I started writing a post about my kids’ favorite soups, then I realized that almost all of them were Korean dishes. So I decided to do a roundup of their favorite Korean foods instead!
Korean food is largely based on brothy soups and hearty stews. I introduced soups like miyuk guk (seaweed soup) to my kids shortly after they started solids. They’re excellent first foods because rice, the base of Asian cuisine, is hypoallergenic, and when it’s mixed with a soup, the consistency is very easy for children to digest. Plus seaweed is so good for you! For the most part the 8 soups I’ve included below have mild flavor profiles, so I think most kids would enjoy them as well. Korean dishes are usually quick and easy to cook with the same key ingredients, so it is my go-to cuisine for dinner.
Kimbap (Korean Rice Rolls) – This is one of the most popular Korean foods that children especially love in their lunches and on special occasions. I don’t make it very often because the individual ingredients can be pretty labor intensive, but I regularly buy it from the market. Kimbap can be made with many different ingredients, and the most popular include beef or Korean sausage, egg, carrot, cucumber, yellow daikon and spinach.
Donkatsu (Breaded Pork Cutlet) – Originating in Austria as schnitzel, the Japanese made their own version called donkatsu, and the Korean adaptation is called donkaseu. Donkaseu restaurants are super popular in Korea, and there are some excellent ones in Los Angeles’ Koreatown as well. It’s typically made with pork, but delicious with chicken too. I usually serve this with miso soup on the side and omit the gravy because my kids don’t care for it.
Seogogi Jeon (Beef Pancakes) – A ground beef meat patty with egg batter, you can also add tofu to it as well for a super soft texture. Perfect for lunch boxes!
Dongtae Jeon (Pollack Pancakes) – Similar to the beef recipe above but using fish.
Galbitang (Beef Shortrib Soup) – This is very similar to a beef bone broth with a light and delicate flavor imparted by the radish.
Sullungtang (Ox Bone Soup) – I would never make this at home because it’s too time intensive (the bones are cooked for hours to give the broth that milky white color), but if you have a Koreatown near you, this is one of the most popular, traditional Korean soups. My kids love this so much I typically buy 5 orders from a restaurant and freeze it.
Mu Guk (Beef Radish Soup) – This soup is typically prepared for a traditional ceremony called jaesa where Koreans honor their ancestors, which my family participates in every year. This is a super simple beef and radish/daikon soup that is still very flavorful.
Odeng Guk (Fish Cake Soup) – This soup is often sold on Korean street carts and is a favorite of children. Fish cakes come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and varieties so you can make this as fancy or as simple as you like.
Mandu Guk (Dumpling Soup) – My kids love dumplings of all kinds and they work great in soups! You can also add dduk (rice cakes) to this recipe, but I usually don’t because I make a separate dduk guk (rice cake soup). Korean and Japanese markets typically carry many kinds of frozen dumplings so you don’t have to make them from scratch.
Ddukguk (Rice Cake Soup) – This dish is traditionally served on New Year’s. My kids get dressed up traditional Korean attire, bow to their ancestors/elders, and eat this soup! I serve this every year on New Year’s and my kids love it!
Miyuk guk (Seaweed Soup) – This is the quintessential traditional Korean soup that new moms eat every day postpartum, as well as on birthdays. My kids love this soup and I make it very frequently and serve it with rice. Sometimes I make a huge pot and freeze it — it freezes beautifully! Mrs. High Heels shared this traditional postpartum recipe that uses ox tail bones, but I typically just use stew beef because it is more readily available at my local market.
Dak Juk (Chicken Porridge) – There are similar variations of this dish like congee in Chinese culture and arroz caldo in Filipino culture. It tastes very similar to another Korean dish samgyetang, but omits ingredients like ginseng and dates that are harder to find that kids won’t miss anyway. Juk is usually served when someone is sick, but I make it frequently as it’s one of my kids’ favorite meals.
Buguh Guk (Dried Pollack Soup) – I don’t make this soup that often but my mom does and the kids always eat it up! I’m always happy when I can get them to eat fish.
Jjajangmyun (Noodles in Black Bean Sauce) – This is probably most kids’ favorite food in Korea. The flavor profile is a little strong so not all kids may like it right away. We would eat this with friends at a local restaurant every Saturday after Korean school!
Tangsuyuk (Sweet and Sour Pork/Beef) – Along with jjajangmyun, we’d order tangsuyuk after Korean school. There are a lot of ethnically Chinese living in Korea, and a distinct Korean-Chinese cuisine emerged that adopted local ingredients. Jjajangmyun and tangsuyuk are among those dishes, and are typically eaten at restaurants or delivered to homes.
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Even though this is a wide variety of Korean foods that my kids enjoy, they still haven’t experienced my favorite dishes because most Korean dishes are very spicy. I didn’t include some popular dishes that other children typically enjoy like japchae (stir fried glass noodles) and bulgogi (Korean beef bbq) that my kids haven’t learned to love yet. But I’m hoping to raise Korean food lovers for life!
Do you have any favorite Korean dishes?