Korean cuisine is famous for its lively flavors and tasty pairings. Just like a perfectly matched K-drama couple or K-pop ship enhances entertainment, the pleasure of eating Korean food is heightened by well-paired combinations. Whether it's the exciting mix of savory flavors or the refreshing contrast that cleanses the palate, Korean food offers a range of tastes that are best enjoyed together in harmony.
Check out some of our favorite and recommended Korean food pairings here:
Chicken and Beer
Korean fried chicken is a culinary masterpiece on its own, and when paired with an ice-cold draft beer in the classic "chimaek" tradition (combining chicken and maekju, which means beer), your dining experience is sure to reach new heights. Regardless of your nationality, the combination of crispy fried chicken and beer is universally enjoyable.
Jeon and Makgeolli
In South Korea, there's another delightful food combination that goes hand in hand with their traditional liquor. Jeon, a type of Korean pancake, is paired with makgeolli, a rice wine, and is especially enjoyed during rainy weather. Interestingly, the taste of makgeolli is enhanced when sipped from a gold metal bowl, mirroring the way locals prefer to enjoy it.
Tteokbokki and Twiggim
Tteokbokki, or spicy rice cakes, pairs well with various items, but the classic combination is with twiggim, which includes deep-fried options like shrimp, dumplings, seaweed rolls, and more. When you visit a local tteokbokki stand, it's common for the vendors, often seen with ahjummas, to offer a variety of fried foods alongside spicy rice cakes.
Goguma and Kimchi
While it may seem unusual to some, Koreans have a fondness for pairing grilled sweet potatoes, or goguma, with kimchi. Before each bite, locals often place a slice of kimchi on top of the sweet potato. This combination creates a balance by offsetting the sweetness of the goguma with the sour and spicy flavors of kimchi.
Jjajangmyeon and Tangsuyuk
You might be familiar with the popular pairing of jjajangmyeon (black bean noodles) and tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork) from K-dramas or variety shows. This combo is often a go-to for locals, especially for those who have recently moved to a new area. Korean-Chinese restaurants typically offer these dishes together. If sweet and sour pork isn't your preference, an alternative to pair with jjajangmyeon is fried mandu (dumplings).
From our list of suggested Korean food pairings, which one are you most interested in trying?