23 Aug, 2021
The distinct spicy flavours of kimchi, the sizzle of thinly sliced meat on a Korean BBQ or the soft and comforting texture of dumplings – Korean food is diverse and always exciting.
If you’re planning a weekend of culinary adventure then a dinner party or a date night menu inspired by Korean recipes may be just the ticket.
Korean recipes to try this weekend
The first step to dabbling in the world of Korean food is to simply choose the dish you want to try recreating in your kitchen – and that’s harder than it sounds!
There’s no end of warming stews, spicy noodles and super sweet desserts to take your pick from. In this guide, we’ve handpicked some of our favourite Korean dishes that you can try yourself at home, paired with a glass of Dark Horse wine, of course.
Be sure to swap your usual cutlery for chopsticks to truly immerse yourself in the incredible Korean culture. Don’t panic though if you’re not a pro with chopsticks, it’s all about trying something new and not being afraid to fail.
Korean side dishes
Perfect those side dishes to indulge in while enjoying the main event. From spicy salads to recipes you’ll need to make time to prep beforehand, here’s what to serve alongside the main meal.
A staple on many a Korean restaurant menu, kimchi has become incredibly popular in the UK with many of us now dabbling in the art of creating our own at home.
Kimchi is essentially pickled vegetables – mainly cabbage – left to ferment in a delicious mixture of garlic, ginger, chilli, fish sauce and a generous dash of salt. Not a fan of cabbage? Then you can use carrot, radish or cucumber instead. Be bold and make it your own.
To make kimchi, you simply need to round everything up and squeeze into a jar. Then leave it to do its thing and ferment. We love this recipe which takes you through all the steps. When it’s ready, you’ll have a tangy, sour treat that goes with everything.
Serve and enjoy with a dry and citrusy Dark Horse Pinot Grigio that pairs seamlessly with the spicy tang of the kimchi.
Spicy cucumber salad
Cucumber’s just a little bit boring, right? Well, not anymore, with this simple but tasty salad. We love this recipe from Korean Bapsang.
Most of the ingredients for this Korean dish are pretty easy to get hold of – garlic, sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil and green onions – but you may need to check out a specialist Asian food store to pick up the star of the show, gochugaru. These are red pepper flakes that pack a punch, with a unique smoky flavour that we can’t get enough of and give your side dish that kick it needs.
Simply chop up your ingredients, throw them into a bowl and give them a good mix before serving alongside your main dish.
Dark Horse Merlot would be our wine of choice with this salad that brings the heat. With an aromatic flavour and notes of dark berry, it offsets the spice with ease.
Korean main meals
That’s right, it’s time for the main event and we have options for both carnivores and those who prefer to tuck into plant-based dishes.
When it comes to Korean dishes that should always take centre stage on the dinner table we’re thinking bulgogi. This is the Korean BBQ we’ve all dreamt of indulging in.
In authentic Korean restaurants, you can enjoy the novelty of cooking the meat yourself on clever hot plates in the centre of the tables but it’s easy enough to recreate bulgogi at home.
This hearty dish features delicate, thinly sliced strips of beef that can be stir fried or grilled and then enjoyed wrapped in lettuce with a generous spread of gochujang (a spicy red pepper paste). You may be able to find this paste in your local supermarket.
Our favourite bulgogi recipe to follow is this one from My Korean Kitchen – fun to make and absolutely delicious. A winning combination.
Looking for the right wine to pair with this meaty morsel?
A bold and earthy Dark Horse Malbec would be our preferred choice, with deep and fruity notes of blackberry and a wonderfully velvety finish. The hints of spice and dark chocolate notes only enhance the flavours of the red meat.
Top tip: How to use chopsticks
Many people enjoy Korean food with chopsticks and a spoon. The spoon is there for rice and soup but it’s considered bad manners to use both your spoon and chopsticks at the same time.
This helpful YouTube tutorial shows how to use Korean chopsticks like a pro. Here is a basic step-by-step on holding chopsticks:
- Hold the first stick in your hand like you might a pen or pencil and adjust so that about 2.5cms of the thicker end is sticking out past the bottom (base) of your thumb.
- The narrower end of the stick should rest against the ring finger around the base of the nail, keeping the first two fingers free for manipulating the second stick.
- Hold the second stick by pinching it under the tip of your thumb against the underside of the index finger’s tip. The thick end should roughly line up with the first stick and you should rest the narrower end against the middle finger so that it runs along the edge of the finger nail.
- From here, you manipulate the index and middle fingers to move stick two and pinch food together between chopsticks.
- The second stick will do most of the work, pinching the food against stick one which shouldn’t move.
Bibimbap is to Korea what ramen is to Japan. A delicious staple Korean meal that we can’t get enough of. You have the option of topping this popular dish with either beef or an egg that’s been cooked sunny side up.
A layer of slow cooked rice is topped with thinly sliced and seasoned vegetables (cucumber, carrot, courgette, beansprouts, spinach and mushrooms) before you place your egg on top.
It’s a wonderfully colourful meal that guests will enjoy snapping some shots of, to share on Instagram later.
This Korean recipe is enhanced with a generous dash of oil and our favourite spicy accompaniment, gochujang.
If you want to give bibimbap a go for the first time, this easy BBC Good Food recipe is a great place to start.
When you’re looking for a wine to pair with bibimbap, we think a crisp white is needed to cut through the spice profile of this dish. The Dark Horse Sauvignon Blanc boasts notes of citrus fruit and pink grapefruit that’s clean on the palate – ideal to balance this bright, delicious meal.
For those of us with a sweet tooth, Korean recipes certainly don’t disappoint. The perfect finisher to any Korean themed dinner party is yakgwa or Korean honey cookies.
Super sweet and pretty simple to whip up for intermediate chefs, yakgwa will satisfy any dessert lover. If we were to create this moreish Korean dessert from scratch, we’d follow this great recipe from The Spruce Eats.
Sweet honey, bold sake and flour are the three key ingredients to stir together before being baked then drizzled in a decadent glaze of more honey, ginger and rice malt syrup. Pair these indulgent cookies, still warm from the oven, with a glass of Dark Horse Chardonnay.
This wine’s smooth, caramelly notes complement the sweetness wonderfully, so you can truly indulge.
Ready to whip up some incredible Korean recipes in the kitchen? Try your hand at our suggestions and be sure to pair your meal with the perfect wine to enhance the flavours.