Do you have a passion for a life full of spice? Do you love to take a walk on the wild side?
If that sounds like you, then read on, because we’ve put together a list of our favorite spicy Korean foods that are NOT for the faint of heart!
There are tons of delicious Korean foods you can sample that aren’t terribly spicy, but if “too spicy” isn’t in your vocabulary and you’re not afraid of food that’ll make your eyes well up with tears, try the tasty dishes on this list. Spicy food is hugely popular in Korea and it’s one of the many cultural treats you can encounter here. If you live to tell the tale, be sure to let us know which of these spicy Korean foods is your favorite in the comments below!
Spicy Korean Food #1: Chicken feet (닭발 | dakbal)
Korea isn’t the only Asian country in which chicken feet is a popular dish, but they do take a unique approach to preparation that sets Korean chicken feet apart from other variations. This Korean dish is an intimidating dish for a couple of reasons – first of all, you have to get over the fact that you’re eating chicken feet (talons and all). After that initial shock, though, you also have to be willing to eat one of the spiciest Korean dishes out there – that’s what makes this dish one for the true food adventurists!
If you’re brave enough to try chicken feet, we commend you AND you’ll have bragging rights for the rest of your life. Give this a try the next time you’re out with somebody special you’d like to impress!
Spicy Korean Food #2: Spicy Jokbal (매운족발 | maeunjokbal)
Spicy Jokbal is the spicy version of jokbal, a popular snack in Seoul eateries. This dish features tender, steamed pork that melts in your mouth tossed in a super spicy sauce and topped with scallions and sesame seeds for added texture.
Not quite as intense as chicken feet, this is a dish for anyone who loves spice but doesn’t want to feel like they were punched in the face by the spice content of their meal. Give this a try the next time you’ve been out with friends enjoying some alcoholic beverages – for some reason, the spice pairs very well with sake!
Spicy Korean Food #3: Ramyeon (라면)
Oh, ramyeon. Ramyeon is a dish that all Koreans are VERY well acquainted with – it’s easy to make, can be dressed up with anything in your fridge, and is very inexpensive, which makes it the perfect “It’s only Wednesday and I don’t get paid until Friday” meal!
Although there are nine million ways to prepare and enjoy ramyeon, most Koreans like their ramyeon as spicy as possible. Something about the combination of the tender noodles and the intense spice of popular brands like Shin Ramyeon makes this snack an easy one to love. Pick up some ramyeon the next time you want a low-maintenance meal that’ll still take your taste buds for a whirl – for extra spice, add some Korean hot sauce to make things really interesting!
Spicy Korean Food #4: Tteokbokki (떡볶이)
Tteokbokki is a crowd favorite when it comes to Korean street food: featuring fish cakes and rice cakes covered in an aromatic sweet and spicy sauce, there’s a lot to love about this dish. It’s no surprise that it’s as popular as it is!
While most tteokbokki incorporates a sauce that has a good mix of spicy and sweet elements, some tteokbokki vendors crank up the heat and produce a snack that’s sure to make your eyes water. Tteokbokki can be found at restaurants and street food trucks alike, so it’s easy to find if you’re up to try this beloved Korean dish. Pick up some tteokbokki the next time you want a simple but filling snack and find out what all of the fuss is about! We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Spicy Korean Food #5: Buldak (불닭)
Buldak rose to fame about ten years ago as an extremely spicy dish that Korean eaters can’t seem to stay away from. Often served covered in melted cheese, buldak is a very seasoned chicken marinated in a fiery sauce that will make you feel like your stomach is on fire.
Buldak is usually served over rice cakes or steamed egg casserole to help counteract the spiciness, this dish is not for the faint of heart. Pick up some buldak if you’re a glutton for punishment and feel the burn!
Spicy Korean Food #6: Donkatsu (돈까스 | donkkaseu)
Your tongue has never experienced anything like the spice factor of donkatsu! This dish features an out-of-this-world spicy pork cutlet covered in dark red chili sauce that looks kind of like blood – talk about intimidating!
You can find a dish called ‘Donkatsu of Death’ at Onnuriye Donkatsu in Seoul, which is just as frighteningly spicy as it sounds. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, and make sure you bring a gallon of milk (or two) to help you cope with the spiciness. Let us know in the comments below if you were brave enough to try the Donkatsu of Death (and lived to tell the tale)!
Spicy Korean Food #7: Galbi Jjim (갈비찜)
Another extremely popular Korean dish, galbi jjim is a stew of braised short ribs that are served tender enough that they’ll fall apart in your mouth. Though there are savory and sweet elements incorporated to balance the dish out, galbi jjim is served spicy enough that a couple of bites are all you’ll need before you start feeling the heat. In fact, it’s so spicy that if you order this dish at a restaurant, your server will often recommend also ordering a steamed egg alongside the stew to counteract the heat!
This dish is a popular one to make at home on special occasions, so bust out your Korean recipe knowledge and make some galbi jjim the next time you’re headed to a party or holiday celebration. You’ll be sure to ‘wow’ the other guests!
Do you have a favorite spicy Korean food that isn’t on this list? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!