As we know, there aren’t that many halal-certified restaurants in South Korea meanwhile that may seem daunting at first, you will come to realise that there are many other options out there for you to enjoy. If you are going to visit Korea, try being adventurous as their options are pretty much endless and don’t stick to the things you know and you’ll be amazed by how delicious Korean food can be. Without further ado, we have created a list of Muslim friendly Korean dishes, based on seafood and vegetables, side dishes and desserts that we think are worth the try!
Vegetable and Seafood-Based Main Dishes
1. Haemul Bap (해물밥)
Haemul bap is rice cooked with seafood and served with Yangnyeomjang (a spicy sauce). Haemul means seafood, and bap is rice. Many restaurants serve this dish using crab, salmon roe, prawns, cuttlefish, salmon and tuna. This type of rice bowl is very popular amongst locals as it filling as well as fast to prepare. Think of it as a Korean alternative to McDonald’s fast food and a must-eat during your Korea tour!
2. Stir-Fried Octopus (낙지볶음) Nakji-bokkeum
Nakji bokkeum is a very spicy octopus dish enjoyed by Koreans and visitors alike. Octopus tentacles are cut into bite-sized pieces then pan stir-fried with spicy gochujang (red chilli pepper paste) along with gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes), sesame oil, red/green chilli peppers, green onions, carrots and onions. This dish is best enjoyed with rice and side dishes such as kimchi.
If you are afraid of chilli, ask for a less spicy version by saying: “안맵게 해주세요.” – Ahnmepgae haejuseyo! (Please make it not spicy)
3. Mountain Vegetable Bibimbap (산채비빔밥) Sanchae Bibimbap
This delicious and nutritious meal traditionally consists of roots, sprouts, wild mountain greens and herbs, mixed with gochujang (red chilli paste) to add an oomph to the dish. An earthy fragrant dish filled with the taste of wild mountain vegetables like Bellflower roots, Mugwort, Ramps and Fernbrake. The bibimbap is served with rice in a sizzling hot stone bowl (dolsot). This version of bibimbap is different from the rest because the ingredients used are organic and fresh perfect for health fanatics.
4. Samseon Jajangmyeon (삼선 자장면)
Jajangmyeon is a very popular and fairly inexpensive Korean-Chinese fast food dish that can be prepared in minutes. Samseon Jajangmyeon incorporates seafood such as shellfish, shrimp and squid. The seafood and noodles are mixed with black bean sauce made from either soybean paste or sweet bean paste that is very flavourful. Most dishes are typically served with raw pieces of onion and slices of danmuji (yellow pickled radish)
You can ask for a meatless version by saying: “전 고기를 안 먹어요.” – Jeon gogi-reul an meogoyo ( I don’t eat meat)
5. Kimchi Stew (김치 찌개) Kimchi Jjigae
Kimchi stew is one of the most favourited stews in the local cuisine. It is spicy, savoury and warm scrumptious dish most locals enjoy only if they can handle the heat. This comfort dish is made from fermented kimchi, seafood such as prawns and anchovies, tofu, vegetables and gochujang for that flamin’ hot flavour. Kimchi stew is the Korean version of an ultimate lazy day dish.
8. Kimbap ( 김밥 )
Kimbap is favourite amongst the locals and is considered to be the perfect packed lunch. Kimbap can be made using a wide assortment of ingredients but the traditional kimbap uses bulgogi (meat), vegetables such as carrots and radish strips and omelette. The rice is seasoned with sesame oil and generous amount salt rather than vinegar and sugar which is often used in sushi. Kimbaps are so flavourful that you will not need to use soya sauce or any other dipping sauce. Grab a kimbap for a quick lunch after visiting Seoul attractions!
Tips: More than often, ham or spam are also added in kimbap so make sure to ask them to remove it along with any meat! You can say gogi-wa haem bbaejuseyo (please exclude meat and ham). Or to be safe, you can order a vegetarian version of it called Yachae Kimbap (야채김밥) instead!
9. Korean Potato Pancake (감자전) Gamja-jeon
Korean potato pancake is a savoury dish made from ground potatoes; it can be considered a meal or an appetizer depending on what you add to it. Most restaurants will add vegetables such as zucchini, scallions, chilli peppers for more flavour and garlic and sometimes serve it with some special chef’s sauce. A perfect bite on the go!
10. Seaweed Soup (미역국) Miyeok-guk
Koreans eat the Seaweed soup on birthdays as a celebration of one’s mother and also for regular meals. Seaweed soup is also the no.1 postnatal dish in Korea due to its amazing health benefits as it’s rich in calcium and iron; it can also be very soothing for the stomach. Boiled gently in anchovy or mussels broth, Seaweed soup is best eaten right after its cooked.
11. Korean Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup (짬뽕) Jjamppong
Seasonal catches such as fresh clams, mussels, shrimp and others are cooked with parsley, shiitake mushrooms and summer zucchini mixed with chilli paste to create a thick spicy sauce. Mixed with vegetables and seomyeon noodles this halal Korean spicy noodle dish is aromatic after being dashed with a hint of sesame oil. It is a light meal making it perfect for lunch in the summer!
