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Korean Food That Brings People Together Posted by on Dec 28, 2018 in Korean food

This statement might sound inaccurate to some skilled cooks out there, but I believe most Korean food 손이 많이 간다.(sohn-ee-mani-ganh-dah: is a painstaking task). As effortful as it may be to prepare, Korean food has the power to bring people together. I will introduce you some of my favorite Korean food that you can enjoy with your loved ones.

만두(Manh-doo: Korean style dumpling)

This is one of my favorite Korean dishes. I don’t make 만두at home often, but I can proudly say that my 만두 dish is authentic because they are homemade from scratch, including 만두피(manh-doo-pee: Mandoo wrappers). Traditionally, the stuffing is prepared with ground meat, 당면 (dang-myeon: Korean sweet potato noodle) and vegetables. Then, you make thin round shapes of Mandoo wrappers out of flour dough. It takes time and effort regardless of how much 만두 you plan to make. Thus, most Koreans I know, nowadays, buy pre-made wrappers from the store.

After your wrappers are ready to be used, you might want to grab a chair because it is a time-consuming task. Note that one piece of 만두 is usually only one or two bites, and one cup of flour can produce at least 50 wrappers according to my recipe.

I remember my grandmother, my aunts, and my mom used to sit around a big bowl of 만두 stuffing to make hundreds of 만두 for a holiday menu. I joined this club as I got older. If it is going to take time to make food, I might as well enjoy making them with my loved ones.

코리안 바베큐(Korean barbeque: Korean style of grilling meat)

Oh, who doesn’t like Korean BBQ? This mouthwatering sweet and savory meat dish has been loved by Koreans, even by many foreigners. It is also a fun dinner menu option when gathering family and friends. People sit around charcoal grills and 이야기 꽂을 피우다(ee-yah-gi-kkot-eul-pee-woo-dah: have a chat) while waiting for the meat to be cooked.

The Korean BBQ sauce is surprisingly simple to make once you understand the Korean BBQ 맛(maht: flavor, taste). Most items are soy sauce, sweeteners (sugar mostly, but I use honey as a healthier substitute), and garlic as most Korean food uses garlic. Onions, carrots, scallions, and other vegetables are optional, but they are strongly recommended for a flavorful dish. The most crucial part of the recipe is the duration of 양념(yang-nyum: marinade). I usually soak the meat in the sauce overnight.

포장마차(Pojang-macha: a street vendor stall that serves alcohol and food, short for포차)

Though포장마차 is not a food, I chose 포차 for this list as it is an authentic eatery option in Korea. It is basically a street vendor cart covered by a tarp. It is not a fancy place, but it is a place where you can taste local life. 포차 makes a great gathering place with affordable prices.

Unfortunately, I started noticing that포장마차is slowly disappearing due to city plans. As far as I remember포차used to be on almost every corner, but it is hard to find them on the street unless you go to a designated zone where street food stalls stand together.

Photo by Fly High Oyster

김밥(gimbap: rice and several different ingredients rolled in laver seaweed)

My mom used to wake up early to make 김밥on every excursion I had in school. I am not exaggerating if I say most my classmates packed김밥 as a lunch menu especially for a special occasion because 김밥is the most appetizing menu for a picnic day. My friends and I used to sit around and share each other’s 김밥. It is versatile food that you can enjoy with everyone at any place from school to work. One row of 김밥 can make your stomach happy within no time.

비빔밥(bi-bim-bap: a rice dish topped with vegetables, ground meat and eggs)

If Americans do potluck, Koreans do 비빔밥 feast. 비빔밥 can be, of course, served as an individual dish from regular restaurants, but there is another way to enjoy비빔밥 with your loved ones. Although I am not sure this was nation-wide culture back then, my friends and I used to bring one or two ingredients to make 비빔밥 for lunch at school. Isn’t it just fun imagining bunch of teenage girls gathering to make their lunch in a big bowl at lunchtime? Yes, there was a lot of giggling. It was a highlight of a day at school.

I can go on and on how great Korean food is, however, my favorite Korean food is 엄마손 밥상(um-mah-sohn-bob-sang: food made by my mom) that I can’t have enough.

photo by Fly High Oyster



손이 많이 간다(sohn-ee-mani-ganh-dah: it is a painstaking task)

  • 손(sohn: hand)
  • 이(ee – serves as an article in the sentence)
  • 많이(mani: much, a lot, many)
  • 간다(ganh-dah: derived from a verb ‘가다’. It literally means ‘go’, but it is interpreted as ‘requires a great deal of care’.)

이야기 꽂을 피우다(ee-yah-gi-kkot-eul-pee-woo-dah:have a chat)

  • 이야기(ee-yah-gi: story)
  • 꽃(kkot: flower)
  • 피우다(pee-woo-dah: bloom)

엄마손 밥상(um-mah-sohn-bob-sang: food made by my mom)

  • 엄마(um-mah:mother) +손(sohn: hand)= handmade/homemade
  • 밥상(bob-sang: dining table)


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About the Author: FlyHighOyster

Hi everyone, I was born and raised in Seoul, S. Korea. I have lived in Seattle for a while and I am traveling the world with my husband since 2016. It is my honor to share Korean culture with you all. Don't be shy to share your thoughts and comments! :) Talk to you soon. HJ