These days, it’s not difficult to find Korean food in Singapore – from Korean Fried Chicken to Bibimbap and Army Stew, there’s no shortage of dishes to try, depending on your craving. It comes as no surprise then, that these beloved staples also appear in many K-dramas, another one of our obsessions. Here are some popular Korean foods that you can see featured in dramas to get you salivating.
Fish sausage jeon
Sausages in Korea are usually made of fish, and this nostalgic dish was a popular lunchbox staple and is sometimes served as a banchan (side dish). Fish sausage jeon is a classic quick dish, and is made with sausage dipped in egg and flour, then fried. It was featured in Reply 1988, a nostalgic drama that features a lot of classic Korean food, and Sun-woo (Go Kyung-pyo) was teased because of this jeon.
Tteokbokki is a dish of chewy, tubular rice cakes bathed in spicy gochujang sauce and it’s a popular street food in Korea. Once a dish for royals, a simplified version was created in the 1950s in Sindang, and today the area is known as “Tteokbokki Town” where you can get a variety of tteokbokki. This dish is mentioned in a lot of dramas, from Extraordinary You to The Heirs, which featured a tteokbokki restaurant that was symbolic to one of the characters.
Sold from street carts, bungeoppang is a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste (sometimes custard or other flavours) that’s popular in winter. Adapted from Japanese taiyaki, it was introduced to Korea in the 1930s and has seen a resurgence with a bungeoppang map marking the stalls’ locations with brief reviews. Bungeoppang was featured in many dramas, like Legend of the Blue Sea, Welcome to Waikiki 2, and Please Don’t Date Him, to name a few.
Jajangmyeon is a thick noodle dish bathed in signature chunjang (black bean sauce), and will often leave your teeth black. In Korea, this dish is often consumed on Black Day by singles who didn’t receive presents for Valentine’s and White Day. They would gather and ‘commiserate’ over all things black, including food. Jajangymeon is featured prominently in the drama Coffee Prince where Eun-Chan (Yoon Eun-hye) proves how much of it she can eat.
Sundubu-jjigae is a sour-spicy soft tofu stew made with fish stock, radish, seaweed, and kimchi; sometimes, there’s pork belly slices, assorted meat, and eggs. It’s a great comfort food to have on rainy days or when you’re feeling under the weather. The dish featured prominently in Itaewon Class – Park Seo-joon’s character, Sae-ro-yi, enjoyed it with his father so much it was his favourite comfort food.
Nurungji is a scorched rice “cracker” produced by scorching cooked rice over heat, resulting in browned, toasted rice. It’s sticky yet crispy and nutty in flavour, with a delightfully aggressive chew. It was once a frugal Korean home cook’s way of using up every last grain of rice, and these days, it’s a popular snack. In Crash Landing On You, protagonist and heiress Yoon Se-Ri (Son Ye-jin) munches on these, dipped into sugar, during her time in the North.
Samgyetang (ginseng chicken) is a traditional Korean soup containing a whole young chicken, with garlic, rice, jujube, and ginseng. It’s a popular stamina food traditionally eaten during summer, because for Koreans, eating the hot soup is “fighting heat with heat.” In Descendents of the Sun, Shi-Jin (Song Joong-ki) and Dae-young (Jin Goo) are seen preparing samgyetang for their girlfriends – thanks to the show, sales of ginseng skyrocketed!
Chapaguri, or ram-don, is a combination of two different Korean instant noodles: “Jjapaghetti” and “Neoguri.” Jjapaghetti is an instant jajangmyeon, and Neoguri is a spicy udon dish, so the combination makes it savoury-sweet and spicy. The Oscar-winning film Parasite was probably responsible for introducing the world to this dish – in the film, King Chung Sook (Jang Hye-jin) hastily prepared the dish, served with premium beef steak.