12. Spicy Seafood Hot Pot (해물전골) Haemul Jeongo
Credit: Korean Bapsang
A flaming stew to warm you up from inside out, made out of fish, octopus, shrimp and other seafood as well as daikon, mushrooms, watercress and green onion. This seafood dish is heavily seasoned with chilli powder for a zesty, peppery flavour perfect for the cold winter months. This dish is similar to Tomyam, a Thai seafood-based soup.
13. Noodles in Cold Soy Milk Broth (콩국수) Kongguksu
When the weather’s hot and humid, this dish helps you to cool down. The seomyeon noodles in this dish are mixed with chilled soybean soup. This soup is made of pureed soybeans and seasoned lightly with salt. If you’re visiting Korea in the summer, then this dish must be a staple in your list of foods to try out as it’s served with young radish (yeolmu) kimchi and floating ice on the side.
Korean Side Dishes
14. Seasoned Soybean Sprouts (콩나물) Kongnamul
Seasoned soybean sprouts are perhaps one of the most common served side dishes in Korean restaurants. It’s also one of the vegetables used in bibimbap. This dish is generally mildly seasoned to relish the nutty and crunchy flavour of the soybean sprouts. It’s super delicious!
15. Spicy Radish Salad (무생채) Musaengchae
Korean radish is a white radish also known as daikon that has a slightly pungent and sweet taste. This spicy and crunchy radish salad has the flavour of Kimchi that has not been fermented, so it lighter in taste and scent. Gochugaru, garlic and saeujeot (salted shrimp) are mixed with the radish to give it more a flavour. This dish is slightly salty, so eat it with the main dish and be prepared to have water on a stand by!
16. Sigeumchi Namul (시금치나물 )
Sigeumchi namul is a simple but popular Korean side dish made from spinach and often added as a topping of bibimbap. ‘Namul’ means seasoned vegetable dish. The spinach is seasoned with garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. The spinach is only cooked for a short time, leaving it slightly crispy, but still soft and delicious.
17. Asian Chive Kimchi (부푸김치) Buchu-kimchi
Similarly to kimchi, Asian chive kimchi can be fermented, but we recommend that this dish is best eaten when it’s still fresh. This dish is made from chives, green onions and is mixed with fish sauce, gochugaru and sesame for a spicy and lively taste. Eat it with rice and a seafood hot pot, it’s super delicious!
18. Hotteok (호떡)
Hotteok is a Korean pancake with a variety of fillings and popular street food in Korea; it is just perfect for the winter months as its filling and warm! The most popular filling is Ssiat Hotteok with cinnamon, honey and nuts. This dessert is chewy and doughy on the inside and has a crispy exterior, with its sweet taste and crunchiness, Hotteok is a delightful dessert that you need to try.
19. Patbingsu (팥빙수)
Patbingsu is a common dessert across Asia and Korea has its own special version of shaved ice desserts. Korean patbingsu is a versatile dessert with combinations that are endless, but if you want to enjoy it the traditional way, then try it with shaved frozen milk, injeolmi, ground nut powder as well as pine nut, jujube red dates and adzuki beans. Though, you have the options of adding different flavoured ice cream, fruits and syrup. Enjoy in on a hot summer day!
20. Hwa-Gwaja (화과자)
Hwagwaja, literally meaning a flower cake, is a dessert that was only made for the royals during the Joseon period. Each Hwagwaja varies from the other as their shapes and designs represent something different like a type of flower. This dessert has a variety of fillings and nuts, sweet rice flowers, sweet potato and others. For those who have a sweet tooth and an eye for aesthetics, this dessert is perfect for you!
21. Yakgwa (약과)
Yakgwa is a delicious biscuit that is sticky and sweet – loved by locals, especially children. The sweetness of the honey put together with ginger and sesame oil makes this dessert one of the best halal Korean snacks.
22. Rice Cakes (떡) tteok
Rice cakes or tteok are a must-try in Korea as they are known as Korea’s favourite dessert. With the perfect balance of sweetness, they also come in many different shapes, colours and sizes. The filling of the rice cakes is generally chestnut or sesame covered by a plain layer of rice. If you’re not a fan of dessert that is too sweet, then tteok was made just for you.
Helpful Phrases To Order Halal/Muslim Friendly Korean Food
We know that sometimes the language barrier can be an issue when visiting a new country so we’ve prepared some phrases that are helpful for when ordering your halal Korean food.
I’m a vegetarian – 저는 채식자입니다, jeoneun chaesikja imnida
I can only eat vegetables and seafood –
저는 야채와 해물만 먹을 수있어요 – Jeoneun yachaewa haemulman meogeul suyiseoyo
Please remove the meat – 고기/햄 빼주세요 – Gogi pae juseyo
Does this dish have meat? – 이요리는 고기/햄 들어있어요? – Yi yorineun gogi duro isseoyo
Please do not put any meat – 고기/햄 넣지마세요 – Gogi neot ji maseyo
We hope that you enjoyed these selections of dishes, as they can be found nearly everywhere in Korea. We’ve stuck to Vegetarian and Seafood based dishes that will enable you to taste the best of the country.
Would you give these Halal Korean dishes a try?
If you are visiting Korea, let us know which dishes you’re interested to try or have already tried in the comment section below. If you’re visiting South Korea, we’ve prepared the 6 day essential Korea itinerary and flower blooming guide! Those who prefer to have all the travel arrangements taken care of instead, book Tripfez 5D4N fullboard Korea tour that includes Seoul, Nami island and Skiing with an experienced guide.