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    18 Korean Foods That Have Been Featured In "Kim's Convenience"

    To eat and drink while watching Season 5.

    With the final season of Kim's Convenience waiting to be devoured on Netflix, here are 18 Korean foods that were mentioned or made an appearance in seasons one through four of the show.

    CBC / Via giphy.com

    What better way to savor Kim's Convenience than by devouring these during your personal watch party?

    1. Galbi Jjim

    Umma and Jung serving galbi jjim at the church bazar and smiling as someone receives the galbi jjim.
    CBC / Via cbc.ca

    Galbi jjim is braised beef short ribs and one of the most frequently mentioned dishes in Kim's Convenience. Umma describes it as, "Korean beef stew. Sweet and savory." This tender meat dish is usually served on special occasions and festive holidays. 

    While Umma has made it for a church bazaar and a "welcome home dinner" for Janet, which was simultaneously a "goodbye to Gerald" dinner, she has also offered to make it for Janet during a non-holiday because it's Janet's favorite. The traditional cooking method is labor intensive, though using an Instant Pot or slow cooker can shorten the cooking time. Although it takes a while to make, it is "worth every minute," according to Umma. For those unsure of how to pronounce this dish, Umma gives Pastor Nina a lesson in Season 1, Episode 9.

    2. Kimchee

    Peter Meade / Getty Images, CBC

    Although Kimchee is a character on the show, his moniker is based on the Korean pickled and fermented vegetable dish. Kimchee (also spelled kimchi) has a wide range of tastes and spice levels based on the different types of vegetables, seasonings, and spices used. This traditional side dish usually uses Napa cabbage, though many other vegetables such as Korean radish, carrots, and cucumbers are also used. Garlic, salt (ideally coarse sea salt), scallions, gochugaru (chile flakes or chile powder), and ginger are a few examples of the many additional ingredients that can be used to create kimchee. Kimchee can be eaten alone or added to other kinds of Korean cuisine like fried rice. Janet also used kimchee as an ingredient to make bin dae duk (see #16). Large amounts of kimchee are made every year in late autumn at an event called kimjang (also spelled as gimajang).

    3. Gimbap

    spilled gimbap on the floor
    CBC

    Gimbap (also spelled kimbap) is a cooked rice roll wrapped in lightly toasted seaweed with various fillings like vegetables, meat, and fish. It is one of the most popular dishes that appears in Kim’s Convenience. This bite-size dish is convenient for picnics and field trips and can be eaten as a snack, appetizer, or meal. Japanese sushi uses vinegar to season the white rice and usually raw fish as one of the fillings, while Korean gimbap uses sesame oil to season the rice, cooked or preserved seafood or meat as one of the fillings, and white, brown, or black rice. 

    Gimbap is first mentioned in Kim’s Convenience when Umma comes over to drop off gimbap and other dishes at Jung and Kimchee’s apartment but abruptly leaves after learning that Jung is applying to be an assistant manager at Handy Car Rental. In another episode, Umma accidentally knocks over Mrs. Park’s gimbap at the church bazaar after hugging Jung.

    4. Sundubu Jjigae

    woman eats a soft tofu soup
    Hxyume / Getty Images

    Sundubu jjigae is a hot velvety tofu dish with vegetables. Additional ingredients like seafood (such as shrimp or oysters), meat (such as pork or beef), and mushrooms (such as enoki or shiitake) are sometimes used. Janet, her cousin Nayoung, Gerald, and Semira eat this dish at a Korean restaurant. Janet describes this dish with unpressed and unstrained tofu as "steamed tofu stew" to Gerald and Semira. 

    Sundubu jjigae arrives bubbling hot in a stone or porcelain bowl, which is the very same bowl that was used to cook it. This allows for a raw egg to be added and immediately cooked due to the hot temperature. Adding an egg to sundubu jjigae, which Janet's cousin Nayoung demonstrates via cracking an egg into Janet's dish much to her dismay, is optional. Sundubu jjigae was also mentioned when Chelsea asked Umma if she could show her how to make it since she enjoyed eating it with her. Note: The "sun" in "sundubu" means "pure," while "sundubu" means "mild tofu," and "jjigae" means "stew."

    5. Yogeoteu Drink

    jung asking if "yogeoteu" is just the korean pronunciation of yogurt
    CBC

    After a prolonged absence at the Kim's Convenience store, Jung returns to help Janet with a leaky ceiling. Once he finishes helping Janet with the plumbing problem, Jung nostalgically remembers some fond memories since he hasn't been back at the store since he was 16. Jung recalls drinking yogeoteu and then has an epiphany, asking Janet, "Is 'yogeoteu' just the Korean pronunciation of yogurt?" which she confirms is true. 

