10 Korean Breakfast Dishes To Start Your Day in a Flavorful Way
Start your day in a flavorful way with these Korean breakfast dishes. Korean households take several different approaches to breakfast, and these recipes provide a solid starting point for exploring the Korean version of the morning meal. In traditional Korean cuisine, meals that include distinctly "breakfast-ish" dishes don't really exist. Korean households often structure their meals similarly regardless of the time of day, which means that rice, banchan (an assortment of small side dishes), soup, and cooked meats and proteins can all appear in a breakfast spread. That said, street food vendors and international visitors have informed the Korean perspective on breakfast, and toast with spreads, pancakes, omelets, and other morning eats can be found throughout the nation. This roundup of recipes reflects both the traditional breakfast model and the breakfast dishes that you can easily enjoy courtesy of street vendors in many Korean cities.
Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish seasoned with garlic, ginger, red pepper, and other spices. This salty, spicy, aromatic, and very healthy side dish appears on the table at Korean meals throughout the day. Kimchi can be customized to suit your particular preferences; for instance, this particular recipe includes persimmons.
Spicy Korean Rice Cakes
If you have a taste for spice and want a comfort-food meal for breakfast while visiting Seoul (or any other large town in South Korea), then seek out a street vendor and grab an order of tteokbokki (rice cakes). The "cakes" used for this dish are chewy rolls somewhat similar to pasta, and the sauce features varying levels of sweetness and heat, depending on who's making it (and who's eating it).
Korean Street Toast
Street vendors in South Korea have picked up on the ease and convenience of the egg sandwich, and their version, known as gilgeori toast or "street toast", consists of a fluffy egg-and-veggie scramble layered on buttery griddled toast, sometimes with the addition of meat (like ham) and cheese.
This popular dish often garners comparisons to American pancakes with fillings. "Hotteok is a street food in Korea. It's a flat bread filled with yumminess," says zhou, whose recipe uses a filling of sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. These bread pockets are highly customizable; feel free to experiment with different possibilities.
Kimbap is frequently compared to Japanese sushi, but the only true similarities between these two dishes are their seaweed wrappers and their inclusion of rice. Unlike sushi, kimbap does not involve raw fish or other raw seafood. Instead, the filling consists of eggs, meat, and vegetables. Kimbap shops are popular destinations for Koreans in search of breakfast, and this recipe fully dives into an East-West hybrid model by adding ham and American cheese to the kimbap.
Chopped kimchi and green onions combine with eggs and flour in these savory pancakes. The versatile batter welcomes all manner of leftover meat and vegetables. Eat them for breakfast or dinner, plain or topped with spicy mayo and dancing bonito flakes.
Strictly speaking, Dalgona coffee is not a Korean "breakfast dish." However, this whipped beverage made with instant coffee, sugar, hot water, and milk became a viral sensation throughout South Korea (and, ultimately, throughout the world), and in spite of its dessert-like sweetness, it still qualifies as a coffee drink, in much the same way that a Starbucks Frappuccino can be enjoyed first thing in the morning.
Kongnamool (Korean Soybean Sprouts)
Like kimchi, kongnamool is frequently included in a banchan line-up meant to accompany a larger meal (including breakfast) of meat or fish, rice, and soup. This preparation features a dressing of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce to flavor the crunchy sprouts and garnishes them with sesame seeds for some extra texture.
Korean Bean Curd (Miso) Soup
While miso soup (miso is a paste made with fermented soybeans) is often associated with Japanese cuisine, many Koreans also serve soybean-based soups and stews on a regular basis, and it's common to enjoy soybean soup as part of the first meal of the day. This version uses doenjang, a Korean fermented soybean paste that's very similar to miso, and recipe writer Esther describes her spin on this soup as "tasty, delicious, easy to make, and full of vegetables! This is a very simple Korean soup eaten with rice and other side dishes. Includes tofu, green squash, mushrooms, and onions. True Korean recipe!"
The main course of a Korean breakfast may include a hearty meat dish like these tender, slow-cooked short ribs. "This is the ultimate Korean comfort food," says KANGARYOO, the recipe submitter. "Sugar, corn syrup, and soy sauce can be adjusted to taste. The trick to tender ribs is a looong cooking time. Feel free to let it stew longer. Some versions in Korea also add chestnuts or dates to the stew."