of the bulgogi on Allrecipes, sink your teeth into juicy, mouthwatering bulgogi 😋
P.S. For more quick recipes on the go, check this list out!
For those who have a sweet tooth, you’ll definitely appreciate this quick and easy hotteok recipe. This sweet pancake is a popular Korean street food and is typically eaten during the winter as a comfort snack. While we wouldn’t hold our breaths for a snowy weather in Southeast Asia, a rainy day seems like the perfect time to indulge yourself in this delicious treat!
Start off by preparing the dough using your standard ingredients like flour, active dry yeast, water, oil, sugar and salt. Once you’ve set it aside to proof and rise to double its size, begin mixing the filling in a separate bowl: brown sugar, chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Place the fillings into balls of dough that's been equally divided, then fry the sealed area down in a pan for 30 seconds before flipping it. As you flatten the hotteok into a wide disc, keep an eye out for the shell to turn golden brown.
P.S. While you're cooking, try to incorporate these 9 healthy foods to give your meals an immunity boost.
4. Kimchi jjigae
Spicy, soothing and superbly delicious. That’s what you’re in for if you decide to make kimchi jjigae otherwise known as kimchi stew or kimchi soup. As a well-loved dish among Koreans, this traditional recipe is your saving grace for when you’re stuck with dinner ideas but still want to enjoy an amazing meal! Using less than 10 ingredients, it’s time to throw on your apron and create a warm bowl of stew for your next meal 😉
In a large saucepan, throw in chopped scallions, ginger and garlic and cook the white and pale-green parts until softened and fragrant. After that, add some broth (either chicken stock or anchovy broth) and whisk in gochujang and soy sauce. Towards the end, add kimchi, tofu and some thinly sliced scallion for topping.
5. Kimchi fried rice
As Southeast Asianers, it’s no secret that we love our fried rice dishes. And if you’re anything like us, the combo of kimchi and fried rice will truly delight you to no ends. It’s hard to go wrong when making this recipe as it really only requires day-old to two-day old rice and kimchi. But why stop there when you can add other things like mushrooms, eggs, chicken and even seafood. Raid your refrigerator to see what else you can throw into the dish for more flavour and taste.
By marrying the familiarity of fried rice and one of the oldest, most essential dishes in Korean cuisine, you’ll be guaranteed a meal that’ll have you falling head over heels every single time you make it.
P.S. If you're heading out to buy ingredients, make sure to practice these 10 hygiene tips when shopping in supermarkets.
For a dish that checks the boxes of 1) tasty and 2) easy-to-make, bibimbap is all you need for when you’re in a crunch, looking for ways to use leftovers or expecting to make a yummy meal with minimal effort. Although the traditional and authentic versions of bibimbap are made with raw beef, raw egg yolk and other vegetables, the best part about the recipe is that it’s customizable. There are endless variations to this dish and no matter what basic ingredients you choose to incorporate into your bowl, as long as you use the classic pantry flavours like soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds and sugar, you’ll be good to go!
If you’ve ever watched Korean films, dramas or variety shows, you’ll notice that sweet potato is a highly favoured comfort food among the locals. From pre-packaged snacks and drinks to stews and even desserts, this superfood has proven to be one of the most versatile ingredients in the book, which makes it all the more fun for you to experiment with. For this time round, we introduce to you, matang - deep fried chunky sweet potatoes coated with caramelized sugar 🤤
What you’ll need is simple: sweet potatoes (any kinds that are suitable for deep frying), cooking oil and sugar. Once you've rinsed, peeled and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks, fry them over medium high heat until golden brown. On the side, prep the coating syrup by combining vegetable oil and generous sprinkling of sugar. Heat the mixture up and let it simmer until the sugar turns golden-brownish. Finally, add the fried sweet potatoes into the concoction and prepare to serve yourself some delicious, hot matang.
P.S. Besides cooking, check out our list of 10 things to do to make the most out of your time at home.
8. Kimchi ramen
Attention all noodle lovers! If you haven’t already given it a go, then you’ll definitely want to make this recipe of kimchi ramen especially if you’re busy and looking to achieve a flavourful meal in a short amount of time. Use any instant ramen you have on hand, add kimchi and you'll get a perfect bowl of savoury noodles 😃 You can also make it as fancy as you want by throwing in other things like a poached egg, mushrooms, seaweed and chicken. Otherwise, keeping it minimal works just as well and will surely satisfy your craving.
When it comes to easy Korean recipes, the list wouldn’t be complete without including Japchae. This sweet and savoury dish of stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables may be deceptively difficult, but we’ve got a recipe that achieves amazing flavours without having to use a long list of ingredients.
First, season the beef with sugar, black pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil. Then, cut up some vegetables like carrots, spinach, onions, mushroom and cucumbers. Start cooking the glass noodles and add sesame oil, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Once incorporated nicely, add your beef to the mix and have yourself a yummy serving of japchae
Make these in big batches so that you'll be able to refrigerate and have it anytime you want in the future!
10. Korean side dishes
From sigumchi namul
(Korean seasoned spinach) and sookju namul
(Korean bean sprout salad) to Korean pickled cucumber
, these are just some of the staple side dishes (bapchan) that you'll often find in a Korean household and are served with just about every meal. Swap out your same ol' side dishes and give these a whirl instead! They each take less than 20 minutes to prepare, so while you've got your rice cooking on the side, you'll be able to get your side dishes ready in time for a nice, warm meal.
With this list in mind, it's time to take your culinary journey to the next level and explore the amazing flavours that Korean cuisine has to offer 😊