    Though yogeoteu is indeed yogurt and the Kim family refers to yogeoteu as the yogurt drink they consume, yogurt (yogeoteu) and yogurt drinks are not the same thing. Although a specific yogeoteu drink isn't mentioned in the show, Yakult, which has been popular in Korea for over 40 years (and was seen in To All the Boys I've Loved Before), and Maeil Biofeel (a generic Korean brand of Yakult) are two specific brands of the yogeoteu drink you might want to enjoy while watching Season 5.

    6. Gori Gomtang

    Jung saying "gori gomtang, huh?"
    CBC

    Shortly after Jung fixed the leaky ceiling, Janet told him, "Umma made some gori gomtang. You want me to heat some up for you?" Gori gomtang (also spelled kkori gomtang) is Korean oxtail soup, which is simmered slowly for hours to infuse the deep and complex flavor of bones and cartilage into the soup. Parboiling or cooking some of the bones first is an essential step when making gori gomtang. This bone broth soup has tender chunks of meat with some recipes also including Korean radish or daikon. Toppings traditionally include green onions (sesame seeds are optional). Gori gomtang is typically served with rice on the side, which can be added to the soup.

    7. Yakbap

    Janet saying "there's yakbap, too"
    CBC

    After offering gori gomtang to Jung, Janet also mentioned, "There's yakbap, too." Yakbap (also called yaksik) is a sweet glutinous flat rice cake with honey, chestnuts, pine nuts, and jujubes (Korean dates). This traditional Korean dish dates back to over 1,500 years. The typical way of cooking it is by steaming it two times, though some now cook it in the oven, rice cooker, or pressure cooker. It is served at festive occasions like weddings, hwangap celebrations (which celebrate one's 61st birthday, though in the US it would be for a person's 60th), and holidays like Jeongwol Daeboreum during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. "Yak" in "yakbap" and "yaksik" means "medicine," which used to be a term synonymous with honey. "Bap" means "cooked rice," and "sik" means "food." When literally translated, yakbap means "medicinal rice," while yaksik means "medicinal food."

    8. Insam Energy Beverage

    Appa is offering a customer Insam Energy Beverage.
    CBC / Via youtube.com

    After Appa offered a customer Insam Energy Beverage, he explained that "ginseng" is the Japanese word for the Korean insam ingredient used in the beverage. Insam is a root plant, with Korean insam considered to be of high quality. There is wild insam that grows on mountains, wild cultivated insam (insam that is planted on mountains and left to its own devices as if it were wild insam), and cultivated insam. 

    Wild insam is endangered worldwide and thus rare and highly prized. Cultivated insam began in the 14th century, with both fresh and dried insam exported from South Korea. There are various kinds of insam based on the processing. Soo-sam, for example, is fresh insam that has been gathered between four to six years after seeding. Baek-sam is soo-sam that's five or six years old. Insam can be consumed as tea, an alcoholic drink, a side dish, or as an ingredient for other dishes like chicken stew.

    9. Jjajangmyeon

    Jung suggesting a date
    CBC

    Jjajangmyeon (also spelled jajangmyeon) is a Chinese-influenced Korean black bean noodle dish with vegetables (like potatoes and zucchini) and meat (like pork). The sauce consists of chunjang, a black bean paste composed of soybeans, caramel sauce, and fermented wheat flour. Chunjang, vegetables (like onions), and meat are fried in oil, though some chunjang can be bought pre-fried. Traditionally, and at some restaurants even today, chunjang is fried in pork fat. When seafood is used in place of meat, the dish is called samseon jjajangmyeon. There are other kinds of jjajangmyeon, such as euni jjajangmyeon, which has ground meat. Thinly sliced cucumbers typically serve as a garnish for the jjajangmyeon and add some brightness and contrast to the dish in terms of color and flavor. Additional toppings can include an egg or danmuji (yellow pickled radish).

    Jung suggested to Grace, whom he hadn't seen since high school, that they eat jjajangmyeon after both their mothers did a "sneak attack" on them and showed up at the restaurant where they were going to eat dinner. Jjajangmyeon isn't actually shown in the show, especially since Grace is interested in eating a cheeseburger and poutine.

