Korean food is always a good choice, but how does it compare to common dishes of other cultures?
Korean cuisine presents a large variety of unique flavors and dishes. However, there are a few dishes that happen to have similar characteristics to those of other cultures. Whether it be by name, concept, or preparation, some might find it confusing to see the differences between these Korean foods and their foreign counterparts.
Hwe and Sashimi
Hwe, alternatively known as “saengseon-hoe” or “hweh,” is a South Korean dish that consists of thinly sliced raw fish, similarly to how the Japanese dish of sashimi is prepared. Although they have a similar preparation, the difference is in what other foods they’re paired with. While sashimi is usually served with a few additions, including soy sauce, ginger, or wasabi, hwe is often served with many sides. Additionally, sashimi is commonly the main dish, but hwe is eaten as a side and is served along with other dishes.
Samgak-Kimbap and Onigiri
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Unlike hweh and sashimi, which have many differences, samgak-kimbap and onigiri are essentially the same dish with different fillings. Both are commonly wrapped in seaweed and are created by wrapping rice around a type of filling. However, the samgak-kimbap often includes kimchi and different meats. Onigiri, on the other hand, may include, pickled vegetables, fish roe, squid, and many other various fillings.
Dosirak and Bento
Few things are as satisfying as a packed lunch, and both Korean and Japanese culture have found their answer to a lunch-on-the-go. For Koreans, the answer is a dosirak. While it’s not uncommon to find dosirak that separate rice from side dishes, yennal-dosirak (“old time dosirak”) usually includes rice, fried eggs, sausages, and kimchi, and are meant to be shaken before being eaten. Contrarily, Japanese bento separates a section of rice from various Japanese side dishes, which may include broiled salmon, rolled omelettes, fried chicken, and more.
Pajeon and Scallion Pancakes
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Fried food is a common culinary aspect across almost all cultures. In Korean and Chinese culture specifically, one of the most common foods to fry is scallions. Both the Korean pajeon and the Chinese scallion pancake involves cooking scallions in pancakes, but they accomplish it in different manners. In pajeon, scallions are left mostly whole, and the pajeon is light as a result of its batter base. Chinese scallion pancakes, however, involve minced scallions and are made from a dough rather than a batter, producing a more dense pancake.
Mandu and Jiaozi
While both the Korean mandu and the Chinese jiaozi are forms of dumplings, the main difference between the two dishes lies in their methods of preparation. The two types of dumpling are commonly filled with meat and vegetables, but the types of mandu vastly outnumber the recognized types jiaozi. Jiaozi is typically classified as one of the three ways it is cooked, by being steamed, boiled, or pan-fried. Mandu, however, can be classified by shape, fillings, or preparation method. For example, gullin-mandu refers to ball-shaped mandu that lacks a covering, and eo-mandu refers to mandu that are wrapped in a sliced fish filet.
Overall, while certain dishes may appear similar, there are various qualities that distinguish each dish. Similarities in foods can even be related to other cultures and cuisines as well! Certain qualities may make different cultures seem similar, but each culture’s individual interpretation of these qualities causes them to be unique in their own right.
Written by Kyle Voong