Food Guide

10 Non-Spicy Dishes to Try in South Korea (Part Three)

February 8, 2024

Welcome to Part 3 of our popular series, "10 Non-Spicy Dishes to Try in South Korea"! Join us as we unveil a diverse selection of flavorful dishes you can try without the discomfort of spicy heat. From comforting soup-y dishes to deep-fried whole chicken, join us on a delicious journey showcasing the unique dishes of Korean cuisine, all without the heat.

1. Saengseon Gui (생선구이): Grilled fish.

Grilled fish is a staple in Korean cuisine, and it's enjoyed in various forms and preparations across the country. Typically, fish is seasoned with salt before being grilled over an open flame or on a grill. It's often served with a side of rice and various banchan (side dishes) such as kimchi, seasoned vegetables, and soup. Grilled fish is appreciated for its simplicity, freshness, and delicious flavor, making it a popular choice for meals in Korean households and restaurants alike.

2. Sundae (순대): Blood sausage.

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Sundae is a traditional Korean blood sausage made primarily from a mixture of pork blood, glass noodles, and sometimes vegetables. This mixture is stuffed into a casing made from pig intestine, which is then steamed or boiled until cooked through. Sundae has a mild flavor and a soft, chewy texture. It is enjoyed with a salt and pepper dip or dunked in spicy tteokbokki sauce, as locals often do.

3. Yetnal Tongdak (옛날 통닭): Deep-fried whole chicken.

Yetnal Tongdak is a traditional Korean dish that directly translates to "old-fashioned whole chicken." Yetnal Tongdak is prepared by either deep-frying or grilling in a rotisserie oven, with minimal seasoning applied to preserve the natural flavors of the chicken. It is cherished for its simplicity and comforting taste, evoking memories of home-cooked meals and traditional Korean cooking.

4. Kkochi Eomuk-tang (꼬치 어묵탕): Fish cake skewer hot pot.

Kkochi Eomuk-tang is a popular Korean street food that features skewered fish cakes cooked in a flavorful broth. You'll often find skewered fish cakes in food stalls and markets, while the hot pot version is commonly served at Korean pubs.

5. Mul-naengmyeon (냉면): Cold buckwheat noodles.

Get cold noodles delivered from Yeonnam Street Naengmyeon (Available in Sinchon area)
Get cold noodles delivered from Itaewon Old School Jipbap Dosirak (Available in Yongsan area)

Mul-naengmyeon is a traditional Korean noodle dish enjoyed especially during the hot summer months for its refreshing and cooling qualities. Mul-naengmyeon directly translates to 'water cold noodles' and features buckwheat noodles served in a tangy and savory icy beef broth, topped with thinly sliced beef brisket or boiled egg, along with julienned cucumbers, and sometimes pickled radish. Mul-naengmyeon is typically garnished with a dollop of spicy mustard or a splash of vinegar for an extra kick. It usually doesn't come with spicy sauce like Bibim-naengmyeon, but it's best to check before ordering.

6. Ganjang Gejang (간장게장) Soy sauce marinated raw crab.

Photo source: World Korean

IYKYK Yangnyeom-gejang went viral in the US in 2023. Ganjang Gejang is the non-spicy version of that. It's made from fresh raw crabs marinated in soy sauce and various seasonings. The dish is known for its rich umami flavor and delicate texture, making it a popular delicacy. In Korea, we describe dishes like Ganjang Gejang as a 'rice thief', '밥도둑' (Bapdoduk), because it pairs exceptionally well with a steaming bowl of rice, and you're likely to eat a significant amount of both.

7. Deulkkae Sujebi (들깨 수제비): Ground perilla seed dumpling soup.

Photo source: Market Kurly

Deulkkae Sujebi is a traditional Korean soup made with hand-pulled dumplings called 'sujebi' and a flavorful broth infused with ground perilla seeds, which give the broth its nutty and creamy flavor. This dish is cherished for its comforting taste and nourishing qualities, making it a popular choice during colder months or as a comforting meal any time of the year.

8. Bulgogi Jeongol (불고기 전골): Bulgogi hot pot.

Photo source: Go Korea News

Bulgogi Jeongol is a popular Korean hot pot dish that features thinly sliced marinated beef (bulgogi) cooked in a flavorful soy sauce broth alongside an assortment of vegetables, glass noodles, mushrooms, and more. This dish is cherished for its hearty and comforting qualities, making it a favorite choice for communal meals.

9. Gungjung Tteokbokki (궁중 떡볶이): Royal court rice cakes.

Photo source: 1000 Recipes

Gungjung Tteokbokki is a variation of the popular Korean street food dish tteokbokki that originated from the royal court cuisine of the Joseon Dynasty. Unlike the spicy and vibrant street-style tteokbokki commonly found today, Gungjung Tteokbokki features a more refined and savory flavor profile. Gungjung Tteokbokki is made with rice cakes (tteok) stir-fried with various ingredients such as beef, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and other vegetables in a soy sauce-based sauce.

10. Gujeolpan (구절판): Platter of nine delicacies.

Photo source: Korea Cooking Art Academy

Gujeolpan is a traditional Korean dish that originated from the royal court cuisine of the Joseon Dynasty. The name Gujeolpan translates to "nine-sectioned plate," which refers to the unique serving platter used to present the dish. Each section of the plate is filled with a different ingredient, and the crepes are used to wrap up a combination of these ingredients to create small, bite-sized parcels. Gujeolpan is known for its elegant presentation, delicate flavors, and balanced combination of ingredients. Gujeolpan is not only appreciated for its aesthetic appeal but also for its healthfulness and versatility. It offers a balanced combination of flavors, textures, and colors, making it a popular choice for special occasions, banquets, and family gatherings in Korea.

Read more:
10 Non-Spicy Dishes to Try in South Korea (Part One)
10 Non-Spicy Dishes to Try in South Korea (Part Two)

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