    10. Pork Rind Chips

    Janet, Gerald, Appa and Umma are in the store with Appa grabbing hold of the pork rind chips.
    CBC / Via getyarn.io

    Pork rind chips are a savory crunchy snack high in protein and fat that are like chicharrones. They can be baked, fried, deep fried, or grilled and have a crackly, bubbly texture. Pork rind refers to pig skin. In Season 1 when Janet got a new job at Handy Car Rental, Umma said, "No, Janet, you work here. You tell them it's mistake. Tell her, Appa." Appa deflected the comment by turning to Umma and saying, "You know what's a big mistake? Pork rind. Never sell. Look. What part of pig is a 'rind?' Nobody know that." In Season 2 when Janet arrived at Jung and Kimchee's apartment to begrudgingly watch Pirates of the Caribbean with them, she ended up eating pork rinds with Kimchee and explaining how she felt FOMO because Gerald was invited to an art party and she wasn't.

    11. Mandu

    Umma and Appa’s chopsticks clash over the last mandu.
    CBC / Via Screenshot of Facebook: kimsconvenience

    Mandu is a Korean dumpling with a savory filling enveloped in a thin wrapper. This versatile dish can be deep fried, pan fried, boiled, or steamed (in a modern steamer or traditional bamboo steamer). While meat (like pork or beef) and vegetables (like green onions and Napa cabbage) are typical fillings and seafood like shrimp can be used, there are truly endless combinations of ingredients that can serve as fillings. There are also numerous ways to fold a mandu, such as by folding it into a half moon shape or shaping it in other ways with different pleats.

    Mandu was mentioned during dinner when Appa asked Umma if she wanted the last mandu. Although she declined and insisted that he have it, Appa said he didn't want any, so Umma decided to eat it. Their chopsticks clashed when she tried to retrieve the mandu. Appa asked why she wouldn't just communicate when she wanted something. Umma agreed, saying, "OK, I want the last mandu," and proceeded to eat it. Little did Appa know what would happen next. Umma then stated that she wanted Appa to clear the table and do the laundry. Appa returned, "OK, OK. You don't have to say everything you want." When Umma continued by saying she wanted him to fix the faucet, Appa retorted, "I want you to stop."

    12. Banchan

    Umma, Appa, and Pastor Nina are at the Kims’ dining table about to eat dinner.
    CBC / Via Screenshot from youtube.com

    Although not explicitly mentioned by name, banchan is seen during many meals at the Kims' dining table and at the Korean restaurant Janet, Nayoung, Gerald, and Semira visit. Banchan (also known as bansang) is translated as "side dishes" and are usually served in small dishes. Cucumber salad, potato salad, kimchee, seasoned soybean sprouts, fish cake, braised potatoes, and pickled radish are a few examples of the many different kinds of light, flavorful, and colorful banchan. Rice usually accompanies the banchan, which is considered part of the meal as opposed to appetizers. Like rice, soup is also considered a separate food from banchan. Note: Banchan is used for both the singular and plural form of side dishes.

    13. Seaweed Side Dish

    Umma is using her chopsticks to pick up a seaweed side dish while talking to Appa at the table.
    CBC / Via Screenshot from youtube.com

    This seaweed side dish or banchan was not explicitly discussed, but it was seen when Appa and Umma were eating dinner and having a discussion about the last mandu. Later on the seaweed banchan made another appearance during a dinner in which Appa wouldn't eat rice because, he said, "It's a good idea to stay away from starch," according to their new neighbor Daniel. 

    The seaweed banchan is from the Miyeok Julgi. Miyeok is also called brown seaweed, sea mustard, “qundaicai” in Chinese, "wakame" in Japanese, and “fougère des mers” in French. "Julgi" means "stem" in Korean. The Miyeok Julgi can be turned into a savory banchan or another kind of banchan called Miyeok Muchim, which is similar to a sweet and tangy salad. The Miyeok Julgi that Appa and Umma eat usually has garlic and sesame oil, with sesame seeds as a topping.

    14. Poktanju

    Jung and Appa are at a club and about to toast before drinking.
    CBC / Via Screenshot

    Through a miscommunication, Appa met Jung at a club while Jung thought he was meeting up with a "cool bass player." Appa tried to order two poktanjus, but when the bartender didn't understand what he was ordering, Appa ordered two boilermakers instead because Jung had mentioned earlier that he drank it. After taking a sip of the boilermaker, Appa stated, "This isn't poktanju. It's good, but not poktanju." 

    While similar to a boilermaker in that it is also a mixed drink with a small glass of one drink dropped into a larger glass containing another drink, pokantaju is made when a shot glass of soju is placed into a glass of beer. Poktanju is also known as a soju bomb. After exhausting their small talk about the Toronto Blue Jays, Jung turned to the bartender and said, "Excuse me, do you have soju for a soju bomb?"

