Packing a one-two umami-spice punch, Korean food is the new darling of the culinary world for good reason. Savory, unfussy, and satisfying, classic Korean dishes are fun to explore in your own kitchen, as are the playful recipes inspired by the new world of Korean-Mexican fusion born in Los Angeles.
Traditional Korean cuisine focuses on rice, meat, seafood, fermented vegetables and fish, wild greens, vegetables, and dumplings. Essential to the Korean heart, soul, and palate are flavors spicy, sour, fermented, and savory. Iconic dishes include bulgogi, a sesame and ginger-marinated steak stir fry served with rice or rolled into kimbap (the quintessential Korean packed lunch, sort of a steak sushi roll); kalbi, scallion and soy-marinated grilled short ribs; and bibimbap, a big bowl of rice with meat and veggies.
Kimchi, a fermented pickle usually made with Napa cabbage, is everywhere these days. Spiced with crushed red pepper and ginger, its funky and irresistible tang inspires chefs in unexpected ways (think a kimchi mayo-topped hot dog or kimchi quesadillas). Gochujong, a fiery red, slightly sweet and spicy paste made from chili and fermented soybeans, is fun to play with, too. It's got kick tempered by a little funk and also a hint of sweetness. Think of it as an extra-spicy version of miso and stir a spoonful into marinades, dressings, and soups. Rub it into pork shoulder before grilling, toss with winter squash and roast, spread on a grilled cheese, or stir into sour cream for topping baked sweet potatoes.
Ready to bring these flavors into your own kitchen? It all begins with the authentic flavors of Spice Islands® spices and Korean Tacos with Sriracha Slaw are a great place to start. A crunchy, spicy slaw sets off a savory Bulgogi filling, all wrapped up in warm tortillas—fusion street food at its finest!
Elizabeth Winslow is a writer, food blogger, teacher, and entrepreneur in Austin, Texas. She is a regular contributor to Edible Austin and creates compelling content for brands both large and small. She has an M.A. in Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and teaches cooking classes with Kitchen Underground. Winslow + co.