    15. Soju

    The hands of two people holding soju glasses show that they are toasting.
    Plan Shooting 2 / Getty Images / ImaZinS RF

    Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage with most brands made in South Korea. Although soju is typically made from sweet potato or potato nowadays, it is traditionally made from barley, rice, or wheat. Soju tastes clean with a hint of sweetness and an undercurrent of bitterness. After Jung ordered two sojus for a soju bomb (poktanju), Appa reached into his wallet to pay. Jung said, "Appa, I got it." Appa, though appreciative of the gesture, replied, "It's OK. I have lots of money." As Appa started to give the bartender money and found out the bill was $64.50, he amended his previous statement, remarking, "Yeah. This is just tip. My son pay for this." After dropping their soju into their beer glasses, Appa told Jung, "Geonbae." Jung then lifted his glass to clink it against Appa's and said, "Geonbae," which is the Korean version of "bottom's up," because it literally means "empty glass."

    16. Bin Dae Duk

    CBC / Via cbc.ca, CBC

    Bin Dae Duk (also spelled bindae-tteok) are Korean pancakes made from mung beans with a crunchy exterior and soft interior. No flour is used, but sometimes meat (like ham) and vegetables are added to it. When Janet finds out that Gerald and Chelsea bought some ready-made bin dae duk, she says, "Don't mean to go all food snob on you, but my mom makes them from scratch. Peels the mung beans and everything." Janet insists that the toaster version is inferior, saying, "When they're fresh, they're amazing." After Chelsea mentions that the ones "fresh from the toaster are smelling pretty good," Janet declares, "You have to try my mom's. Oh, I'll get her to make us some." She is then horrified when Chelsea and Gerald add syrup to their pancakes, since bin dae duk is savory. Dipping sauces can include at least one of the following or a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar.

    Janet later asks Umma to make bin dae duk, who declines, saying, "Janet, bin dae duk is tricky." When Janet doesn't seem to understand how labor intensive it is, Umma asserts, "You want bin dae duk, you make bin dae duk." Janet then decides to make them from scratch herself. She ends up making traditional bin dae duk, which includes kimchee, and later apologizes to Umma for not realizing how "intense" it is to cook.

    17. Kongbiji Jjigae

    Janet sitting at her laptop and telling Umma she is thinking of making Kongbiji Jjigae
    CBC

    Buoyed by her success making bin dae duk, Janet tells Umma that she's thinking of making kongbiji jjigae, a cold-weather comfort food. As mentioned earlier when describing sundubu jjigae, jjigae means stew (see #4). This particular stew has ground soybeans made from leftover tofu and can include pork ribs, green onions, kimchee, gochugaru, and garlic. Competing claims are made as to whether the stock is best made with anchovies and kelp or made with pork or made with all three ingredients. Dried soybeans need to be rinsed and soaked in cold water for several hours ahead of time, with some recipes requiring that the skins be removed afterwards. An Instant Pot can be used to cut down on the cooking time.

    18. Japchae

    Janet holding a cup saying she can't find shiitake mushrooms at the store
    CBC

    Japchae (also spelled chapchae) is a brightly colored sweet potato glass noodle dish with meat and vegetables. Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced carrots, spinach, onions, bell peppers (or a Korean chile pepper), eggs (optional), and sesame seeds are among the many ingredients responsible for this colorful dish and different textures and flavors. Stir-frying each ingredient separately is ideal, not only because each ingredient requires a separate cooking time, but also because this maintains the color of each ingredient and enhances the textures and flavors. 

    After successfully cooking bin dae duk, Janet continues her culinary adventures and shares this with Umma, recounting how she made japchae and used oyster mushrooms instead of shiitake mushrooms because she couldn't find any.

    Bonus: Chammo Instant Spicy Ramen Noodles

    Kimchee, Shannon, and Terence are seated at a table at Handy Car Rental. Chammo Instant Spicy Ramen Noodles are in front of Shannon and Terence.
    CBC / Via Screenshot

    After Terence adds an impressive amount of wasabi to his sushi and eats it without any consequence, everyone at Handy Car Rental starts to call him Wasabi except for Kimchee, who is not only unimpressed by Terence's wasabi feat but also feels that Terence's nickname is too close to Kimchee's own nickname. In an attempt to get Terence's nickname retracted by proving that he has a higher tolerance for spice, Kimchee makes Chammo Instant Spicy Ramen Noodles for the both of them. He explains that "chammo" means "Korean for 'take it,' like 'take the heat.'" Kimchee's plan backfires when Shannon starts eating it and Terence realizes he is not hungry because he just ate, "and you know, noodle backwash." Shannon starts describing the heat as "fire," which quickly escalates into "sulfuric acid." Although Chammo only exists in Kim's Convenience and not in the real world, there are Korean spicy ramen noodles like Samyang Chicken Flavor Spicy Ramen Instant Noodles.